Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog


with 2 comments

Okay,  Okay.  Two posts in one day, and I do too much of it.

But Robert just posted this, and I have to respond:

>>>Indeed, ID is not testable, and therefor does not rate the respect given to that which can be and is tested>>>

I did NOT say that, because ID is not testable, it “does n ot rate the respect given to that which can be and is tested.”

I said that because ID is not testable, it  IS NOT SCIENCE.

But from the beginning of this blog, I’ve been ring to make the point that the scientiric paradigm is NOT the only one deserving of respect–that it is applicable to a subset of knowledge and only that subset, and is useless and wrongheaded when applied to other kinds of knowledge.

If ID was claiming to be literature, or even philosophy, I wouldn’t demand that it make testifiable claims.

It’s only because ID claims to be science that testifiability is an issue.

Scientific standards are applicable to an investigation of the natural workings of the material world,  AND NOTHING ELSE.

Applying scientific standards to literature doesn’t prove that literature is worthless, or even subjective–it’s just the equivalent of trying to read Chinese characters on the assumption that they’re supposed to be the Roman alphabet, and when you can’t make head nor tail of them with that approach, declaring that Chinese is an objectively meaningless language that must consist  of people making up subjective “meanings” as they go along.

Written by janeh

November 29th, 2008 at 12:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses to 'Addendum'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Addendum'.

  1. I have not attempted to “prove that literature is worthless or even subjective,” nor would I–mostly–wish to. I HAVE said that the testability of science entitles it to a degree of respect bordering on deference that literature simply doesn’t rate. But science also knows its limits.

    If I went to a matalurgist and asked “which is the superior metal?” He would think me insane. He’d happily discuss ductility, tendency toward metal fatique and corrosion and a thousand other traits, and in each case if pressed a test could be devised which would verify–or at lest test–his statement.

    When the literature professor mourns his or her relative lack of prestige, he generally wants to make a statement that no scientist would make–that Book X is “better” than Book Y–and have it be accepted by the students in a way that only testability could justify.

    As I said before, when the literature professor says that a particular work influenced later works, is complex in structure, contains many allusions or has a vocabulary of X many words he is, or can be, on firm ground–but he can also be refuted, or at least tested. When he says that Book X is “better” he has made a very diferent kind of statement–one that IS–if not worthless, at least meaningless or subjective.

    I wouldn’t pay any attention to that metalurgist if he told me gold was the superior metal either. My boat would weigh too much, and my knife would rapidly dull.

    I say again, the price of respect for one’s statements is the possibility of those statements being refuted. A verification system which consists of “all my friends agree with me, so there!” is merely a suggestion that the “loser” find another peer group.

    If you don’t like scientific standards, give me another set under which someone may disagree with and refute the concensus. No Pasteur, no Galileo, no Copernicus, no equivalent respect.


    29 Nov 08 at 3:24 pm

  2. Science is not due respect, much less deference, because one aspect of it involves testability any more than a cat is due respect for having claws and fur. That’s simply part of what science is, like collecting observations to inspire a theory or coming up with a theory that can’t yet be tested.


    29 Nov 08 at 5:42 pm

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Bad Behavior has blocked 241 access attempts in the last 7 days.