Thursday, March 16, 2017


When I was in high school I learned a little about Soviet education, and heard of "socialist science." That struck me as an utter obscenity--and still does. "Believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason."

It is surely true that technology should serve good ends, but the first end it must serve is to be real. A free energy machine would do wonders for the impoverished of the world and so would a magic elixir that cured all diseases. The first end science and mathematics must work toward is to be true--not to be socially relevant or uplifting.

I get it that some statements may be true, but not good to say, because they mislead the careless--especially when taken in isolation. We've all heard lies told using nothing but true statements. But that doesn't change the fundamental question--is the statement true? (A statement may need clarification: it's a basic rule in science that you don't have a measurement if all you have is a number. You need the contents and the uncertainty too.)

The more dramatic stories make the news because they're not normal, but you don't have to look far to find plenty of similar attacks. Solipsistic claims that logical analysis is "oppressive" or "a tool of the patriarchy" or enabled by "white privilege" suggest a hunger for madness, and tell of an obscene idolatry of the tribe.

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