Thursday, December 22, 2005

Postmodern Design

The Intelligent Design debate is also pretty sad for what it says about the general public's knowledge of science. But, I still think that some of the blame must be shared by postmodernism itself. When the local Science Center is doing an exhibit on how "science" has been used as a tool of oppression throughout history, you know that Foucault has filtered down.

The website really does no justice to how postmodern the exhibit really is.
For example:

"Take a quiz to determine if your gender affects your point of view..."
In the actual exhibit is a display that demonstrates how scientists have supported the patriarchy by arguing that gender affects perception.

"Step inside a box equal in size to the spaces that confined Africans on slave ships. Learn about the attitudes that led to conditions like these..."
In the actual exhibit, you hear a recording about how scientists, with their racial theories, supported slavery.

You also get to learn about sterotypes, biases, and prejudices and how science has supported them. No surprise then that a large part of the exhibit deals with Nazi science with absolutely no distinction made between Mengele and your local biologist. That's the real po-mo rub of the thing- the exhibit doesn't explain why racists were pseudoscientists. It just smears all "science" with the same "sexist", "racist", "Nazi" brush. It's the same tired old argument- "How can you take scientific objectivity seriously when Nazis called themselves scientists?!"

Should we really be surprised then when the general public sees science as "biased" and "corrupt"?

Moreover, when you try to reduce scientific inquiry to the expression of a particular "point of view" how can you be shocked that the general public wants their "point of view" to be given equal time? There are good arguments against teaching ID in science classes, but the sad irony is that it took a Republican, Bush-appointed Judge to make them.

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