Monday, March 20, 2006

Links, Links, Links

I'm not sure I've ever done a link post, but I've had the flu, and therefore have absolutely no energy whatsoever. So this is the best I can do right now. Plus, there are some really good posts by Brandon and Heo that you really should read, and I threw in a strange one by someone named Bird Dog too.

Let's start with Brandon of Siris. Partially in response to my post on thinking about evolution, and to one of the papers I cited, Brandon wrote a four-part series on essentialism: Essentialisms I, Essentialisms, Essentialisms in Biology, Essentialism and Darwin, and Intuitive Essentialism. The posts help to clarify the different senses of essentialism, as they've been used in philosophy and biology, and contain some great links (especially in the last one).

Then there's Heo Cwaeth, the best medievalist you're not reading (I know, I found that funny too!). She's started a new series titled "Medieval Women I Adore," on medieval women who, if you're like me, you've never heard of. But as the series' title suggests, Heo adores them, and after reading her posts, so do I. She has three posts so far: Æðelflæd (Aethelflaed), Chrodield and Basina, and Hilda of Whitby. I have to admit, I like Aethelflaed the most, and not only because I can't spell her name without looking. Read the post and you'll see why I think she's so cool.

Finally, I got an email earlier warning me that I would be linked at Maggie's Farm. I'd never heard of that site, so I decided to stop by and see what they were saying about the post. I found this, immediately following a call to support the academic bill of rights in the New York Assembly (I know, not a good sign):
Mixing Memory addresses the cognitive factors which they believe interfere with the supposedly benighted American population's acceptance of Evolution as Gospel. I make two points: First, as psychologists, and not physical scientists, they lack the humility which the physical scientists possess, probably because they never took Quantum Algorithms and the Fourier Transformation in college - not for lack of brain-power, but lack of interest. Second, they lack metaphysics. They are psyche-centric, which is reductionistic. I enjoy their blog regularly, but everyone has their limited view of the world, as do we, no doubt. Einstein: "Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind." And, Yes, I do think ID is silly. But, on the other hand, I am more interested in the cognitive obstacles to connecting with God than in the cognitive obstacles to connecting with evolution. Heck - which is more important?
Huh? Maybe my fever-riddled brain has lost some of its reading comprehension skills, but if I'm not mistaken, that says that because I haven't read a nonexistent book on physics (the closest I could find to that title is a 1998 paper by Richard Jozsa in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London), I lack humility, and therefore deigned to write a post on some of the reasons why many people have trouble understanding evolution. Forgetting for a moment that the intuitions I discussed are supposed to be universal, and therefore if I was calling anyone benighted I was calling everyone benighted, what the hell does it mean that I'm psyche-centric? Does it mean that I think thought happens in the head? Because if it does, it's true. And cognitive obstacles to "connecting with God?" I'm not sure I know what that means, either, but I have written on religious cognition before. Does that count?

I think the purpose of the post was to say that accepting evolution isn't important, and might even be a bad idea. But it's hard to get that out of what it actually says, and the attempt to undercut what I said in that post by claiming that I lack humility (duh!) and that I'm a psyche-centric reductionist (I'm certainly not a reductionist in the sense that the term is ordinarily used in the philosophy of science, but OK) certainly doesn't help. But hey, the post quotes Einstein in agreement with its position, so it must be right, right?

7 comments:

Brandon said...

Thanks for th elinks. The Heo Cwaeth links are a goldmine, too; I'll have to remember to link to them myself.

Clark Goble said...

I thought physicists were more often accused of having Jehovah complexes rather than extensive humility. (grin)

Not that I agree with either extreme characterizations.

Chris said...

Brandon, you're welcome. Your links are a goldmine as well. And Heo is a goldmine all of the time (I'm biased, but still), so I recommend checking the rest of her blog out too.

Clark, that's what I thought! Isn't the stereotype that physicists have huge egos, while we psychologists toil hopelessly in an attempt to even approximate the success of their sciences?

HeoCwaeth said...

Aw, shucks!

Chris said...

Cut it out. You know you're cool when you can get people to actually read about medieval stuff ;).

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