Samir’s Selection 08/16/2013 (p.m.)
How the wealthy keep themselves on top – FT.com
“The more unequal a society, the greater the incentive for the rich to pull up the ladder behind them”
Should the Humanities Embrace Scientism? My Postmodern Response to Pinker’s Patronizing “Plea” | Cross-Check, Scientific American Blog Network
“Pinker never seems to have understood postmodernism. Postmodern scholarship, like science itself, can be done well or badly, but its animating assumption is simple: All truth claims–whether scientific, religious or political—reflect the prejudices and desires of those who make them. Claims that become dominant in a culture often serve the interests of powerful groups.
Social Darwinism and eugenics are two especially egregious examples of pseudo-scientific ideologies that reflected the racism, sexism and classism of proponents. Pinker depicts Social Darwinism and eugenics as historical aberrations that had little or nothing to do with science–even though their central claims keep reappearing in modern scientific trappings.
Moreover, even a casual survey of modern science—and of this blog–reveals the degree to which science continues to serve the interests of powerful groups. The U.S. health care industry delivers lousy service at exorbitant prices, arguably because it is more concerned with profits than with patients. Modern psychiatry has become little more than a marketing branch of the pharmaceutical industry.
Neuroscience, psychology, artificial intelligence and other fields are increasingly dependent on military funding. Pinker himself has popularized the hypothesis that war is an instinct, rooted deeply in our evolutionary past, which civilization has helped us overcome. This notion serves as a convenient justification for modern U.S. militarism and imperialism.
Postmodernism is, in a sense, simply another expression of a truism of science journalism: If you want to understand modern debates about climate, energy, genetically modified food, economic equality or military policies, you should follow the money. Money certainly doesn’t explain everything—and just because a group is rich and powerful doesn’t mean that it’s corrupt–but it explains a lot.”
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.