It’s been a busy day – and a good one. Arts and Letters Daily linked to that wonderful article by Edmund Standing on postmodernist views of gender, for a start. And I posted another terrific article, this one by Allen Esterson. And various other odds and ends – such as this takedown of Kent Hovind in Flashback. I particularly like the quoted extract from his dissertation (with proper names altered because Hovind doesn’t allow his dissertation to be quoted, which is not normal scholarly practice, but he clearly has his reasons) –

He was born in 1809 and died about 1880. He was very anti-Christian and tried to influence anyone he could not to believe in God. He was very full of godless ideas. He was a very avid agnostic, racist, and an evolutionist. He believed in a great infinite age of the universe. He was very influential in furthering the ideas of evolution, particularly in the country of England.

Is that some impressive writing or what! You’re supposed to learn to stop writing Noun Verb Object sentences over and over again when you’re about six, a year or two before it’s time to write your dissertation. And then there’s the question of what an ‘avid’ agnostic is, and what ‘great infinite’ might mean, and why he thinks readers might think England was not a country but a hat or a wheelbarrow or some other random noun. And then there’s the ‘about’ 1880, and the question of what it’s like to be ‘full’ of godless ideas, and – all that in such a short extract! Quite amazing, isn’t it. But there is much more of substance wrong with it, from what the author of the critique says.

And there is an interesting discussion at Dispatches from the Culture Wars. I posted something at The Panda’s Thumb a few days ago, and that alerted one of the Pandas or Thumbsters, Ed Braydon, to the existence of B&W, which, inexplicably, he had hitherto been unaware of (how can such a thing be in a just universe?!). So he commented on it, which led one of his readers to have a look and ask some searching questions:

Is there some room in such a polarized debate for some Humanist intervention in science? I’m a poet & a literature professor with a life-long interest in & respect for science. I have nothing but contempt for the ideas of the creationist lobby, whether young- or old-earth. But I have also read anthropology & sociology of science, as well as Kuhn & his successors. I accept that there are loony-left versions of science that deserve nothing but scorn; still, the way that scientists sometimes respond to Humanist or lit-crit critiques of science pretty often have a tinge of the fundamentalism they decry when it comes from the right. I’m talking here about the uncontroversial (to me, anyway) notion that scientists, even at work in their labs, are embedded in a cultural & social context that influences their “objectivity.”

Ed answered, I answered, and so it went. More productive than talking about religion, I think.

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