Current Reading

This blog is primarily for me to blog my responses to books that I'm reading. Sometimes I blog about other stuff too, though.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Next book: The Dialogue of Civilizations in the Birth of Modern Science by Arun Bala

The next book will be The Dialogue of Civilizations in the Birth of Modern Science by Arun Bala. I picked it up on a whim at a used bookstore.  Originally published in 2006, the book opens by referencing the "Science Wars" of the 1990's, when idiots ran around saying that "Science is just a Western cultural construct rooted in assumptions that are something something Western hegemonic patriarchal racist something something and that's just, like, your opinion, man."  On the first page, Bala makes an important point:  Both the traditionalists and the postmodern idiots ran around assuming that modern science is a purely Western thing.  The purpose of this book is to use the historical record to debunk that assumption, and show non-Western influences on the Scientific Revolution of Europe.

If you think about it, the whole idea of science as a purely Western cultural construct is obvious bullshit, as evidenced by the number of Chinese and Indian scientists in US universities, as well as the global competitiveness of Japanese corporations making electronics and medical equipment based on the fruits of 20th century physics.

Interestingly, the "Science Wars" mostly ended on January 20 of 2001, when Bush The Lesser succeeded Clinton I and appointed to the executive agencies people who don't like environmental science.  At that point everyone in academia agreed that science is awesome.  At least for political purposes.  The reign of Barack Augustus has seen some academic and cultural pushback against science, but mostly from the kool-aid drinkers within STEM, not from the PoMo literary critics and sociologists arguing that science is just, like, your opinion, man.  The critics within STEM agree that science is great, they just think it's culture is terrible, and like all dangerous lies it's partly true.  Of course, they argue that the problem has something to do with the expert voice, and that takes us back to the problems of the First Great Awakening, but that's a discussion for another time.

Anyway, I'll be curious to see what Bala comes up with.

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