Fashionable Nonsense by physicists Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont is a reminder of the vulnerability of our means of communication to absurd confabulations. It documents an important phenomenon that is prevalent in the nature of language of our everyday communication: It testifies the central thesis of this blog that Languages of common use (LCUs) are a very poor tool to reason; rather the book documents language as a good tool to confuse and obfuscate.
Analyzing the consensus-making methods of science would help us to achieve lot in resolving conflicts in our civic space. As a general rule the consensus generating ability of science is unparalleled in the history of mankind, and there are quite a lot to learn from it as a means of successful conflict resolution.In this blog this idea would be a leitmotif that would be described in various shades.
Germanic tribes were the barbarian hordes from the west that lead to the liquidation of the imperial Roman empire. The rise of the barbarian west as the civilized West is essentially the history of the modern world
Absurdometery is the metric of garbage in languages of common use. Absurdometer is its scale.
The concept of social contract is a fundamental principle upon which human society and its rules and moral are laid down. English Philosopher John Locke gave the most complete description of social contract as the foundation of state and public order. Laws are boundaries of major infringements of social contract, while morals are minor infringement of social contact. Change in social, economic and political circumstances bring about changes in the principle of social contract- more so for minor norms or morals and less so for major norms or laws. It is the human capacity for reason and rationality that make them follow laws and morals. Various degrees of compromise to human reason and rationality would cause various degree of infringements of social contract. Religion has no role in it. Religion was just a historical agency that acted as a vanguard of social contract. It is neither necessary nor sufficient for the practice of social contract.
According to Karl Popper, this ability of scientific statements to expose the condition of its own falsification is the essential feature of ‘true science’. Pseudosciences, on the contrary, do not expose themselves like this. Rather, it would ‘explain out’ the situations that have emerged contrary to their initial statement. Thus, pseudosciences will not let itself be refuted by objective evidence, but would rather ‘somersault’ with adhoc or posthoc explanations. Convinced of the ‘openness of science’ and the contribution of its openness to the progress of mankind, Popper wrote a two-volume book titled “Open society and its enemies”. In this book-series, Popper makes a statement widely known as the ‘Paradox of tolerance’. He states that unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. “If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them”. Many leading social commentators agree to this idea. For instance, John Rawls, who propounded an influential theory of justice, state that while as a general principle a just society should be tolerant to the intolerant, the extend of tolerance is NOT infinite. “While an intolerant sect does not itself have title to complain of intolerance, its freedom should be restricted only when the tolerant sincerely and with reason believe that their own security and that of the institutions of liberty are in danger” I think the Islamic proselytizer Zakir Naik is a test case to apply this principle.
Ideology driven opinion is fundamentally different from Evidence driven opinion. It is important to distinguish these two patterns of opinion making when we engage in any meaningful debate. It is also important to identify individuals who consistently maintain IBO, because of two reasons: No meaningful debate or exchange of conclusions can be achieved if the debate is between two IBO positions or IBO persons. This is important because achieving consensus is critically important is achieving ‘peace’ and ‘efficiency’ in civil society.
Bertrand Russell used the analogy of teapot that was claimed to orbit the sun to illustrate the issue of the burden of proof in the theist-atheist debate. Carl Sagan wanted every extraordinary claim to be supported by equally extraordinary evidence. The 'new atheist' consider the absence of evidence of an extraordinary phenomenon as - the omnipresent, all powerful-God as the evidence of absence of the claim.
Social capital is the aggregate influence a person by virtue of his birth and social connections gains in the society. It is the fundamental basis for institution of reservation in Indian society. In India, caste is an important factor of social capital. Caste in India is an exclusivist institution ratified by religion that has created endogamous units that do not allow social intermixing. Reservation or any affirmative action is not a poverty alleviation program. Rather, it is designed to generate what is known as ‘social capital’ for group of the society who have been deprived of opportunities for generations for centuries. Reservation is not directed to the individual, but to the community as a whole. For a community to achieve enough social capital, multiple people of that community need to be in positions of influence. Its endpoint is the community, not the individual.