[oclug] [canadian internet concerns] long post (you'vebeen warned)
sphex at sympatico.ca
Mon Mar 14 23:53:59 EST 2005
No! No! No! This will not do.
You have merely restated Mike's argument in different words,
with an immaterial codicil,
and deleted my refutation of it.
You start with a perceived (by you) scarcity of books by scientists,
you jump to the conclusion that your perception is generally accurate, then,
with no evidence at all, you fabricate a plausible (to you) scenario,
alleging self-absorption and mercenary greed,
to explain the scarcity.
I can accept your perception of scarcity, as your perception. Although,
that becomes problematical when I ask you to accept my perception of
plenitude. Especially, since it is the first impulse for my challenge
to the generalization of your perception.
I have seen places offering hundreds, maybe a thousand different books
for sale... bodice-rippers, dubious diets, astrology, sword and sorcery,
and the like. Who knows, there may be a science book or two among them.
On the other hand, many independent bookstores, the public library,
the big near-monopoly chain bookseller, have decent collections of
science books, for children and adults.
(Note also that, logically, I can always challenge any generalization of
particular experience. Then, we both must present evidence.)
The rest is simply trash-talk. Similar to Anselm's 'onotological
argument', you imply that, because you can say scientists are bad, then
they are bad; and because they are bad, they won't write any books; and
that is why you can't see many. George Bush can get away with that when
he addresses the Nation of Idiots, mostly because his henchmen can
indeed ruin your day. We aren't idiots. You can't get away with it.
You, Adrian and Mike, like to explain things; and you are generally
civil to uncivil petitioners, too. I say scientists like, as much as
you, to explain things. There are other reasons why science is absent
in large swathes of our culture.
Adrian Irving-Beer wrote:
> On Thu, Mar 10, 2005 at 09:24:47PM +0000, Greg wrote:
>>However, I have met few scientists who would not explain clearly and
>>at length, great length, what they were up to. And I have watched
>>far too many Suzuki shows to imagine that my experience is unique.
> IMO, there is a difference between explaining what one is doing when
> asked, and writing books or other publications about one's work.
> The former is a natural response -- one who enjoys their work will
> wish to talk about it, and may do a great job explaining it
> interactively with anyone who will listen, answering questions as
> they come up.
> The latter involves taking time *away* from one's work to tell others
> what they are doing. Or were doing, up until they stopped to write
> about it. Like any writer, they must also carefully judge what their
> audience will automatically understand (so as not to patronise), and
> what they will stumble on (so as not to lose them), without feedback
> until it's time to write the next book.
> This latter sense is the context in which I read Mike's original post.
> Some can do both. I would not know the numbers, but Mike suggests
> "not many".
> (Obviously, some can even fail at the former, but that can occur in
> any sufficiently complicated profession.)
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