Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Physicists are not the only ones with hubris!

Physicists are notorious for thinking they can revolutionise other fields. The results are often embarrassing. Previously, I considered how to (not) break into a new field. One of the basic points ito remember is that there is a lot of nuance, a lot of rich history, and a lot of very smart hard-working people associated with any worthwhile intellectual endeavour.

In 2015 Steven Weinberg published To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science. In the book he belittles all the nuance that historians of science bring to the subject. One review was entitled, Why Scientists Shouldn’t Write History.

The Harvard cognitive scientist Steven Pinker has a new book out, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. The book spans cognitive science, history, philosophy, economics, and politics.... It is receiving a lot of attention in the popular press.
My UQ history colleague, Peter Harrison has a robust critique, The Enlightenment of Steven Pinker.  I learnt a lot about the subtleties of the "Enlightenment" from reading it.

1 comment:

  1. Hubris well explained here in the para in commas from the article below
    Bibliometrics as Weapons of Mass Citation
    Article in CHIMIA International Journal for Chemistry · September 2010
    The whole paper is here.
    "Their fascination for citation indexes often drives them beyond reason. Their obsession with their egos is much more perverse than the laziness of granting agencies. In some respects, scientists remind us of body-builders who, under the pretext of ‘working out’in gyms and other salons de musculation,seem fascinated by their own bodies, reflected in floor-to-ceiling mirrors. Perhaps a ‘narcissistic scientist’ is a tautology. Wir alle brauchen ab und zu eine Streichelein-
    heit (MMu[2]). Fascination with one’s self
    is one of the driving forces of research. But if mirrors indeed constitute a necessity of the trade, one may at least hope that they provide a reasonably undistorted image"

    coauthored by a reputed Prof , Geoffrey Bodenhausen École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Department
    Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Section