Monday, January 26, 2009

CBC Think About Science Podcast - With Direct Links


"Links have been updated from here

How to Think About Science

If science is neither cookery, nor angelic virtuosity, then what is it?

Modern societies have tended to take science for granted as a way of knowing, ordering and controlling the world.
Everything was subject to science, but science itself largely escaped scrutiny. This situation has changed dramatically in recent years.

Historians, sociologists, philosophers and sometimes scientists themselves have begun to ask fundamental questions about how the institution of science is structured and how it knows what it knows.

David Cayleytalks to some of the leading lights of this new field of study.

Episode 1 - Simon Schaffer Listen to How To Think About Science
- Episode 1 (

[mp3 file: runs 52:24]
(runs: 52:22)

Leviathan and The Air Pump published by Princeton University Press, 1985.

In 1985 a book appeared that changed the way people thought about the history of science. Until that time, the history of science had usually meant biographies of scientists, or studies of the social contexts in which scientific discoveries were made. Scientific ideas were discussed, but the procedures and axioms of science itself were not in question. This changed with the publication of Leviathan and the Air Pump, subtitled Hobbes, Boyle and the Experimental Life, the book’s avowed purpose was – “to break down the aura of self-evidence surrounding the experimental way of producing knowledge.” This was a work, in other words, that wanted to treat something obvious and taken for granted – that matters of fact are ascertained by experiment – as if it were not at all obvious; that wanted to ask, how is it actually done and how do people come to agree that it has truly been done.
The authors of this pathbreaking book were two young historians, Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, and both have gone on to distinguished careers in the field they helped to define, science studies. Steven Shapin will be featured later in this series, but How to Think About Science begins with a conversation with Simon Schaffer. David Cayley called on him recently in his office at the Whipple Museum of the History of Science at Cambridge where he teaches.

Episode 2 - Lorraine Daston
Listen to How To Think About Science - Episode 2 (
(runs: 51:56)

The Max Planck Institute for the History of Science ( occupies an elegant and airy new building in a leafy suburb of Berlin. It houses approximately a hundred scholars whose research extends from medieval cosmology to the role of experiment in 19th century German gardening to the ways in which medical technology has reshaped the contemporary boundary between life and death. The director is American Lorraine Daston.

David Cayley interviewed her recently in her office at the institute, and told him that there was a time when she would not even have dreamed of a hundred historians of science under one roof. When she was a graduate student at Harvard in the 70’s, she says, the history of science was more a collection of strays from other disciplines than it was a discipline in itself. But a crucial challenge had been issued. In 1962 philosopher/historian Thomas Kuhn had published The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, the book that suddenly put the previously unusual word paradigm on everybody’s lips. Kuhn rejected the assumption of a continuous linear progress in science. And thereby, Lorraine Daston says, he framed the question with which her generation grew up, how to write the history of science as something other than a triumphant progress to a foregone conclusion.

Episode 3 - Margaret Lock

Listen to How To Think About Science - Episode 3 (
(runs: 51:47)

In 1993 medical anthropologist Margaret Lock published Encounters with Aging: Mythologies of Menopause in Japan and North America. The book explores dramatic differences in the way women experience menopause in each place. Such variation is usually taken as purely cultural, but, in her book, Margaret Lock makes a surprising suggestion. She proposes that there are biological differences between Japanese and North American women. Culture doesn’t just interpret biology, she says, it also shapes it. Margaret Lock is a professor in the Department of Social Studies of Medicine at McGill. In this episode you'll hear her current reflections on what she calls “local biologies” later in the hour. David Cayley begins his conversation with a discussion of another pathbreaking book of hers called Twice Dead: Organ Transplants and the Reinvention of Death.

Episode 4 - Ian Hacking & Andrew Pickering
Listen to How To Think About Science - Episode 4 (
(runs: 52:25)

Philosophers of science tended, until quite recently, to treat science as a mainly theoretical activity. Experiment - science’s actual, often messy encounter with the world - was viewed as something secondary, a mere hand-servant to theory. Popular understanding followed suit. Theories were what counted: one spoke of the theory of evolution, the theory of relativity, the Copernican theory and so on. It was as thinkers and seers that the great scientists were lionized and glorified. But this attitude has recently begun to change. A new generation of historians and philosophers have made the practical, inventive side of science their focus. They’ve pointed out that science doesn’t just think about the world, it makes the world and then remakes it. Science, for them, really is what the thinkers of the 17th century first called it: experimental philosophy. In this episode we hear from two of the scholars who’ve been influential in advancing this changed view: first Ian Hacking, widely regarded as Canada’s pre-eminent philosopher of science, and later in the hour Andrew Pickering, author of The Mangle of Practice.

Episode 5 - Ulrich Beck and Bruno Latour
Listen to How To Think About Science - Episode 5 (
(runs: 52:05)

Few people ever apply a name that sticks to an entire social order, but sociologist Ulrich Beck is one of them. In 1986 in Germany he published Risk Society, and the name has become a touchstone in contemporary sociology. Among the attributes of Risk Society is the one he just mentioned: science has become so powerful that it can neither predict nor control its effects. It generates risks too vast to calculate. In the era of nuclear fission, genetic engineering and a changing climate, society itself has become a scientific laboratory. In this episode 5 Ulrich Beck talks about the place of science in a risk society. Later in the hour you’ll hear from another equally influential European thinker, Bruno Latour, the author of We Have Never Been Modern. He will argue that our very future depends on overcoming a false dichotomy between nature and culture.

Episode 6 - James Lovelock
Listen to How To Think About Science - Episode 6 (
(runs: 52:05)

Forty-years ago British scientist James Lovelock put forward the first elements of what he would come to call the Gaia theory. Named for the ancient Greek goddess of the earth, it held that the earth as a whole functions as a self-regulating system. At first many biologists scoffed. Today, Lovelock’s ideas are more widely accepted, even in circles where he was initially scorned. But even as he has been winning scientific honours, James Lovelock has been growing more pessimistic about the prospects for contemporary civilization.
In this episode David Cayley presents a profile of James Lovelock. It tells the story of a career in science that began a long time ago.

Episode 7 - Arthur Zajonc
Listen to How To Think About Science - Episode 7 (
(runs: 52:29)

One of Arthur Zajonc ('s ( inspirations is the great German poet Goethe. Goethe died nearly two centuries ago. Arthur Zajonc works at the cutting edge of contemporary quantum physics. But it is the old poet, Zajonc thinks, who can best show us how we ought to contemplate the puzzling discoveries of modern physics. In this episode, physicist Arthur Zajonc talks to David Cayley about Goethe’s way of knowing, about the philosophical challenge of contemporary physics, and about the role of contemplation in science. And since his name so closely resembles the name of his subject, you also hear many unintentional rhymes as Zajonc discusses science.

Episode 8 - Wendell Berry
Listen to How To Think About Science - Episode 8 (
(runs: 52:21)

Wendell Berry is known to the reading public mainly for his poems, essays and novels, not his commentaries on science. But in the year 2,000 he published a surprising book called Life Is A Miracle: An Essay Against Modern Superstition. The superstition the book denounces is the belief that science will one day give us a complete account of things. Science is admirable, Wendell Berry says, but it can only be deployed wisely when we recognize the limits to our knowledge. Science must submit to the judgement of Nature. In this episode, Wendell Berry unfolds this philosophy to Ideas producer David Cayley.

Episode 9 - Rupert Sheldrake
Listen to How To Think About Science - Episode 9 (
(runs: 52:12)

Biologist Rupert Sheldrake
Into 1981 British biologist Rupert Sheldrake published A New Science of Life. The book argued that genes alone were not enough to account for life’s intricate patterns of form and behaviour. There must be, Sheldrake suggested, some sort of form-giving field that holds the memory of each thing’s proper shape – he called it a morphogenetic field. This intriguing idea was widely discussed in the months after the book’s publication. Then the editor of the prestigious scientific journal Nature, Sir John Maddox, wrote an editorial in which violently denounced Sheldrake’s work and called it “the best candidate for burning there has been for many years.” Years later in an interview with the BBC, he defended his denunciation on the grounds that Sheldrake’s view was scientific “heresy.” Maddox’s attack stuck Sheldrake a reputation for flakiness that still lingers. A few years ago Nobel physicist Steven Weinberg was still referring to the theory as “a crackpot fantasy.” But, for Rupert Sheldrake, this zealous policing of the boundaries of science only proved that scientific materialism had hardened into a rigid and inhibiting dogmatism. He carried on with the research programme he had put forward in A New Science of Life. Today on Ideas he shares the story of his journey with Ideas producer David Cayley.

Episode 10 - Brian Wynne
Listen to How To Think About Science - Episode 10 (
(runs: 52:33)

Misunderstanding science? Edited by Alan Irwin and Brian Wynne, published by Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Technological science exerts a pervasive influence on contemporary life. It determines much of what we do, and almost all of how we do it. Yet science and technology lie almost completely outside the realm of political decision. No electorate ever voted to split atoms or splice genes; no legislature ever authorized the iPod or the internet. Our civilization, consequently, is caught in a profound paradox: we glorify freedom and choice, but submit to the transformation of our culture by technoscience as a virtual fate. In this episode we explore the relations between politics and scientific knowledge. David Cayley talks to Brian Wynne of the University of Lancaster in the north of England. He’s the associate director of an institute that studies the social and economic aspects of genetic technologies, and one of Britain’s best-known writers and researchers on the interplay of science and society.

Episode 11 - Sajay Samuel
Listen to How To Think About Science - Episode 11 (
(runs: 52:28)

Nicolai Copernici Torinensis De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium, Libri VI - On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, by Nicolaus Copernicus ( of Torin, Six Books (title page of 2nd edition, ex officina Henricpetrina Basel, 1566).

In 1543 Nicolai Copernicus published On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, the book that displaced the earth from the centre of the cosmos. Ninety years later, in his Dialogue Concerning the Two World Systems, Galileo Galilei praised the achievement of his predecessor. Copernicus, he said, had made reason conquer sense.

Today it is a commonplace that science requires us to renounce the evidence of our senses if we are to understand the true nature of things. The truth lies behind or beneath the appearances. This loss of the senses has fateful consequences, according to Sajay Samuel, a professor at the Pennsylvania State University. Without common sense, he says, science fills ours entire horizon - leaving us no place to stand outside of science, and no basis on which to judge what science produces. Sajay Samuel shares his reflections on science and sense with David Cayley.

Episode 12 - David Abram
Listen to How To Think About Science - Episode 12 (
(runs: 52:20)

The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram. Published by Vintage (, 1997.

From time to time, researchers test the public’s understanding of science. The public, predictably, turns out to be woefully ignorant: 20% think the moon is made of green cheese, 30% think an electron is bigger than a molecule and so forth. But, for David Abram, this demonstrably shaky grasp on the details misses the point. He thinks we are conditioned by scientific understandings at a much deeper level, and that the main effect of this conditioning is to make us distrust our senses. For citizens of the republic of techno-science, he says, the real world is not the one we can touch and taste – it is the one that is disclosed by particle physics or radio astronomy. David Abram is a teacher and a writer, whose book The Spell of the Sensuous has been widely read and much praised. He believes that we ought to snap out of our technological trance and, literally, come to our senses. He shares his thoughts with Ideas producer David Cayley.

Episode 13 - Dean Bavington
Listen to How To Think About Science - Episode 13 (
(runs: 52:53)

Codfish Newfoundland postage stamp.

On July 3, 1992 Fisheries Minister John Crosbie announced a moratorium on the fishing of northern cod. It was the largest single day lay-off in Canadian history: 30,000 people unemployed at a stroke. The ban was expected to last for two years, after which, it was hoped, the fishery could resume. But the cod have never recovered, and more than 15 years later the moratorium remains in effect. How could a fishery that had been for years under apparently careful scientific management just collapse?

David Cayley talks to environmental philosopher
Dean Bavington about the role of science in the rise and fall of the cod fishery.

Episode 14 - Evelyn Fox Keller
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(runs: 54:00)

Evelyn Fox Keller

Science, according to its first practitioners, was a masculine pursuit. Francis Bacon writing in the early 17th century invited “the sons of knowledge” to pass through “the outer courts of nature” and on into “her inner chambers.” Science was male, nature female. And, according to Evelyn Fox Keller, this was no mere figure of speech – it had a shaping influence through the centuries on how science was imagined and how it was done. Evelyn Fox is emeritus professor of the philosophy and history of science at MIT, and a keen observer of the ways in which models and metaphors condition our understandings. In recent years she has been particular critical of the ways in which simplistic models of the all-powerful gene mislead public understanding of genetics and developmental biology. And her proposal with regard to what she calls “gene talk” is the same one she made in her pioneering Reflections on Gender and Science in the 1980’s: “change the terms of the discussion.” Evelyn Fox Keller shares some of her story and some of her thoughts on how gender, language, model and metaphor have coloured the practice of science.

Episode 15 - Barbara Duden & Silya Samerski
Listen to How To Think About Science - Episode 15 (
(runs: 54:00)

Disembodying Women, by Barbara Duden. Published by Harvard Univeristy Press, 1993.

When Danish botanist Wilhelm Johannsen coined the term gene, in the early years of the 20th century, he described it as “a very applicable little word.” And so it has turned out. Once a purely scientific and technical term, it has now spread into common, daily use. People speak familiarly of “my genes” or “your genes”, newspapers report the latest “gene find,” and an American company - 23 and Me ( - now offers anyone with a thousand dollars and a saliva sample the chance to have their genome mapped. Under the slogan “Genetics Just Got Personal,” the company’s website invites browsers to find out “what…your genes say about you.” But what happens when a scientific term migrates from the laboratory to the street in this way. What does the word gene signify in everyday speech? The question is posed by two German scholars: Barbara Duden and Silya Samerski. For several years they’ve been pondering what they call the pop-gene, the gene in popular culture.

Episode 16 - Steven Shapin
Listen to How To Think About Science - Episode 16 (
(runs: 54:00)

The Scientific Revolution, by Steven Shapin. Published by University of Chicago Press, 1998.

Some years ago, philosopher Ian Hacking compiled a list of books whose titles used the term social construction: the social construction of deviance, sexuality, high blood pressure. There were a great variety of such titles, Hacking found, but most used the expression with the same intent: to diminish the reality of the category that was said to be socially constructed. To say that knowledge is formed by a social process is still, very often, to say that that knowledge is compromised in some way. Something is either true or it’s socially constructed, but not both. Historian Steven Shapin thinks this is the wrong approach. He has argued in books like A Social History of Truth, and Science is Culture that science is social all the way down, and that this in no way undermines its truth claims, truth also being, by nature, social. In this episode, Steven Shapin shares his thoughts on the history of science and the sociology of scientific knowledge.

Episode 17 - Peter Galison
Listen to How To Think About Science - Episode 17 (
(runs: 54:00)
Physicist and Professor of the history of science at Harvard.

Changes in science provoke anxiety. Science is supposed to be the bedrock of the modern world - the unified procedure that secures and guarantees our knowledge. But science, in practice, is composed of many sciences. It’s a kaleidoscope of diverse, constantly recomposing parts, each with its own language and its own conventions. This circumstance has often led scientists and philosophers to seek the underlying unity of science, and even to imagine that a free society will only be able to withstand totalitarian myths if it rests on such a secure foundation. Peter Galison belongs to a generation that has put forward a more pragmatic, more pluralistic, and less anxious definition of science. He’s a physicist, and a professor of the history of science at Harvard, and, among the many books he’s written and edited, is a volume called The Disunity of Science. Peter Galison talks about how the different subculture of science find ways of getting along.

Episode 18 - Richard Lewontin
Listen to How To Think About Science - Episode 18 (
(runs: 54:00)

Biology as Ideology: The Doctrine of DNA. The 1990 Massey Lectures by Richard Lewontin.

Some years ago, on Ideas, American evolutionary biologist Richard Lewontin delivered our annual Massey Lectures under the title Biology as Ideology: The Doctrine of DNA. In his lectures Lewontin argued that science had replaced religion as what he called “the chief legitimating force in modern society.” Science sanctions the existing social order, he claimed, by telling stories about a universal “struggle for existence,” or about how we are all blindly programmed by our selfish genes. These stories, in Lewontin’s view, constitute the ideology of biology, and he has devoted much of his long career to trying pry the ideology apart from the science. In this episode he talks about how over-extended metaphors distort our understanding of both science and society.

Episode 19 - Ruth Hubbard
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(runs: 54:00)

Exploding the Gene Myth by Ruth Hubbard and Elijah Wood. Published by Beacon Press, 1999.

Ruth Hubbard spent the first almost 20 years of her scientific life at a lab bench investigating the biochemistry of vision. Her late husband, George Wald, who directed the research, won a Nobel Prize for the discoveries their team made about how the eye works. In the 1960’s, during the Vietnam War, her horizons expanded to include the politics of science. She took a leading part in the emerging feminist critique of the situation of women in science. And she became a fierce opponent of the direction biology was taking in developing new genetic and reproductive technologies that amounted, in her view, to an experiment on human being. Ruth Hubbard is professor emerita of biology at Harvard, and the author of The Politics of Women’s Biology, and Exploding the Gene Myth, written with her son Elijah Wald.

Episode 20 - Michael Gibbons, Peter Scott, and Janet Atkinson Grosjean
Listen to How To Think About Science - Episode 20 (
(runs: 54:00)

Re-Thinking Science, published by Polity Press, 2002.

"Science has spoken... to society for more than half a millenium... In the past half century science has begun to speak back." So say the authors of a book called Rethinking Science. In this episode, Michael Gibbons and Peter Scott share their thoughts on the growing integration of science and society. Then later in the hour David Cayley speaks to Janet Atkinson Grosjean of the University of British Columbia. She’s the author of recent book called Public Science, Private Interests, which looks at Canadian science policy, and its attempt to harness science to social and economic goals.

Episode 21 - Christopher Norris and Mary Midgley
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(runs: 54:00)

Quantum Theory and the Flight from Realism, by Christopher Norris. Published by Routledge, 2000.

In his life of the 18th century writer Samuel Johnson, James Boswell relates a conversation with Johnson about the philosophy of their contemporary Bishop Berkeley. Berkeley’s philosophy, as Johnson and Boswell understood it, held that all we really have of the world is our idea of it, and Boswell remarks to Johnson that this position, though false, is impossible to refute “I shall never forget,” Boswell then goes on, “the alacrity with which Johnson answered. Striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, [he cried] – “I refute it thus.”
In this episode of How To Think About Science, philosopher Christopher Norris, takes his stand with Dr. Johnson. He believes that the best philosophy of science is a robust realism
Christopher Norris talks to David Cayley about why he thinks realism makes for the best philosophy, and the best politics. Then later in the hour, British philosopher Mary Midgley, argues that science always sees the world through the lens of some orienting story.

Episode 22 - Allan Young
Listen to How To Think About Science - Episode 22 (
(runs: 54:00)

The Harmony of Illusions , by Allan Young. Published by Princeton University Press, 1997.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a disease first diagnosed in Vietnam veterans in 1980 and is now part of our everyday vocabulary. In this episode, David Cayley speaks to Allan Young, Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Social Studies of Medicine at McGill . He’s the author of The Harmony of Illusions: Inventing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The book traces the idea of traumatic memory from the 1860’s, when a British surgeon first described the lingering after-effects of railway accidents, to our own time when the National Institute of Mental Health in the U.S. estimates that every year 7.7 million Americans suffer from PTSD. More than that, Dr. Young’s work examines how a scientific object, like a psychiatric diagnosis, comes into existence, and how it then feeds back into the experience of those who have the diagnosis. Allan Young talks about his research, and about his intellectual journey.

Episode 23 - Lee Smolin
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(runs: 54:00)

The Trouble With Physics, by Lee Smolin. Published by Houghton Mifflin, 2006.

In this episode, theoretical physicist Lee Smolin talks about string theory – the theory that matter is ultimately composed of tiny vibrating strings. It’s a conjecture, he says, that now dominates his field but can’t be test experimentally. Lee Smolin explores the unprecedented character of the string revolution, as it’s called, in a book he brought out in 2006. It’s called The Trouble With Physics: The Rise of String Theory, The Fall of Science and What Comes Next. And it’s much more than just a complaint about string theory hogging the limelight in theoretical physics. The book also takes a wide-ranging look at the unresolved questions that have perplexed physics for the last century, and makes a plea for a return to the more philosophically adventurous style that Smolin thinks characterized the physicists of the early 20th century. Lee Smolin is a member of the faculty of the Perimeter Institute at the University of Waterloo.

Episode 24 - Nicholas Maxwell
Listen to How To Think About Science - Episode 24 ( (runs: 54:00)
From Knowledge to Wisdom , by Nicholas Maxell. Published by Pentire Press, 2007. Science has been very successful at producing knowledge. But knowledge without wisdom, or science without civilization, is a dangerous thing, according to Nicholas Maxwell. And the reason we have the one without the other, he believes, is that science, as now practiced, does not question its own purposes or investigate its own presuppositions. It transforms the world but cannot transform itself. Nicholas Maxwell is a philosopher of science, now retired from University College, London, and the author of From Knowledge to Wisdom, first published in 1984 and just reissued in a revised edition. He argues – these are his own words – that: “We need a revolution in the aims and methods of academic inquiry, so that the basic aim becomes to promote wisdom by rational means, instead of just to acquire knowledge.” Nicholas Maxwell makes his case In the final episode of our series."

Friday, January 23, 2009

You've been duped! Again!

I guess many females don't question why they have to do some of the things they think they have to do. I became curious about finding an answer to this months ago, but then I lost track of the little info I was able to find back then. Now that I found a cool source again I decided to post it without any delay:

Who decided women should shave their legs and underarms?

"...U.S. women were browbeaten into shaving underarm hair by a sustained marketing assault that began in 1915. (Leg hair came later.) The aim of what Hope calls the Great Underarm Campaign was to inform American womanhood of a problem that till then it didn't know it had, namely unsightly underarm hair...

... A few ads mentioned hygiene as a motive for getting rid of hair, but most appealed strictly to the ancient yearning to be hip. "The Woman of Fashion says the underarm must be as smooth as the face," read a typical pitch.

The budding obsession with underarm hair drifted down to the proles fairly slowly, roughly matching the widening popularity of sheer and sleeveless dresses. Antiarm hair ads began appearing in middlebrow McCall's in 1917. Women's razors and depilatories didn't show up in the Sears Roebuck catalog until 1922, the same year the company began offering dresses with sheer sleeves. By then the underarm battle was largely won. Advertisers no longer felt compelled to explain the need for their products but could concentrate simply on distinguishing themselves from their competitors.

The anti-leg hair campaign was more fitful. The volume of leg ads never reached the proportions of the underarm campaign. Women were apparently more ambivalent about calling attention to the lower half of their anatomy, perhaps out of fear that doing so would give the male of the species ideas in a way that naked underarms didn't.

Besides, there wasn't much practical need for shaved legs. After rising in the 1920s, hemlines dropped in the 30s and many women were content to leave their leg hair alone. Still, some advertisers as well as an increasing number of fashion and beauty writers harped on the idea that female leg hair was a curse.

...what may have put the issue over the top was the famous WWII pinup of Betty Grable displaying her awesome gams. Showing off one's legs became a patriotic act. That plus shorter skirts and sheer stockings, which looked dorky with leg hair beneath, made the anti-hair pitch an easy sell..."

So there you have it, it's mainly about money once again... (You're free to dismiss this as another one of those crazy conspiracy theories of course. You're free to believe that we humans -or western societies rather- do what we do because we figured out the right way to do things, and that everything is alright. But I won't do that.) I wonder if there are many other meaningless artificial creations humanity wastes its time with that I'm not yet aware of.*

Years ago I had written a little article at school about how hairy legs are actually cooler than they're usually portrayed by the popular culture, and that the hairy legs deserve equal love and respect. :) To be fair, I was referring to men's legs in that article, using my own legs as inspiration. :) But many times I also thought about the way women are almost forced to live their lives more unnaturally than men do; high-heels, thin, hairless bodies and face etc... I even discussed this with my mother once, but she wasn't really able to defend the position that hair removal makes sense. She was too brainwashed to think about it objectively.

I find women who're courageous enough to resist such strong man-made rules more attractive in a way. I'm confident that there will be a time when women will rise up to put an end to this nonsense, sort of like the way atheists are able to express themselves freely nowadays, it will become normal for women to have hairy legs or whatever. Bearded women will become hip! :)

Or maybe not.... I don't know... it sounds pretty ridiculous doesn't it?

But I think it would still be more logical. Let me also add that I can't guarantee that I'll find hairy women physically more attractive, habits are not so easy to overcome. Nevertheless, I can guarantee that I'll do my best and so should we all! For freedom! :)

I found the link to that article through Wikipedia by the way, there might be much better sources out there.

UPDATE: This is much better:
The History of American Women and Hair Removal, 1914-1934

With a lot more details but conclusions are similar:

“…Hair removal was introduced through the efforts of three different industries, the men’s hair removal industry, the women’s clothing fashion industry, and the women’s magazine industry, each of which recognized and sought to profit from women’s new role as consumers. These industries appealed to women’s acceptance of gender norms, marketing hair removal as a necessary feminine trait that could be achieved through the consumption of hair removal products. … The industry’s promotion of the practice of hair removal, combined with upper-class consumerism, succeeded in redefining femininity to include yet another element: the hair-free body…”

*: Do men really have to shave that regularly? Getting regularly short/long hair cut? Expensive suits? Certain types of shoes? High-heels? Fashion? Makeup? Any of it really logical? Getting married? Sports fans? Nationalism? Military? Money? And I'm not even talking about religion/Christmas/mother's day etc... Take the world from another point of view!

See also: Culture and the individual by Aldous Huxley.

"Do you have ideas, or do ideas have you?"

A little addition:

Although not directly related, this article contains a lot of information about the nature of desire and it's interesting:

NYTimes - What Do Women Want?

My personal view is that it's probable that the cultural influences are the strongest factor in shaping women's or men's art of sexual desires. For example that discussion in the article would be fundamentally different if native American or African tribal cultures were studied, I think...

And this book is directly related:

"The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women" by Naomi Wolf

Didn't read it myself, but I think I roughly know what it's saying. And it should also be stated that Naomi is not exactly "unbeautiful" herself... I don't know what's up with that. The need to conform or old habits maybe...or something else... But the point she makes in the book is probably more about avoiding obsession with the imposed standards of modern western beauty, instead of avoiding it all completely. So I think it's alright if she doesn't precisely walk the walk.

UPDATE: Some relevant stuff I found interesting: Do not "worship" hair.
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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Just interesting...

"...there was a widely publicized controversy over the research of two physicists in France (the brothers Igor and Grichka Bogdanov). At issue was whether the published work of the Bogdanovs, which consisted of speculations about the universe before the Big Bang, was intended seriously or as a parody of contemporary cosmology. The truth turned out to be more damning than any parody: the Bogdanovs were serious but nobody could tell--so their colleagues were forced to admit that much research today is indistinguishable from a joke."

Hehe... Bogdanov Affair!

This is irrelevant but also interesting:
Nazi angel of death Josef Mengele 'created twin town in Brazil'

I wonder what's the theory... He had potions of eugenics? Sounds weird.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Epidemic of Unawareness

We live in a ridiculous world and people pretend that all is relatively well. Delusions.
We still have a very long way to go until we as humanity can more or less begin to consciously form our own future and I sincerely doubt we'll make it.

I may write more in detail about this, I may not. Just look around...carefully... Compare your ideals with what we currently have for example. If you don't see a problem after that then start questioning your ideals.

P.S. I decided to write this while I was listening to Blade Runner Blues, but I doubt it affected my objectivity. More probably it just affected my focus.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Why God(or space-time) Doesn't Exist - A Critique of Mathematical Physics

I think this is very important, it certainly had an impact on me:

Scientists don't know what Science is

(By the way, this is the real introduction Gaede chose to feature on his website: A new language. It might make more sense to read through that before you begin with what I chose to feature here.)

I'll talk and read more about it later... For now here are a few summary-like quotes about the fundamentals of his arguments, but you'll probably need to read much more to understand what Bill Gaede is really saying and the implications of it:

"...In a world where the number of opinions seems to rise in proportion to population, if we are to talk consistently about a particular subject (let alone reach a decision), it would be in the interest of all parties to begin by rigorously defining the words that serve as currency in the discussion. The more accurate our definitions, the better we communicate and understand each other. Specifically, we should develop a definition of science that:

• distinguishes between ordinary speech and scientific language
• accounts for the humanities while distancing science from pseudo or patently non-science.
So? What then is Science? How do we define this mysterious word?...

...Science is not about predictions, falsification, or experimentation. Science is about presenting a theory in a logical manner. The definition of science also makes no provision for mathematical equations. An equation is just a description, and a description alone is not science. A scientific theory consists of an explanation...

...A theory is an explanation of how (cause) or why (reason, purpose) something happened. Where predictions and guesses have to do exclusively with the future, a theory deals exclusively with the past. Science ONLY deals with consummated events. Science does not deal with predictions or with experiments. Whether a researcher carried out or will carry out an experiment is irrelevant. The role of Science is to explain a phenomenon rationally so that the jury understands how or why it happened. The role of Math is merely to describe how something behaved either at hypothesis or at theory. If a hypothesis is a narrative -- an ideally objective description -- a theory is a subjective explanation.

The establishment erroneously believes that a show of hands summarily converts a theory into a fact. Here I do my best to debunk such misconceptions. There is no Legislature of Knowledge. You can at best persuade another human being that you have discovered one of Mother Nature's secrets. Whether you have really discovered a secret of hers is something only she knows for sure...

...let me say it bluntly: There are no experiments in Science! Whether you ran an experiment to prove your theory is irrelevant in Science. Science has to do with communication; not with experimentation...The purpose of an experiment is to add weight to argument and coax the jury to change its mind. A consummated experiment is just another piece of evidence and, as Popper noted, constitutes neither proof nor knowledge...

[Example: ...Certainly, the ultimate reason we are still debating whether Evolution and Creationism qualify as science is because we have not defined the word science unambiguously. For instance, Gould declares Evolution to be among the best-documented concepts in all of science. He suggests that Evolution is not just as theory, but should be accepted as a universally recognized fact. Thompson and Harrub accuse Gould of stealthily promoting Evolution from theory to fact to gain the high ground in the discussion. Demar, a determined opponent of Evolution, argues that the alleged ‘fact’ Gould talks about does not even meet the minimum standards of the scientific method. Evolution has never been observed and cannot be reproduced experimentally; therefore, it is unconscionable to sell Evolution as science in the classroom.

...Like all scientific theories, the Theory of Evolution is comprised of fact and opinion, evidence and theory, and we must learn not to confuse them. The Darwinists confuse finding bones in a given layer of earth (facts and evidence) with their interpretation of the finding (theory and proof). A fossil is evidence of a fact (i.e., that something happened). How long it has been there, why it is there, and whom these remains belong to are either statements of fact or theories, but never facts.]


...A scientific definition is one that can be used consistently... A scientific definition is timeless and observer-less (i.e., proof-less). When initially brainstormed, it is usually in a rudimentary form and therefore receives a broad interpretation. As we realize that the different versions cause communication problems, we begin to restrict the word’s usage in order to express thoughts with increasing precision. A perfect definition is one that has been refined to the point where everyone interprets exactly the same thing... It is axiomatic that without definitions we would be unable to formulate hypotheses or explain theories. Without them we cannot communicate ideas. This argument alone should place definitions in a more prominent position than they enjoy today in science. The mainstream doesn’t even allude to definitions indirectly in its definition of the term scientific method....


...What does science hope to achieve? Does a scientist investigate the past by reading up on a little bit of history or tempt the future by running an experiment? Is a biologist who studies birds a scientist? What about a relativist who jumps from a ladder to test how fast he hits the ground? Are these activities what we call science? What if, after observing birds for a year, the biologist didn’t learn anything? What if the relativist arrived at the wrong conclusions or designed the experiment wrong or timed his fall with a lousy watch? How will we know what they did or whether they understood what happened if they fail to publish their findings and open their theories up to criticism? Hopefully, when secondary school kids take science courses they either read something that someone wrote or tell the class what they learned from a personal experience. Without communication, science is dead.

Science involves two distinct individuals: a detective and a prosecutor. A detective is a lab technician, a researcher, an engineer, the fellow who finds happiness in observing and tempting nature. Think of Galileo, Fresnel, Faraday, Michelson, and Curie, individuals who labored incessantly and somewhat selflessly to sift secrets from Mother Nature. An investigator has an insatiable curiosity, especially for phenomena that appear to work by magic...

...The detective is a highly admired individual, but unfortunately a relatively inconsequential phase of science. The detective can make countless predictions, run countless successful experiments, develop the most sophisticated technology, and still understand nothing about nature, which is actually the present situation in science...

...But even if the detective did understand something it wouldn’t matter anyway. A detective is accountable to no one but himself. If he is lucky, he gets the theory right, but if he is equally unfortunate and suffers a heart attack from the excitement a moment later, he takes his secret to his grave and Science is neither the better nor the worse for it.

It is when the detective changes hats and becomes a lawyer that science really vibrates. Science has to do with information bequeathed from one generation to another. Like an opera villain, the prosecutor is the true anti-hero, the embodiment of the scientific method. We confer medals upon and glorify popular prosecutors especially when they cheat, lie, and steal successfully. On the other hand, no one gives a damn about an anonymous although diligent and decent detective.

The role of the prosecutor is not to run experiments, but to communicate ideas to others and help them understand...

...The prosecutor is the individual that the establishment has overlooked because of its insistence on research and experiment. The mainstream has mistakenly concluded that an experiment is a necessary ingredient of science because of the alleged impressive successes of the first to use the Inductive Method (Bacon, Galileo, Brahe), from the stunning accomplishments of technology (radio, TV, computers, rockets, the A-bomb), and from the seemingly successful explanations offered by theoretical Physics (gravity, light, and our Universe). The erroneous idea has developed that without an experiment (or Math) the prosecutor only has a tentative explanation: a hypothesis. And if the tentative explanation is not even supported by observation, the prosecutor is merely speculating or guessing.

Actually, a prosecutor only rarely runs an experiment in the courtroom, and when he does, he has slyly put on yet a third hat that has nothing to do with science or with the scientific method. The prosecutor is now acting as a politician. The purpose of an experiment is to add weight to argument and coax the jury to change its mind. A consummated experiment is just another piece of evidence and, as Popper noted, constitutes neither proof nor knowledge...

...To summarize, the detective is a person who wants to learn what happened whereas the prosecutor is responsible for exposing the results of an investigation to public scrutiny. A prosecutor that doesn’t communicate ideas is just a detective, and a detective holding on to his secrets contributes nothing to science...


...Physical objects are not only absolutely necessary for a theory of Physics, but also for any scientific theory. A prosecutor should be able to make a movie of his theory because this is what a theory is: an explanation. A theory is a story of how or why a physical phenomenon happened. Every verb, adjective, and adverb that the prosecutor pronounces implicitly alludes to a physical object. Without objects, the prosecutor is simply not doing Science. It is at this fundamental level where the theories of Mathematical Physics fail the scientific method.... is important to reinforce that science is distinct from technology. We may discover what artifacts nature allows us to build through trial and error yet understand nothing about what makes them tick. Man realized early that two magnets attract each other and eventually discovered that he could use magnets to deflect cathode rays. We use this technology to build TVs and computers. However, to this day not a single person on Earth can explain to you what is physically happening. Why does one magnet physically attract and then repel another. The 'experts' at think tanks like Cambridge and Harvard only have opinions about the physical nature of magnetic fields and electrons (and misconceived ones at that). Science has to do with theoretical interpretations (i.e., explanations and opinions). Technology has to do with objects developed mostly through trial and error..."

He also has a YouTube channel: bgaede

For example this video should help distinguish between a description and an explanation: Why do the magnets work the way they do?

P.S. Thanks to Chris Noble for the information about this website.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Mom

My mother just sent me this, I wonder what she wants to say:

I wouldn't have found it as entertaining if I were still living with my mom. :) But right now, I thought it was well made. She's still being irrational sometimes though, at least I can ignore her nowadays...

P.S. The lyrics are apparently created by a comedian named Anita Renfroe but the Northland Church folks definitely communicate it much more efficiently. She describes this condition depicted in that song in another video like this: ...I thought I was going to be the cool mom, the one who never said all that stuff... Something happens in your brain and you become this machine of Compulsive Counsel Disorder where you have to say these things all the time... Then you hear it coming out of your mouth, it's like slow motion and you can't stop it.

I found that interesting. And then there is also The Dad Song of course... Fair enough I guess... :)