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May 28 2010

Spinster aunt has nothing better to do than bloviate on the same topic as yesterday

The argument has been made that intuition is superior to science because it is somehow free of the oppressive misogynist entanglements that encumber its dude-dominated counterpart. A spin-off of this argument says that, because academia has traditionally given (and continues to give) women the stink-eyed bum’s rush, science is antifeminist and, presumably, must be shunned in favor of this women-centric intuition dealio.

Unfortunately, it is not possible for any concept, process, person, or cognitive function to exist outside of patriarchy. That’s what patriarchy is: a world order with firmly established and inescapable auspices. Science, like everything else on the planet, is Dude Nation’s minion, yes, but “intuition” doesn’t exist in a magical patriarchy-free zone merely because it is associated with women’s reality. In fact, it is because of patriarchy that women were assigned the supposedly unique and mystical power of hunchiness the first place.

Thus do we dispense with the first argument. Onward to Argument 2!

It is understandable and even necessary that feminist women should cast a jaundiced eye upon such facts as have been amassed by a scientific community that exists primarily to serve the megatheocorporatocracy. More than a few of these ‘facts’ have been used to smush women (and other sentient beings) over the past couple of hundred years, for the exclusive benefit of the ruling class (primarily Penis-Americans). Furthermore, nobody can argue that the science community isn’t really fucking sexist; more than a few women have contributed to scientific discovery, only to be ignored by both the Nobel committee and the PBS documentary that popularizes the breakthrough during pledge drive.

But the statement “science harms women” is not as accurate as is “the application, by misogynist knobs, of scientific method to systems of oppression harms women.”

Science is just knowledge, and scientific method is just a way of acquiring it. Because our world order is predicated on a pack of lies, it is, of course, incumbent on the individual to determine the truth and/or philosophic value in anything presented as scientific fact, but it is imprudent, backward, and self-destructive to curl a suspicious lip at knowledge itself (I will stop short of calling it irrational, since self-destruction may sometimes be seen as a reasonable solution to certain insurmountable pickles; however, such situations are generally the result of the fundamental incompatibility of fully-realized humanity and oppression culture).

Anyways, I assert that knowledge not acquired through scientific method is way more suspect than that which is acquired through scientific method, on accounta, without quantifiable, measurable evidence to which analysis has been applied and upon which the full force of one’s awesome intellective powers has been brought to bear, what you got there is unsupported assertion based on reasoning that may or may not be flawed, but you’ll never know, because you didn’t run your shit through the Number 1 Science Information Test Lab.

Another term for “unsupported assertion based on reasoning that may or may not be flawed, but you’ll never know, because you didn’t run your shit through the Number 1 Science Information Test Lab” is belief. I could give you 7,894,532 examples of goofy or uncool results obtained from the confusion of belief with fact, and maybe I will, if my secretary Phil ever gets back from Starbuck’s with my double Caffe Immenso. Until then, perhaps 2 or 3 will suffice.

One example of flawed reasoning substituted for scientific inquiry, recently mentioned by a couple of blamers, is the tragic vaccines-cause-autism movement: my kid got vaccinated, my kid developed autism, therefore vaccines cause autism.

Another imperfect grasp of causation was famously demonstrated by the cargo cults of the South Pacific: some folks in New Guinea, having observed fabulous wealth being offloaded from war planes during WW II, erroneously concluded that technology-shaped things cause cool stuff to appear, and believed that they could attract more cool stuff by building imitation landing strips and replica airplanes out of vegetation, and by marching around in homemade military uniforms carrying gun-shaped pieces of wood.

Wait, wait, here’s a hot one (also vaccine-related): the notion, put forth by godbag misogynist politicians, that vaccinating teenage girls against papillomavirus causes them to turn into sluts.

Still another term for “unsupported assertion based on reasoning that may or may not be flawed, but you’ll never know because you didn’t run your shit through the Number 1 Science Information Test Lab” is intuition.

You know? I’m gonna go ahead and assert that ‘intuition’, a psycho-clairvoyant precognitive Spidey sense, doesn’t even exist. I prefer the term ‘insight’ to denote the process of observation and deduction applied at knee-jerk light-speed by the free-flowing neurotransmitters of a well-greased lobe. Like when you invent the wheel, or when you’re strolling along, and you encounter a stick, and your lobe sends up a flare, and sure enough the stick turns out to be a snake. That sort of thing.

It is true that, as an oppressed class, women have been trained to ignore, at least in certain circumstances, this handy and useful brain function, with the untoward result that we’ve become more compliant with the mandates of rape culture than if we’d been encouraged from birth to exercise to the max our awesome lobe-powers. We are exhorted (and rewarded when we do) to place a higher premium on conformity than we do on our own safety and well-being, even when the free-flowing neurotransmitters of our well-greased lobe initially suggest “No! Stop! Don’t do it, fool!”

Suppression of lobe function is how women end up married to schmucks, wearing high heels, faking orgasms, getting boob jobs, and smiling coyly at strangers with candy.

But heck, isn’t there a baby-with-the-bathwater thing going on with this full-bore embrace of the myth of intuition at the expense of actual science? The insight-bush might bear the occasional fruit, but the lobe isn’t omniscient! The lobe can’t predict the future! The lobe simply cannot intuit which of the brown spiders, purple mushrooms, or lumps in your boob will kill you! You need actual knowledge to traverse this treacherous terrain. This kind of knowledge comes from science.

While this so-called ‘intuition’ dealio may give satisfactory results as an immediate dispenser of just prejudice in emergencies, when there’s time, why not send the old intuition around to a couple of the other lobes for some rational analysis? Why not check out what some other people have done, rational analysis-wise, with their so-called intuitions? Why cling to myth, assumption, fallacy, or belief? And what about intellectual curiosity? What about enbiggening the horizons of human endeavor?

Persistent and willful ignorance is the enemy of liberation! A life that eschews science is a life is lived entirely in the present, like that of a beetle, or a puppy. And although puppies possess several enviable attributes, a surpassing appreciation of the value of truth isn’t one of’em.

Although it can possibly be said that puppies are themselves cosmic articulations* of truth.

________________
*I anthropomorphize the cosmos in this fashion for purposes of sentimentality and poeticalness only.

107 comments

3 pings

  1. ma'am

    “Suppression of lobe function is how women end up married to schmucks, wearing high heels, faking orgasms, getting boob jobs, and smiling coyly at strangers with candy.”

    In other words, being poor scientists. The evidence is pretty clear on what this is going to get you. If only we had the scientific training to examine the evidence rather than ignore it.

  2. humanbein

    That’s an end on it. What else could be said?

    My only crumb is the note that belief is a continuum, not a binary, and as usual, we argue when we see the same thing from one of these two perspectives. I believe that certain science was done as correctly as possible, so when I get on a plane I expect it to fly without any real proof to back up my belief. Other things I believe less, like evolutionary psychology or the ineffable joys of a Beaty S M lifestyle.

  3. Blind Horse

    Well-put! I am ineffably glad to have found this blog, both for my ongoing blamer edification as well as my personal entertainment. Caffe Immenso, forsooth!

  4. Pinko Punko

    maybe I will, if my secretary Phil ever gets back from Starbuck’s with my double Caffe Immenso

    And I note to B.D. Lee the evidence of our spider’s unwilling largesse and its conversion to caffeinated beverage. Phil!

  5. SargassoSea

    “Number 1 Science Information Test Lab.”

    STOP reading the spam. Really.

  6. Saphire

    Great post!

    A general sidenote – I always wonder how science gets from everything having to be testable and provable – to evolutionary psychology, where the less falsifiable it is the better!

    Haha it’s as if the patriarchy got its own little plaque in, because it sensed science had a bit too much power and women weren’t suffering enough under said power. We’ll call it ‘evolutionary psychology’.

  7. liberality

    First off, I am going to say I am in agreement with all of what you say. We have to figure out a system to test reality and that is what science is all about.

    About the vaccination debate: it isn’t that people are arguing against vaccinations are against the theory of vaccinating their children. What they are against is the preservative used in the vaccinations. It is mercury, or what is called thimerosal, which is bad for you but cheap for the drug companies. It would cost a few more pennies to use a higher quality of preservative in the vaccination and that is what we want–not mercury which is a poison.

    For more information go to: http://www.healing-arts.org/children/vaccines/vaccines-mercury.htm

  8. ivyleaves

    Terrific, with one minor quibble – I would choose “(primarily Penis-Caucasians)” over “(primarily Penis-Americans),” although given the direction of excrement flow, and considering the distribution of world population, just plain-old “(primarily Penises)” would do, even if less fun to read.

  9. Jill

    What they are against is the preservative used in the vaccinations. It is mercury, or what is called thimerosal, which is bad for you but cheap for the drug companies. It would cost a few more pennies to use a higher quality of preservative in the vaccination and that is what we want–not mercury which is a poison.

    I did not know this.

    Drug companies! Is there anything they won’t stoop to? Poisoning the baby vaccines! That’s a new low, even for an industry that poisons people for a living.

  10. Inverarity

    Evolutionary psychology is exactly the sort of “intuition”-based reasoning, masquerading as science, that some folks have been holding up as preferable to actual science. Of course they weren’t holding up evpsych itself as desirable, but when you say “Science is limited, and there are other models of discovering truth, and I’ll trust my intuition over evidence that can be tested and examined in a lab,” etc., you get stuff like evpsych, which is someone’s “intuition” about why women are naturally inclined to love babies and scrubbing toilets, and why men are naturally inclined to be rapists.

  11. Jezebella

    There has been neither mercury nor thimerosol in vaccines since at least 1999:

    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/thimerosal/index.html

  12. Jill

    OK, liberality, the website to which you link says that the mercury in a kid vaccine is equivalent to a can of tuna. And also that you can get the childhood vaccines without thimerosal. Also that suffering and death rates have, on the whole, declined pretty significantly since the introduction of mass innoculations. Agreed that it would suck if yours was the one kid in 20,000 who couldn’t tolerate a tuna-can’s worth of mercury, though.

  13. Jill

    Whoa, now the CDC says

    “Since 2001, with the exception of some influenza (flu) vaccines, thimerosal is not used as a preservative in routinely recommended childhood vaccines.”

    See what I mean about individual verification of “facts”?

    Maybe if I build a unicorn castle out of mud and live oak branches, unicorns will come to live with me. Maybe if I build a life-size replica of the Enterprise out of tuna cans, Scotty will beam me up.

    Meanwhile,

    I would choose “(primarily Penis-Caucasians)” over “(primarily Penis-Americans)

    Funny you should mention it, because in an earlier draft of this post I had it as ‘honky Penis-Americans’; I’m not sure why it’s not still there, because ‘honky’ is a funny-ass word that I try to use as often as possible.

  14. Pinko Punko

    Jill,

    The vaccine debate is as legitimate as the global warming debate, but less pernicious because what are a few thousand to tens of thousands of childhood illnesses in the face of glorious planetary extinction (from a revolutionary perspective, notwithstanding the usual classist and elitist outcomes of disadvantaged people boiling into space first). Thimerosal has been removed from most vaccines, although there is no evidence that it has been linked to to any adverse affects by its inclusion in vaccines. I also believe that thimerosal used to be present in contact lens solutions. It was used not out of cheapness but because it was incredibly effective at preventing contamination in vaccines.

    The arguments against vaccines have been as follows and none of them are scientific.

    A) MMR is bad for kids, gives them autism- based on a fraudulent study by an unethical Doc with massive conflicts of interest. Initial claim was that single vaccines would be better.

    B) Subsequently it was stated that it wasn’t the MMR vaccine, it was the preservative, thimerosal, that caused autism. This is supported by no evidence whatsoever. Massive epidemiological studies- the “science” in question of this excellent post- show no link between thimerosal and the poisoning of babies by autism or toxins or whatnot.

    C) Finally, the claims are moving to the fact that it isn’t the thimerosal causing autism, it is the fact that perturbation of babies immune systems through the vaccination itself is what makes babies autistic.

    There is no evidence for any of these claims, but they are being used to foment an anti-science rampage that is allowing almost extinct childhood diseases to take hold again. Measles, mumps, rubella.

    The arguments against science in these cases are now that the monied interests, Big Pharma (related to Big Penis) is automatically such a signifier of conflict of interest that any scientific information regarding a medical question can automatically be held as highly suspect. However, what is put in place of this de facto delegitimized science is a giant bowl of HunchBerry Crunch. This is what makes this “skepticism” actually denial. There is no information that would be able to convince the “skeptic” that any of the science would be legitimate. This is anti-science, and is the same as those that say because science is a tool of the knob, it basically doesn’t exist, or only exists knob-free in an unreachable form.

  15. Pinko Punko

    Jesus! How does moderation know that there is even a chance that I might be “mansplaining”??- I don’t think I was, but maybe it doesn’t like a numbered list.

  16. Pinko Punko

    Damn it. I used the word p*nis again. Frak.

  17. Jill

    PP, it is not necessary to put “mansplaining” in quotation marks; on this blog it is as legitimate a concept as “rolling tarantulas for Starbucks money.”

  18. ivyleaves

    Honkey, hmm. Which is really funny because I completely missed the lack of whiteness in “Penis-Americans” and was going for something more global profiting off of oppression with “Penis-Caucasians.” I think “Honky-ass Hetero-Penises” should cover the the tip-top of the pyramid nicely.

  19. yttik

    That really is an excellent wrap up, Jill.

    In the other thread it was said that the term “science” is being used as a stand in for “rationalism.” Minervak also mentioned rationalism is the realm of patriarchy. Yes, and rationalism has been used as a weapon, a tool against women for centuries. It is no wonder that many of us cringe at the idea of praising “rationalism” as if it were some kind of ideal. Being rational does not mean you are thinking based on facts and reason like one would assume, it simply means you have a penis. Men are always rational, even when they’ve quite logically just murdered their entire family in a completely understandable response to the bad economy.

  20. Orange

    The biggest hooey on the vaccine/autism front is that the thimerosal was removed 11 years ago, many parents moved to splitting up vaccinations or delivering them on a spaced-out schedule, and some parents wholly refused to have their children vaccinated. And yet! And yet! Autism diagnoses have not waned in the slightest, have they? In fact, I think (but can’t find the reputable stats to support this, because I’m feeling Google-lazy at the moment) that autism diagnoses have actually continued to rise. My woman’s intuition tells me maybe the vaccines were preventing some cases of autism, and broader acceptance of vaccination would slow the trend. I’m just blowing smoke up y’all’s ass with that, but the evidence for that is just as strong as for “vaccines/thimerosal cause autism” (which means “ain’t no evidence no-how”).

    I would like to see more research into the omnipresent chemicals in our environment (in the water supply, in foods, in sunscreens, etc.) and how they might exert harmful effects on humans. As those things accumulate in the environment and in our bodies over time, it could make sense that certain illnesses start to crop up more. But conjecture isn’t enough—we need scientific researchers to do the experiments and crunch the data.

  21. Virginia S. Wood, Psy.D.

    Unfortunately, science coming out of and/or funded by BigPharma is suspect, not because the science itself is badly done, but because there is so much evidence (the legal kind, not the scientific kind) that there is often other science that Big Pharma didn’t like and therefore suppressed.

    It is indeed unfortunate when bad people/institutions get conflated with bad science, and everybody throws the baby out with the bathwater.

    I second the motion that this “argument” has been satisfactorily put to rest. Awesome essay, your Twisty Jillness. Can we go back to blamer invective now?

  22. ambivalent academic

    This essay is full of good and truthiness.

    In perusing the threads that inspired it, I surmise that part of the motivation in throwing the baby out with the bathwater in favor of this mystic woman’s intuition idea is conflation of the scientific method’s requirement for reproducible data with rejection of women’s individual experience in favor of dudely “objective reality”.

    The conflation is easy to come to when every time a women opens her mouth, some dude rushes over to tell her that she’s wrong because it’s a scientific fact that her experiences are wrong. Happens all the damn time on various science/feminist blogs (and pretty much everywhere else too I’m sure – that’s just where I do most of my reading).

    1) Woman relates her experience (which may or may not have any damn thing to do with science or dudes).

    2) Fauxgressive rationskeptikalsciencedude comes along and tells woman that she’s got it ALL WRONG!! Her analysis of her own experience can’t possibly be real or true or meaningful because it is only one subjective (and dare I say, irrational) point of view on a singularity, and science cannot comment on singularities (because see reproducibility above) and therefore her analysis is unscientific and ergo for all intents and purposes whatever she experienced did not, in fact, even happen. And besides, even if it other women say it is true or have had similar experiences, they cannot have happened either, because HE has not had a similar experience and one of the underpinnings of the scientific method is that empirical evidence is that which can be observed by anyone. Since he’s never seen it, there is no empirical evidence, therefore, not real. Because he has a penis and is therefore not only objective, but the arbiter of all that is objective and real.

    ALL THE TIME this happens.

    However, it must be noted that while the fauxgressive dude is invoking all sorts of rationalskepticalscientifical sounding language, he is not doing science and he is not using the scientific method in this exchange. He is just being a douche, as he is wont to do everywhere he goes.

    It is not science that is trying to silence women’s experiences. It is asshat-wearing dudes who hate women and they are falsely claiming their actions to be in service of science much in the same way as various and sundry godbags running around killing people in the name of their various and sundry infinitely wise and compassionate powerful deities.

  23. Comrade PhysioProf

    This fucking blog is turning into Pharyngula, but without the stupid motherfucking squids and knobs.
    UNSUBSCRIBERING!

  24. yttik

    Many mothers who are against vaccines, claim that they don’t trust the government and the pharmaceutical industry. It is us living in the patriarchy that labels these mothers flaky and intuitive, anti-science and irrational. They are not, they are making a well reasoned decision, perhaps not the one that I would make, but darned if I can find one piece of scientific evidence suggesting the pharmaceutical industry is worthy of their trust.

    They are not questioning science, they are questioning the authority that controls the science.

  25. Jill

    Can we go back to blamer invective now?

    No. From here on out I am going to write nothing but rebuttals to arguments against science that were never made.

  26. Pinko Punko

    The thing about “mom’s intuition” and “parents’ choices” is that those terms are also shady rhetorical devices used by all sorts of interests to insulate ideas in a shell of defensiveness. “Great Mom’s know that Kids Love Lunchables™” “Parent’s know best about what is right for their children- no gay teachers! no toxic vaccines! No atheists! Chocolate cheerios! Pink crap for the Goob!” There are always interests that will try to manipulate others into agreeing with them. Nobody wants to be the only one that thinks how they do, and they want to manipulate others into the same frame. They will use everything at their disposal to do so, whether it is science or parental intuition that is being used as leverage. It is of course a lot easier when the issues are complicated and you are just supposed to “believe”, in place of having the training to understand. This is what makes medical decisions very hard. You are asked to trust some authority, and authority that can easily betray that trust. The alternative to trusting that authority is not legitimizing the opposite of that authority. If you don’t trust Big Pharma, why would you trust a Jenny McCarthy, packaged as just a mom learning about stuff, if she’s using the same language to sound as if she makes scientific arguments, but lacking any scientific substance? This is not skepticism, because blanket illegitimacy is denial, not skepticism.

    The “mothers” that are sold to us as not trusting big pharma are just another con. It is an appeal to a view that “mom’s or parents just know” and then they replace it with crap- chelation therapy that has no basis in fact, altered diets that have no basis in fact, altered vaccination schedules that have no basis in fact. Just saying you don’t trust the existing evidence for an alternate position, doesn’t validate the absence of evidence for the position that you hold.

  27. KJB

    Inverarity – That is perhaps the best summary of evo psych I have ever read! THANK YOU.

    I’m sure most of you have seen these before, but for the delectation of all Blamers who have been told by Dudes that they are wrong because they are women – in whatever way, and on various topics – I present feminist bingo cards! The second lot of feminist bingo cards are also linked to in that post.

    I tell you, the knowledge that other women, other feminists are using (and have used) these cards to spot and mock the ghastly spectacle of Dude-entitlement overload is amazingly life-affirming. Gosh, I almost feel teary.

  28. KJB

    Also, <a href="http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2009/08/evolutionary_ps"this post on evo-psych bingo on The F-Word includes links to all the other bingo cards out there – go wild!

  29. KJB

    Oh dear, that should be this post on evo-psych bingo. Definitely cursed on IBTP.

  30. Saphire

    Militant ‘sciencism’ yayyy.

    Think I’ll come back when you’re done kicking the ass out of an anti-science argument that didn’t really exist (probably under a sudonym). It can only be a good thing if it startled everyone and got people to think.

    I accept a reason to like science is because it’s a defence against oppression. But when so much of the patriarchy is based on social norms, science doesn’t really help with that, it hands out labels or tells us what we already know. It doesn’t dig deep enough. Science is trivial if you ask me.

    P.s. your post grandly stating the reasons to worship science could have been a lot better.

  31. Pinko Punko

    Science tells us a lot of things we didn’t already know, thus Hairy God doesn’t physically take the form of a swan or a waterfall and rape women out and about, just metaphorically. Also, about how fruitflies develop, not by spontaneously appearing on crap, but through biological mechanisms.

  32. Pinko Punko

    Science also tells us that giant sky fairies yadda yadda. The list is endless. The trollypants in me wants to say that since Merck gave some poor shmoes heart attacks, therefore aspirin doesn’t work but unicorns do.

    I don’t mean to troll that much, but there you are. I’ll put a lid on it.

  33. Jeff

    http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2010/05/new-vaccine-scheduling-study-deals-blow-to-safety-fears.ars

    On the vaccine thing, just FYI.

  34. yttik

    “Science tells us a lot of things we didn’t already know..”

    Yes, well science is also used as a tool of persecution and as a weapon to invalidate the perceptions of others.

    For example, we have recently been informed that we don’t need mammograms until we’re 50. Shall I bow to the superior wisdom of science, wait for science to self correct and hope I don’t die first, or should I just trust my intuition?

    Needless to say since embracing intuition has saved my life many times, I’m not likely to give it up in favor of some authoritarian piece of science that assumes it knows better.

  35. Saphire

    ‘Science tells us a lot of things we didn’t already know’

    And I’m fascinated. It’s little systemisers playing with toy engines and other things no one is interested in.

    I’m not talking about sky fairies either. Most of what goes on around us has yet to be explained by science.

  36. Saphire

    Why does this argument feel like me and yttik et al are preaching about the patriarchy to a bunch of dudes?

  37. Jill

    “your post grandly stating the reasons to worship science could have been a lot better.”

    Everyone’s a critic.

  38. Pinko Punko

    Argument ab dude does while of course phallusy, is sometimes a fallacy. It might be useful rhetorically, but is neither here nor there. “Most” is a term that is relative. What percent does most equal now versus most from the TIME BEFORE SCIENCE? I would argue that those mosts are now different in every conceivable way.

    Argument from science’s failure to explain everything is not an argument for something besides science. That alternative is less likely to explain those things we don’t understand. Rationalization is not understanding if it is not based on evidence.

    Also, argument from medical recommendations that are based on population and probability is not likely to be successful. The claim that there is some level of wrong regarding scientific proclamations, which are never proclamations, they are of course estimates based on probability and the available evidence. Level of certainty therefore is different for different issues.

  39. Compcat

    Drat! I was all excited that you’d trained a normal sized spider to find you abnormally small twenty dollar bills (since I didn’t have time to read comments and I am also often broke). Now I learn that you are actually holding up abnormally LARGE spiders to obtain coffee funds. Forget that noise! I’d rather keep looking for lost pennies on the ground on my own.

    I was actually introduced to the intuition vs scientific method thing about a decade ago (or more, but who’s counting?). In a literature class. And they were talking about social/cultural studies, not, say, chemistry. And the intuition writer’s main point was that MEN had OBSERVATIONAL biases that they didn’t want to admit. (The writer’s included native peoples in the intuition category, so, intuition, not limited to women at any time, at least by these women writers.)

    The argument was that women had a different way of seeing (or feeling whatever) things that could be useful to research, and therefore, there should be more women in research. At the time, you had to use new age-y terms like intuition in order to get published. I’m pretty sure they don’t use those terms now.

  40. nails

    “For example, we have recently been informed that we don’t need mammograms until we’re 50. Shall I bow to the superior wisdom of science, wait for science to self correct and hope I don’t die first, or should I just trust my intuition? ”

    50 is half a lifetime for many rather than twice the average because of medical science. It isn’t anything to sneeze at.

    You have to do the best you can, just like anyone else in every single situation ever. You can’t be sure you don’t need one until you are fifty- it kinda depends on a lot of risk factors, some which are not known yet. It is your decision in light of the evidence to choose to have one or not. Previous reccomendations reflected the knowledge of the time. I am unsure what you expect people to do about any of this outside of working on it, and they are. There are people who actually care about finding out the truth about all of this. You act like the fact that people developed a way to detect tumors in the breast via mammograms, and that finding them is worth doing because many things can actually be done in response, is a personal offense against you because the risk/reward value of detecting cancer this way has not been fully understood yet. The reason you know that you may not need one until 50 is because someone cared enough to look, and a controversy began around the value of the current screening protocols. It is being looked into to try and spare people the problems associated with mammograms. We do not fully understand the process behind cancer or developing it, or how to stop it, but people are working to try and improve the pool of information about what is the best thing for the general public to do in order to protect themselves. It is a lot of people doing the best they possibly can with imcomplete knowledge, but they are doing something.

    You also need to realize that the beginning of health sciences involved combating things that killed people young and often. The problems of the general population have shifted along with the increased life expectancy that earlier breakthroughs granted them. The problems have changed, it is not the same game that it used to be. I mean, genetics…jeez. We still don’t have it all figured out. Be glad someone is looking so maybe people would be spared in the future. It is a noble goal.

  41. yttik

    “Wait, wait, here’s a hot one (also vaccine-related): the notion, put forth by godbag misogynist politicians, that vaccinating teenage girls against papillomavirus causes them to turn into sluts.”

    Wrapped in fancy paper and called science, but smelling an awful lot like misogyny anyway, is the CDC’s explanation for why we don’t vaccinate boys. It’s because they have determined that the best way to prevent the spread of disease is to vaccinate only girls. Why? Because it is believed that one girl can infect an entire football team. (No, that’s not a CDC quote, but that is what they mean when they claim it is more cost effective.)

    Is the vaccine safe and effective at preventing HPV, genital warts in boys, and possibly some cancers? Yes, absolutely, but we’re hesitant to expose them to any potential risks from the vaccine and besides, girls are really the primary carriers of all disease anyway.

    If science is about questioning everything and accepting nothing at face value, I’m all for it. If science is about creating an authoritarian weapon to invalidate people’s perspectives, then count me out.

  42. Kowalski

    yttik, so mothers of autistic children are women whose opinions should be respected because they are women and therefore can not possibly oppress other people?
    What about autistic women and girls who are harmed by the anti-vaccine conspiracy?
    We exist you know, and we’re humans, a concept the anti-vaccine crowd finds hard to grasp.

    Sapphire,
    “And I’m fascinated. It’s little systemisers playing with toy engines and other things no one is interested in. ”

    Did you really just declare that certain neurotypes are female and others aren’t? As a little systemizer who likes toy engines I need to know this.

    I know I rarely comment here, but the last few threads were seriously headache inducing.

  43. TwissB

    Do I intuit a little indulgence in white guilt in tacking “honky” onto the unpretentiously funny term penis-Americans? No excuses here for ongoing white-perpetrated harm, but I’m not about to let any category of men off the hook for playing their part in perpetuating and collecting the rewards of men’s dominance over women.

  44. nails

    “And I’m fascinated. It’s little systemisers playing with toy engines and other things no one is interested in. ”

    You are saying I am no one. You are ignoring the huge number of people who are fascinated by the world around them, too. Like I said before, nerds who were into seemingly insignificant mysteries discovered world changing and life saving information. You have the luxury of having philosophy conversations where you damn science specifically because your life has been made leisurely by the exact people you condemn. Life was (and still is for many people) a short, painful affair where death comes from many directions and nothing can be done to combat it. You cannot even appreciate that you are here in a state that is much better than your ancestors because of the work of countless people over a long period of time. I appreciate that I didn’t grow up around my friends dying and being disabled by things like polio and the measles, and that food is available for me to eat. There is still an awful lot wrong with the world we live in, but I am still happy that it is not as bad as it has been for so many before me in many ways. I wouldn’t mock anyone who contributed to it being possible for me to be spared so much pain. Imagine how amazing it must feel to be responsible for improving countless peoples lives, too. There is not any shame in you deeming me or other people ‘systemisers’.

    “I’m not talking about sky fairies either. Most of what goes on around us has yet to be explained by science.”

    I don’t know the majority of things, should I attempt to stop learning? Should I stop thinking about how things work? Should I stop caring about what is true and just go with my feelings? I cannot imagine such a thing. Science is the only known approachthat has amounted to anything meaningful. Before that people just made up stories about natural events, making gods to explain things that they could not yet. Little has changed on that front, nothing new has been learned through magical thinking and approaches. A radio would be magical to people of the past, a lack of understanding doesn’t make the phenomenon magical (it doesn’t prove it isn’t, either). I am not sure what you are suggesting I do in place of trying to understand the world around me. I am going with the only thing that has made any progress. If there is some other method that works better I would be happy to see the evidence that it works.

  45. nails

    “Wrapped in fancy paper and called science, but smelling an awful lot like misogyny anyway, is the CDC’s explanation for why we don’t vaccinate boys. It’s because they have determined that the best way to prevent the spread of disease is to vaccinate only girls. Why? Because it is believed that one girl can infect an entire football team. (No, that’s not a CDC quote, but that is what they mean when they claim it is more cost effective.) ”

    I don’t know where you heard this, but that is absolutely not true. A quick google shows that the cdc has said no such thing.

    The reason boys were not having gardisil for awhile was because the initial tests and approvals were performed on women. Tests needed to be done for safety because of the biological differences between men and women. Dudes were tested later. HPV causes cancers in men too, they are just much prevalent (like anal cancer). The makers of the vaccine rightly prioritized cervical cancer and girls in trying to prevent HPV infection.

  46. liberality

    Well my kids are all grown up now but when they were of the age to get these shots there was not an option of thimerosal free vaccines at that time. I still made sure they got their shots though.

    When I was getting a flu shot last winter I could get a thimerosal free shot but had to pay $10.00 extra for it. I thought this was grand and made sure to show up for a flu shot, first time ever.

    But then oops, sorry, we don’t have any of those kinds of shots the health department nurse informed me once I got to their clinic so I didn’t get the thimerosal-free shot after all even though it was my preference. My point though was that it was the first time I had ever been offered another option. I think that these parents have made a big enough stink about this issue that only NOW are we sorta, kinda getting another option.

    Also, pregnant women are warned not to eat too much tuna because there is so much pollution in seafood now and it is not good for her or her unborn child, so the argument that if it’s in seafood it can’t be that bad doesn’t comfort me much.

    However, once I get to work this coming Tuesday and can access high speed internet I will check out the sites listed here because I do believe in looking at all the evidence and if I’m wrong then I’m wrong and okay with that.

  47. nails

    The vaccine debate has nothing to do with women not being listened to due to patriarchy. A dude doctor named Andrew Wakefield came up with the initial idea (complete with a crap tastic study) and the media ran with the story. Then, some mothers who had heard about the story decided that their kid’s autism was related. The fact that the rise in autism correlates with a million different technologies emerging and has a sex distribution pattern that suggests a genetic link was left out of news reports. Scaring the crap out of the population and selling papers is more important to media. Andrew Wakefield isn’t allowed to do much outside of make speeches anymore, he was seriously unethical and had his license as a physician revoked. He was recruiting for blood draws at his kid’s birthday party, handing out fivers to kids who would be willing to be on the business end of a needle (yeah, seriously, and doctors almost never draw blood so I bet he did an awful job). The vaccine stories in the media were never retracted once conclusive studies showed that there was not any meaningful correlation, and so some parents end up killing their children via preventable disease. Other people who have had their kids vaccinated paid the price of having the herd immunity broken down, as did people with weakened immune systems. The effect of anti science attitudes spreads out and effects humans as a species. I would not be so concerned if it really was a matter of unvaccinated people only sickening themselves. Undoing the work of countless people because of ignorance makes me extremely sad.

  48. Pinko Punko

    nails,

    Wakefield is even worse than that- see my comment above, but also how patient records don’t match in his study and how he was also looking at IBS, so these kids in his initial crapfest had to do all sorts of inappropriate tests. And all the money he took from lawyers looking to make a case. Such a terrible person, of course along with The Sun and The Daily Mail.

  49. yttik

    “Undoing the work of countless people because of ignorance makes me extremely sad.”

    Nails, why would you blame it on the ignorance of misled mothers rather then on the greed of government and corporations? If people are becoming less trusting of science, it does not necessarily mean that people are growing more ignorant. It could mean that those distributing the science are becoming less trustworthy. The rational response when science is being constantly bought and sold by drug companies is to stop trusting the science altogether.

    I had a kid who reacted violently to DPT, that 1 in several hundred thousand who will. She survived. We no longer use that kind of DPT in the US, we have one that is much safer. For years I got to hear how I must be too stupid to understand how serious pertussis is, as if I had not spent sleepless nights tormented by trying to make the choice between death by seizures or death by whooping cough. When you are holding the evidence of imperfect science in your arms, it really sucks to be told that maybe you just don’t understand all the research properly.

  50. minervaK

    Bagdamn it, I came back here to clarify my last comment (after realizing that I hadn’t successfully concluded my argument about who’s responsible when the car goes off the bridge), and what do I find but a brand new post in which everything I was gonna say has already been said, only better.

  51. nails

    Every major sector of the economy is subject to that. The health sciences have much more oversight and monitoring than most though, to try and keep people safe. Industries like IT and communications are much more corrupted, but it doesn’t mean your phone and computer do not work. Medical sciences are comparitively open (like pubmed) so you can examine the evidence.

    For the record, I work in a hospital. I have stayed in one with less than desirable results. I know that there is a human cost to imperfect medical science. It is terrible. BUT, it is SOMETHING, and without the dedicated effort of a crapload of people there would be no alternatives at all and there would be a lot more dead children to mourn and a lot more pain in the world.

    And yes, people are getting more ignorant about science. There is data tracking exactly how far behind everyone else we are, and how it worsened over time. People think the earth is 6,000 years old here. That is really really REALLY bad, and it has to do with willful ignorance and a culture of anti-intellectualism. It is a question of understanding. The mind struggles to justify some other explanation in the face of theories like evolution and gravity. How we know that something is true is a hard question to answer, and science is rigorous in response, it has to be in order to be useful. Saying this has nothing to do with your kid and whooping cough- making a call like that has very little do to with understanding how the human body works and everything to do with weighing two really shitty outcomes for your child. A person with health science knowledge would not automatically know what was preferable in that situation, it sounds like both had potentially serious outcomes and there isn’t any gauruntee with shit like this. Having a sick child doesn’t mean you are dumb or don’t understand research. Your persistent effort to pin non science problems onto science is. You aren’t tackling the issue here at all. I have a feeling that you do not know a lot of about it because of that.

  52. Jill

    “Do I intuit a little indulgence in white guilt in tacking “honky” onto the unpretentiously funny term penis-Americans? No excuses here for ongoing white-perpetrated harm, but I’m not about to let any category of men off the hook for playing their part in perpetuating and collecting the rewards of men’s dominance over women.”

    I can always count on TwissB to monitor my every syllable for possible ideological flaws! Two Three Four things:

    1. I didn’t actually use the word honky in the post; I merely alluded to having edited it out at some point. So that’s some hardcore monitoring! I’m relieved you don’t get to see all my rough drafts.

    2. Honky penis-Americans, as opposed to penis-Americans of color, actually do make up the majority of the ruling class, which ruling class was the class under discussion in the passage in question.

    3. As for my sometime use of the word honky, in place of white, where the Flying Fickle Finger of Blame points at white privilege: I consider it a funnier, more pejorative, more (George) Jeffersonian word.

    4. White guilt? Of course I’ve got white guilt. I’ve got Jewish guilt and Catholic guilt, too. Also survivor’s guilt. They haven’t invented a social guilt from which I don’t suffer.

  53. Helen Huntingdon

    It could mean that those distributing the science are becoming less trustworthy.

    Well, duh. That would be the media. Speaking as a scientist who has had to deal with the media, I’ve gotten some first-hand experience at how grim the process is.

    The key is that when media people come to you, they already have a story in mind that they want to tell. You can’t change it. The most you can do is make it as easy as possible for them to tell the unvarnished truth, and hope. Best not to waste too much energy on the hope though.

    This is the media fulfilling its function, which is not to inform people, but to deliver an audience to advertisers. A very simple follow-the-money analysis shows you this. Accurate science reporting doesn’t work nearly so well as sensationalism at delivering audiences to advertisers. Over the last 10-15 years, I’ve seen what few media outlets could be depended on to be reasonable when they did report science discard that practice in favor of absurd tabloidism.

    Yet again, you’re pinning stuff on science that has nothing to do with science.

    Why the heck would you trust the science of mammograms in the first place, if science is so untrustworthy? I mean, you are irradiating your boobs and giving them a nasty mangle at the same time. Why does that make you less suspicious than, “Now that the practice has been in place long enough to accumulate data to show it, it turns out
    in this particular age range yearly mammograms are doing more harm then good”? Bizarre. Oh, and please turn off your a/c, disconnect your electricity, and throw away any medications you have. Don’t want that dirty science all over you, after all.

  54. Comrade PhysioProf

    And I’m fascinated. It’s little systemisers playing with toy engines and other things no one is interested in.

    You and all your friends live under trees or in caves and forage for berries and carrion?

    I’m not talking about sky fairies either. Most of what goes on around us has yet to be explained by science.

    Virtually everything that goes on around us has been explained by science. The only question is how detailed those explanations are in particular instances.

  55. Helen Huntingdon

    Yeah, medical intervention always comes with risks. I was nearly killed by a vaccine as an adult. Better yet, ten years on, we now know that particular vaccine doesn’t do much good anyway, so I nearly died for nothing.

    It was still the best decision based on the information available at the time.

    Life in general and science in particular are functions of making decisions based on imperfect information, because perfect information is not available. If you don’t want dirty science all over you because it’s not based on absolute guarantees and perfect information, throw out all medications, disconnect your electricity and water, and stop cooking your food.

  56. Pinko Punko

    Also, there is the typing on the internet, brought to you by little systemizers and their toy engines, signifying nothing

  57. Jill

    I don’t know what is meant by this term that keeps popping up, “little systemizers.” I won’t have it, I tell you!

  58. Almaz

    Anti-science comments on the Internet are like Teabaggers shouting “Keep government out of my Medicare.”

    Science is bad bad bad except for my computer. And my car. And my microwave oven and satellite TeeVee. Oh and my cellphone and Ipod. And antibiotics when I’m sick. And.

  59. janicen

    I had a kid who reacted violently to DPT, that 1 in several hundred thousand who will. She survived.

    I had a similar experience. Not with vaccines, but with birth control pills (about which I could rant for days) but my daughter survived. I am eternally grateful to the brilliant scientists who saved her life. I don’t condemn science for what happened to her, but I do condemn the greed of the pharmaceutical companies and the lack of FDA oversight. Some of the people responsible are scientists. Science is a wonderful thing and many scientists are brilliant people who have saved lives and changed the world. At the same time, because of my experiences and the experiences of other young women I know, who did not have as good an outcome as my daughter’s, I will use my instincts and intuition and ask questions, do research, and get second and third opinions before I trust science. I don’t hate science, but I do hate some of the people who pervert science for their own personal gain.

  60. speedbudget

    I watched the Frontline documentary about the vaccination debate. It was interesting and enraging. The very shot these people are complaining about, the MMR shot, was set to be phased out completely by the CDC due to the fact that the disease was pretty much eradicated (much like the small pox vaccine is no longer given because smallpox no longer exists). Due to the hysteria from misinformed parents, the CDC had to roll back those plans. There have been outbreaks of these previously unoutbroken diseases.

    What got me about the documentary was these parents arguing against science from a cushy science-safe perspective. They were saying they haven’t seen any kids sick with the measles, so why should they vaccinate their kids? Like they don’t know germ theory or something. Like that’s not a great-ass argument FOR the vaccination. You haven’t seen any kids sick with it cause their bodies have immunities for it before they are exposed to the germ. It’s SCIENCE.

    What’s also science is the fact that some percentage of people will NOT be able to get vaccinations due to their own allergies or weakened immune systems. Those poor people should not be held hostage cause some honky privileged family decided their special snowflake would NEVER get the measles.

    Part of the problem too is nobody knows what is was like when kids died ALL THE TIME due to these illnesses. We think it’s just you get sick, like with the flu, and you get better. No, actually, you fucking die from these diseases. You should watch the special. They have videotape of a baby with pertussis. That shit is no joke. In a NICU unit, that child almost fucking bought it. We have great hospitals and shit, but a lot of stuff is still beyond our capabilities.

    I just had to get that off my chest. I’ve been ruminating on that documentary for a few days now.

  61. yttik

    “Yet again, you’re pinning stuff on science that has nothing to do with science.”

    Well, that’s because every thing that might reflect negatively on science is simply dismissed as not science. Evo-Psych is pretty bizarre, so that’s not science. The science of economics isn’t really math, at least not when the government practices it, so that’s not really science. Science is being presented here as if it were pure and unadulterated, existing beyond the reach of politics or greed or corruption.

    “You and all your friends live under trees or in caves and forage for berries and carrion?”

    There are themes here of dominance and submission, as if science were good and everything else is ignorant and bad. We’re sneering at those primitive cultures as if their lives are less valid because they don’t have our form of science which has delivered us franken strawberries and artificial meat in a test tube. Here we are about to wipe out our entire gulf coast, having already nuked a couple of small countries, dumped a few tons of depleted uranium in the ME, and we’re still arrogantly pointing figures and laughing at the ignorance of primitive people.

  62. rootlesscosmo

    You can use a hammer to build a roof over your head or to beat someone else’s head in. Either way, the hammer, and whoever made it, don’t deserve credit or blame. Ditto for the Net, which is available to this blog and the LA Times and the neo-Nazis. Scientific practices and science institutions, like every other human activity, are part of a world of power, privilege, injustice, and cruelty, as well as of solidarity, resistance to injustice, and kindness. What are we arguing about here?

  63. delphyne

    Intuition is used in science. It’s called hypothesising.

  64. vinoveritas

    What we need is MORE science. Birth control pills and vaccines are making people sick? Let’s use science to figure out why, and fix the problem. People are on a radical feminist blog arguing against the pill, and for some whimsical “women’s intuition” fuckery. What a crock.

  65. delphyne

    “People are on a radical feminist blog arguing against the pill”

    Why would this be a surprise? Haven’t you come across radical feminist analysis of the institution of intercourse?

    I don’t think radical feminism has ever been on the side of patriarchal medicine either (a great deal of which is *not* scientific)

  66. yttik

    “Another imperfect grasp of causation was famously demonstrated by the cargo cults of the South Pacific: some folks in New Guinea, having observed fabulous wealth being offloaded from war planes during WW II..”

    Ah Twisty, we’re holding up war planes, methods of destruction responsible for killing millions, as examples of why we are so much more intelligent and well reasoned then those silly fools building sculptures out of plant materials. Something is very wrong with this picture.

    Listen folks, I am not full of fundie mind rot, sprinkled with cosmic oatmeal dust, part of a goddessy womans cult, drumming naked in the moonlight, or any of the other stereotypes being suggested here. I actually have two daughters in college at the moment studying science.

    I’d like to hear more from Nails someday about alternative education models because I’ve been involved with that for a few decades. One thing I learned is that when a child comes to you saying they don’t want to learn about the world around them through science, they want to learn through myth, literature, and human experience, those are tools that are just as valid as test tubes. It is only the patriarchy, the western world, a primarily white male dominated system that appoints itself the arbitrator of all valid human knowledge.

  67. Alexa

    “Listen folks, I am not full of fundie mind rot, sprinkled with cosmic oatmeal dust, part of a goddessy womans cult, drumming naked in the moonlight, or any of the other stereotypes being suggested here. I actually have two daughters in college at the moment studying science.”

    Sorry yttik, you are just awesome. Such an inspiration. And I know you’re modest, but you’re also brilliant!

  68. Jill

    Ah Twisty, we’re holding up war planes, methods of destruction responsible for killing millions, as examples of why we are so much more intelligent and well reasoned then those silly fools building sculptures out of plant materials. Something is very wrong with this picture.

    Come off it, yttik. I make no inferences concerning the intelligence of the New Guinea cultists, and am not pointing and laughing; there is no reason for me to suspect that these people were any stupider than anyone else. I merely use the case to illustrate that no science (or poorly executed science) is likely to obtain unsatisfactory results. The cargo cultists wanted cargo, right? Did their method get them any cargo? No. Unsatisfactory result.

    For the last time, I am not arguing that modern science is free of patriarchal influence; I am arguing that the scientific method can and (for best results) should be used to acquire knowledge, because the more you know the more you know, you know?

  69. Jeff

    “they want to learn through myth, literature, and human experience, those are tools that are just as valid as test tubes”

    I too would rather see children think of lightning as the ruminations of a fickle thunder god than static electrical discharges.

    Jill’s last comment is something I was about to say, and something that I think is being missed here. We’re defending the scientific method, the method of gaining knowledge that has taught us orders of magnitude more about the cosmos in, oh, 400 years, than mysticism and religion has taught us in like 8000 years. The institution of science, however, has often been used by dudes for nefarious means, and has been a Boys Only club for a long time. That’s what needs to be changed. What we need more of is women doing science, not everyone abandoning the scientific method.

  70. Alex

    speedbudget already said it: the MMR vaccine is used more than it otherwise would these days because of the anti-vaccination folks. Jill made the point that no/poorly executed science produces unsatisfactory results. This amplifies speedbudget’s point.

    What’s especially difficult is that when anti-vaccine folks decide not to vaccinate their kids that choice affects every other kid, too. This is herd immunity: no one’s immune unless nearly everyone is. It doesn’t take very many members of the population to be vulnerable to nullify the effects of herd immunity. Not every vaccine shot is completely effective, and not every kid can have every vaccine for a number of health reasons.

    Jill also hits the nail on the head when she says that nothing’s free from patriarchy in this world, but I’d add that the scientific method doesn’t give a heartwarming nature crap about patriarchy. It’s when science is distorted to suit a particular purpose that problems happen. This is just like every aspect of patriarchal society. But the patriarchy can’t MMR vaccines cause autism any more than it can make 2 + 2 = 5. What’s challenging for the blamer is telling the difference between real science and patriarchal propaganda wrapped up in a lab coat.

  71. Jill

    “I too would rather see children think of lightning as the ruminations of a fickle thunder god than static electrical discharges.”

    Are you joking? If so, OK. If not, why would you consider some bogus, saccharine crap about fickle thunder ruminations to be superior to the truth? Because the truth about lightning is fucking awesome! There’s a million different kinds, and it looks really cool, and it can blow stuff up and kill you. But even if lightning weren’t as fucking awesome as it is, truth is always better than lies because it’s true.

  72. Larkspur

    …Because the truth about lightning is fucking awesome! There’s a million different kinds, and it looks really cool, and it can blow stuff up and kill you…

    Exactly. It’s so exciting. If I weren’t a geologist or an epidemiologist, I’d have become a cloudologist, and some of them clouds make lightning.

  73. janicen

    People are on a radical feminist blog arguing against the pill, and for some whimsical “women’s intuition” fuckery. What a crock.

    I wasn’t arguing “against the pill”, I was merely saying that something went drastically wrong in my daughter’s case and in the case of a friend of hers, but that has not soured me on science. I was trying to provide an additional example to the vaccine discussion. The fact that serious side effects were experienced by two people within my sphere of knowledge sent me to the internet to learn more. There is a lot of information to indicate there may be a problem with third generation birth control pills, especially some of the generics. Women should not be afraid to speak out about problems with the sacred cows of feminism. If the voices of women who have suffered severe side effects from the pill are silenced because the pill has provided some benefits to women, then they are twice victimized.

  74. Jill

    Birth control is a pretty excellent idea. The pill is an imperfect realization. Here’s an alternative: testicle death ray.

  75. ivyleaves

    There are themes here of dominance and submission, as if science were good and everything else is ignorant and bad. We’re sneering at those primitive cultures as if their lives are less valid because they don’t have our form of science which has delivered us franken strawberries and artificial meat in a test tube. Here we are about to wipe out our entire gulf coast, having already nuked a couple of small countries, dumped a few tons of depleted uranium in the ME, and we’re still arrogantly pointing figures and laughing at the ignorance of primitive people.

    As I understand it, science has no good or bad moral value, but it sure does have knowledge value. I am pretty damn sure that it is exactly the same anti-scientific belief in unverified principles that have led to the cargo cults, artificial and non-nutritious fake food, the gulf oil spill, AND depleted uranium use.

  76. Jeff

    “Are you joking? If so, OK.”

    Sorry, I’m used to the “I, too…” phrase being an immediate tip off to sarcasm where I used to hang out on the internet. Yeah that was a joke, I am all too aware of how cool lightning is. Corralling it into where it’s supposed to go is my job!*

    *which is to say I work on electrical equipment. yay science!

    “Birth control is a pretty excellent idea. The pill is an imperfect realization. Here’s an alternative: testicle death ray.”

    As someone who had to sit through the idiotic speech from the doc when I got vasectomized at 28 with no kids, I am totally in favor of Do It Yourself, At-Home testicle death rays.

  77. nails

    “Well, that’s because every thing that might reflect negatively on science is simply dismissed as not science. Evo-Psych is pretty bizarre, so that’s not science. The science of economics isn’t really math, at least not when the government practices it, so that’s not really science. Science is being presented here as if it were pure and unadulterated, existing beyond the reach of politics or greed or corruption.”

    I explained in a previous post how this can be perfectly related to math. I know you are not denying that numbers represent something precise and that they can be manipulated with calculation, and that the results of those calculations can be tested against the truth. You seem to be ignoring that in favor of saying we are pulling a one true scotsman fallacy on ya, but we aren’t. You never replied to my reply about math actually. I really wish you would have, I am interested in the response. People call all kinds of crazy shit science in order to give themselves credibility. I have heard homeopathy, of all things, called a science before. I do not fault people who make drugs that actually have some kind of effect for that. If you pick on the least credible things that people have deemed science for their personal (and usually economic) benefit of course you are going to have many counter arguments. People do this with everything though, it is what advertising and marketing is, basically. The problem is that when things like advertisers or governments or religions make assertions about the nature of the universe that are all fucked up they stick around forever, and questioning them is forbidden. Stupid shit that people call science and is not gives us a way to actually SHOW that these things are not. There is a standard of evidence that can actually be applied to these cases to show that they are not scientifically valid. There is an entire method associated with science that we can compare other things against in order to show that they are not. The problem here seems to be that you are expecting us all to be able to explain what you perceive to be inconsistencies in defining science without knowing the definition intimately. It makes this discussion impossible, we can’t debate definitions constructively without both people being on the same page. The only way to understand the difference is for you to go and get an in depth understanding of what science actually is. If you want an intro course the easy way just park yourself in front of carl sagan’s Cosmos series for a few episodes. That show is still excellent after all these years.

  78. nails

    Thanks Ivyleaves, that is what I am trying to get at. It has a knowledge value. A truth can be used for good or bad things, but the truth isn’t blemished or changed by that fact. Science is about seeking truth, and demonstrating it so that we can all be more sure of the truth that was discovered.

  79. Kiuku

    Well, I imagine the reason why there are so many posts and topics on this, is the same reason why people were posting so many times the first go around.

    When you wanted them to shut their piehole.

    However, anyone who really believes in intuition vs the rationale, in Dionysus vs Apollonius, wouldn’t be debating it.

    It’s a fight, and fighting is viscerally pleasurable. It’s a visceral pleasure I deny myself. You feel the excitement, you get into it, you congratulate what you believe is the conqueror.

    Men came up with fighting. You can fight with anything. Women made philosophy and conversation. Men made debate. They liked the idea of logic because it made someone right and someone wrong. No such thing.

    the first comment wasn’t set up as a fight or a debate, but someone’s opinion.

    I guess I’m shutting my pie hole and “storming off” but to show people the reality, and reclaim women’s history and involvement in human civilization, my next endeavor will be what I call the temple of Ishtar.

    Like minded individuals should be encouraged to join.

  80. thebewilderness

    Intuition is simply the process of observation and deduction happening too fast to see all the steps of the scientific method being processed in the brain.
    Intuition is what they accuse you of in order to dismiss your conclusions.
    Men are considered to have gut instinct.
    Women are considered to have intuition.

    They are both the result of observation and deduction, but one is respected and admired and the other is dismissed and mocked.
    IBTP

  81. ivyleaves

    They liked the idea of logic because it made someone right and someone wrong.

    Not a scientist here, but a big lover of mathematics. For my humanities requirement in college I took a course in logic. Guess what, it was exactly the same as algebra and geometry, with different symbols, and I easily got an “A.” But, by gum, logic and math never did make me “right.” What you get by applying logic to ideas is only as good as your starting points of information. Getting good information to apply your logic to is what science is all about. You can do a bad study and apply all kinds of rigorous statistical analysis to the results, and still be talking pure hogwash because your assumptions, methodology, and/or observations are all wet. That’s why they have to be published so everyone can take a crack at them. In reality, so few of us get that chance as we lack the education, access to the studies, and ability to publish our critiques to others. That is where the patriarchy locks it all down. Resorting to woo isn’t the answer to the problem.

  82. Comrade PhysioProf

    I don’t know what is meant by this term that keeps popping up, “little systemizers.”

    Picture a bunch of d00ds in lab coats on a little kiddie zoo train.

  83. Natalia

    In a conversation with peers about the vaccine-autism debate, one mentioned that a family she knew had won a case against the government on the subject. I later checked it out online – it turns out the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has never awarded compensation for autism. (http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation/statistics_report.htm – it looks like the number of “autism” petitions declined a lot 5-ish years ago and has stayed at that level)

    When I asked her about it again, she verified with the family and reported that it was in fact not autism, but another illness which had been triggered by vaccination. Unfortunately the initial oversight is no doubt filed in some of the original listeners’ minds as proof and evidence of “see! vaccines cause autism!”.

    The fact that vaccines are known to precipitate some other illnesses has no bearing on whether vaccines lead to autism or not. (If you’re curious, the injuries/conditions that are presumed to be caused by vaccines are listed here:
    http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation/table.htm)

    And of course there is the CDC and their page on vaccines (with its list of referenced studies).

  84. DaisyDeadhead

    little systemizers and their toy engines

    I think this would be a great name for a band. Who’s with me?

    (What kind of clothes? Maybe those cotton striped engineer/conductor caps. Cute!)

  85. WonkyFactory

    One could argue in a Butler-ish way that intuition is inherently pro-status-quo/anti-radical because it is based on that which seems obvious, and our sense of the obvious is based on that which we see on a daily basis, which is a pornulated woman-hating society. So intuitively it seems obvious to most douchebags that women are dainty dim bulbs who must be treated like fuckable children.

  86. panoptical

    @WonkyFactory – but following along with a Butleresque analysis, we could also point out that the act of “verifying” one’s intuition through a set of socially approved performances (the scientific method) is just as pro-status-quo and anti-radical. After all, ev-psychos arrive at the same sorts of idiotic conclusions about women that regular douchebags intuit, even after looking at monkeys and gerbils and whatnot. Faith and science are just competing (and sometimes cooperating) methods of legitimizing and reinscribing a set of social constructions that exist prior to the acquisition of any kind of knowledge.

    As Butler points out, in order to *become* a subject capable of knowledge, one must take sides in debates like these, choosing some ways of being and foreclosing others. Once you’ve done that, it doesn’t really matter if you decide, for instance, that women are crazy because they are possessed by demons (faith), or that they are crazy because their uteri become detached and spin around inside their bodies (science) or that they are crazy because of “hormones” (modern science). What matters is that you’ve bought into a collective social myth about the nature of the world, and whatever system you try to use to understand that myth, it remains a myth. In other words, as long as dude scientists are still trying to answer the question “what *is* it with women?” science is going to continue to produce results that turn feminists against it.

    Sure, science is much more useful than intuition at doing some stuff, like enabling us to banter postmodernly at each other through a glowing box. However, the utility of science ends when it comes to things like a radical deconstruction of social norms. Science works at helping us draw conclusions about things that we observe. However, when those observations are always already constructed for us by prevailing systems of power – when what we see and don’t see and perhaps can’t see are determined by the patriarchal hegemony – science just doesn’t do the trick.

  87. figleaf

    All that plus I have intuition, and I’m about as “feminine” as Shulamith Firestone, which is another way of saying not at all. To construct intuition as anything different from hunches, insight, or unacknowledged intelligence in the first place, let alone to assign intuition to one gender, let alone to construct any other element of gender male or female is to participate in the maintenance of the status quo. The status quo being that there are two kinds of people in the world, where the two kinds of people aren’t those who divide people into two kinds and those who don’t but instead the two kinds of people are men who are all cold and sciency and full of penises and women are all soft and warm and intuitiony and thus at the mercy of men when it comes time to do something like discover genetic recombination or radio frequency-switching systems or circular saws or the apgar test or windshield wipers. Plus all the other things we really need that women haven’t invented because they’ve drunk the “intuition is all we need in this world” kool aid. Case closed.

    Seriously, it’s bad enough that feminists uncritically pass along the bezwhuh anti-feminists indoctrinate us to believe about men. When feminists buy all the crap dreamed up about women anti-feminists could all die of terminal constipation and the patriarchy wouldn’t miss a beat.

    About vaccinations? My son had classic febrile convulsions the evening after his scheduled appointment for a DTP vaccination. Which wasn’t surprising since… such convulsions are really common in infants around the time they’re scheduled to get DTP vaccinations. And why am I so sanguine about this? Well, even though he was *scheduled* to get the vaccination they were short-handed at the doctor’s office that day so they called and asked us to reschedule. So yes, he had the symptoms but he never got the shot. A week or two later, when he really did get the vaccination, he had no symptoms at all. And yeah, it’s just one data point and not validation of anything. But a bunch of similar data points accumulated over time suggest DTP shots (which are now acelluar for the diptheria part anyway) probably didn’t cause any *increase* of febrile convulsions over the background/control rate.

    Thinking it over it occurs to me that most of the hard-science scientists I know (a bunch of molecular biologists and immunologists, a PhD in math, an inorganic chemist they’re pitching a nationwide symposium on in a couple of months, a whole slew of biologists) are women. I know a couple of men scientists too but most of them are women.

    “Testicular death rays.” Hey, at this point I’d be willing to call that progress. Of the three methods of birth control directly available to men, the newest method, vasectomies, were introduced in 1822! The other two, condoms and withdrawal, aren’t just older, they’re less reliable too. So yeah, at this point death rays would at least mean someone was bothering to try.

    And finally, yeah, how ’bout that evolutionary psychology? One of their chief proponents, David Barash, *brags* that it’s all “just so stories.” One of it’s more popular (and more smugly asshole-ish) proponents, Satoshi Kanazawa, brags that he hasn’t had a biology class since high school. When you put your “faith” in science it’s… pretty much as bad as putting your “faith” in chicken entrails. Just because someone claims they’re doing science doesn’t make them scientists.

    Goodness, where’s my manners? Thanks for tackling the issue of the very different roles science and intuition play in patriarchy, Jill.

    figleaf

  88. speedbudget

    panoptical, I think too consider ivyleaves’s point. The old computer-user saying, “Garbage in; garbage out” applies here. If you start with a bad assumption and pile bad observation on top of it, you’re going to get a bad outcome. I remember watching a Nova about how the first scientists putting together dinosaur bones had such entrenched preconceived notions about how they should look and function that they actually broke bones in order to force them into the required shapes and uses. That’s an extreme example of bad observation and allowing your faith to overthrow your reason and logic, but it happens. Science itself shouldn’t carry the blame of a bunch of fervent honkies out to prove a point. Because the fact is, the scientific method saves science in the end. Eventually, a bunch of other guys get together at cocktail hour and start talking about how their experiment didn’t go quite the same way as the originator’s and then everyone figures out that it was BS to begin.

    Science is one of the few self-correcting systems we have, and just cause it’s a boy’s club right now doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be involved and continue sending in sleeper agents in order to create larger inroads.

  89. Helen Huntingdon

    However, the utility of science ends when it comes to things like a radical deconstruction of social norms.

    Uh, no, that’s when it’s more useful than ever. Look, I get what you’re saying about how the scientific boyz clubs have been doing a lot of bad science. That doesn’t mean science is inadequate, it means the club boyz suck at it, because they let their widdle feefees get all over it.

    The fundamental core of science is refusing to draw a conclusion that cannot be proved, and rooting out any assumptions you can find and labeling them as unproved conclusions. Yeah, the boyz club types suck at that. That makes them lousy scientists.

    The other day someone told me you can’t really get to know someone without living with them. Unsurprisingly, it was a dude who said this, since he was arguing why het couples should live together (married or un-), no matter how statistically risky this is for the woman. I said that if this was true, it must be possible to identify *something* of value that cannot be learned any other way, so what would that be? He couldn’t come up with anything that wasn’t obviously absurdly false. I said that the assertion that to “truly know” someone you must live together is probably nothing more than cultural myth, but that this one conversation hadn’t produced evidence warranting drawing a conclusion either way.

    That’s the part most people suck at — refusing to draw a conclusion. Presented with inconclusive evidence, most people will still pick an answer and go with it, instead of proceeding on the basis that an answer cannot be known at that time. The boyz club types are notorious for it. That doesn’t show a flaw in what science is good for, but a flaw in how the over-privileged claim the label science dishonestly and get away with it.

  90. ew_nc

    Such nerdly passion! Fascinating.

  91. nails

    “but following along with a Butleresque analysis, we could also point out that the act of “verifying” one’s intuition through a set of socially approved performances (the scientific method) is just as pro-status-quo and anti-radical.”

    The scientific method is not a socially approved performance at all. The status quo is christian and republican, and they think that global warming is fake and that the earth is 6000 years old. Scopes trial, anyone? The status quo is only for science when it is profitable and convenient, and the general population is only for it when it benefits them. Science is uncomfortable and means that you have to admit you are wrong all the damn time. Hell, look at how scientists are portrayed in the main stream media. MSM is a very good way to measure status quo approval- they approve of things like iphones and modern medicine, but the scientists themselves are portrayed negatively the vast majority of the time, as is science in general. The media has a field day whenever they can ask if science has ‘gone too far’ or if the scientists are ‘playing god’, and religious folks capitalize on this all the time. As I explained before, containing the power of critical thinking by making sure sciences are only taught to people who are severely propagandized is in the interest of the dominant powers in the country. Learning about science and the world around you is a way to rebel against your prescribed place in society. They want the proles to remain stupid and uncritical so that they swallow whatever bullshit is presented to them.

  92. panoptical

    @speedbudget, yes, you’re right about garbage in, garbage out, and that’s basically my whole point. Garbage in, garbage out refers to the inability of a system to distinguish good input from bad input. There’s nothing in the scientific method that protects scientists from bad or biased observations. Science doesn’t have a mechanism for preventing garbage from coming in. Sure, scientists can correct the mistakes of their forebears, but so can anyone. So can clergy. Tomorrow the pope could declare a moratorium on pederasty, but that doesn’t make it science. Science isn’t self-correcting – science is corrected by people who look at the garbage that has come out of science and say “what the hell?” and then start questioning the inputs of science, the observations that underlie science. And sure, some of those people are scientists, but some are not. It wasn’t because of a science experiment that feminists decided to contest the dominant construction of gender – it was the other way around, because feminist contestation of gender predated scientific experiments showing just how mythological gender really is.

    Now this is not to say that science is not useful or important. Science is immensely useful and important. But as Twisty says, the scientific method is just a means of acquiring knowledge. The critical point I am making is that what you choose to do with that knowledge is not up to science.

    @Helen – yes, a thousand times yes, you are completely right that it is important not to confuse unfounded assumptions with science. The problem I’m having with your example, though, is that the scientific method is a particular thing and is not simply another word for “reason.” The scientific method consists of observation, hypothesis, experiment, results, and conclusion. The scientific method deals with things that are empirical and verifiable and falsifiable. When you argued against that dude, you weren’t conducting an experiment, you were constructing an argument using reason and logic. It wouldn’t even be possible to test the hypothesis “the only way to truly know someone is to live with them” since science doesn’t have a definition for “truly know” – in other words, what it means to “truly know” someone is not an objective fact, and is neither verifiable or falsifiable. It is, like the majority of human experience, a subjective and unquantifiable feeling that people sometimes get, and is thus outside the realm of modern science. I say modern science because it may at some point in the future become possible to empirically quantify human emotion using brain scanners or whatever, but we aren’t there yet, and so right now, any assertions that are made about human experience, about human feelings or sensations, about happiness or fairness or whatever, are all totally unscientific and unreachable by the scientific method.

    So the thing is, I agree with you that what he said wasn’t science, but your argument against it also wasn’t science – it was simple reason. Science may make extensive use of reason, and aspire to a kind of skepticism and an avoidance of unfounded absolutes, but science is not the only discipline which values such things. All sorts of philosophical disciplines value these things just as much as, if not more than, science. Here’s hoping this doesn’t spark a debate about whether social sciences are “science” or not.

    @nails – I love arguing Butler. I think she would say that the scientific method is a socially approved performance. Remember, Butler considers things like gender and sexuality to be socially approved performance – even the female gender and even homosexuality. Socially approved doesn’t mean privileged, it just means recognizable. And despite the sometimes negative reception that science gets in the media, speaking as a scientist is still a more recognizable position from which to issue claims than, for instance, speaking as a representative of the galactic emperor Xenu.

    I agree one hundred million percent that more people should be taught science. But more important is teaching people the ability to interpret scientific results and other facts. Otherwise you get people making ridiculous claims, such as the claim that prostitution is morally justified by the fact that bonobos can be trained to trade plastic tokens for sex. Science is hardly synonymous with critical thinking, as a critical theorist like Butler would be happy to tell you.

  93. panoptical

    Also, testicular death rays?

  94. Helen Huntingdon

    The scientific method is not a socially approved performance at all.

    Tell me about it. Identifying unwarranted assumptions for what they are is an incredibly effective way to lose friends and alienate people. The few that remain are really worth knowing, however, so I’m calling it a win.

  95. Helen Huntingdon

    panoptical, did you read what I wrote? “The fundamental core of science is refusing to draw a conclusion that cannot be proved.” I never said anywhere that the example that followed was “science”. I said that it was an example of what is necessary to science (I didn’t claim sufficiency).

    You described the method of proof, I described its precursor, which gets too often neglected but can be used continually in daily life to make that daily life a better place.

  96. Helen Huntingdon

    I’m rather disgusted by your arrogant talking down to me give that you clearly didn’t even read what I wrote with enough attention to separate my words from your hasty assumptions.

  97. Helen Huntingdon

    There’s nothing in the scientific method that protects scientists from bad or biased observations.

    There is if you’re actually doing it right. If you do the hasty assumption thing, of course it’ll be a mess.

  98. Hedgepig

    Helen Huntington: Quick, go and read the “Gentle Reminder of the Week” post before it drops off the Latest Blamer Invective list.

    panoptical:I’m finding your take on this refreshingly nuanced. And great link!

  99. Martha Maus

    I’m late, blame it on the time it takes for the news to reach the far antipodes, but better late than never. I want to add my very firm vote for the sciences, all and sundry, as the only ladders out of the muck into which the intuitions/ so intuitions/common senses/patriarchies want to cast us. Not that there are no disagreements in the sciences but they are mere knot holes in the wood of which the ladder steps are made compared to the slippery sides of the muck pits of “common sense”.

    Until the 1970′s in Australia,prior to legislating for compulsory seatbelt wearing, it was held to be common sense that children would survive car crashes best if they were unrestrained so they could be thrown free. Martha Maus

  100. Pinko Punko

    The “Hey, You!” reminds me of an apropos lyric from Canadian power-poppers Sloan:

    “Hey you/we’ve been around for awhile/if you admit that you were wrong/we’ll admit that we’re right”

  101. iamlegs

    Oh man, am I late to the party, but : PENIS-AMERICANS. Hoo! I fucking love you, Jill Psmith!!!

  102. Jill

    “The “Hey, You!” reminds me of an apropos lyric from Canadian power-poppers Sloan [...]

    Sloan! Are those guys still around? Great Scott, it’s been a long time.

  103. Pinko Punko

    Yeah, but they are blandier with age. They just plug away.

    Eventually, someone will make these sorts of comments about us.

    “Pinko Punko, that internet annoyance, does it still exist?”

    “IBTP? I stopped reading when Cool Whip and Johnsonville brand “funky” bratwurst pulled the hostile takeover. The Batter Blasters lobby was unable to step in at the last minute.”

  104. kbmcg

    Thank you, KRS-1. Also, it’s funny, I know these people in New Guinea and they have a funny story they like to tell about how a bunch of honky-Americans try to explain their oh-so very steadfast epistemological grounding without referencing a bunch of tired and covertly racist cliches about “cargo.” Except the honkies can’t do it! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! They can’t even explain their own worldview without making someone else into their dupe! What a bunch of pukes! HAHAHAHAHAHA!

  105. dasunrisin

    Yes. Well said, Twisty.

  106. Jane Q Public

    Testicular death days? Yes! Yes! A thousand times, yes!

  107. Caravelle

    To paraphrase Susan Calvin, feminine intuition is something men came up with so they wouldn’t have to admit that women can be smart.

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