Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Chaotic FAS meeting

Before the Harvard's FAS faculty meeting on Tuesday, the professors had received a 25-page PDF booklet containing various proposed amendments for the general education legislation that should be discussed on the meeting.

My immediate comment was that the length, repetitiveness, and chaos in that booklet shows a complete lack of leadership at Harvard these days. It would take at least five hours to discuss it, especially because most of the amendments are highly polarizing. The meeting had to be chaotic, too.

It would be a waste of time to go there even if I really cared what they adopt. ;-)

Needless to say, I was almost right except that I forgot to add the time needed to argue about grammar. ;-) As

reports, they adjourned a meeting filled with procedural chaos after 90 minutes and will continue next week. They didn't even get to the most interesting topics.

Is there a history?

For example, they spent one hour with arguments whether the "Culture and Belief" category of courses should mention "history". Now, I wouldn't care about the wording but on the other hand, it is absolutely obvious that one can't comprehend anything in depth about culture and belief without understanding the historical traditions that inform them, as Prof Hamburger said, just like you can't properly understand biology without knowing how life evolved, as I add.

But I am afraid that the majority of the people who attend the meetings are postmodern scholars for whom subjects such as history are too hard sciences already. These social sciences deal with facts which is no good for them. As you might guess, a majority has decided that history has no room in culture and belief.

Even if someone studies culture, belief, law, political science or anything like that in the context of the contemporary era, it is simply necessary for her to know (some) history. History provides us with the empirical material that is needed to judge where various ideas lead and whether they are good and important or not, after all. If you don't know any history, your opinions about the present (and the future) are no more than unsubstantiated beliefs.

If you build a political or spiritual ideology without paying attention to history, you are bound to repeat many mistakes from the history of your civilization. Needless to say, that's exactly what the postmodernists want.

Science as a postmodernism's slave

One of the proposals that wasn't discussed was the idea of a large portion of sciences - including the whole department of physics as well as Steven Pinker (would it be really so difficult for the physics department to simply sign under Pinker's proposal that includes a well worded explanation?) - to scrap a paragraph describing details of the science education (both for life sciences as well as physical sciences) that says something like this:

  • Whenever it's appropriate, the science courses must explain that all of the scientific truth is relative and depends on societal pressures. The science instructors must masochistically admit that their "science" is just a random result of oppression of minorities by white, male, and sometimes Jewish oppressors such as Darwin and Einstein. All of science education must lead to increasing food production for the working class in the next 5 years [added to please Peter Woit].

Indeed, this is the cutting-edge feminist/Smolinian crap whose spirit you can find in the currently proposed rules. The extremely soft "scientists" have simply spread like an illness and they're threatening to kill the very basic features of science education at every single school in the world.

And that's the memo.


  1. Dr. Motl,
    Please stop speaking so strongly against global warming and climate change. Your anger has so adversely affected the weather systems over the Great Lakes that it is snowing in Chicago and Milwaukee today. Most unseasonal. We require some warming to rid us of this icy April weather. Cease your rants for at least a week so the snow can melt.

  2. Dear Bohr_Wars,

    I apologize for the inconvenience. You may be pleased to learn that I have just turned on lights in my office, hoping that it will increase CO2 production and warm up Great Lakes and Chicago a bit. :-)

    Good luck