Humanities

Category archives for Humanities

Method and Its Discontents

Given that I am relentlessly flogging a book about the universality of the scientific process (Available wherever books are sold! They make excellent winter solstice holiday gifts!), I feel like I ought to try to say something about the latest kerfuffle about the scientific method. This takes the form of an editorial in Nature complaining…

The winter solstice holidays are a time for family and togetherness, so building off yesterday’s post about the great Marie Skłodowska Curie, we’ll stay together with her family. Specifically her daughter Irène Joliot-Curie and her husband Frédéric. The Joliot-Curies are possible answers to a number of Nobel Prize trivia questions– only mother and daughter to…

The Problem of Science Stories

Last week Kate pointed me to this post about heroic stories of science saying “This seems relevant to your interests.” And, in fact, a good deal of the post talks about Patricia Fara’s Science: A Four Thousand Year History, the Union library’s copy of which is sitting on my desk, where I had looked something…

Metaphors and Style

Two language-related items crossed in the Information Supercollider today: the first was Tom’s commentary on an opinion piece by Robert Crease and Alfred Goldhaber, the second Steven Pinker on the badness of academic writing. All of them are worth reading, and I only have small dissents to offer here. One is that, unlike Tom and…

Two Cultures of Incompressibility

Also coming to my attention during the weekend blog shutdown was this Princeton Alumni Weekly piece on the rhetoric of crisis in the humanities. Like several other authors before him, Gideon Rosen points out that there’s little numerical evidence of a real “crisis,” and that most of the cries of alarm you hear from academics…

The Mumbling Philosopher

The physics vs. philosophy slow-motion blogfight continues, the latest major contribution being Sean Carroll’s “Physicists Should Stop Saying silly Things About Philosophy. I’ve been mostly trying to stay out of this, but when I read through the comments at Sean’s post to see if anybody offered any specific examples of problems that could’ve been avoided…

Communication as Art and Science

I alluded to this on Twitter, and meant to leave that be, but the other thing I was going to blog today didn’t come together, and I probably shouldn’t leave a cryptic tweet as my only comment. So… One of the links getting passed around a lot in my social-media circles is this Tumblr post…

The Social Construction of Gravity

One of the more annoying points of contention back in the days of the Sokal hoax and the “Science Wars” was an argument over social construction. This is, loosely speaking, the idea that our understanding of the world is not strictly rational and objective, but is heavily influenced by interactions with other people, and the…

On the bright side, I’m unlikely to read anything more stupid and insulting today than this Inside Higher Ed article arguing that it would be wrong to shrink graduate programs in English, because the higher education market is Special: When you shrink graduate student enrollments (the supply side), you inevitably also shrink the size of…

Miscellaneous Liberal Education Stuff

The posts on box-checking and liberal arts teaching generated a fair number of comments that I haven’t really had time to address individually, across a few different social media platforms. So I’m going to collect some of the more important stuff here, in one catch-up post. –A few people, mostly in places that aren’t conducive…