Berube: Blogs Cause Demise of Western Culture

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Michael Berube says that an academic who blogs is contributing to the demise of Western culture. *cough* *cough* Oookay .. what do you think? [1:37]

I think the guy is full of shit, but one could claim that I am biased -- somewhat.

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He is so funny - this is satire. After all, Berube is/was a Big Blogger (I met him here at a blogger meetup) and he was always funny and tongue-in-cheek.

well, he could have done a *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge* so people like me (hey, most of us) who don't know him at any sort of personal level could figure out that he is trying to fuck with us.

He Makes some valid points, but anything worthwhile in this life takes some time and effort. Personaly I love Science and greatly appreciate everyone's effort to have and maintain such interesting, informative and humorous blogs for everyone's enjoyment!
Dave Briggs :~)

By Dave Briggs (not verified) on 11 Jan 2008 #permalink

Well, my aim is the demise of Western culture. Think of it this way - Western culture is studied by social scientists. If Western culture collapses, they have nothing to study. So where does all their research money go? To the proper sciences. Like the ones I do.


*wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge*


I happen to think that a large amount of what Berube said about the Sokal Affair was just daft

Like what, exactly? Because the first three essays in Rhetorical Occasions are devoted to the Sokal Affair, and I need to know which passages are daftest. . . .

Put it this way: I expected better from you! See here (I'm both pressed for time and desperately caffeinating myself to avoid collapse right now, so I'm probably saying all sorts of things I'm going to regret later).

And hey, if we're destroying Western Civilization, I just gotta ask, "What has Western Civilization ever done for us?"

(Other than the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, of course. . .)

I'm largely on Michael's side about the Sokal affair. Someday I will finish my half-written post on "postmodernism for scientists," which will definitely finish up the Decline of the West once and for all.

We've all been taken in by satire we thought was serious; best approach is to just laugh it off with a casual mea culpa. If everyone who indulges in satire had to mark it as such with a *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge*, it would spoil the fun for those who DO get the joke. Jon Swift's blog wouldn't be nearly as widely read, for starters. And Stephen Colbert's entire career is based on that very principle.

Put it this way: I expected better from you!

Well, thanks! I just read your critique, and I think I hafta disagree with what you took Sokal to be saying. You say, "But Sokal and Bricmont do not advocate a universally objective account of truth -- not if the word 'truth' also encompasses moral and ethical propositions." Um, actually, Sokal did throw around the idea of objective social truth, as in his Lingua Franca essay:

"For most of the past two centuries, the Left has been identified with science and against obscurantism; we have believed that rational thought and the fearless analysis of objective reality (both natural and social) are incisive tools for combating the mystifications promoted by the powerful- not to mention being desirable human ends in their own right. The recent turn of many "progressive'' or "leftist'' academic humanists and social scientists toward one or another form of epistemic relativism betrays this worthy heritage and undermines the already fragile prospects for progressive social critique."

The conflation of the natural and social is what I'm objectin' to.

But you're right on other grounds, actually: I think my initial review of Fashionable Nonsense completely missed what Sokal and Bricmont were complaining about when they criticized British archeologist Roger Anyon for saying that the Zuni world view was "just as valid as the archeological viewpoint of what prehistory is about." So I wrote a whole new section on that in Rhet Ox, admitting where S & B had a point. It's an important point, too, since it involves people who use cultural relativism to cover for creationist theories (Zuni or otherwise).

Ahem, it is a pop cultural reference to a Monty Python routine. As a card-carrying member of Western Civilization you are expected to know that, or at the very least expected to google it.

Les chiens ne comprennent pas des plaisanteries.

Bob O'H,

I agree 100%. Present western culture can go to #### in a hand basket as far as I'm concerned.

Western CIVILISATION is what I'd like to see alive and kicking (the UK and similar variants) as related by Kenneth Clark and David Attenborough in the BBC series.

Jacob Bronowski's "The Ascent of Man" is also another great exposition and was, sort of, a companion to Civilisation.

Our present culture doesn't seem to allow for the creation of such series; seems it is considered eurocentric.
Be very odd if a series about western civilisation wasn't euro-centric but there you go.

The other big problem with our present western cultures is their denigration of knowledge and learning. I was always taught that education is for its own sake, not for pecuniary advantage per se. Though given the rise in the 60s/70s/80s of cultural relativism and science as a social construct within so called academic/learned institutes it isn't suprising that our culture has degraded.

Oh yes, to keep on topic :o)
Good blogs (like this one) are a valuable addition to the world. As with most things, a lot of blogs add little.

By Chris' Wills (not verified) on 11 Jan 2008 #permalink