Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Reviewer

From a recently discovered draft of Prof. Jonathan Edwards’ (D.Div, Harvard) exhortation to junior profs revising their dissertations at the Collegiate School in New Haven, CT in early 1741. Some scholars are of the opinion that Prof. Edwards later revised the speech for presentation to a non-academic audience in the same state, but, given the probability of any academic being able to write a book that gained traction among the mythical “educated public,” this seems extremely doubtful.

…This that you have heard is the case for every one of you that is without tenure. That world of misery, that land of eternal visiting lectureships, is extended abroad under you. There is the visible flames of the wrath of an angry Reviewer; there is the mouth of Adjunct Hell laid open; and you have no publications to stand upon, nor good reviews to take hold of; there is nothing between you and this Hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of the Dean that holds you up. Continue reading

Science Shouldn’t Be Objective

So why does flying my SSK Freak Flag™ and denying the objectivity of science get me hate mail? What is it that we really prize when we say something is objective, and why is attacking that Bad?

For starters, I’m not even going to really go into intelligent design, climate change denying, anti-vax, or paleo diet hooha. If you’re looking for support in your quest to unmask the Vast Scientific Conspiracy, look elsewhere, and if you’re supporting any of these things (or any other pseudoscience), I’d suggest revising the background assumptions that govern the foundational rules behind the discursive field of your form of life.*

So, my objection to objectivity is this: not only is it not true that science is objective, but the term “objective” is really masking a whole bushel of values that we ought to embrace, but, because we value our form of empirical inquiry acting as if it’s value-neutral or even value-free, we claim that it’s objective, and seek to behave in a way that we believe people engaged in an objective form of empirical, inductive reasoning based on observation ought to behave. Continue reading

Science Isn’t Objective

The title’s clickbait, but I mean it: science, even physics, isn’t objective, and, more to the point, it can’t be.

There are a lot of assumptions to unpack there (for instance, why do people think physics is the most objective science?), but let’s start with the obvious one: the assumption science, whatever it is, is, in fact, objective, whatever that is. Continue reading