Saturday, January 21, 2006

Anonymous Science Curriculum Expert Pig-Ignorant About Science

I can't vouch for his sources, and I would not endorse every sentiment in his article, but Kevin Donnelly, in today's Australian identifies a very clear instance of the Cultural Origins fallacy. The extract below sets out the core of his argument:

As noted by the South Australian academic Tony Gibbons in his book On Reflection, much of Australia's school curriculum adopts a relativistic view where science, instead of being based on an objective view of reality, is considered subjective and culturally determined. The South Australian curriculum states: "Viewing experiences, ideas and phenomena through the lenses of diverse cultural sciences provide a breadth and depth of understanding that is not possible from any one cultural perspective. Every culture has its own ways of thinking and its own world views to inform its science. Western science is the most dominant form of science but it is only one form among the sciences of the world."

Donnelly does us a service in drawing attention to lame-brained statements such as "Every culture has its own ways of thinking and its own world views to inform its science". The really alarming thing about this statement is that it has apparently been made by some ignorant buffoon inhabiting the South Australian Education Department. Further, that buffoon apparently has a licence to tinker with curriculum. He or she must be hunted down and educated in the history and philosophy of science before he or she does further harm.

There is only science. Science is science. If it doesn't look like science, smell like science and taste like science it isn't science. A core feature of scientific endeavor is precisely its independence from myths, stories, literature, arts, dance, human sacrifice, exorcisms and other fun aspects of society which we might properly call culture.