[iDC] Re: Intellectual Superhuman Infallibility

Samuel Rose samuel.rose at gmail.com
Mon May 7 14:01:36 EDT 2007

> Message: 1
> Date: Sun, 6 May 2007 08:50:58 -0700
> From: Ryan Shaw <ryanshaw at ISchool.Berkeley.EDU>
> Subject: Re: [iDC] Re:From Counter Culture to Cyber Culture: The
>         "Utopian"       thing.....
> To: Michel Bauwens <michelsub2004 at gmail.com>
> Cc: idc at mailman.thing.net
> Message-ID:
>         <DB494233-A3E9-44FA-8367-6A46B778F99A at ischool.berkeley.edu>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; delsp=yes; format=flowed
> On May 5, 2007, at 10:15 PM, Michel Bauwens wrote:
> > I am a regular reader of both Kelly and Rheingold, and though they
> > are optimistic, and believe in the potential of technology for
> > human emancipation. I challenge Ryan to show the precise citations
> > where these authors advocate the rule of technical experts.
> OK, how about Brand's "Environmental Heresies" article in MIT
> Technology Review, in which he calls upon scientists to grab the
> reins of environmental debate from close-minded romantics:
> "The romantics are moralistic, rebellious against the perceived
> dominant power, and combative against any who appear to stray from
> the true path. They hate to admit mistakes or change direction. The
> scientists are ethicalistic, rebellious against any perceived
> dominant paradigm, and combative against each other. For them,
> admitting mistakes is what science is."
> "Within the environmental movement, scientists are the radical
> minority leading the way. They are already transforming the
> perspective on urbanization and population growth. But their
> radicalism and leadership will have to increase if humanity is to
> harness green biotech and step up to its responsibilities for the
> global climate."
> I'm not anti-science or anti-technology--I've spent my adult life
> writing code and designing technical systems. And I actually agree
> with many of Brand's criticisms of the environmental movement. But
> his view of scientists as "rebellious against any perceived dominant
> paradigm" directly conflicts with piles of empirical evidence of how
> scientists (and engineers) actually behave (see e.g. Kuhn, Latour, or
> pretty much anyone who has done ethnographies of laboratory work).
> It's ironic that he paints such a romantic picture of the heroic
> scientist in a screed against romantics.
> Ryan
> **********************************

So, if I follow this thread so far, Ryan, I wrote originally:

"Calling them "Digital Utopians" seems to steer me towards the conclusion
that these people are are irrationally one-sided in their conclusions about
technology, and that they espouse the view that the world will be a perfect
place, if people only were to adopt their techno-social visions"

You took one small part of that paragraph out of context, and proceeded to
try and show me how Kevin Kelly, and Stewart Brand are "one-sided" in
general. Even though that is not what I was talking about above. I was
talking about them being "one sided" in favor of a "Utopian" view of
technology. You agreed they were not in your response, but then proceeded
argue that they are "one-sided", which has nothing to do with what we were
talking about. So, you took my comment out of context and then argued
against it based on a context of your choosing. Nice.

As for your quote above, Kuhn found that in any community of scientists,
there are some who are more rebellious than most. In fact, there *are*
always *some* scientists who are challenging dominant paradigms. If Brand is
saying in his MIT article that this applies to all scientists, then yes, he
would be wrong. But, Brand's main point in the article that you quoted above
is actually quite a good one, and is talking about scientists WITHIN THE
ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT in particular. You have taken it out of context, and
implied that he is talking about all scientists in general.

So, you have taken my words out of context, then argues against them in the
new context that you made up. And, you took Brand's words out of context,
and argued against them in the new context that you made up.



Sam Rose
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