Philosophy of science humor

In Uncategorized on April 28, 2010 by Pete Abram

From some random website with which I am not familiar comes a great satirical article: – I figured I’d post this after Andre went on about how horrible it is to side with Kuhn. Even though I do side with Kuhn, please, please, please do not accuse me of siding the the “Insane Clown Posse”.

The Insane Clown Posse Are Sane Proponents of Thomas Kuhn’s Paradigm Theory.

The Insane Clown Posse video, ‘Miracles,’ was recently posted on YouTube and has since become an internet meme due to its seemingly ignorant lyrics, specifically the following excerpt:

Water, fire air and dirt–f*cking magnets, how do they work? An’ I don’t wanna talk to a scientist; y’all muthaf*ckas lyin’ and gettin’ me pissed.

Many claim that the ICP is extolling the tenets of the anti-science movement, first introduced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, specifically in his Discourse on the Arts and Sciences. This movement states that science can lead to moral corruption and arrogance. However, it seems that the ICP is not saying that science is worthless, but that truth is inherently unknowable. They are, it seems, students of the great sociologist Thomas Kuhn and his groundbreaking work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

Kuhn said that science, heretofore viewed as a progressive study, is in fact not progressive, but rather based on large-scale changes in thought and theory. For instance, Newton is one of the fathers of modern science, with his laws and equations still being taught in physics and calculus classes to this day. However, when Einstein theorized his relativistic physics, not only did his equations give better results than Newton’s, but by their mere existence showed that Newton’s equations were all wrong, merely approximations of the “truth.”

To put it simply, Kuhn stated that each one of these sets of beliefs was called a “paradigm.” And, when a paradigm exhibited enough anomalies, for instance the inability to apply Newtonian physics to sub-atomic motion, scientists would theorize a new paradigm to take the old one’s place. The upshot of this was that no paradigm in itself could be called truth. Rather, if the universe’s laws were a clock, a paradigm could only describe the motion of the hands; there was no way to see the gears themselves.

Joseph Bruce and Joseph Utsler AKA Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope are simply claiming this with their lyrics, “magnets, how do they work?” The truth is the theory of magnetism has changed wildly over the decades and is still veiled in a certain amount of mystery. Sure, scientists know how to use magnets, how to measure magnetic force, even how to chart magnetic fields, but to actually explain that force is to create a unified field theorem which remains the unfound Holy Grail in scientific research. Scientists themselves do not really know how magnets work. What they have now is simply a paradigmatic explanation of magnetism.

And in terms of scientists “lyin’,” here again the ICP is repeating their belief that scientists remain hard-headedly in support of a certain paradigm and it is often left to the next generation of scientists to have the flexibility of thought to accept a better fitting paradigm.

Although Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope may have never read Kuhn’s works, those who suggest that their raps are ignorant haven’t been properly educated in scientific theory and sociology. For, if they had been, they would know that the ICP is not ignorant. Far from it: they are keeping Thomas Kuhn’s theories alive and well.


2 Responses to “Philosophy of science humor”

  1. Serendipity works. This came through the ether today.

    The First Law of Philosophy: For every philosopher, there exists an equal and opposite philosopher.

    The Second Law of Philosophy: They’re both wrong.

  2. Very true. Very very true.

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