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Re: <nettime> Why I won't support the March for Science
Brian Holmes on Tue, 25 Apr 2017 20:06:22 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> Why I won't support the March for Science


On 04/25/2017 04:34 AM, Eric Kluitenberg wrote:

... the proliferation of automated citation indexes, research and
performance metrics, persisting science publishing oligopolies, a
general war on non-quantiative approaches, a general distrust towards
the Humanities and even the social sciences (among beta-oriented
scientists) and ‘theory’  - what do you need concepts for when you
can measure / quantify everything?

From what I could see (before our local US disaster shifted the focus) this kind of metrification in the intellectual world comes from neoliberal economics. It's an utterly false quantification because it rests on no "evidence" at all - ie, there is no way to prove that what they say is valuable, is really valuable. Are widely cited publications more valuable than the outliers from which significant discoveries emerge? Are statistical analyses of population behavior more valuable than the new gesture or concept that changes population behavior? Etc.

As I understand it, there are at least three parts to the politicization of science proposed by Latour. One involves involves scientists admiting that objectivity itself has political effects. A second involves breaking the stranglehold of capitalist industrial policy over all decision making. And the third involves understanding the difference between objectively produced facts and philosophically produced orientations. The idea of the latter is not that you come down on one side or the other of a supposed "fact/value" debate. Instead it's about recognizing that fundamental orientations in life are made through procedures very different from those whereby objective phenomena are characterized. The role of the humanities in the politicization of science is making this last point clear, in a dialogue with science and not through a refusal of it as the creationists and climate-deniers do. The dialogue is key: because politics depends on alliances.

best, Brian

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