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Who needs science when you’ve got technology?

When we last encountered Virginia Heffernan, she was upset that hatefest science blogs had journalistic integrity, and encouraged everyone to read science denialist blogs instead; then the usual gang of anti-science frauds joined in, with Rod Dreher and various Catholics chiming in. It was all over the Pepsico debacle, in which the Scienceblogs management gave advertorial space to Pepsi without marking it as an ad, prompting a whole bunch of science journalists to promptly decamp…but Heffernan exposed herself as just generally anti-science in her reaction.

Now she’s back, declaring that she loves technology and dislikes science, and that she’s openly a creationist.

I assume that other people love science and technology, since the fields are often lumped together, but I rarely meet people like that. Technology people are trippy; our minds are blown by the romance of telecom. At the same time, the people I know who consider themselves scientists by nature seem to be super-skeptical types who can be counted on to denigrate religion, fear climate change and think most people—most Americans—are dopey sheep who believe in angels and know nothing about all the gross carbon they trail, like “Pig-Pen.”

Did I mention she’s a raving climate change denialist? Yeah, she’s a raving climate change denialist and a creationist, but she loves her little smart phone. And her entire argument against science is that she doesn’t understand it, it’s complicated enough to contain internal debates, and she has this bigoted stereotype of what scientists are like. Oh, and science stories are impersonal, while Bible stories are fun and amusing.

She also mentions that the just-so stories of evolutionary psychology are inconsistent BS, but she’s such a delusional twit that I can’t even agree with her there, just on principle, much as I’d like to.

You know, I don’t assume most Americans are dopey sheep. It takes a little evidence to convince me. But at least I can say that Virginia Heffernan has persuaded me that she, at least, is a dopey sheep. Maybe that’s her problem; every time she meets a scientist she opens her mouth and says something stupid, and they react appropriately.

Comments

  1. ah58 says

    Where does she think the knowledge to create the technology she loves came from? That engineers simply pray for it?

  2. Nemo says

    As an actual technology person, I’m insulted by her pretense. Not that we aren’t infested with creationists. (sigh)

  3. raven says

    Oh, and science stories are impersonal, while Bible stories are fun and amusing.

    Never noticed that. Most bible stories are gruesome, frequently end in murder or mass murder and are often pointless except to show the malevolence and incompetence of their ficitional deity.

    The Big Boat atrocity is when god invented genocide and killed all but 8 people plus all our dinosaurs. It also was total failure at fixing humans.

    The Tower of Babel was halted because god was afraid of humans. For good reason, when we stop believing in the gods, then they are dead. It also failed. We aren’t just piling up bricks any more. We have robots around Saturn and on Mars.

    The Garden of Eden? We were set up. Why wasn’t the Tree of Knowledge and that smartass snake on Jupiter?

    The torture murder of jesus on a cross? Yeah, a barrel of laughs right there.

    Abraham intending to kill his son? Pointless human child sacrifice is just so funny.

  4. brucegee1962 says

    In other news, Virginia Heffernen says that she loves the beach, but she just can’t stand the ocean.

  5. steve oberski says

    @raven

    But murder, mass murder, genocide, torture and child sacrifice are fun and amusing to true xtians.

  6. crocodoc says

    Clarke’s 3rd law confirmed again.

    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

  7. mykroft says

    Virginia doesn’t like science because it doesn’t repeat the answers she wants to hear. Technology however is built by businesses, which helps the economy and gives her toys.

    I’ve seen this in the debates on government funding for science. People say that the companies should pay for it, because the market with drive the development of new technologies. They wouldn’t care about proving things like evolution and climate change, they just want to make money.

    What they don’t seem to get is that the companies depend on the government funded basic research to provide them with a starting point. Most companies don’t have the profit margins to do basic research, as there is no guarantee of a successful payoff. The government therefore primes the pump, funding the basic science that Virginia doesn’t like. Without that, no technology.

    Then there are those who say we should only invest in science that has a payoff. Again, this can focus research away from proving concepts some people don’t like. This is extremely short sighted, because of the breakthroughs that result from serendipitous discoveries. We see this in Biology, where investigations into biological processes and compounds lead to new medicines and insight into related disease mechanisms. Similar examples come from materials science (especially nano-technology), physics, etc.

    We often don’t know what the right questions are to ask, until some level of basic research has been accomplished. To a layman, some of that research seems pointless, but it fills in gaps in the overall knowledge set that technologies are founded upon.

  8. shouldbeworking says

    @steve Gawd’s mass-murdering is good fun
    because it always happens to non-xians. Its part of that all-loving gawd thing.

  9. stever says

    “Loves technology, hates science” translates to “believes in magic.” No surprise. She believes that the Initiates get together and say the right Words and things like that darling little smartphone just appear. It’s a very common attitude among scientifically illiterate bosses and legislators. The point to a broke-down system and say “Fix it!” Never mind that there was no budget for a backup, or even spare parts. They expect an image enhancement program to conjure detail out of a single pixel. They enact dumbass laws and wonder why the big employers start moving to other states, and they don’t even stop to wonder why “Don’t give ‘em ideas!” statutes outlawing real sex education are followed by an increase in teen pregnancy.

  10. Augustus Carp says

    The one thing she says that is probably true is: “As it was, I only cared about the double-blind studies that told me what I wanted to hear”

    Well…. quite!

  11. Pierce R. Butler says

    Anybody have any clues as to why trying to access this page (from Ed Brayton’s “Houston, we have a moron” post) would prompt McAfee Site Advisor to butt in saying,

    This site may be risky to visit.

    Why were you redirected to this page?

    When we visited this site, we found it exhibited one or more risky behaviors.

    ?

    V. Heffernan: … our minds are blown by the romance of telecom.

    Most tech people I know call that “rule 34″.

  12. Pierce R. Butler says

    Re my # 13 – the same warning recurred after posting my comment.

    And I bet it will again after this one, but I won’t bother reporting it.

  13. says

    Putting a high valuation on technology and a low valuation on science is characteristic of many intellectual movements of the last hundred years, most famously of fascism with its combination of V2s and tribalism. Jeffrey Herf wrote an influential book about it back in the 80s, Reactionary Modernism; but you sometimes hear the more recent and less obviously malevolent version described as the California Ideology. aka the outlook of the Randian geeks. Virginia Heffernan sounds as if she’s performing a more rustic, old-timey cover of this now venerable tune.

    What we have here is a non-sexual reprise of the ancient question, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Why honor the Enlightenment values associated with science when you can get the technological goodies you really want without such obsolete formalities? By the way, whether you’re repelled by this outlook or not, the question it raises is a real one. What happens to the moral authority of science in it just is technology pursued in a different part of the university?

  14. carpenterman says

    The word we are looking for here is “twit”. Clearly, this woman is smart enough to read all these books, but not smart enough to understand them. And not smart (or imaginative) enough to actually apply knowledge. Instead of “If A equals B, and B equals C, then A equals C”, her thought processes seem to be “A equals B and B equals C… yeah, so?”

  15. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    Instead of “If A equals B, and B equals C, then A equals C”, her thought processes seem to be “A equals B and B equals C… yeah, so?”

    If God wanted A to be equal to C, then he would have said so, none of this logicky transitive stuff. So this is clearly work of the devil.

  16. lorn says

    Sounds kind of like the Romans. They didn’t have much science, they don’t seem to have developed anything new. Instead they would invade and capture nations, their resources, and their technology. Borgs before Borgs were cool.

    The Roman stance on religion was that as long as you made no great show of being different, got along with the existing power/religious structures, and observed the mandated rituals and sacrifices, it was all cool. They didn’t much care what you believed.

    Funny how they resemble the Romans who they think killed their savior.

  17. hexidecima says

    unsurprisingly, Hefferman is one more hypocritical Christian. She wants to accept science as long as it makes her comfy, but oh if that science shows her god not to exist, well, then she’ll just cherry-pick things. Alas, Virginia, science is science. The same science that allows you to have a computer is the same science that supports quantum mechanics and shows that no magical flood or magical creation could have happened. The same science that allows you to have antibiotics and modern foodstuffs is the same science that supports evolutionary theory. It’s such a sad thing when you intentionally remain ignorant about evolution, not actually reading Origin of the Species or following all of the science done in the 200+ years that have followed it. You depend on lies and misinformation to insist that you have a magical friend who is omnipotent, just like some child.

  18. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    “Telecom”, really? Just say that you’re sexually aroused by your phone, lady. Sheesh.

    Must keep it on vibrate, and store it out of sight…

  19. Akira MacKenzie says

    fredbloggs @ 5

    Ah but “applied sciences” doesn’t challenge her privileged position on Earth as one of her Invisible Cosmic Tyrant’s beloved children. Evolution would mean that she is just another filthy animal and not Yahweh’s special little snowflake, so it must be wrong and an atheist plot to turn humanity away from her god. Climate change would mean that the lifestyle she enjoys is unsustainable, so it must be wrong and it’s a crypto-communist plot to destroy THE GREATEST NATION IN THE WORLD (TM).

    For the Right, science is ok so long as it doesn’t as too mant questions and makes some capitalist pig a few billion dollars.

  20. karpad says

    See, no, I’m okay with that “Romance of Telecom” thing.
    It’s an exceptionally twee way to say it. Very purple prose, using “Romance” in the literary sense. So it’s a competitor for most pretentious thing I’ve read all day.
    But the whole information age human connection thing is legitimately wondrous. You can, at any time of day, connect with hundreds of people from all over the world. We are spoiled for choice for information and activity, and we hold in our pockets a device with several times the computing power NASA used to put men on the moon.
    We use this to upload pictures of our cats attacking crickets and photographs of ourselves in bathroom mirrors.
    But if you actually step back and look at what science has wrought, it’s pretty damn amazing.

  21. firstapproximation says

    Jesus Christ, this person got a Ph.D from Harvard! She was also a fact-checker for The New Yorker.

    I’d like to believe this is just trolling, but I suspect not.

  22. stevem says

    “…the people I know who consider themselves scientists by nature seem to be super-skeptical types …”

    You know those people, those who, when you tell them X will not just say “Yes, of course that’s true”, will instead respond with “Is that so? How do you know X is true? What does that mean for us?” Skepticism is just responding to your statements with more questions, over and over. No answers, just questions. Technologists, on the other hand, are those who hand out answers to everyday problems, willy-nilly. “How can I talk to that friend of mine, right now?”, she’d ask, and the technologists just give her a cell phone and say, “With this, call your friend with this ‘telecomm device’ right here, right now”. And then her mind is blown, Ka-blooeey. (is that, then, an “open mind”?)
    Who would you rather talk to, the “scientist” who just keeps asking quesions, or the “technologist” who has a device to answer your every question?

    blecchh, just another case of “narrow-minded thinking”. Thinking [scarequotes redacted] ‘technology’ is one thing and ‘science’ something completely different. Totally ignoring (purposefully) that “technology” is just “applied science”. I guess that kind of “thinking” leads directly to “creationism”. “Creationism” gives us directly the “answer” to “where did we come from”, “science” provides no “answers”, just keeps asking more questions. “Science, give us answers, not more questions!” “You think the BigBang is an answer to where we came from? But you can’t tell us where the Big Bang came from, can you?”, they’ll say. “All your ‘answers’ just lead to more questions’, when will it end? questions, questions, questions, where are the answers?”

    My question is; how do people like that become so ‘prominent’? Why aren’t they just “little people” with no power nor influence, proud of their ignorance and superstition?

  23. says

    Highlights of Virginia Heffernan’s stream-of-Twitter, as captured by Carl Zimmer:

    I did read Darwin as literature & Sam Harris &al as cultural docs but my training keeps me from seeing it as truth […] We believe “life did not evolve” (like “life did evolve”) bears no relation to reality; holds no mirror to nature; is poetics […] What I believe is stories—hodgepodge of magic & facts—like what you believe. What I do is: aim to be kind. […] I *elevate* science to poetics! […] “Life did evolve” is a statement about reality? What do those three words together even mean? […] My exact bildungsroman’s in the piece. Which is about literature, which I take both Darwin and the Bible to be. […] I said I’m a creationist on aesthetic grounds. Why bludgeon me w/ “But evolution is TRUE”?

    Seth Mnookin’s response:

    I get what you guys are doing: This is a Baudrillardian simulacrum of the all-time worst freshman lit seminar ever.

  24. raven says

    Jesus Christ, this person got a Ph.D from Harvard! She was also a fact-checker for The New Yorker.

    I’d like to believe this is just trolling, but I suspect not.

    It’s fundie xian induced cognitive impairment.

    This is a real clinic entity. Look what it did to Michele Backmann, holder of three degrees and a law license.

    And it is one way that internet trolls are made.

    The actual mechanism isn’t well known. It looks like Heffernan just gave up on making sense or understanding the world around her. Same thing happened to Bachmann.

  25. firstapproximation says

    Virginia Heffernan,

    I said I’m a creationist on aesthetic grounds. Why bludgeon me w/ “But evolution is TRUE”? Believe your good beliefs; they’re widely shared!

    This would be embarrassing coming from a sophomore….

  26. raven says

    I said I’m a creationist on aesthetic grounds. Why bludgeon me w/ “But evolution is TRUE”? Believe your good beliefs; they’re widely shared!

    This would be embarrassing coming from a sophomore….

    It’s pure magical thinking.

    It would be embarrassing coming from a freshman, one in high school.

  27. firstapproximation says

    Sigh….

    Carl Zimmer: So…you’re a creationist who accepts evolution?

    Virginia Heffernan: Yes! Evpsych has led to some weird, even toxic, courtship practices (see: The Game) but in goldfinches I accept evolution.

    Carl Zimmer: Evolution only for goldfinches! Yes, of course.

    Virginia Heffernan: Carl, I like you. But you’re really pretty mean.

  28. carlie says

    Wait, people still say “telecom”?

    My school had an active telecom degree program until just a couple of years ago. But it died because a) people weren’t taking it and b) everyone in it retired, so it probably proves your point.

  29. Gregory Greenwood says

    hexidecima @ 20;

    unsurprisingly, Hefferman is one more hypocritical Christian. She wants to accept science as long as it makes her comfy, but oh if that science shows her god not to exist, well, then she’ll just cherry-pick things. Alas, Virginia, science is science. The same science that allows you to have a computer is the same science that supports quantum mechanics and shows that no magical flood or magical creation could have happened. The same science that allows you to have antibiotics and modern foodstuffs is the same science that supports evolutionary theory. It’s such a sad thing when you intentionally remain ignorant about evolution, not actually reading Origin of the Species or following all of the science done in the 200+ years that have followed it. You depend on lies and misinformation to insist that you have a magical friend who is omnipotent, just like some child.

    And Akira MacKenzie @ 22;

    Ah but “applied sciences” doesn’t challenge her privileged position on Earth as one of her Invisible Cosmic Tyrant’s beloved children. Evolution would mean that she is just another filthy animal and not Yahweh’s special little snowflake, so it must be wrong and an atheist plot to turn humanity away from her god. Climate change would mean that the lifestyle she enjoys is unsustainable, so it must be wrong and it’s a crypto-communist plot to destroy THE GREATEST NATION IN THE WORLD (TM).

    For the Right, science is ok so long as it doesn’t as too mant questions and makes some capitalist pig a few billion dollars.

    You are both absolutely right; it has been an ongoing project of various strains of xianity, in particular the roman catholic church, for several centuries to yolk scientific endeavour to a religious agenda. Back in the ‘good old days’, as many theists reckon such things, scientific endeavour was largely the purview of monks or other individuals suffering from terminal conformation bias and with a very great vested interest in ensuring that their research functioned to ‘reveal the glory of god’s creation’ (either because they were in on the priestly racket themselves, or because of the tendency of the church to at first burn those who didn’t toe the line, and later to guarantee their social marginalisation and ostracision). It was only as the techniques and methodologies of scientific experimentation spread beyond the narrow clique the church found acceptable, and people started using it to seek not only answers to things the church did not want considered, but – far worse – started to contemplate entirely new types of questions, including whether there actually was any basis to all the extraordinary claims of the church that had gone almost unchallenged for many centuries, that the clergy began to view the science method as a potential threat.

    The church was all in favour of early science while it maintained a stranglehold on it; it was only when they lost control of it that they suddenly felt the need to try to dismiss, belittle and even demonise both the method and its practitioners.

    And that mixed attitude toward science exists among xians of various stripes to this day. They love attacking what they erroneously call ‘scientism’ – the supposed transmutation of science into some strange (and evil, of course evil) form of ‘secular religion’, while at the same time desperately hoping for some kind of scientific validation for their delusions that they can point to as final ‘proof’ of their god.

    Of course this will never be forthcoming. Even leaving aside the complete lack of any evidence for their deity – and the inconvenient point that the most parsimonious explanation is that their god is a toxic sociological construct and nothing more – one of the things that most xians fail to grasp is that science does not trade in final ‘proof’ of anything at all. Science is all about evidence, not proof, and all conclusions must remain tentative in the event that new evidence is discovered.

    Theists sometimes say that this means that science is somehow useless or ‘knows nothing'; as usual they are mistaken. Just because no theory is final, that doesn’t means that all hypothesese are equal. Some ideas about how the universe works fit much better into the current state of our knowledge, based upon the best evidence available, than others do. That our technology functions at all amounts to a practical demonstration that at least some of our understanding of the universe is on the right track. Evolution is one of those theories that is massively supported by vast quantities of rigorously and painstakingly collected evidence accrued over many decades. By comparison, creationism is a flimsy fever dream. And as for evolution being ‘just a theory’, as one of the regular posters here points out with their nym, so is this little thing called gravity…

    A great many xians yearn above all else to shove science back into the stifling, tightly controlled box it used to inhabit. They want to be able to subvert it, and dole out just a little of its discoveries and theories here and there, all spun to appear to support their own beliefs. That this would render the scientific method worthless – worse than worthless; it would become mere empty propaganda – is of no concern to such people. So long as they can use a corrupted version of science to prop up the tottering edifice of their religion, and thus preserve the unearned privilege that edifice affords them for a little longer, then they are quite happy to see all that we have learned, and all that we have the potential to learn, about the reality of the universe we inhabit trampled underfoot.

    They would blunt the potential of our species for as many generations as possible, simply in order to stay rich, to retain the dregs of their former power and influence, and thus be able to do things like trade on their percieved social authority in order to cover up an epidemic of priestly child rape.

    It is just one more way in which religion poisons everything, and the likes of Virginia Heffernan are merely one more contemporary expression of this long-established yet short-sighted mindset.

  30. scrawnykayaker says

    This is hardly a rare attitude. IIRC, engineers and medical doctors have religious beliefs that differ little from the general population, while actually research faculty in physics and biology have considerably elevated rates of atheism. One can work with the tools provided by science with very little understanding of the origin of those tools (the process of science) or of the deeper implications of the facts developed by science (the god of the gaps problem, for example).

  31. Nemo says

    Some of the comments here I think are a bit off — AFAICT, Hefferman is neither a fundie nor right-wing. What she is — what she openly admits to being — is someone who doesn’t care what the truth is, only what the best story is. In a way, I could call that refreshing, in contrast to those who try to tell me that God is the foundation of logic, etc. But really, I find it appalling. I can’t even get my mind around it. I understand, of course, that we all do this to some extent — choosing what we want to believe over what we should rationally believe. But how can you have enough self-awareness to know that’s what you’re doing, and not want to change it?

  32. says

    A-and another thing…

    Virginia Heffernan: Yes! Evpsych has led to some weird, even toxic, courtship practices (see: The Game) but in goldfinches I accept evolution.

    Has anyone made a systematic investigation into how much academic EvPsych has fed into ground-level PUA/MRA douchery? (One really ought to assign blame appropriately, after all.) My suspicion is that, other than a few terms and justifications, the answer is “not all that much”. What I’d expect to see more of are common cultural roots and ex-post-facto appropriations for spurious intellectual respectability.

    This is just my speculation…nobody is paying me enough to wade into the PUA sewer pipes and take samples.

  33. sigurd jorsalfar says

    Well, Virginia Heffernan isn’t even the dumbest thing I’ve read today.

  34. thecalmone says

    I’ve met people who think that modern computers could have been developed via trial and error and are therefore not “science” but “engineering”.

  35. says

    I said I’m a creationist on aesthetic grounds. Why bludgeon me w/ “But evolution is TRUE”?

    I can only understand the line of logic that leads to this because I avidly ship fiction. It’s not that I don’t know the canon, it’s that I think my version is better. I just don’t then do this sort of bullshit.

    Also, if you’re Creationist on ‘aesthetic grounds’ it had damn well better not be Christian Creationism. There are much more beautiful stories than that.

  36. says

    the technologists just give her a cell phone and say, “With this, call your friend with this ‘telecomm device’ right here, right now”

    Why doesn’t she then mistake the technologists for god? Incomprehensible miracles seem to be what convinces her. How can she tell them apart?

  37. John Morales says

    Nemo:

    What she is — what she openly admits to being — is someone who doesn’t care what the truth is, only what the best story is.

    That’s what she claims to be, yes.

    But how can you have enough self-awareness to know that’s what you’re doing, and not want to change it?

    She’s obviously aware of it, since she’s stated so unequivocally, but notice it’s only about things that don’t personally affect her.

  38. vaiyt says

    Technology people are trippy; our minds are blown by the romance of telecom.

    Without chemists and physicists, there would be no integrated circuits, no liquid crystal, no batteries, no signal transmission. The “romance of telecom” only blows the simpleton’s mind because scientists have worked hard figuring out the properties of the materials and forces involved.

  39. DrVanNostrand says

    She doesn’t like technology, she likes toys. It seems appropriate to me since her article displays all the reasoning skills of a 4 year old: “I like toys! Stories are fun!! I don’t like science, it’s boring and hard :-(”

    Of course, I’m not being fair, while 4-year-olds may not know a whole lot about science (yet), many are very inquisitive and display an incredible thirst for knowledge.

  40. A R says

    So what she’s saying is she likes the convenience that the products of science offer, but none of the ethical responsibility. Interesting.

  41. sigurd jorsalfar says

    I bet she’s perfectly happy to attribute the atomic bomb to science and not technology.

  42. Menyambal --- Ooo, look! A garage sale ... says

    She is a believer. She believes whatever the hell she wants to believe, because she wants to believe it, and chooses it based on her own likes. She’s not conforming to some religious dogma because she feels forced to, she’s just tripping on her own ego.

    One aspect of science is the determination of how the universe functions. If you put vinegar on baking soda, you get carbon dioxide, every damned time. If you put pressure on a quartz crystal, you get electricity, every damned time. If it works every time, this is why, if it doesn’t work every time, that is why. If that is why, these similar things may do similar, and on and on and on. Rules, replication, reliability and repetition.

    Technology is simply the expression of that aspect of science. We expect our cellphones to work, every damned time, and we expect a cell phone made just like another to work just like the other. We build our technology using science, and we depend on it like we depend on science. Rules, replication, reliability and repetition.

    Some people think they can shuck evolution out from the rest of science, the technical parts of science. But they can’t, really. The little crystals in the cell phone are just as scientific as the little crystals in volcanic ash under human footprints. The radioactivity in a smoke detector is the same science as the radiometric dating of fossils. The rules that a GPS device uses for precise location are the same rules that show this universe is old.

    Rocket science, that common phrase, is its technology. And every high-tech rocket that thunders aloft on hydrocarbon fuel is using the products of ancient life, products found using the science of geology, the geology that finds records of evolution in the very rocks of the earth.

  43. w00dview says

    Shorter Virginia: Science that gives me mobile phones, the internet and Ipads is super fun and awesome! YAY! Science that tells me that I am descended from apes or that human activity can change the climate makes me sad and is just mean!1!1!

    She has the same point of view as a snot nosed spoiled brat who wants to play all day and thinks the teachers are such poopy heads for making her like, learn and stuff. Wilful ignorance like this fucking disgusts me, it really does.

  44. magistramarla says

    Hold on there, ScrawnyKayaker @34,
    My dear hubby is an engineer, and he is one of the Horde and strongly defends science and evolution.
    I suppose that it helps that he also holds degrees in Biology and Chemistry, but he happens to have a very well-rounded science education. That was possible in the US when we were young.
    I’m most decidedly not a science person – a retired Latin teacher. However, I was lucky enough to have a decent basic science education and I have great respect for science and will often find myself defending it, even though I don’t know enough details to do it very well. I know enough to realize how daft this woman is – that without scientific research we wouldn’t have that technology of which she is so fond.

  45. says

    magistramarla
    Scrawnykayaker didn’t say that no doctors or engineers are atheists, merely that they are not statistically any more likely to be than the general population. Research scientists, OTOH, are statistically more likely to be atheists than the general population.

  46. says

    >Blake Stacey @ 27: That looks like the output of a travesty generator, which in a sense I suppose it is. I was just rererereading Douglas Hofstadter’s piece on nonsense, and it looked like the passages he cited as it being ambiguous whether they were even intended to say anything.

    >scrawnykayaker @ 34:

    IIRC, engineers and medical doctors have religious beliefs that differ little from the general population

    I’ve had a surgeon who exhibited magical thinking in a way that directly effected my care.

    >Rutee Katreya @ 40: Heffernan’s stance reminds me of this.

  47. David Marjanović says

    Maybe Heffernan is a solipsist and wonders why not more people are solipsists, too.

    Sounds kind of like the Romans. They didn’t have much science, they don’t seem to have developed anything new. Instead they would invade and capture nations, their resources, and their technology. Borgs before Borgs were cool.

    Instead of technology, they used slave labor where possible. Where that wasn’t possible, they did things like invent concrete.

    The Roman stance on religion was that as long as you made no great show of being different, got along with the existing power/religious structures, and observed the mandated rituals and sacrifices, it was all cool. They didn’t much care what you believed.

    …Sort of the opposite: they didn’t believe there was such a thing as a wrong religion. They believed that everything that anybody worshipped as a deity really was a deity; because they didn’t know how many deities there were, they were constantly afraid of having overlooked one who was going to take revenge for this neglect. (…Being pragmatists, they greatly reduced the burden of this by equating foreign deities with their own if at all possible. But still.)

    Only if they considered your religion a threat to peace/order/safety did they start persecuting you for it.

    not actually reading Origin of the Species

    …I haven’t read it either, and I’m an evolutionary biologist. I don’t work on history of science; that’s a field of it’s own.

  48. DLC says

    She likes sweets but doesn’t want the calories.
    She loves the pretty colors and the gee-whiz! aspect of technology but hates the people who make it possible. Of course scientists are skeptical. They’re supposed to be — not all of them are, but as a rule, having an open mind and a hard nose is considered a good thing. Where would electronics be today if no one had ever investigated particle physics or physical chemistry or materials science ? We’d be talking into phones made of bakelite and india-rubber, or tapping out — . … … .- –. . … / .. -. / — — .-. … . / -.-. — -.. . .-.-.-

  49. Amphiox says

    Where that wasn’t possible, they did things like invent concrete.

    Several kinds!

  50. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    So she loves technology, but hates the very thing which resulted in it’s existence, and is entirely necessary for its existence?

    “I love snow, but I hate the cold”
    “I love the beach, but I hate the sea”
    “I love swimming, but I hate water”

    *headdesk**headdesk**headdesk*

  51. WharGarbl says

    @Thumper
    #58
    Um… the examples you stated do make sense for individuals. And some of it is possible to “get around”.

    “I love snow, but I hate the cold.”
    You could play in the snow wearing heavy winter gears that keep out the cold.

    “I love the beach, but I hate the sea”
    There are artificial beaches, for those who really REALLY hate the sea.
    Special mention to Japan.
    http://www.amusingplanet.com/2012/01/seagaia-ocean-dome-artificial-beach-in.html
    They hate the sea SO much that they decided to build an artificial beach right next to an actual beach.
    Granted, given how vulnerable they are to tsunamis…

    “I love swimming, but I hate water”
    Wet suit, no more water!

  52. says

    I’m a telecommie-technologist but I’m an anti-theist (sorry Virginia, but not ‘sorry’ in the apologetic sense, more like in the boardgame).

    And EVEN I’VE READ Origin of Species… shame on you #55 David Marjanović :)

    I kicked myself for not reading it sooner. It’s a glimpse into a beautiful mind, to borrow a phrase.

  53. WhiteHatLurker says

    @Alexandra (née Audley)

    “Telecom”, really? Just say that you’re sexually aroused by your phone, lady. Sheesh.

    Well, yeah.

  54. WhiteHatLurker says

    @firstapproximation

    Jesus Christ, this person got a Ph.D from Harvard!

    … in English Literature. I do know PhDs in the humanities that are pretty good with science “stuff”, but others don’t have clue one. But my PhD is in a technology field, so I must hate that science stuff as well.

  55. David Marjanović says

    It’s a glimpse into a beautiful mind

    Oh, absolutely. The quotes I’ve read make that very clear. :-)