Sunday, September 14, 2014

537: Is Science politics?

In my previous two lectures I have shown you, that the thesis, that science is right, isn’t as simple as it sounds.

There are not only serious questions on a wider intercultural scale, but already directly within the boundaries of our own culture.

Something like ADHD is not straightforward accepted as a scientific FACT. It can be questionable..

Eventually science seems to be based on assumptions and beliefs, like my own ideas about reality are. Why would science be better than MY ideas?

And this morning there was a report on the radio about a secretary of state of the department of education, who had given a speech at some university at the opening ceremony of the academic year.

And what was his main point?! Science seemed to be somewhat isolated from reality and should focus more on the question of social relevance with respect to its activities.

The goal of science should be the growth of knowledge aimed at the increase of our welfare. Thus social relevance of scientific research is priority number one.

Results of science, published in articles, which disappear in expensive journals or are hidden in databases behind financial barriers on the Internet, should be accessible to everyone, for they are financed with our tax money.

Social relevance of science? Why does that sound familiar? And there popped up that other term in my memory: value-free science. And the recollections of heated debates, when I was a student between 1969 and 1976.

And there were all the names again too: Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Walter Benjamin, and Erich Fromm, Jürgen Habermas

When you check Wikipedia, it says: 
-QUOTE- Jürgen Habermas considers his major contribution to be the development of the concept and theory of communicative reason or communicative rationality, 

which distinguishes itself from the rationalist tradition, by locating rationality in structures of interpersonal linguistic communication rather than in the structure of the cosmos. 

This social theory advances the goals of human emancipation -END QUOTE-

You may wonder, what in heaven’s name this might mean? Well, just pick out the two concepts: “structures of interpersonal linguistic communication”. 

That is the new way how science should be. It means…..people talk with each other about things and come to a consensus.

And the concept of “the structure of the cosmos”, which could be read as “there are unquestionable facts and that is what science is after. You just have to obey the facts.”

The latter means that there is something like value-free science. You study the cosmos and the facts and scientific results will come to you as they are.

This point of view is questioned already since the early 1930s and revived after World War II in the early 1970s, during my years as at university student.

Then the debate fell asleep, probably due to the rise of neo-liberalism and increasing welfare. A lot of scientific research became finances by the industry, which aimed at new products and increase of profits.

And where Habermas meant to politicize science and scientific research goals and make it the focus of a public debate, 

our secretary of state meant, that science should cooperate closer with the industry and keep a close eye on the social desirability of its activities.

So, maybe the core of this project is the dichotomy between the idea of knowledge as something absolute based on facts and knowledge as the product of social interaction.

For the connoisseurs among you this may sound a bit like the controversy of knowledge a priori against knowledge a posteriori or rationalism against empiricism.

Thank you… ^_^

The Discussion

[13:19] ZANICIA Chau: Thank you Herman
[13:19] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman
[13:19] argus Portal: Thank you, herman
[13:19] Gemma Cleanslate: very confusing
[13:19] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you!
[13:19] Dawn Rhiannyr: Thank you Herman :)
[13:19] herman Bergson: Confusing Gemma?
[13:20] Gemma Cleanslate: to me science has proven facts or theories
[13:20] Gemma Cleanslate: that are almost proven facts
[13:20] herman Bergson: YEs I agree......
[13:20] Gemma Cleanslate: so trying to equate with voted on agreements ??
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: strange
[13:21] Lizzy Pleides: a thery can't be proven
[13:21] herman Bergson: But the feeling of confusion is exactly the reason why we'll move deeper into the philosophy of science....
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: yes it can
[13:21] Lizzy Pleides: Theorie*
[13:21] argus Portal: Sorry for my bad english. But if I understood right, the topic is, that science is too far from the people. I think, science has to be as free as possible.
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: they start as theories
[13:21] Lizzy Pleides: yes
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: but if more information is found they can be proven
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: as fact
[13:22] herman Bergson: Yes argus....but nowadays they come with the argument that this science is financed with public money.....
[13:22] herman Bergson: We'll spend a lot of time on your wondering Gemma, don'tworry....
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: public money is OUR money
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: so we are financing science
[13:23] argus Portal: yes, the problem seems to be, that the money lead, what science has to target
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: i would say that is a good thing
[13:23] herman Bergson: the next argument is, that science in all its efforts should work for the general good....
[13:23] herman Bergson: Yes argus....the money IS a serious problem....
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: i guess it depends on one's view of it all
[13:24] herman Bergson: Let me give you an example.....
[13:24] Lizzy Pleides: so, what is the motivation for being a scientist?
[13:24] herman Bergson: was not an hour ago a documentary about it on TV...
[13:25] herman Bergson: Scientist discover that lack of sexual drive is due to lack of testosteron in women around 50... what is it called...the transition?
[13:25] herman Bergson: anyway...the industry creates a medication for the extreme cases.....
[13:26] herman Bergson: then they try to get the medicine approved for all women at that age...
[13:26] herman Bergson: the Health Board Commities who decide on that did’nt approve....
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: ...LOL...
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: typical
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: list their names and gender
[13:26] herman Bergson: The industry takes the medicine from the no longer available...because they don’t earn enouigh money with it...!
[13:27] herman Bergson: This is typical!
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: strange that did not happen with viagra
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: wouldn’t you say?
[13:27] herman Bergson: The medicine has NO social is only there for profit
[13:27] herman Bergson: Yet viagra is a disaster too
[13:28] Dawn Rhiannyr: agrees... see to the many medical problems that are not worked on due to too less known cases
[13:28] herman Bergson: It does something with the blood, yes....but not a thing with where the problem the mind
[13:29] herman Bergson: Here science is completely controled by the big companies
[13:29] herman Bergson: There is another example.....
[13:29] herman Bergson: 43% of the women in the US have a sexual disfunction....
[13:30] herman Bergson: This number of 43% is mentioned everywhere....
[13:30] ZANICIA Chau: it's called men
[13:30] Dawn Rhiannyr: lol
[13:30] herman Bergson: in talk shows ...on the internet....dozens of examples...
[13:30] ZANICIA Chau: just kiddin'
[13:30] herman Bergson: no Zan...that is the other 57% of your problems
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:31] ZANICIA Chau: Excuse me? I'm's all the others!
[13:31] herman Bergson: that number is created by a so called scientific research which was just 7 YES-NO questions.....
[13:31] Dawn Rhiannyr: how many participants?
[13:31] herman Bergson: Sorry .Zan..didn’t meant it personally :-)
[13:31] ZANICIA Chau: 7
[13:32] ZANICIA Chau: That was strange British humour, Herman
[13:32] herman Bergson: The problem is...when 43% of the women BELIEVE this nonsense, because it is scientific fact, you have a huge market for all kind of nonsense medication
[13:32] Lizzy Pleides: true
[13:33] Dawn Rhiannyr: yes agree
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: that is bad science
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: not fact
[13:34] herman Bergson: So we live in a world where Gemma wonders about the possibility of real scientifically proven facts and on the other hand a kind of commercialized science
[13:34] Lizzy Pleides: is it science or is it marketing?
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate GIGGLES!!
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: ...LOL...
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:34] ZANICIA Chau: good question
[13:34] herman Bergson: Science USED for marketing purposes, I would say
[13:35] herman Bergson: First create the disease with some "scientific" research , then sell the medicines for the disease
[13:35] ZANICIA Chau: yes
[13:35] herman Bergson: It happens today....!
[13:35] ZANICIA Chau: that’s what has happened
[13:35] Dawn Rhiannyr: again important for everyone to be able to see facts and figures of so called science projects
[13:35] herman Bergson: A promotion at the University of Utrecht was paostponed today....
[13:36] herman Bergson: The subject was medical research on the effectiveness of a "lust pill" for women...
[13:37] herman Bergson: The committee that had to evaluate the dissertation was 8 professors, of which 5 were paid by the company that has "invented" this pill
[13:37] herman Bergson: Due to publicity they halted the train.....
[13:37] Gemma Cleanslate: LOL
[13:37] Dawn Rhiannyr: shakes head
[13:37] ZANICIA Chau: male...obviously
[13:38] herman Bergson: Indeed......
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: my point way back
[13:39] herman Bergson: What you hear is they come up with reasons for the product....
[13:39] ZANICIA Chau: there isn't a man alive on the planet who needs a 'lust pill'.
[13:39] ZANICIA Chau: the women
[13:39] Ciska Riverstone: well... still its produced ;) viagra - right?
[13:39] herman Bergson: Men need seems :-)
[13:39] ZANICIA Chau: that's for the equipment not the mind
[13:40] herman Bergson: I think these are examples that would have made Habermas furious.....and had proven his point....
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: and highly advertizedon tv
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: every day
[13:41] herman Bergson: The discussion about sense and nonsense in science should be a broad public debate....
[13:41] Dawn Rhiannyr: oh yes I agree
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:41] ZANICIA Chau: yes it should
[13:41] Ciska Riverstone: yes
[13:41] Lizzy Pleides nods
[13:41] argus Portal: yes
[13:41] herman Bergson: We should learn to see the political consequences of scientific research....
[13:42] herman Bergson: Not what new products we can put into the market
[13:42] ZANICIA Chau: Bravo
[[13:42] herman Bergson: But the very computer you are using finds its main development in the military....
[13:42] herman Bergson: Like nuclear power does...
[13:43] herman Bergson: And the pharmaceutical industry is a chapter you should read very closely too!
[13:43] Ciska Riverstone: a bad one yes
[13:44] herman Bergson: They promote the idea that biochemical health is the road to take another pill
[13:44] Dawn Rhiannyr: yes horrific
[13:44] herman Bergson: Of course there is a lot of good in our medical possibilies too....
[13:45] herman Bergson: But an industry that askes 80.000 a year for keeping a cancer patient alive for three months "extra"?
[13:45] herman Bergson: Very mysterious debates....
[13:46] Gemma Cleanslate: true
[13:46] herman Bergson: What kind of scientific research is it based on?
[13:46] herman Bergson: How do you know you have livesd three months "longer" now that you got that expensive medication?
[13:47] Ciska Riverstone: well it is a hard catch...
[13:47] herman Bergson: Such things in our world make me angry :-)
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: can see that
[13:47] Ciska Riverstone: an ex colleague of mine has ms - a lighter form
[13:47] herman Bergson: How we are manipulated....just for profit
[13:47] Lizzy Pleides: and what a live quality have cancer patients in these 3 months
[13:48] Dawn Rhiannyr: yes that for sure
[13:48] herman Bergson: Yes LIzzy...
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: she had serious episodes while taking pills - now she is a vegan and did not have one for 10 years
[13:48] herman Bergson: When they don’t make enough money on a medicine they take it away from can get it when they get big profits...!
[13:49] herman Bergson: Yes Ciska...such examples exists...but then they come with their statistics....
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: yes
[13:49] Ciska Riverstone: of course
[13:50] Ciska Riverstone: its not that you should do that
[13:50] Ciska Riverstone: but the problem is that no one can tell you whats right there
[13:50] Lizzy Pleides: on the other hand the companies have to make profit for surviving
[13:50] Ciska Riverstone: no doctor no pharmaceut
[13:50] ZANICIA Chau: well you know the old saying about Lies, Damn lies.....and statistics!
[13:50] herman Bergson: Yes the financial system we have now indeed...
[13:51] herman Bergson: Just imagine that the research and production of medicines only should be a non profit industry controled by society itself?
[13:52] Lizzy Pleides: I guess that wouldn't work
[13:52] herman Bergson: That this system should focus on development of needed medicines..not medicines that generate the highest profit?
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: not sure it would culturally work yes
[13:52] argus Portal: that would no work. It would be almost communism
[13:52] herman Bergson: No...we are trapped in the system....
[13:53] Ciska Riverstone: sounds like "utopia"
[13:53] herman Bergson: Yes I know....
[13:53] Dawn Rhiannyr: it would probably work for the medicines many need but not for the ones of smaller groups
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: orphan drugs they call them
[13:54] herman Bergson: least you can see that science and politics and social responsability are closely related...
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: related or in opposition
[13:55] Ciska Riverstone: they are
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: sometimes
[13:55] argus Portal: maybe the industry could lead by law: If a company create medicine, that increases illness, so they have to pay
[13:55] herman Bergson: indeed Gemma....a point to think about...
[13:55] herman Bergson: Ohh they do argos.......
[13:55] Ciska Riverstone: won't work argus - they will make it a cooperation so no one is responsible
[13:55] herman Bergson: But have you ever read the instructions that come with the medicine?
[13:56] argus Portal: in that cases the law is weak
[13:56] ZANICIA Chau: quite right
[13:56] herman Bergson: the collateral effects....?
[13:56] herman Bergson: A huge list......
[13:56] Ciska Riverstone: it is difficult to define whats right - it seems to be easier to define whats wrong as soon as it has gone wrong
[13:56] Dawn Rhiannyr: nods
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: right
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate GIGGLES!!
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: ...LOL...
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: side effects more scary than getting better
[13:57] herman Bergson: so they cover their position......whatever you get from the is in the list of collateral negative effects....
[13:57] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma.....
[13:57] Dawn Rhiannyr: sure that's an easy way to say "can happen"
[13:58] herman Bergson: But I bet that 90% of the mentioned side effects are nonsense for 99% of the users of the medicine
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: hopefully
[13:58] herman Bergson: It is just to prevent that lawsuit with a claim of millions
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: they have to list any that have ever been reported by anyone
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:58] Ciska Riverstone: reading side effects on a prescription makes us see how much we do not know - how weak science really is, so to speak.
[13:59] herman Bergson: they are super scary Ciska :-))
[13:59] Ciska Riverstone: It shows us that what we think is "proven" is p"proven" in most cases but is not a rule
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: but it could be only 1 incident
[13:59] Ciska Riverstone: yes
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: they have to list it
[13:59] herman Bergson: Yes Ciska...
[13:59] Ciska Riverstone: so no one can make them responsible
[14:00] herman Bergson: Exactly......
[14:00] ZANICIA Chau: just so
[14:00] Ciska Riverstone: but the question is... is it not time for us as humans to acknowledge that the facts we know are very relative?
[14:00] Ciska Riverstone: and start to sort things down and live with the relativity?
[14:00] herman Bergson: Greta observation, Ciska....
[14:01] herman Bergson: That is why we are delving into the more technical aspects of the philosophy of science.
[14:01] Ciska Riverstone: i belive that due to the internet... this process already started...
[14:01] Ciska Riverstone:
[14:02] argus Portal: They will say, that "sort things" will lead to stagnation
[14:02] herman Bergson: Our theme is :Why science is right"
[14:02] herman Bergson: Maybe we also should include the question "When is science right?" :-))
[14:02] Gemma Cleanslate: oh oh
[14:02] Dawn Rhiannyr: ah good point
[14:03] Gemma Cleanslate: well lets not try that today
[14:03] Gemma Cleanslate: loooong list of when it is right
[14:03] Lizzy Pleides: I have to go, good night everyone
[14:03] herman Bergson: No....Gemma...:-)
[14:03] Gemma Cleanslate: Bye, Bye   
[14:03] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[14:03] ZANICIA Chau: Bye Bye
[14:03] Ciska Riverstone: night lizzy
[14:03] herman Bergson: Now I just want to thank youfor your participation again...
[14:03] argus Portal: bye lizzy
[14:03] Dawn Rhiannyr: bye
[14:03] Gemma Cleanslate: Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!!
[14:03] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman
[14:03] Ciska Riverstone: thanx all
[14:03] herman Bergson: and wish you all a pleasant weekend
[14:03] Gemma Cleanslate: you too
[14:03] Dawn Rhiannyr: thank YOU herman :)
[14:03] herman Bergson: Class dismissed....
[14:03] Gemma Cleanslate: Bye, Bye   
[14:03] Gemma Cleanslate: for now
[14:03] argus Portal: Thank you all
[14:04] Ciska Riverstone:
[14:04] Dawn Rhiannyr: a very interesting time again :)
[14:04] Ciska Riverstone: bye gemma
[14:04] argus Portal: Was interesting
[14:04] herman Bergson: And forgive me if I got a bit too much taken away by the subject :-)
[14:04] ZANICIA Chau: yes
[14:04] ZANICIA Chau: haha
[14:04] Ciska Riverstone: hahah
[14:04] ZANICIA Chau: Goodnight everyone
[14:04] argus Portal: Goodnight all
[14:04] herman Bergson: lol... I am on pills myself now :-))))
[14:04] Ciska Riverstone: well its nice to see that it happens to you too herman
[14:04] Ciska Riverstone: ;)
[14:05] herman Bergson: Oh yes Ciska :-))
[14:05] Ciska Riverstone: hehehe
[14:05] Ciska Riverstone: good night
[14:05] herman Bergson: Good night
[14:05] Dawn Rhiannyr: Good night Herman was a great time
[14:05] herman Bergson: thank you Dawn

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