Friday, January 13, 2012

Science is a Cultural Construct: Supernatural is a Fact


Last time I wrote an article about the atheist IQ scam, round II, the latest go round with Nybrog and friends. One aspect of that bear further reflection, that's what Brown said about the Flynn effect. The Flynn effect is the notion that IQ's have been rising, that the IQ's of our great grand parents would have been extremely low, low enough to count as restarted. The reason is because, as I said in that article:


This is all very self referential because IQ is only measuring IQ not intelligence. Brown talks about the Flynn ects which shows that IQ's are getting higher. Our children will be smarter than us, we are smarter than our parents and grandparents. The problem is they are only getting higher not because people are really smarter but because the concentrated urban environment re-writes cultural literacy. It's the same problem as the bell curve. In the olden days people lived in the country and hunted. So a question "what do a god and rabbit have in common?" the old answer was "use dog to hunt rabbit." Yet this is now a wrong answer. Now we don't hunt and we are all into scinece, so the right answer is they are both mammals. Thus people in the ancient past are automatically stupid compared to us. Flynn finds that by modern stagehands the average student around 1900 had an IQ between 50-70. So how did they even function? A person today with an IQ of 50 would be profoundly restarted, live in an insinuation and not be able to tie his shoes. Yet doctors, Lawyers, and bankers rant he world with IQ that would today be 60-70.

Andrew Brown's Blog
online Gurdian
Brown reflects:

The answer, he [Flynn--of Flynn effect] says, is that one of the things that IQ tests measure is "post-scientific operational thinking". This is not the same as scientific thinking. But it is thinking about the world in terms of the categories by which science understands it. For instance, if you ask, "What do dogs and rabbits have in common", the post-scientific answer, that we would now regard as evidence of intelligence, is that they are both mammals. The pre-scientific answer is that you use a dog to hunt a rabbit. That's what matters about the two animals, not what class they belong to.

It is that kind of difference in reasoning which accounts for the huge measured IQ differences between urban and rural Brazil, and, of course, the fantastically low IQs measured in African countries.

But could something similar be true of religion? In particular, could dogmatic and fundamentalist religion be more useful to the poor and wretched? Could it lift them to the stage where they could experiment with doubt, with nuance, with novelistic thinking? The history of the early Methodists suggests exactly this. Remember John Wesley's reflection on his own success:

The Methodists in every place grow diligent and frugal; consequently they increase in goods. Hence they proportionately increase in pride, in anger, in the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life. So, although the form of religion remains, the spirit is swiftly vanishing away.

Brown is putting the spin on poverty as the dig divide in culture.. There's more to it than that. What is being tested it seem in the IQ tests are cultural literacy and puzzle working. Cultural literacy is part of the world of cultural constructs. Of cousre how could it not be. When I say that science is a cultural constrict atheists go nuts laughing and mocking because they think scinece is a fact only new age Postmodern knit wits think things like this. Here's a perfect example. The mammalian answer becomes a scientific answer. It's based upon a scientific fact, rather a perceived fact. Lesson one in cultural constructs: taxonomy is a construct. We don't have to classify rabbits or dogs as mammals, all we have to do is change the way we define mammal. That's taxonomy, that's how you classify stuff and we can classify stuff anyway we want to. That means its' not a "fact" of nature, it's not written into the gene code, the genome for rabbits doesn't have a gene that says "I am a mammal." To assume there is a scientific fact that can' t change is to says "rabbits are mammals" is to say there's a mammalian essence that is somehow extracted from the natural and exits in some real apart form actual rabbits in the woods. That's Paternalism, that's actually part of the world world of philosophy and spiritual stuff that's been done away by scinece.

What does it mean that scinece nerds can't see this? I can just see some atheists saying "that's crazy you just don't know anything about scinece (that's what they say when I point out their mistakes) you don't know what mammals are. I do know what mammals are, but I also know that taxonomy is not based upon essences but upon the way we see things. The way we agree to classify mammals could change. Chinese classified horses as "ordinary," "superlative" and "belonging to the emperor." Those were written into nature, for them, as much as mammals are born live, have hair and drink milk, is written in for us. That's all a matter of the way you want to see it. You can re-order your classification system anyway you wish. This sort of thing is discussed at length by Michele Foucault, in his ground breaking work The Order of Things. I highly recommend it for some eye opening truths about postmodern thinking.

This is a perfect exampel of science as a cultural construct. Because the mammal answer no the IQ test is not only based upon a "scientific fact" (the fact is that we classify both animals as mammals not that there is some essence of mammal hood that both contain) and the fact of it as the right answer on the IQ test as contributing a small bit to the modern perception of IQ's becomes a scientific fact as well. The fact of it being "the right answer." The reality that the "right answer" is purely a matter of cultural reactivity remains obscured. Thus the illusion that scientific facts can't change or be products of culture is enhanced by the fact that if you don't answer the question in such a way as to give the assumption that it's a fact, then you are stupid.

This same phenomenon is undoubtedly true for all the spiritual and theological things that are being ignored and set and mocked and ridiculed by atheists. Look at easily the atheists say "theology is stupid," having never read any not known anything about it. If those guys were writing the IQ test they would say "the supernatural is false and stupid" is a true answer. Then they look back and say "ok this means people who believe in supernatural are less intelligent." hey a standardized test says so! that's proof that' a fact. If the test says it that' it it's fact. you are are even stupider if you don't believe it. They don't have an IQ on which the atheists who get this culturally relative bit are ranked as stupid, but I rank them so--the one's that don't get this.

So far we have a good illustration of science as a cultural construct, especially true of taxonomy related ideas, and the failure of standardized testing (yech! on that I say "poowie") there's more. My concerns are greater. Think of what it's doing to the culture. The culture takes this stuff and uncritically disseminates it. They way our parents and grand parents thought about the world just becomes this fossil that no one understands, even the people who study history and anthropology are separated form it forever by a think film of cultural relativity. Belief in the spirit and what means changes, becomes a thing of ridicule, and so on. Saying "smart people don't believe that" is really more like saying "the cool don't believe that." That's all it is. We are not doing this for survival. Its' not like our neolithic ancestors so really modern culture that enshrines such relativity is more a matter of cultural acceptance (being cool or not) than "fact."

This does mean all of us who believe in a supernatural (whatever that is) are like fossils or frozen out of the "modern" scene. We are officially stupid becuase belief in things not "scientifically factual" become "scientific fact." Even though one would have to go thruogh scientific fact with a fine tooth comb to separate what is truly fact from what is culturally relative. This is why I feel a dinosaur knowing about the musical career of Joan Baez or who Richard Farnina was. There's more to it than that. It's going to mean that we don't associate art and literature with factual thins. These are not longer marks of intelligence they are now decoration or hobby or whatever. The culture itself becomes shaped around "scientific thinking." The so called "scientific" answer is the right answer on the IQ test, even though others kinds of answer could be right given a different cultural context. This is what we in the olden days used to call "cultural bias." The mentality and insight that saw it that way is now part of the stupid answer, and enshrining the pseudo-scientific as fact is now the smart answer.

The quote by Wesley above puts the dichotomy between spirit and materialism in terms of prosperity chocking out the spiritual. Even that is part of the antiquated view of the past that becomes the stupid answer on the IQ test. The other dichotomy there that Brown might not have thought of is between culturally relative pseudo-science and reality. The reality is the experience of the spirit (religious experience) can't be stopped or made null and void by an IQ test. People will have these experiences and be drawn closer to God even if they call it that. The experiences are the supernatural. This was the case when the words was coined by Dionysus in 500 AD (on Divine Names and Mythical Theology). Even if we don't classify it that way (theology is a kind of taxonomy in it's own right) it will continue to be real and people will go on having it.


Ignorance said...

Your take on those failed "arguments from IQ" is interesting, the usual approach is correctly pointing out that IQ can't be correctly equated with intelligence (of course related with your point). But I don't think these thinking categories (scientific, intentional, artistic) exclude eachother as long as people don't assume one is by necessity superior to the other, though it's naturally a shame positivist philistines are still so common.

By the way, are the the same Metacrock who posted on the Quodlibeta forum?

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

Ignorance (who is not ignorant) said:

But I don't think these thinking categories (scientific, intentional, artistic) exclude eachother as long as people don't assume one is by necessity superior to the other, though it's naturally a shame positivist philistines are still so common.

well I don't think they are either in reality but to those postivisitc scientistic types they are. you talk like they going away I think there are more now than ever. the computer revolution galvanized them.

By the way, are the the same Metacrock who posted on the Quodlibeta forum?

Yes. Not for long I didn't like that forum.

Kristen said...

Anon., calling them "laughable" doesn't actually address any of them, does it?

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

hey meant to ban that one.