A note from the Links Editor
Why I am Not a Postmodernist
Edward R. Friedlander, M.D.
honest doctor. I have chosen science over prejudice, health over disease,
opportunity over slavery, and love and kindness over mean-minded make-believe.
There was a time when people were openly grateful to scientists and physicians who
dedicated their lives to making us healthier and happier. There was a time when
it was fashionable to express appreciation for the system of government and the
practice of dispassionate inquiry which have brought us the unparalleled health,
freedom, and prosperity which we enjoy today.
There was a time when people thought that a proposition was "valid" or
"true" if, and only if, it ultimately squared with the observable world
There was a time when people thought it was right to judge each
person by what he or she had done as an individual,
rather than for their race, skin color, ancestry,
religion, gender, sexual preference, or anything else.
There was a time when
people enjoyed discovering how much we all have in common, and how
most of us wanted the same things despite the superficial
differences. There was even a time when we thought the best way to overcome
and hate was by means of reason, common sense, clear-thinking, and good-will.
We called this being scientific. We called this being rational.
We called this being enlightened. We called this being mliberal.
We called this being modern.
Here is my collection of "postmodernism" links from the Net:
I am concerned here only with the use of the word "postmodernism" as
it usually gets used in rhetoric, not with its use in real epistemology.
Real postmodernism is a thoughtful study of the limits of scientific
inquiry, the origins and perpetuation of unreasonable prejudices,
and the ambiguities of language. Even though I am not a
I appreciate real postmodernism as far as I'm able to understand it.
The principal site, and a good place to start. There is even a search engine.
[See also Note 1, below.]
by Michael Fegan. "Postmodernism calls into question enlightenment
values such as rationality, truth, and progress, arguing that these
merely serve to secure the monolithic structure of modern
capitalistic society by concealing or excluding any forces that might
challenge its cultural dominance."
Wilson rejects science because he thinks it caused the Holocaust.
for Beginners. This site, for a college course,
keeps changing. Click on
David-With-Sunglasses and you'll find you're back here.
Joseph Dumit's review of another
writer's essay. "The Actors are Cyborgs, Nature is Coyote, and
the Geography is Elsewhere." This is the first site I found which mentioned
Sandra Harding, whose book "The Science Question in Feminism" accused Einstein's
relativity of being gender-biased, and called Newton's "Principia" a "rape
Postmodernism and Health
: "The body of the patient is inscribed by discourses of professional 'care' as
well as by pain and suffering." The author takes psychiatry at its most
unscientific as the prototype for scientific medicine.
The first (and for a while, the only)
undeleted reference I could find on the 'net to the Portland Baseline
Essays. [See also Note 2, below.]
Chantal Mouffe and
why she is against democracy. This postmodernist envisions a future dominated by
group identities and minority group grievances. "The book represents not just a
discussion of the concept of democratic citizenship, but the epitaph for it."
National Center for History in the
Schools. [See also Note 3, below.]
Encyclopedia -- The Definitive Guide to the Postmodern Scene A collection of
postmodernist essays. [See also Note 4, below.]
4(1): Nobel laureate Herbert Simon thinks that great literature is about the
experiences and concerns of all human beings. Professor Simon also cites
work that he thinks shows that humans do, indeed, all have certain understandings
common. Here are the postmodernists' outraged responses, accusing Professor Simon
massive ignorance, bigotry and heartlessness. [See also Note 5, below.]
Philosophy Good site, real philosophy rather than
the usual "postmodernist" stuff; the author appears
likable and reasonable.
Hopkins "Cultural Studies and Postmodernism" Links to
cultural studies, without anything incomprehensible or loony.
Goes". Paul Fayerabend and his friends complain about scientific
theories being counter-intuitive, people who ask for "clarity,
precision, objectivity, and truth" are "impoverishing [history]
in order to please their lower instincts", "scientific theories
are only justified by their own standards and not by some
objective criteria", the impossibility
of predicting weather accurately
(ever heard of "chaos theory", Paul?), "let's talk
about Galileo's politics again", etc., etc.
Michel Foucault For
me, the best of the postmodernists. A likable man who writes primarily about
sub-science (lots of GOOD examples from old-fashioned psychiatry)
being misrepresented as knowledge by cliques seeking political advantage.
Unfortunately, Foucault and his followers have generalized this to genuine
(empirical, experimental) science. His prescription is radical skepticism. Mine
is free and honest inquiry.
Foucault Trading card. Nice.
Philosophy, Critical Thought, and Postmodern Thought. Philosophy links
from U. of Colorado.
Nausea. "In time's absence what is new renews nothing; what is present
is not contemporary; what is present presents nothing, but represents
itself and belongs henceforth and always to return. It isn't, but
comes back again." -- Derrida. The background of this site is a sketch of the large
intestine, perhaps for the obvious reason.
Postmodernity, History, and
the Assassination of JFK cites the supposed impossibility of determining
what really happened as a way of understanding why postmodernism is true.
As a scientific pathologist, I was amused by the familiar
statement: "This projectile [CE 399]
allegedly caused seven wounds to JFK and
Texas Governor John Connally and changed direction four times, yet was
in virtually intact condition when found, making it one of the most
extraordinary objects in the history of gunfire." The last
portion of the statement is simply untrue.
Postmodernism Two Evangelicals adopt postmodern terminology to claim
"universal reason" led logically to Hitler's atrocities. [See also Note 6, below.]
Radical Afrocentrism: "Socrates and Cleopatra were black". "The
ancient Egyptians were black like Malcolm X, flew in gliders and had
psychic powers". "Melanin is a superconductor", etc., etc.).
You'll find this stuff persuasive
if and only if "truth is whatever your grievance-group says it is."
This is typical of "postmodernist" changing the ground-rules of rational
Muhammad's speech at Harvard.
"A Brief History
of Afrocentric Scholarship": "As can be discerned from this
brief paper, Afrocentrism is not a new movement promoted by egomaniacal
pseudoscientists." Lavishes praise on Yosef ben-Jochannan, whose
made the famous
claim that Aristotle stole his works from the black people's library
at Alexandria, which was not even built until after Aristotle's death.
Asked by Mary Lefkowitz about this, "Dr. ben-Jochannan was unable to
answer the question, and said that he resented the tone of the
inquiry." ("Out of Egypt", cited below). Professor Lefkowitz's
subsequent scholarly examination of the claim that Greek philosophy came from
Egypt has been "deconstructed" to make her a "racist".
"Beethoven was black":
Clearlake. The Marxist
Review of Books.
Postmodernism: The Drinking
Game: "Rule one: If anyone, at any time, for any reason, believes in, supports,
likes a person, place, or idea, it's only because they haven't uncovered the
contradictions underlying it and you are allowed to laugh at them because they are
Jaded than you."
Postmodernism: The Drinking
Game (Ed. Note: A different one, though perhaps postmodernists would not recognize it as such!)
Yee, a real scientist, on postmodernism: "In general, when
'postmodernism' is restricted to literary criticism and cultural studies, it is
Taylor at U. of Arizona
to Deconstruct Almost Anything" by Chip Morningstar. His joyful hoax,
in which he delivered meaningless gibberish to a "cultural
studies" audience and met with approval and agreement.
to Speak and Write Postmodern". "At some point someone may actually
ask you what you're talking about. This risk faces all those who
would speak postmodern and must be carefully avoided."
Post-Modernist Essay Generator Writes postmodernist double-talk
using a computer-algorithm. Compare its productions to the
stuff at "Postmodern Culture".
It's a fact. People want to believe lies that make them feel
intellectually and spiritually superior to others.
At its best, contemporary postmodernism is a reaction against all the stupid people
who pretend to have answers to everything ("meta-narratives").
Science, rightly used, does the same
In its more typical forms, contemporary postmodernism
is a sustained attack
the three hopes of the "modern" era:
Science, at it is, or should be, practiced,
is the serious business of looking at the world of nature as it really is, taking
elaborate precautions against self-deception and one's own prejudices. As such,
it has proved its power again and again. Like it or not, we owe our health and
longevity to the public-health initiatives and therapeutic techniques which
scientific knowledge has given us. Like it or not,
our planet sustains six billion people only because of scientific
agriculture. Like it or not, the postmodernists can post their stuff
on the "Net" only because of our much-hated "technology".
- the "modernist" hope that we could use rigorous and disciplined study
to understand nature, and use the new knowledge for our common benefit;
- the "modernist" hope that people from different backgrounds
and cultures could live together in a democractic society,
enjoying economic and personal freedom;
- the "modernist" hope that
people around the world could discover our common
ground, and overcome
hatred, prejudice, or misunderstanding; and that sharing our
literature and other works of art would help us do this.
Postmodernism grew out of literary criticism and the focus on the
ambiguities of language. I understand how this applies to the language
of literature, advertising, and propaganda. I understand all too well
how this applies to the "knowledge" of sub-sciences like sociology,
psychology (outside some narrow lab applications),
and education, where real experiments are (regrettably) almost
impossible, successful theories are (regrettably)
few or nonexistent, and where ideology
and politics dominate in the public arena
and do tremendous harm. (I'll stand by this controversial statement, and
believe that most readers who bring their own real-life experience will
agree. In fact, I've received appreciative notes from
academic psychologists and students of culture who deplore
the misapplication of their subjects by ideologues.
Here, I'm with Michel Foucault completely,
and my own godawful experiences
with "expert" after "expert" underlies much
of my appreciation for this great thinker.)
And works of literature are not
or read in a social or cultural vacuum. The latter is the focus of today's
literary criticism at its most intriguing.
But I am at a loss to understand
how the language of science ("centimeter", "oxygen", "hemoglobin", "six") and
fundamental human experience ("This is blue", "I itch", "I feel cold")
shares this indeterminacy.
Postmodernists complain that science is a cultural prejudice, and/or
a tool invented by the current elite to maintain power,
and/or only one "way of knowing" among many, with no special privilege.
For postmodernists, science is "discourse", one system among many,
maintained by a closed community as a means of holding onto power, and
ultimately referential only to itself.
No reasonable person would deny
that politics and the profit-motive do influence what science studies, and
who gets to use the laboratories. But
it seems to me that the feature of real-world science which distinguishes it from
other forms of description is rigorous measurement
and the experimental method, which we can apply to atoms, to the galactic
our bodies, and
to the medical techniques of indigenous peoples. All scientific
knowledge is tentative, and scientific statements are judged
by their predictive value. (Postmodernists themselves sometimes say,
"What's true is what works.") As scientists look at nature, science corrects
over time, and
all scientists thrive on finding flaws in one another's works. Like it or not,
More seriously, postmodernists blame science for Hitler's atrocities
and the other evils perpetrated against humankind. This is noxious falsehood.
Every tyrant uses the language of science (who doesn't, nowadays?) But
oppression happens and continues because people choose to believe (or pretend
to believe) ugly lies. If anything will free us from this, it's knowledge of
the world as it really is. And if my own experience has taught me anything,
it's that reason, not make-believe, is the best way of dealing with
the real evils of our world. After all, it was superior science and
understanding, translated into superior military power, that gave the
free world the victory over Hitler.
We still hear a great deal today about "multiculturalism" and "relative values".
But everybody that I know, regardless of race, gender,
sexuality, or religion, seems to want the same basic things. This begins with
reasonable personal liberty and security, and a reasonable chance to have one's
initiative rewarded. Postmodernists talk about being "dehumanized" by
science and technology. If they really believed this, they would trade
their academic positions for the lives of subsistence farmers in the world's
poor nations, or (if they could) the short, sickly, miserable lives of
chattel-serfs in the ages "before technocracy". There they will discover that what
people want isn't
"cultural integrity" or "multicultural sensitivity", but health, food, safety, and
a reasonable opportunity to choose one's own course through life.
Those who would deny them these basic human needs aren't the scientists. It is
and ideologues of the right and the left.
Of course, it's silly to believe that science gives ultimate answers
about our place in the cosmos, or what things mean, or what's
right and wrong. But as far as I can tell, the best way to make a
good decision is to understand a situation as it really is, and the
best way to do mischief is to choose make-believe instead.
I believe the material to which I've linked this page speaks
for itself, even though it is written in a peculiar doublespeak
that is hard for the uninitiated to understand. Postmodernist writings
consist largely of effusive praise for each other's works, and
obvious appeals to the prejudices of their liberal audience. Since the
constituency is liberals, there is a preoccupation with how wealth
and opportunities are to be redistributed by the government, and
the question of how wealth and opportunities are produced and defended
gets ignored. A satirical website about
postmodernist work ethic is a blank page.
The more recent
writings are less hostile to science itself. There are even writers at the
"Postmodern Culture" site who look to popular science writers to buttress
postmodernism's attack on the supposed monolithic ideology of
classical science. Harvard's paleontologist,
Dr. Gould, is a favorite; unlike the creationists of the 1980's, the
postmodernists who take Dr. Gould as an authority seem to really want to
understand him. Alongside this are the totally-discredited Duesberg claims
about the cause of AIDS. In between are various environmentalist and
social-science polemics papers. You'll need to decide on their merit; it's
interesting to see postmodernists using the evidence of empirical science
after all, when it suits them.
As a visitor to "Postmodern Culture" who worked hard at literary criticism
as a college undergraduate, I'm struck by the lack of internal self-criticism
at the site. In college, I examined empirical evidence to decide whether
Milton really drew on particular neoplatonists in creating his "Chaos" scene,
whether John the Baptist was a conscious forerunner of Jesus, whether
the Wellhausen hypothesis of the origin of Deuteronomy was true, and what
Shakespeare was trying to tell us in "Antony and Cleopatra". I examined
the ideas of others, compared them with the facts of the real world,
and had the same done to me. As a scientist-physician,
I have thrived on finding the errors in others' work. By contrast, the
world of postmodernism shows the same lack of internal criticism that I've
come to expect from pseudoscientists and charlatans of all stripes.
Somebody has to say "No!" to all this. So far
as I can tell, I'm the first person on the "Net" to do so
in an accessible way.
If you are a postmodernist, I'm fully in support of your appreciation for
your neighbor's culture, your concern about the future of our planet, and
your care for people who are genuinely oppressed. I enjoy the great diversity of
humankind, in our food, our dress, our music, our literature, our sexuality, and
our forms of spiritual expression.
I am only asking you to reconsider (1) whether empirical science
should have a privileged place in your thinking about how the world
of nature really is, and (2) whether western-style democracy isn't
the best way of getting what you and your neighbors really want.
And if you love books as I do, ask yourself
(3) whether some passage in literature has touched you
in a special way, reaching something in you that is universal
to humankind, something "beyond the text", beyond all cultural prejudice.
Especially, look at the world around you.
Most scientists, most white people, most men, and most European-Americans, are
good, sensible people who care about the world in which we live. Science isn't
a conspiracy of power-hungry monsters against the human race. The real enemy is
superstition, ignorance, and silly lies. And if you live in America, Canada,
Australia/New Zealand, or
Western Europe, most people in the world would gladly trade places with you.
Learn about the world as it really is. Health and friendship!
1. Postmodernists typically cite Hitler's atrocities and the evil A-bombing
of Japan as the prototypical outcomes of science and technology. ("Genocide! Mass
murder! Let's talk about the death camps again!") I used the search engine to find
the references to Stalin. Peter
Baker, who is against "liberal democracy", speaks admiringly of an old French
"analysis that seriously attempts to contextualize Stalin's violence by comparison
to the violence present in liberal democracies", and explains that this "shows a
need to understand the argument for liberal democracy within a specifically postwar
historical context." Neil
Larsen notes that "postmodern philosophy normally refrains from open
anti-communism, preferring to pay lip service to 'socialism' even while making the
necessary obeisances to the demonologies of 'Stalin' may make it appear as some
sort of a 'left' option." No kidding, Neil. Noam Chomsky mentions Stalin and his
"bureaucracy" as bad Marxists, not left-wing enough. Eric
Petersen presents a history of dialectical materialism. Marxism is "a guide
to human liberation by social revolution.... (d) Stalinism turned dialectical
materialism into an authoritarian state religion. (e) Mao used dialectical
materialism to justify Stalinist politics in China. (f) Trotsky used dialectical
materialism to misunderstand Stalin's counter-revolution." And so forth. PMC-Talk archives contain a single flame, from a Professor
Kessler, about folks such as Sartre who fell for Stalinism; he also has the insight
to call Lysenkoism "nonsense". Continuing, Kessler mentions Stalin's paranoia and his one-time sparring
partner Norman Miller asks for "some pm words on such matters as Stalin's
murders and even more the bloody complicity of most of the
left in these events." The only contributor to take up the
challenge said he didn't know which was worse, right-wing
tyrants or left-wing tyrants, and was too preoccupied with
his own liberal agenda to care. Vitaly
Chernetsky, a real Russian,
mentions Stalin's tyranny in passing, with particular reference to Stalin's
control of the movies and cultural life.
gives a sympathetic review of a quasi-Marxist who is sympathetic
to Stalin's ideas. "Bataille's difference--and a significant one it is--is that
theorists of Marxism, who prefer to think of Stalin as a
kind of bad dream, Bataille looks directly at the economic
structures of communism under Stalin as a starting point for
his theorizations." This Bataille prophesied that
"today, sovereignty is no longer alive
except in the perspectives of communism", and that "Soviet
society is the medium in which the question of the sovereign
will be resolved". Apparently written just before the collapse
of the Soviet union (ha ha)....
Symposium on Russian Postmodernism
calls Stalin "sinisterly modernist", and "Stalin's state" as "the fulfillment
of modernist (avant-garde) project", and focuses on the poor aesthetic
quality of Stalinist cultural products.
wonders whether Stalin's rejection of "modern art" influenced Tom Wolfe.
The bottom line is, despite all the postmodern rhetoric about "genocide",
and "mass murder" in modern times, one could read the entire
contents of the principal postmodernist site and never learn that
Stalin the Communist killed a single person.
The word gratitude appears only a few times at the Postmodern Culture site,
and never with respect to science, medicine, or democracy.
reviewer of "Schindler's List" talks about how appropriate the
gratitude shown to Oscar Schindler was. Nearby,
you can find
"The Fairy Tale of The Just War" ("The hero receives acclaim,
along with the gratitude of the victim and the community.") So how do you
think the free world finally overcame Hitler? Apparently,
gratitude is a virtue or a fairy-tale, depending on whether the postmodernists
like (Schindler) or dislike (the free world) the recipient.
NOTE 2. It is obvious to me that people who are wilfully deceiving the
stay off the Internet.
targeted to exploit blacks ("melanin science", "the Portland Baseline Essays")
has almost completely disappeared from the 'net. (See Gross & Levitt "Higher
Hopkins 1994 for a review of the "Baseline Essays" author's falsified credentials;
claim to be a distinguished research scientist, he reportedly has no education past
school, and no record of scientific publication.) More on the "Baseline
Essays", all negative: Center
for Equal Opportunity. American
Federation of Teachers president Albert Shanker says "It uses pseudoscience
to promote a political agenda. At the same time, it cheats students of a
chance to find out what real science is like, and it deprives them
of a founcation on which to build future learning. This would be bad
news for any of our youngsters; it is criminal for poor, minority students."
Discoveries by Anti-Racist Historians quotes the Baseline Essays: "Afrika
was the epitome of civilizations in times when western Europe lived
in a state of savagery and barbarity featuring filth, sexual disease,
incest, homosexuality, bestiality, and anarchy."
NOTE 3. These are the folks who spent a million dollars of tax money to
learning objectives for American History. The resulting document did not mention
George Washington as our first president, mentioned Abraham Lincoln only as
a speechmaker, and was utterly silent on America's contribution to science
(no mention of Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell,
the Wright Brothers, or what they did). Yet there were nineteen separate
references to McCarthyism, and reverse racial, class, and gender prejudices
permeate the work.
Check out the main site and its links yourself. The
influence of postmodernist pseudo-epistemology is obvious. Click here
see how a participant cites thermodynamics against "individualism",
and quantum theory "indeterminacy" to explain why it's not worthwhile
mentioning the individual heroes and achievements for which most of us
are proud and grateful.
NOTE 4. There is one
here on the relationship between
the Chilean astronomers and Pinochet's brutal repression of the people who almost
succeeded in setting up a Castro-style communist state in Chile. The author
Chile's observatories to be
collaborators in Pinochet's human-rights violations merely for remaining open ("the
ideological indifference of scientific value-neutrality"), and
frames an analogy between astronomy and torture: "Astrophysics,
which itself is a will to pure factuity, compels the universe to
confess its secrets."
Typical is the incident reviewed by Mark
cognitive scientists discover, based on their experiments, that human beings
everywhere agree on the meaning of "This is blue", the postmodernist reply is that
"human beings are a recent invention, a wrinkle in our knowledge that will
inevitably be displaced as new wrinkles arise." (Mark Turner's written
me, 1/1/97 to point out that he's describing the postmodernists, and is himself a
cognitive scientist. Shoulda been obvious... Sorry, Mark! Thanks for speaking out for understanding
and reason.) Also typical is Suvir
Kaul, apparently thinks that the purpose of literary criticism is to promote
partisan positions in the struggle for world ideological domination, and thereby
solve "the problems of racism, sexism, economic inequality, and lack of equal
NOTE 6: "Whether you're talking about the manifestations
of universal reason in the final solution of the Holocaust or you're
talking about the manifestation of universal reason in nuclear arms, there
seems to be something inherently violent here." The authors are not the
first members of the religious right to: (1) assert that Hitler's
atrocities are the logical outcome of the Enlightenment and the
triumph of science; (2) claim to
champion the poor and oppressed against evil, secular science and
technology; (3) claim that science etc. pretends to have answers
to everything ("...the assumption by means of universal reason
that Western culture has the truth, and that necessarily marginalizes...").
But these two are apparently
the first to identify as "Postmodern" their familiar right-wing
overstatement of the limits of rational inquiry.
And while I appreciate your Christian zeal, gentlemen,
your statements are on a level with
the creationist ("neck of the giraffe") material elsewhere
on your server. The root of tyranny, lawlessness,
over-population, racial hatreds,
world hunger, avoidable disease, and rank stupidity isn't "universal reason"
or "meta-narratives" or "modernism".
It's something inherent in human nature.
Mainstream Christians like myself still talk about sin.
Click here for my reply
to the first postmodernist posting I found on the "Net".
[As of December 20, 1997]
I have received over 170
expressions of strong support and encouragement from
academicians and students, one polite reminder from a real philosopher that
"postmodernism" is also the name of one of the two major schools
of contemporary epistemology (this correspondent regrets the use of the
word by "English departments" to experess "angst-laden Marxism"), one
obscenity-laced personal characterization (too much truth here, Karen?),
a very long attack on my character from two graduate students
in philosophy (I have a "boring personality" and am "enslaved to
one complaint from a research scientist that he did not understand what
I was saying about Stalin,
a remark from a Finnish sociologist that my page was "highly offensive"
without further explanation,
a reminder from a professor in Germany that Stalin joined the free world
in overcoming Hitler, a few angry folks who accused me of being stupid
and pretending to have answers to everything,
one ideologue who insisted vehemently
there was no basis whatever for preferring
one "way of knowing" over another (he did not answer my inquiry about
whether he'd go to a dentist or a Christian Science practitioner
if he got a toothache),
two correspondents who (as it turned out) agreed both with my appreciation
of "postmodernism at its best" and rejected its imbecilities,
two notes from Bill Clearlake ("Beethoven was black. There, I've said it."),
and no attempt at any other kind of
reply from any postmodernist. If postmodernism were true,
I would think that somebody would (by now) have told me how to
deconstruct "six", "hemoglobin", and "I itch".
The most interesting anecdote so far came from a doctoral student in
the humanities, who asked to remain anonymous:
"I have just gone through a huge battle in my 'supposed'
seminar [at a major university],
where I pointed out some of the fallacious logic
in Postmodernist rhetoric. The professor, ___ ___,
a PM author, could only respond with 'F--- you.'
A very literate thing to say... ".
Joshua Hersh, one of the students, described his own course at
Ohio State University. "This one is called 'Values, Science and Technology in
a Global Perspective.' We learn about things like the particle
physicist's subculture in which their particle beams represent
a phallic symbol. We also learn about how all science is socially
influenced and knowledge does not really exist (epistemological
relativism). Finally, we learn that the people in the class that
have bad vision are cyborgs because they augment their vision
I also ran (Jan. 15, 1996) a MEDLINE literature search for "feminist theory". I found
52 references. Of these, 50 were postmodern-style rhetoric, ranging from
common-sense-common decency stuff to the familiar we-hate-men stuff. There was
a large representation from the nursing literature, including an exhortation
to "include feminist theory as a major component of the nursing curriculum."
Only two were empirical studies, both of sexual violence. In each case,
the predictions of "feminist theory" turned out to be totally wrong.
Try it yourself; there's MEDLINE links nearby. In science, any "theory" which has,
even once, failed to show predictive value must be modified or
discarded. That's the key difference between science and politics.
The conservative anti-science, anti-empirical,
anti-common-sense movement is every bit as vigorous and nasty
as its liberal counterpart. These people have not (yet?)
discovered postmodernism as a rhetorical device. I'd welcome your suggested
titles for a essay to stand as a counterpart this one.
Other people who are happy not to be
Kuznicki, an undergraduate. Welcome to the club, Jason!
To Deconstruct Anything". Welcome to the club, Chip!
Wrong with the Social Sciences? The Perils of the Postmodern
More on Sandra Harding and her kind.
D. Sokal, a physicist at NYU, perpetrated
the now-famous hoax on "Social Text", which published his nonsense
article ("quantum gravity has implications for 'political
goals and strategies'"). Read about it in Newsweek, June 3, 1996. Dr.
Sokal explains, "The editors were oblivious to the articles illogic.
[Their] acceptance of [it] exemplifies the intellectual arrogance
of Theory -- postmodern literary theory." A Norman Levitt (math,
Rutgers) is also quoted: "The left has lost itself in a lot
of crummy theory and bad philosophy. Science studies is not
the only realm where this occurs, but it's the one in
which people's predilection to make asses of themselves
is easily exposed." Dr. Sokal continues, "I could throw
their language around even though I didn't know what it means.
Which suggests to me that maybe it doesn't mean anything." Welcome
to the club, Alan!
"Pomolotov Cocktail", a comment on Dr. Sokal's
hoax from "The Nation". Even genuine liberals are disgusted
by postmodernism. Welcome to the club, Katha!
"Transgressing the Transgressors: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics
of Total Bullshit" Welcome to the club, Gary!
Sheaffer, fellow CSICOP-member
A workbook for
Evangelicals, including a section on "Assessing Postmodernism" which
one does not have to be Christian to appreciate. It
is VERY refreshing to hear an Evangelical say of postmodernists, "They
exaggerate the difficulties involved in scientific objectivity
and neutrality." Highly recommended.
Faulconer at Brigham Young University
Paglia. LesBiGay activist. "Culture is an achievement
made more in opposition to nature than in concert with it. Nature
is not the pretty innocence of Greenpeace agitprop or Bambi...
Culture requires overcoing nature, creating a human realm apart
from the natural, that provides a context and the hubris to
paint, write novels or songs, fall in love, die for one's beliefs....
If we are whatever we say we are..., if our freedom consists in
constructing an identity all our own, if there is no larger
historical continuity, then it is tempting to define ourselves to
serve only our immediate interests." Nicely put.
Postmodernism in Daily
Life Christian (Evangelical Protestant) site
summarizes postmodernism as
pseudoscience and goofball left-wing politics
justifying itself by a radical skepticism.
It's pleasant to see these people (apparently soft-creationists)
with a generally good overall understanding and appreciation
for "western science".
a mainstream Christian site.
a pro-Christian philosopher, but you do not have to be a Christian
to find this historical review to be helpful.
"Whereas modernity was characterized by creativity and production,
energy and meaning, the postmodern world signals the death of these
values." From liberal Brown, even!
Wrong with Postmodernism... Belaboring the obvious, that
if you're realling doing science (in this case anthropology),
there's some objective truth which you can find regardless
of your politics.
Ehrenreich in "The Nation", not noted for being conservative. "No
sooner had the word 'experiment' passed her lips than the
hands shot up. Audience
members pointed out that the experimental method is the brainchild of
white Victorian males. Ellsworth agreed that white Victorian males
had done their share of damage in the world but noted that, nonetheless,
their efforts had led to the discovery of DNA. This short-lived
dialogue between paradigms ground to a halt with the retort: 'You
believe in DNA?'... This climate of intolerance, often imposed by
scholars associated with the left, ill suits an academic tradition
rhetorically committed to human freedom. What's worse, it provides
intellecutal backdrop for a political outlook that sees no real
basis for common ground among humans of different sexes, races
Ph.D. on the postmodenist hostility to science.
postmodernist Paul Feyerabend's complaint that
"he is still
not permitted to demand that his children learn magic
rather than science in school."
Ohio Board of
Regents: "There is one component of today's university life (by no
means the major component) that springs from campus thought and behavior,
and not from the larger external marketplace. In this component there
are extremes of political correctnesss and ideological faddishness such
as relativism or deconstructionism, espousing the belief that no such
thing as truth exists -- only how you perceive it. Try setting up
a system of fiscal support for universities under that ideology."
Lefkowitz on Afrocentrism. "Bernal argues that Greek philosophy
was "massively borrowed" form Egypt, others have alleged that Aristotle
stole his philosophy form the library in Alexandria (even though the library
was only built after his death), and that Socrates and Cleopatra were
black. These contentions, and others like them, are apparently being
taught as truth in a course on 'Africans in Antiquity' at Wellesley
College. When I mentioned to the then-dean of Wellesley that there
was no evidence to back these claims, she assured me that the instructor
of the Africans in Antiquity course had his view of ancient history
and I had mine. Another colleague insisted that the issue was unimportant."
Radical Afrocentrism debunked:
Lefkowitz as "the woman who defied political correctness";
Grover Furr; Ibrahim
Sundiata, an Afrocentrist who tries to regain credibility by urging
his colleagues to be truthful; Camille
Paglia (no conservative);
Williams "Why I Stopped Reading 'Black Athena'. The "Beethoven
was black" sites have mostly disappeared from the 'web (there
was this incident at Stanford...); I'll let you find
the remaining few yourself.
Eisenhower's mother was black, etc., etc.
The "R" Word (Reality)
Havel, president of the Czech republic and hero of the liberation
from Soviet domination,
on "The Need for Transcendence in the Postmodern World". Urges
people to set aside both cultural differences and the reliance on
"modern" institutions. "The Declaration of Independence states that
the Creator gave man the right to liberty. It seems man can
realize that liberty only if he does not forget the One who endowed
him with it."
This site is a mirror of
the original work.
operates the world's largest free
information service. It's an outgrowth of his modernist
vision of a world made healthier by science, communication,
mutual understanding, and common kindness.
Kairos: A Journal for Teachers of Writing in
Vol. 3 No. 1. Spring 1998