"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Peterson Postmodern Connection

The issue of gun control and individual freedom can bring about some discussions that drive logical people to want to tear our hair out.  The apparent inability of some people to use linear logic and reason to come to rational conclusions in spite of feelings and emotion has given rise to Joe Huffman coining a name for the condition Peterson Syndrome, in "honor" of Joan Peterson of  the Brady Campaign.

Some of us have spent some time discussing how it is possible to be so disconnected from reality.  While Huffman and myself, as well as others seem to be able to describe Peterson Syndrome, we would still like to understand where it comes from.  After all, you want to know if it's organic or communicable, and if it is communicable, you want to be able to take all possible precautions against it.  I never got around to writing an in depth post explaining how I believed it was the result of postmodern education. But then, today, I started at Smallest Minority, where Kevin led me to Labrat's post at Atomic Nerds.  His post led me to MaxedOutMama.

Wading through all of this seemed to confirm for me that what I originally suspected.  That Joan Peterson and this professor Venkatesan have the condition we now call Peterson Syndrome as a result of postmodern indoctrination.  This is a very subtle form of solipsism.  It is very subtle because you have to let someone like the professor, or Peterson, talk long enough for the origin of their irrationality to manifest itself because neither of these women would consciously be aware of, let alone admit, that they were steeped in solipsism.

I can understand that Peterson has succumbed to her mental disorder because she lost a family member to a violent predator using a gun.  I would liken it to a child getting thrown by a horse, who then is afraid to ever go near a horse  from that day forward.  She allows her emotions to completely override rational thought, and gets support from like-minded individuals.

The postmodern thinking described by the two citations at MaxedOutMama's blog, as well as her explanation got me thinking again about how people like Joan Peterson become the way they are.  The best quote from the professor that drove it home for me, was the following:

In graduate school, I was inculcated in the tenets of a field known as science studies, which teaches that scientific knowledge has suspect access to truth and that science is motivated by politics and human interest. This is known as social constructivism and is the reigning mantra in science studies, which considers historical and sociological understandings of science. From the vantage point of social constructivism, scientific facts are not discovered but rather created within a social framework. In other words, scientific facts do not correspond to a natural reality but conform to a social construct.

Wow.  Just, Wow.  No wonder her students were making fun of her.  The first part of that statement isn't completely bizarre, but the last statement is whacko.  Let's break it down.

You are not in any kind of reality if you think that facts are created rather than discovered in the realm of science.  That there are people who believe such a concept would explain why so many buy into the global warming hoax.  If your social framework is that capitalism and free markets are bad, there is no better idea than to make naturally occurring gases that are good for plant growth into some kind of evil pollutant. If you want people to believe that biochemical molecules can somehow defy the laws of physics and that complex, coded information simply arises out of inanimate matter, I suppose the view of the professor makes sense to you.

Since the world began, scientific discovery by humans has been driven mostly by need.  Need for better ideas, tools, and techniques in everything from agriculture to warfare. That there may have been a political (warfare) reason to try to figure out a trebuchet or discover the chemistry of gunpowder doesn't make the facts of chemistry work differently because of why you need it.  Food plants don't sit around thinking about whether or not you have the right historical and sociological motivations or understandings about how to cultivate them. Ergo, to make the outrageous leap to concluding that last sentence just makes me want to find whoever passed on that idea and drop them in the Australian outback.

As someone who passionately defends the truth of the Bible based on hard, proveable science and history, I find it hard enough to have discussions with people about real science and the scientific method even when they haven't had their minds warped by ideas like that.  How then do you have a rational discussion about scientific facts versus theory with someone who thinks that social construct determines facts?  In short, you don't.  Facts that conform to a social construct are not facts at all.

If there are people with the title of professor in colleges and universities spreading this kind of mental disease, it's no wonder we can't have any civil discourse on politics.  We can't have any discourse.  It's no wonder I run across comments on various blogs that reflect complete ignorance of historical facts on the constitution.  It's no wonder that so many people don't, or simply can not, distinguish between raw facts and interpretations of evidence.

Because we didn't make a concerted effort to embarrass people like that professor out of the classroom long ago, we end up with people like the person Kevin Baker is engaging in this post.  People who a hundred years ago we would have just pointed at and laughed at, because even a sixth grade child could have explained why what they were espousing was sheer nonsense.  Now such people are numerous enough to have elected a president to what once was the most powerful country on the planet.

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