Let’s find out.
The following is a response to this piece on refugeesfromthecity.blogspot.com
I haven’t really ever been in this position before, but I would rather acknowledge the piece than ignore it.
Hi John – thanks for reading my piece on Scalzi’s blog. I suppose your answer here might highlight the risk of writing a piece on a fantastical premise on the blog of a Sci-Fi writer.
I think you make good and obvious points here about civilization’s debt to science and the scientific method, but since being called an idiot always gets the blood running merrily through the veins, I’ll say a few things:
– Hyperbole is an excellent seed for fiction. The book centers around a magic couch, and so to defend some whimsical speculation in a fantastical book as not adhering to what’s possible in science does not seem germane.
i.e.: Moby Dick is a horrible western; there are no horses!
– The scientific method can be defended righteously. Its implementation cannot.
– The book has as a theme the loss of knowledge throughout history – including the loss we are experiencing now, which is primarily via genetic material and through cultural imperialism. Irrigation advances civilization, true. But Tuvan throat singing enriches it. And the potential of these, scientific or otherwise, is more or less unknown. Certainly to the science of systems they are an irreparable loss. Perhaps within this loss is contained a fascimile of your coal tar derivatives. Perhaps within the loss of any of these other cultures is equal in scale.
– “Idiots such as Parzybok who repudiate the best of Western culture in our intelligentsia are ingrates. The 30 million or so Chinese mothers making their kids study Western classical piano have none of the white-guilt problems that cause overeducated fools in the West to repudiate what’s good about their heritage – they know what works when they see it.”
I think this is a dangerous perspective. Many cultures through time have thought their cultures superior to all others, which in essence is what this argument is. Having lived in Chinese speaking countries and taught English in cram schools, I believe what you’re describing is called cultural hegemony.
I love science and spent many early years of my life wanting to be a scientist. However, I think the world is less black and white than your article seems to imply. All knowledge is not equally valuable to all people, but all knowledge has the potential of great value to some.