6 jun. 2011

The Social Misconstruction of Reality

This book by Hamilton, the Social Misconstruction of Reality: Validity and Verification in the Scholarly Community is one I want to read. Basically, it is about why scholars continue to believe certain things that have been discredited. It's one think to poke fun at yokels who believe in creationism, but why do scholars persist in mistaken beliefs?

6 comentarios:

Andrew Shields dijo...

That looks really interesting indeed. Too bad he doesn't address Freud, too.

Jonathan dijo...

If he had done Freud it probably would have taken over the book.

Thomas dijo...

Thanks for this Jonathan. I was just reading Pound's "The Teacher's Mission" (1934). It seems to be an age-old problem. Very much a concern of mine too.

In answer to your question, I really recommend William Bottom's paper about the rise of social science (especially in business schools). PDF here.

I read between the lines a bit, but I think he makes a good case for how an infusion of funding around various convenient notions makes criticism of mistaken ideas unlikely.

Jonathan dijo...

The book does not seem quite as interesting as i thought. I read reviews on JSTOR and excerpts on the YUP site. He has solid arguments about why he is right in his individual case studies, but he doesn't seem to have a well-developed theory about why this happens. One reviewer suggests that "aesthetic" theories have more staying power. Weber idea that Protestantism helped in the development capitalism is a beautiful and striking one, so people don't care as much as to whether it is actually true.

Thomas dijo...

Pound's "theory" is that "mental laziness, a lack of curiosity, [and a] desire to be undisturbed" are primarily to blame. Internestingly (from an SMT perspective too), he adds that "This is not in the least incompatible with the habit of being very busy along habitual lines."

In any case, the problem is that the "professor" does not "want to know all the facts, to sort out the roots from the branches, the branches from the twigs, and the grasp the main structure of the subject, and relative weights and importance of its parts, he is just a lump of the dead clay in the system."

This, I would add, may not be incomptiable with a particular "aesthetic" of academic life.

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Ray Davis dijo...

Hamilton attacks Freud in passing. As part of my own ongoing puzzling over How the Humanities Bullshit, I wrote a long-post / short-essay starting from his book.

Currently I'm writing more about the bullshit of "neuroscience / evolutionary" criticism -- I bet you get to it first though, given how slow I move these days.