Modern Science Questioned for Good Reason
The article ``The Anti-Science Movement Feeds on Ignorance,'' March 2, tosses creationists, feminists, Nazis, and native American seers into the same anti-scientific pot. The author sees himself as a latter-day Galileo fighting contemporary superstitions. But his undifferentiated analysis of the debate is itself unscientific.
Our era is indeed witnessing a backlash to the scientific positivism of a generation ago, but the author misjudges its intent. True, this backlash is in some cases merely a mask for scientific illiteracy. But, generally, those who question the authority of science are genuinely concerned that human values may have been sacrificed for technological progress.
In the primitive cultures that the author so summarily dismisses, the epistemological process is infused with ethical sensitivities. ``Knowing'' is a moral event and a community experience. Modern science, on the other hand, is amoral. Advances in science don't necessarily effect ethical progress or strengthen the community; science more often than not seems to serve the interests of profit and power.
Many critics of science are simply people who want to know how our science can really be on the right track when our world is still so polluted and uncivilized. It is a question that has been asked not only by those distrustful of Western science, but by the likes of Einstein, Oppenheimer, and Feynman.
Modern science is inseparable from Western individualism, with all of its strengths and weaknesses. In both its theoretical and applied forms, science has tended to exacerbate our feelings of universal philosophical loneliness, while providing many of the technological instruments which so often leave us feeling less free.
Answering these deep-seated misgivings involves more than name-calling. It involves rededication to human concerns. It means stepping out of corporate and government laboratories and rejoining the community. Steven Krolak, Santa Barbara, Calif.
Modern Science Questioned for Good Reason
The author reveals ignorance concerning the aims of a ``feminist science.'' The eco-feminist movement, to which I believe he is referring, argues that the objectification and instrumentalization of nature has led to a basic dualism between ``culture'' and ``nature'' in which culture is given privileged status over nature. This dualism legitimizes the subjugation of groups seen as being ``closer to nature,'' such as women and indigenous peoples.
Eco-feminists seek to elevate noninstrumental ways of knowing, such as myth, in order to illuminate the interconnectedness between man and nature. A recognition of interconnectedness, they argue, would be a powerful medium for averting ecological crisis and for the liberation of women, indigenous people, and nonhuman nature from a white, male-dominated, Western culture. The goal, however, is not the rejection of science, but the mediation of science with myth and other nonoppositional ways of knowing in order to achieve a more equal and ecologically responsible community.
The author also drums up fear that such a movement will legitimize the superiority of one race or culture over another. Anyone at all versed in a ``feminist science'' would realize that this is not the goal. He seems to forget that sciences such as anthropology and biology were utilized in the late 19th century to scientifically ground the supposed inferiority of nonwhites.
Because the hard sciences can in no way yield an ethic or prescribe a way of living in a community, these disciplines are much more likely to be used for immoral purposes than is a way of knowing which stresses the interrelatedness of all God's creatures. Christopher Adamo, West Hartford, Conn.
Lessons of Waco
Thank you for the article ``Waco Verdict Challenges Government's Use of Force,'' Feb. 28. From the start of the Waco debacle it seemed most coverage was biased on behalf of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and attempted to enhance ratings by calling the Branch Davidians ``religious fanatics'' and their place of worship a ``compound.'' The author shows integrity to write an account from both sides. Frankly, the ATF scares me. Will they be calling my family or friends fanatics next? JoAnna D. Robertson, Red Hook, N.Y.