[Humanist] 25.464 unworthy

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sat Nov 12 09:50:48 CET 2011

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 25, No. 464.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    maurizio lana <m.lana at lett.unipmn.it>                     (23)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 25.458 unworthy?

  [2]   From:    James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>                      (22)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 25.460 unworthy

        Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2011 09:38:53 +0100
        From: maurizio lana <m.lana at lett.unipmn.it>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 25.458 unworthy?
        In-Reply-To: <20111110082947.167171F5224 at woodward.joyent.us>

Il 10/11/2011 09:29, Humanist Discussion Group ha scritto:
> "Earlier this year, Senator Tom Coburn published a report called 
> “Under the Microscope,” in which he criticized the funding of any 
> research he couldn’t immediately understand as important. [...]
the matter is similar to that of cooking: which is the worth of cooking, 
baking, stewing, steaming, roasting, grilling, (and the verbs list could 
be longer) the foods we eat? couldn't we eat foods cooked all in the 
same way, with great saving in energy and time? why not eating great 
amounts of uncooked  meat until we have it, as paleolithic people, and 
then go wandering searching for another source of meat until we find it?
yes we could but we wouldn't like it.
m. lana

Il faut essayer, nous aussi. C'est ça, le progrès. A force d'essayer, peut-être qu'on aura à la fin les organes nécessaires, par exemple l'organe de la dignité, ou de la fraternité... "
r. gary, les racines du ciel
il mio corso di informatica umanistica:
Maurizio Lana - ricercatore
Università del Piemonte Orientale, Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia
Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici, via Manzoni 8, 13100 Vercelli
tel. +39 347 7370925

        Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2011 08:22:43 -0500
        From: James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 25.460 unworthy
        In-Reply-To: <20111111081649.A57581F81F8 at woodward.joyent.us>

I've been critical of the human sciences in the past myself, but I don't
think this senator's opinion is based upon an informed critique of their
role.  The problem with Tom Coburn's position about the social sciences is,
first, that it betrays ignorance, and secondly, that it has an
ill-conceived notion of "worth."

The social and human sciences form the basis of much educational practice,
advertising practices, and scholarship in the fields of business and
political science.  The opinion data that he depends upon during his
political campaigns is dependent upon human science models.

His unawareness of the use of the social sciences in the fields above, or
his unwillingness to consider them, indicates next that he doesn't know
what he means by "worth," which I suspect is only in the area of physical
products.  If the field of knowledge doesn't result in the production of a
"thing," then it's of no worth.  That's clearly nonsense stated that way.
 Knowledge of things is half of the important knowledge in the world.
 Knowledge of people is at least the other half, if not more.

So Coburn is either terribly ignorant or simply lying to pursue a political
agenda.  As an M.D. he should know better, so I suspect his comments are
only politically motivated.  Those in the US who work in the human sciences
tend to vote Democratic, so he has a vested interest in disenfranchising
these areas of study.

Jim R

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