Ralph D, particle physics, and BS

Marko Toivanen mtoivane at cc.joensuu.fi
Tue Jun 20 02:40:33 MDT 1995

On Tue, 20 Jun 1995 00:58:57 +0600, Rahul Mahajan
<rahul at hagar.fusion.utexas.edu> wrote:

> You're absolutely right, Marko, I never thought it would be worth my while
> to read Feyerabend himself, after reading a book in which his views were
> addressed and critiques harshly. It was about Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos, and
> Feyerabend -- I can't remember the name. I foolishly persist in believing
> that anyone who makes statements like "Scientific truths should be put to
> the vote of the scientific community" or that shamanism and science are
> similar systems (I don't know any exact quote here) should not be taken
> seriously. Since you've read him and I lack the time or inclination to
> (unless I have some reason to believe he's not a charlatan), why don't you
> give me a precis of his important views and/or contributions, if you've got
> the time?

Sorry Rahul, right now I'lm starting my vacation, starting right after
I've finished this short reply. Main point, crudely but not incorrectly:
secondary literature on Feyerabend is totally untrustworthy. The book you
read is an extreme example - it's writer doesn't know a thing about
Feyerabend, and not much of the other authors he attacks. Those assertions
on Feyerabend you quote from him don't have anything to do with Feyerabend
(making the first of those the said author makes the unwary mistake of
giving an exact page reference - what the page contains is the opposite of
what that author ascribes to Feyerabend).

So, now I know where all the natural scientists spouting scorn on
"philosophy of science", "Feyerabend", "Kuhn", "Lakatos" and "Popper" got
their inspiration. Unfortunately this inspiration also provides them with
a justification not to read the original authors and never find out how
wrongheaded that particular part of secondary literature (and on
Feyerabend, most of it) is.

'til later,


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