(urth) 5HC : Skinner, Turing

Dan'l Danehy-Oakes danldo at gmail.com
Thu Feb 3 10:56:33 PST 2005

Well ... Of course the "hard" sciences set the gold standard for 
"sexy science" in the 20th century (especially the middle part of
it) - both because they were as "scientific" (i.e., measurable, empirical,
repeatable, etc.) as you can get, and also because they produced
big, obvious results like A- and H-bombs, reactors, Saturn V-1Bs,
all sorts of useful chemicals, and, oh, yeah, computers.

Lots of fields of endeavor then tried to be "more like" the hard 
sciences. Behaviorism was psychology's move toward "scientificity" 
by not merely concentrating on the empirical, but ignoring just
about anything else.

For what it's worth, there's a lot of interesting work going on 
right now that is putting some of the "human sciences" on what 
I would call a genuinely and appropriately scientific  basis. In 
psychology, for example, you have the whole  "evolutionary 
psychology" movement, which is producing some pretty 
stunning results in terms of explaining "why we are the way we 
are," and a lot of it looks to be apply-able, for purposes of 
creating more human(e) "behavioral technologies" than the 
Skinnerians ever could have done.

But my favorite example right now is Jared Diamond's amazing
book, GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL, which I think may do for
cultural anthropology what Darwin did for biology.


"We're going to sit on Scorsese's head"
     -- The Goodfeathers

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