Your Alternative News Source

In short, it is a backlash to alternative reality, alternative facts, alternative science, alternative math. It is a backlash to the self-perpetuating cycles of mutual lying between rightwing media, rightwing politicians, rightwing donors and rightwing voters, each preventing the others from straying one millimeter away from this alternative fantasy world. It is a backlash against anti-empiricism, anti-science, anti-facts, head-in-the-sand, “we make reality now” mindset. Practical solutions require dealing with the world as it is, not the world one imagines to be or wants it to be.

And when postmodernism in public life reaches a point of saturation, and when people have had enough of it, and when there is a backlash, people will go for as extreme opposite as they can find. In this case: math.

“Nate Silver and the Ascendance of Expertise”

Notable here are the association of right-wing ideology with postmodernism and “alternative” worldviews; the boring clichè of postmodernism as detached from reality, or denying reality; and the peculiar implication of math as something closer to reality, presumably due to its affiliation with science, or perhaps by contrast with science.

The association of right-wing ideology with postmodernism is not really new, although it may seem counter-intuitive to anyone who remembers the US conservatism of the 1960s. The trend toward shrill, self-congratulatory “conservatives” has accelerated in the last 12 years, and this egotism has become conflated with subjectivism in the minds of monistic, rationalist liberals.

Another factor feeding the use of this attack against conservatives has been the use of postmodernist arguments by creationists and dominionists. I personally applaud the trend of using postmodernist arguments, but it is regrettable to see them used by people who are ignorant of the implications, especially when their colleagues in the “culture wars” are attacking secular culture as being too postmodernist. Basically, postmodernism is the whipping boy for both kinds of positivism.

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2 thoughts on “Your Alternative News Source

  1. I found the article mildly interesting but 2 things. 1. While I know modernists who tend both left and right, my interaction with post-modern type thinking people is consistently left. 2. The author seems a little full of himself.

  2. There is a strain of right-wing ideology in postmodernism; Heidegger is a notorious example, but some theologians could also be cited, such as Ricouer or Levinas. I was actually referring to the use of postmodernist arguments rather than identification with the epistemological position.

    There is a creationist argument that if a scientific theory cannot empirically yield positive certainty, it cannot be valid. Its provisional nature comes from the fact that it is merely a social construction and not an actual description of reality. (This borrows from Kuhn, despite his claim that evolutionary theory is considered absolutely true since the current state of knowledge enables a sufficient degree of confidence.)

    The problem with this approach is that it undermines all scientific theory, including creation science, as well as all theology. Attacking science for not being unitary and complete in all particulars, unchanging throughout all time, is really the same as attacking all human attempts at systematizing knowledge.

    Then, also, there is an argument that biblical Christianity is a unique “worldview”, and therefore has a claim in a pluralist society to be considered pragmatically against other worldviews. This is self-evidently a postmodernist argument, since traditionally biblical Christianity was the God-view, not a worldview. I think its primary purpose is to cajole believers into aligning with an orthodoxy, although it also has a pretense of presenting a “comparative religion” analysis to the secularist.

    My point is that science worshippers lump both of these arguments with postmodernism, since scientific monism denies any separation between conception and sensation, or between description and observation, much less any “alternative” understanding of reality.

Instigate some pointless rambling

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