Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A lame analogy

So, you want to eat a healthy diet, how do you do it? One option is to examine the nutritional information on everything find and make sure you only consume stuff with ingredients nutritionists agree is healthy. This approach gives the impression of being sciencey and rational, but you'd have a nagging feeling that there was something important missing. A diet comprised of only healthy things might be a terrible diet.

Learning to cook a bunch of traditional recipes from your culture from your grandmother is quite likely to end up being a better guide to a healthy diet that the approach above, but we wouldn't necessarily have any idea of what crucial stuff we were happily consuming.

The point is, it's easy to construct a worldview entirely out of true facts only for it to be fatally anaemic and many cultural norms and traditions contain wisdom that we only dimly comprehend.

6 comments:

Greg Torr said...

Are you becoming a conservative?

Tracy said...

Where does the cultural knowledge come from?Trial and error? Learning from experience over generations?

Time we started taking old-wives tales seriously - cod-liver oil is good for you! :)

I hear a lot about this topic at university. Native Indians have local indigenous knowledge of their lands, farmers, hunters and ranchers too.
Scientists should listen and incorporate some of this knowledge.

I agree, but people also tend to make up stuff, remember things incorrectly and interpret things based on what they want, expect or already believe, etc. (perhaps just like scientists).

I hate all this ontological and epistemological uncertainty!!!!! i.e. wish we could find a good way of finding things out and be certain it's true. But it seems there are no short cuts.

Stuart said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mutt said...

G- yip. a clever one.

T- yip. Some cultures die along with their crappy cultural norms. the ones that survive will tend to have a culture more conducive to a long lived stable society. though not necessarily a truth seeking or just one.

Trevor Black said...

hmmm... administrator deleted comments, convervative posts...

and it all starts....

next thing Stu is going to be propounding the virtues of guns for all, and whipping out his Deep South Bible...

Stuart said...

You want me to propound the virtues of guns? No problem.