Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

News Flash: Plan to Drain Slough of Despond Mired in Controversy

September 6, 2015

La Satira News Service

A plan by the Vanity Fair Regional Development Authority to drain the Slough of Despond suffered a setback this week when an environmental interest group filed suit against the project, citing inadequate mitigation of the projected environmental impacts.

The project calls for the construction of a road and bridge across the Slough of Despond, to be paid for by the development of most Slough into an up-scale community of homes and shops.

Among other objections, the suit by the Vanity Valley Nature Club claims that the proposed project would eliminate several hundred acres of established wetlands and destroy a significant habitat for Woodpeckers of Illusory Prospects.

“We believe this lawsuit to be frivolous and unnecessary,” said VFRDA executive director Faith N. Lucre in an interview.  “For one thing, the Woodpecker of Illusory Prospects is hardly an endangered species; everyone gets visited by one at some point in their lives.  Moreover, the Woodpeckers aren’t the only things that call the Slough of Despond home:  it’s also a fertile breeding ground for the Mosquitoes of Disappointment, the Leeches of Self-Doubt and the Adders of Dysfunctional Relationships.

“Besides, the plan clearly shows that any wetlands destroyed in this project would be replaced by new wetlands to be developed in the nearby Swamp of Ambivalence and Bog of Ennui.”

In addition to the lawsuit, the project is also threatened by the possible withdrawal of one of the groups that originally proposed it.

“What we had initially proposed was a simple bridge,” explained Guy D. Way, a spokesman for the Celestial City Travelers Association.  “We get a lot of people coming from that direction, and we were hoping to ease the trip a bit.  But somehow the project morphed into, not just a bridge, but what amounts to a small city.  With the crowds and all, this could turn into a bigger obstacle than the Slough itself.  The decision to call the development ‘Materialism Manors’ didn’t exactly increase our comfort level, either.”

A preliminary hearing in the case will be held next month in the Court of Arcane Procedures.

Copyright 2015

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News Flash: Philosophical Trend Irks Scientists

August 22, 2010

La Satira News Service

Jake Fleming may share his last name with a famous bacteriologist, but he says that’s about as far as it goes. “I know science has a lot to offer,” says the 27-year-old lab technician, “but there are a lot of controversial aspects that really put people off. Look at the debates over geology and taxonomy–not to mention quantum physics. Does it really matter if there’s such a thing as a Higgs boson?”

Mr. Fleming considers himself part of a growing body of public thought that embraces a generally scientific point of view but rejects the notion that the goal of science is to seek for a single “right” answer.

He’s not alone. Mr. Fleming and those like him, who refer to themselves as “Scientific but not Rigorous” (SBNR) are a growing demographic, thanks to the popularity of literature promoting the philosophy, celebrity endorsement, and the whole science-fiction genre. Online forums and pages on social media websites have allowed adherents to meet and discuss the implications of the philosophy on their lives.

Dr. Agnes Tick, who runs the Center for People-Friendly Science, a think-tank dedicated to advancing the movement, counts off a litany of ills generated by hard-core science. “Lots of great things have come from science, but what about the people who have had careers destroyed simply because they advanced a theory that turned out to be not generally accepted? What about the college and high-school students who were unable to follow their dreams because they couldn’t handle the math? And look at all the times science has created a public panic over something that turned out to be a non-issue. How can this be for the public good?”

Instead, the Center for People-Friendly Science recommends a softer approach in which the general notion of science is preserved without the arcane and sometimes contradicting theories, the rancor generated by competing studies, and the heavy emphasis on math and logic. “We’re looking for a more democratic, more accessible approach to science,” said Dr. Tick. “If most people happen to believe something is true, then there’s probably a good reason for it. But of course it doesn’t matter too much what you believe, so long as you act accordingly.”

Dr. Tick also takes issue with the accessibility of science to the general public. “How many people have access to raw scientific data,” she asked, “and how many people would know what to do with it if they did? Come to that, how many people can understand scientific publications? People will appreciate science more if it’s brought down to their level, and if it’s something they know they don’t have to be afraid of.”

Still, the SBNR philosophy is not without its critics. Eugene Brake, Dean of the College of Genetic Studies at the University of Punxsutawney, says that science would be difficult to conduct seriously without a certain degree of rigor. “The notion that you can find the correct answer based on what you feel ought to be true is intuitively absurd,” said Dr. Brake. “What if two people ‘feel’ differently about the law of gravity? If they jump off a bridge, they’re still going to fall at an acceleration of 32 feet per second, squared, whatever they believe. The purpose of science is to find answers, and that’s not always easy.”

Regarding the question of accessibility, Dr. Brake acknowledged the difficulty. “I suppose it comes down to a question of what you want,” he said. “If it’s a question you think is vitally important, you’ll do everything you can to find the answer to it.”

Back in the lab, Mr. Fleming acknowledged that if he could probably become a more rigorous student of scientist if he wanted to. “But I think the science I have is enough for pretty much anything I’m likely to run into. Anyway, it would be very disappointing to go through a lot of effort and find that I didn’t care much for the answer.”

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