Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dorian Gray, I hope you believe in miracles, because cosmetic surgery ...

One of the people attacked in a recent New Scientist article is Angus Menuge of Concordia University, Wisconsin. Menuge set the record straight here.

That said, the whole business reminded me that I never got around to actually reading Menuge's book, Agents Under Fire, because - well, quite honestly, because I feared it would be yet another academic snooze (= 16 hours I wish I had spent at the news desk, where I would be much more use!).

I was wrong. Agents Under Fire isn't a snooze. Here are a couple of passages - I've only started reading, but it sounds pretty interesting:
This book aims to provide a rigorous defense of the intuition that scientific materialism is incoherent because it either eliminates or artificially constricts resources presupposed by materialistic scientific inquiry. In other words, scientific materialism rests on certain implicit foundational presuppositions that t is inherently unable to sustain and that are in fact incompatible with its central claims. Like so many ideas spawned by the Enlightenment, the apparent strength of scientific materialism depends on its careful concealment of the borrowed capital upon which it lives. The bankruptcy is there but undeclared. While the public image may resemble the eternally youthful Dorian Gray, the truth has more in common with his portrait. (p. xiii)
Materialism is a dead cat and lots of people have an interest in pretending it's still alive.

Here's Dorian Gray:

More usefully, here's Agents Under Fire: