Monday, November 16, 2009

Those with whom you disagree

Earlier this semester we had an invited speaker who holds many opinions contrary to what most people in the department think. This is precisely the reason he was invited.

I furiously scribbled notes during his talk in an attempt to understand his worldview and how his arguments were constructed. I was also trying to figure out what the heck he was saying. It seemed to me that he mostly said disputatious things to get a rise out of people rather than clearly developing his position in a logical manner. He said some crazy things, such as, "Nothing useful has come from theoretical ecology." When people asked questions using clear examples beyond those he had given, he went off on tangents and didn't really answer their questions. I wonder if he could get away with saying the things he did if he weren't an old white dude with a long CV. I should perhaps note that he isn't a scientist, though he sure does write a lot about science.

Although I think a lot of garbage came out of his mouth, listening to him did force me to think more carefully about my own perspectives regarding approaches to research and its applications.

1 comment:

Eugenie said...

You came to a very Mill-like conclusion (oh humanities... can't you tell I'm studying for a test?! haha).

John Stuart Mill is the one that says all opinions should be able to be spoken and none suppressed because by acknowledging ulterior beliefs allows rational, liberated thinking. (in a nutshell)

Theo would have flipped- the old guy does sound familiar though....