Saturday, July 29, 2017

[Yasmin_discussions] Mediterranean Heritage for STEM to STEAM: Redesigning Science itself ???


I am your YASMIN moderator this week from dallas texas then siggraph
in lala this week. Thanks to all of you that have sent it their ideas
in response to pier luigi capucci's call on mediterranean heritage

Second let me join Dimitris Charitos and Soussi Houssine in welcoming
Jadwiga Charzynska from Poland as a new YASMIN moderator and we look
forward to helping build a new "amber road' ( ) between Gdansk and the
Mediterranean !

Next I thought i would start a provocation on Pier Luigi Capucci's (
hey pier luigi thanks for an amazing YASMIN dinner and leo50party in
Bologna !!) discussion topic on the relevance of the mediterranean

"The Countries in the Mediterranean Rim, and more in general all
European countries, have a long history and heritage in art and
culture, that can be valued through new disciplines, sciences and
technologies. "The New and History", which is the general art*science
title, suggests a relationship between two concepts seemingly in
opposition, that instead can and must coexist. The "new",
"innovation," has its foundation in history but it can and must revive
its heritage in the future, through arts, scientific disciplines and
technologies. This is a key element, from cultural, historical, social
and economic viewpoints."
Pier Luigi Capucci

So here is the posit:

One of the major cultural heritages of the mediterranean is western
science and its scientific method itself - with the lineage to so many
schools of thought in mesopotamia, the arab world, southern europe and
the southern bank of the mediterranean- and then of course the various
'amber roads' between the mediterranean and northern europe.

So maybe one answer to pier luigi is that the mediterranean region
needs to take a lead in re-inventing science itself ?

Maybe we can rebuild an Amber road to reinvent and redesign science ?
Deep in this is also the idea of how diasporas have been crucial
elements of cultural invention, and in particular in science ( think
of the indian and chinese
student diasporas in european and north american universities today
that will inevitably alter science in the 21st century)


This is a recent idea that i have been mulling as i have been going around
the leo50 events- and finding the scientific community itself much more
receptive to the art science discussion than 10 years ago. The stem to steam
discussion often focuses the discussion of evidence that integrated things
are worthy with the burden on art/design/humanities to justify themselves
- but there is a line of argument that science itself needs to be
redesigned and this is one way that stem to steam could be generative

- eg the scientific method itself has changed dramatically scientific
revolution/enlightenment set in motion what we currently call the scientific
method in the 'west"

eg- our ideas of causality are very different than in the time of bacon
or newton or faraday- the idea of an equation often embodies ideas
of cause and effect that are 'reducible' ie take vitamin c and you will
be healthier- or shoot an arrow and it hits an apple
ideas of causality have shifted- with theormodynamics- statistical
ideas took hold, with quantum mechanics fundamental uncertainties,
with complexity theory the idea of simple causality vanish ( you
cant write an equation for climate change, mental health is a complex
interaction of biology and environment and experience) (remember the
'end of theory" discussion from chris anderson ( )
that shouted ten years ago:


Paul Thomas who is organising a STEM to STEAM panel in Plymouth during the
Balance Un Balance conference next month argues:

" Distinguishing the difference between internationally recognized
methods of empirical science (experimentation and verification in
technical procedures or laboratory scenarios) and the modes of
diagnosis, experimentation, play, trial, failure, inspiration and
invention in the creative practices characteristic of the artist's
studio;" Paul Thomas

This highlights a 19th century idea of the scientific method- what is
a 21 century one?
how do you observe things that we have no sensory access to, verify
causal chains
that are not reducible to a one variable controlled experiment

- the other area is of course the scientific method has not been
revised to take into account the data age as chris anderson argued 20
years later ( dan boorstin called this an epistemological revolution
and he was right)- data is no longer rare as it was in the time of
einstein- and what did astronomers discover with all the data ? than
90 % of the universe is unobservable ! we have the wrong data-

-finally the scientific method is embedded in ideas of cognitive
science that have now been overtaken- the universe doesnt necessary
work the way the human mind is built to understand-how do we
understand the way the functioning of the human mind biases the
scientific method and creates blind spots ? how do we redesign the
scientific method as a result ?

and then of course the socio/technological context of science is
dramatically different than when the scientific method was invented (
does gender bias in science reflect one of the cognitive biases the
human mind has imposed on science ?), the relationship of science to
society ( a la socially robust science of Helga Nowotny)- why didnt
the scientific method anticipate climate change but instead
contributed to it ? its touchy territory- because there are embedded
values in the scientific method that are rarely discussed ( eg
Sarukkai and the Ethics of Curiosity). Is the scientific method itself
obsolete and needs re inventing ?

Roger Malina
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