Communicator (communicator) wrote,
Communicator
communicator

The two cultures (2)

The point I was leading up to in the last post was that one of the contributors says:

"CP Snow was concerned, as I recall (it's been a long time since I read his book) that we were graduating students who knew *either* Shakespeare's plays, *or* the Second Law of Thermodynamics--and that these were two entirely separate groups of people with little or no overlap.

"But, today, we've solved that problem. A high proportion of today's graduates know *neither* Shakespeare's plays *nor* the Second Law of Thermodynamics. What they do know is some postmodernist metatheory which convinces them that they have no need to learn anything substantive--either in the sciences or in the humanities."

The interesting thing about this is that Snow's thesis is blatantly wrong, let alone the modern commentator's. And my assertion in the previous sentence is testable too (yay! science points!)

Test it yourself. Do you know anyone (children and people who for some reason haven't received much education excepting) who can't provide each of these two questions with a pretty fair answer:

'What is entropy?'

'Who said "To Be or Not To Be" and what was he on about?'

I picked these two to match CP Snow's claim, but you can substitute your own questions. Another good one for humanities graduates would be 'what do the letters in the equation "E=MC squared" stand for?'; and for scientists 'What is Dante's Inferno?'. Remember I'm only asking for fair-to-middling answers.

I don't mean that this proves humanities graduates are expert scientists, or that science graduates are all super-sensitive poets. But it does show that human beings are a lot bigger than the categories that other people want to slot them into. We aren't 'two entirely opposed groups of people with no overlap', and we can talk to each other with a modicum of mutual respect.

I agree that post-modernism is rubbish though.
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