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I’m always thinking about Scientific Objectivity. In part because in high school youth group it was drilled into me to fear (to FEAR I say! Run Away!) that scary moral relativism at the University. In part because Thomas Kuhn wrote such an interesting book.

And in large part because my folks were very interested in it in the 1920s and 1930s.

This is a very interesting complication to the trend of “scientific objectivity” in the 1890s:

Three weeks after his twenty-fifth birthday, in correspondence with the trustees of the Slater Fund, Du Bois explained that his ultimate goal was ‘to get a position in one of the Negro universities, and to seek to build up there a department of history and social science, with two objectives in view; (a) to study scientifically the Negro question past and present with a view to its best solution. (b) to collect capable young Negro students, and to see how far they are capable of furthering, by independent study and research, the best scientific work of the day.

Du Bois’s emphasis on moral factors in the evolution of slavery [in his Harvard History PhD Dissertation] was largely in keeping with the sate of American historiography of that period. Indeed, as the president of the University of Michigan observed to the president of Johns Hopkins University in 1885, ‘I should not want a man who would not make his historical judgments and interpretations from a Christian standpoint.’ The writing of history was directly related ‘to Ethics.’ Although Du Bois had distanced himself from his Calvinist origins, the effects of his earlier ideological indoctrination were still apparent…. Consequently he minimized economic factors at the expense of moral issues.

–Manning Marable, W.E.B. Du Bois: Black Radical Democrat

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Science

One of the reasons I love Kurt Andersen and his show Studio 360 is that he unites science and art in this really beautiful way. One of his recent fascinations has been the Large Hadron Collidor–does my ex-physicist heart good to read about it all.

Did I mention I met Kurt Andersen in New York and he knew my twitter name? Ahhh, social media can be good. That Live taping of Studio 360 will be one of those things burned into my memory that I tell my grandchildren about later.

Grandma tells me about all the things she did the year she was in Chicago to study Medical Technology (did you know such a thing existed during the Great Depression? Well Northwestern had a program). I’ll tell my kids about Janelle Monae spiking her mike stand, morphing into android Cindi Mayweather, and being completely, bloody, brilliant. I shoulda told people I wanted her CD for Christmas.

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