“Because, Science” is not a Valid Argument

I’ve noted a growing trend in social media, what I’m calling “Because, Science.” At it’s least extreme it is permission to structure a discussion in such a way it invites lynch mobs of people to take the piss and have a good laugh at those on the other side of the issue. At it’s most extreme, it’s the propagation of all manner of hate-speak toward anyone with differing or dissenting views, where science is used as justification for it: because science says XYZ I have the right to accompany this information with commentary that is degrading, aggressive and insulting.

I’ve realised it’s the most insidious of persecutions, because it often comes from intelligent and articulate people, people I respect and admire. People who hold themselves up as advocates for civil rights, social justice, equality and freedom of speech. The people who would stand up and rally against similar degrading, aggressive and insulting commentary on a “Because, God” argument.

And it’s sinister, because of the gag that comes with it. Why open yourself to a full frontal assault by being honest about your position, from sharing your personal experiences or the facts you’ve accumulated in your research, from being able to articulate your different point of view, to engage in a discussion, when everything is couched in vile, degrading or derisive judgement. Of people. Like you.

From being summarily dismissed and silenced.

Because, Science.

What happened to agree to disagree, without the vitriol?

I’ve always been lead to believe science was the objective exploration of ideas, and the articulation of those ideas, in theory and practise. That science was based in the rigors of methodology; of the efficacy, objectivity and transparency of results; a passion for debate and RESPECT for divergent and alternate schools of thought and the appreciation that such discussions had the potential to be a catalyst, the genesis, of the next great hypothesis. Of the next big discovery.

I want to read both sides of a debate. I want to widen my understanding, my knowledge base. I want to read ‘evidence-based’ outcomes that rely not just on empirical, ‘quantitative’ evidence but also on anecdotal, ‘qualitative’ evidence’. I want to see where these two different forms of inquiry merge and cross. How they mirror and diverge. I want to share ideas and be part of feisty and insightful discussions. I want to feel safe to do so.

I don’t want to convert you to my opinion — after all it is only an opinion and we all have the right to have those — any more than I want to be converted to your opinion. I’d like to explore your opinion, to help me understand how you came to feel like this, to believe this, maybe learn something new along they way, as I’d like to invite you to explore my opinion in the same way. I want to be respected, like I respect you.

I don’t want to read science accompanied with emotive, offensive and abusive frames and comments. I don’t want to read anything that is accompanied (intentionally or unintentionally) with shaming or humiliating language. It doesn’t matter that it’s generalised; that it doesn’t specifically name me. But it ‘names’ those who don’t agree with you, which might be me or a friend, a family member, a colleague, someone you care about. It has the potential (at best) to offend, at worst to leave someone feeling victimised, in fear of recriminations and ostracism if they were to speak openly.

When you couch your information like this, it invalidates everything you want to say. And maybe I want to hear what you have to say. It denies me the chance to have my say. Do you want to be someone who steals the voices of others?

It’s not Because Science at all. Science is just facts. Science is not personal. Only people are.

Image: Christian Mohn, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

Welcome, Year of the Green Sheep

Western ideas of the sheep are in contrast to those of the East. When we think of sheep, we think brainless, follow the flock, kind of mindless behaviour. Susan Levitt writes:

The mildness of Sheep can hide an independent streak. In the wild, Sheep are surprisingly tough and able to tolerate severe weather and scarcity of food. Sheep have this natural ability to survive when one must, and are far stronger than they appear.

One of the themes of the sheep year is ‘wild heart’, to be open to love and acceptance at all levels. It is also said to be a good year to express your creative side, to cultivate beauty and artistic development. I’m a few weeks late in posting this, but yes, I am ready!

THE GREEN SHEEP

greensheepThe last time my medallion arrived before the start of the new year was was 2012, the Year of the Water Dragon. It was the last year when there was a modicum of things running to plan, of creative bliss, of feeling as though I belong to and of this world. So this year, I was on it early. And I actually spent almost a month waiting to put on my Green Sheep, beautifully hand-crafted by Kurt from A Touch of Native Beauty. It is a Navajo petroglyph of a long horned sheep.

THE YEAR OF AMPLIFICATION

It was a long way round to this years themes and I picked brains along the way, like bread crumbs until I arrived at AMPLIFICATION. This is not, and will not, be about a signal boost. Amplify is to:

  1. make larger, greater and stronger
  2. enlarge
  3. expand

It also encapsulates ideas of intensification, development and broadening. I am ready to be stronger this year. I am ready to work on longer form works – to literally enlarge and expand my creative pursuits.

To this end, I have a novella, a noveltini, a novel, a feature script and possibly some collaborative long form projects to work on. There’s also short stories and poems to craft and submit. I have chosen not to engage in any eP projects and I am grateful for the opportunity to reinvent the sabbatical I never quite got in 2013.

This is the first year I’ve had a writing partner who is unattached to a specific collaborative project. This changes the creative landscape for me. At a time when I’m still feeling the pressure of isolation and loneliness in my suburban stronghold, having Nic makes writing that little bit less lonely as an every day pursuits. It’s also means I can’t slack off. It’s one thing to make excuses to yourself. It’s another to have to make them to someone else.

May the Year of the Green Sheep amplify your hopes, dreams, opportunities, successes and the manifestation of your deepest desires.

On Saying No

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I’ve never been good at saying ‘no’. I am always afraid that no comes with it an inherent loss of the ‘big break’ or the ‘big exposure’. But with my change in circumstances in the last two years, I’ve had to really stop and assess things and how they fit, what I can contribute, what I can get out of something and how much time, energy and focus I have. It’s the kind of budgeting I never had to do.

This year I have decided there is time and space for homeschooling and writing. It’s meant having to say no to two projects already – one a potential, another an ongoing one. I’ve spent the better part of the day crying because I am not the uber organised, highly motivated, high-achieving person I used to be who could juggle multiple publishing projects with multiple authors and keep it all straight and on track. Now I’m hard pressed to just be able to write a to do and I hate myself for being unreliable and unable to function.

And while all this was going on, I had in front of me a brand new writing project, which fits all the parameters for what this year is about. Sparkling, shiny, with an in built cheer squad and loads of padding in case I fall while doing it. It’s what I really wanted. And it was just waiting there for me to get over myself.

Sometimes it’s easy to get sidetracked by everything you think you’re missing out on and in doing so, miss out on all the important stuff right in front of you.

I know I’m not the only one here who struggles with saying no. But sometimes in saying no, we create pathways to wonderful opportunities to say yes! Even if it’s just saying yes to loving yourself as the best person you can be on the day.

No Fear by VincePal via Flickr used under a Creative Commons License

Canticle… #PostItNotePoetry

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CANTICLE…
 
of fear is creeping
for Leibowitz
of the turning
bark
of the sun
/Scarborough Fair

The poem is mixed with Flaii-chan’s artwork Creeping Fear, via DeviantArt.

The Green Man

IMG_0127THE GREEN MAN

They buried it deep inside.
The seed of the beginning.
Filled tubes with nutrients
and chanted the quickening.
Patiently they waited
for their greatest creation.
But flesh cannot survive
without a heart
and acorns live
for earth and sky.
 

 

Lois took the final lines to create the haunting ‘The Knight and The Seed’.

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