Tag Archives: science

Panayza Lesufi displays his lack of understanding of what a language is all about

I feel sorry for the ANC, to have an MEC for education in Gauteng who displays his ignorance of what a language is, fundamentally, for all and sundry to see. As has been widely reported, he has opined that the establishment of a Solidarity and community-funded Afrikaans-medium university would “perpetuate racist agendas”, and would be…

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An open critique of the Nieuwoudt et al (2019) study on coloured women

By the Division for Research & Methodology (DRM) The Psychological Society of South Africa’s (PsySSA) Division for Research and Methodology (DRM) is committed to the teaching, practice and promotion of relevant, appropriate and ethical scientific research in South Africa. We are disturbed by and strongly opposed to the practice of misusing racial classification in scientific…

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The dynamics of complex systems: ‘Flight Behaviour’

Most people don’t know what complex systems (the word ‘complex’ is important) are, despite the fact that everyone one is enmeshed in several such complex systems every minute of the day and night. One such complex system is language, which we use more or less all the time, except when we sleep, and even then,…

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Poetry and diversity

Usually, when the term, ‘diversity’ is mentioned anywhere in South Africa, it denotes racial and/or cultural diversity, and it carries strong overtones of obligatory political correctness. This is also true elsewhere, if ‘diversity’ is a reference to multiculturalism, one of the most powerful ideologies of the current era (as demonstrated and critiqued by Slavoj Žižek…

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The destructive approach to nature: ‘Geostorm’

We are in Porto, Portugal, for an interdisciplinary international conference, and already we are impressed by the beauty of this old city. As usual, because I find seats on a passenger jet too uncomfortable to sleep, I used the time to catch up on some movies, including I, Tonya, with Margot Robbie’s Oscar-quality performance in…

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The world has not learnt anything from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s ‘Gothic’ (proto-)science fiction novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, which was published when the author was only 20 years old. It was the fruit of a contest among herself and two other literary figures — her future husband, the poet Percy Shelley, and another poet, Lord…

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Are you an agnostic?

What is agnosticism? Broadly speaking, it is the position that claims that human beings cannot ‘know’ whether God (or gods) exists or not. We simply do not have the means to have such knowledge. I put ‘know’ in scare quotes because that is where an agnostic puts the emphasis. The ancient Greek word, ‘gnosis’, means…

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Philosophy of provisionality

Everything we do as humans is provisional. Because of time’s eroding power, everything is revisable. There is a reason for the word “decision” being a part of our language. Not accidentally, the term derives from the Latin for “cut”; in other words, when we decide something, we make a volitional “cut” of sorts in the…

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Can fusion energy be achieved?

Lev Grossman (“Star Power”, in Time, November 2, p. 24-33) calls fusion the “holy grail” of “the quest for clean energy”, and with good reason — it is as elusive as the proverbial unicorn in your garden (with apologies to James Thurber). By this I mean that, although scientists and technologists know what has to…

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A world without compass

Compared to the Christian Middle Ages, our world is pretty much without compass. By this I do not mean that we should return to the beliefs held during that time – not only would this be anachronistic, but it would conflict fundamentally (and probably violently) with the techno-scientific tenor of the present era. I simply…

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