This is from an article at Salon.com on what "science" can teach us:
Originally Posted By: Salon.com
A team of Danish scientists found that the adolescents most likely to be bullied in each of thirty-five different countries came from poorer families but were attending schools that had many students from affluent families. High school youths from suburban Boston communities who reported being bullied were more likely to be deviant in some way; for example, they were gay, were small for their age, came from a poor family, or performed poorly on examinations. Hence, discovery of a relation between being bullied and a later trait is usually confounded with other properties that make a necessary contribution to the outcome. In the case of Mao Zedong, who was bullied by the wealthy boys at the school he attended because of his shabby clothes and peasant dialect, the experience of being a victim of derisive taunts increased his desire to become a person of importance who commanded respect. Adolescent boys from different homes and possessing different personalities might react to the same cruelty by deciding that they would never achieve the goals they wished to command.
The point is that the more one knows about the situation of the individual, the more one is able to predict future behavior.
The "scientific" edge of all this is that "empirical research [has] added important new details to the humanistís rough outline," and the overt statement is that the "humanists"--by which the article means all the philosophers, poets, ministers, novelists, historians, etc. etc. of the last couple of thousand years--couldn't possibly provide the sort of detail that the social "sciences" can.
Anyone else find this (a) self-evident and (b) useless? Of course knowing every single aspect of every single person's history, biochemistry, socio-economic status, cultural background, . . . and so on and so on and so on--of course knowing all that would make it possible to predict behavior. But in IMHO, no "scientific" study will ever come close to providing the full context of any person's identity, certainly not in a quantifiable, reproduceable way, but not even in a more qualitative way either. If I believed in a divinity that shapes our ends, then I'd say that God would be able to have such knowledge. And so, as Robert Browning said when someone asked him what a passage from "Pippa Passes" meant, "When I wrote it God and Mr. Browning knew. Now only God knows." Not a very useful "scientific" avenue of inquiry, I'd say.
I'd also say that the condescending dismissal of quaint humanists for being able only to trace out the general outline of behavior is just silly. If anything, a novelist can do a far far better job of representing the complex roots of a "person's" behavior than can any "scientist."
But then, I'm a humanist, so whaddaya expect?
_________________________ MACTECHubi dolor ibi digitus
Loc: Southern Lake Superior
Anyone else find this (a) self-evident and (b) useless?
What makes a bully tick? What turns a "bullied kid" like Mao Zedong into a ruthless bully himself, rather than a useful, reasonable person that is interested in helping to change the world in a positive manner with positive methods?
I don't believe knowing "everything" about a person will give us the ability to predict their life paths well enough to consistently be of use. People with similar backgrounds and stimuli seem to react in different ways.
_________________________ Stumpy "The best of men are men at best."
There is a gentleman in my town who frequents the restaurant I do. Last year he was featured in a local newspaper in a piece on bullying. He gave his experience in being bullied as a lad. I know this man but not very well. He s a retired teacher and seems to be a nice guy.
I don't know if he is gay or not. I know he comes to the diner alone. But he appears effeminate . I can see that he might have been bullied because of his looks and mannerisms when young.
Bullism is a serious situation. When I taught, that was one thing that would get me unglued if I saw it.
There are 10 kinds of people. Those that understand binary and those that don't.
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