From the mailing list of Michael Sofka site:
>A scientist and I are applying for a government grant to
>translate Lem's SUMMA TECHNOLOGIAE (we have Lem's
>approval), and we're trying to make the case for why
>American intellectuals today need to listen to a Polish
>essay written forty years ago.
>I'm arguing that successful attempts to bridge
>C.P. Snow's "two-cultures" division between the
>sciences and the humanities are very rare:
>I gave as examples Stephen Jay Gould,
>Douglas R. Hofstadter,and John Allen Paulos
>(_A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper_).
>Can you think of anyone else? Or any examples of
>how this gap is damaging to our culture?
>Modern Language Association
>26 Broadway, 3rd floor
>New York, NY 10004-1789
-As I recall, Swedish Nobel laurate Hannes Alfven
also published a collection of essays bridging the
"two cultures" divide (Swedish title "M-70").
Alas, American decision-makers might regard the
example as too obscure.
Damn, it is really hard to find good examples.
I know Freeman Dyson has written many essays
of this kind, but few have read him.
Is Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" a good example ?
..."examples of how this gap is damaging to our culture?"
The matter of how to assign priority to various risks,
would be an example of when a good grasp of the
underlying physical reality is important, but rare -a
result of the cultural divide.
There are also many other crucial decisions that
require such a grasp of the "nuts and bolts" of reality.
How do we decide wether the risk of a grade 5 hurricane
is big enough to invest money in extra coastal protection ?
-How do we weigh this investnment against other risks,
like investing billions into defence against terrorists with
chemical weapons, a threat that may or may not exist ?
Is it justified to give schoolchildren bulletproof vests,
or are other risks more relevant for them ?
When choosing what to eat or which medicines to use,
should we be guided by new age arguments or by science ?
And why is science more reliable than various advice
given by the likes of Lobsang Rampa ?
Is it true or false that global warming is a false threat
dreamed up by liberal scientists to motivate vast inter-
ventions against the free global capitalism ?
When fighting AIDS, what credence should we give
to the Vatican when it says condoms (the only safety
measure available in the third world) are unreliable for