August 08, 2007

Science and the Islamic world. Internal causes led to the decline of Islam's scientific greatness long before the era of mercantile imperialism. To contribute once again, Muslims must be introspective and ask what went wrong.
  • Great article. Thanks, HW.
  • I think he's overlooking the negative impact Lysenkoism had on science under Stalin, though.
  • Some of the most brilliant scientists I have known have been Muslim. Anyone who thinks that "Islam" is the only one that needs to be doing the introspecting can just fuck off.
  • From the article: To be definite, I am here using the 57 countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) as a proxy for the Islamic world. Yes, there are brilliant Muslim scientists. Most of them are practicing in Western countries.
  • Obviously the Ummah lacks top scientists, and that's why I am demanding that Stephen Hawking immediately convert to the True faith and the message of Mohommad. Should he fail to comply I am quite prepared to go to the UN Security Council and sanction his skinny ass "like a motherfucker" (as Chapter VII of the UN Charter puts it).
  • It'd be interesting to compare the table of publications/citations with the rankings in an "index of economic/political freedom" study. I doubt it's Islam per se that defines the relationship, but rather the political systems in the predominantly Islamic countries.
  • Your hostility is very gravely misplaced, fuyugare. Pervez Hoodbhoy is a Professor of Nuclear Physics at Islamabad; his piece is thoughtful and well-informed. His university has come under pressure from the local Islamic authorities to end co-education. It has three mosques but no bookstore. No Pakistani university, including QAU, allowed Abdus Salam to set foot on its campus, although he had received the Nobel Prize in 1979 for his role in formulating the standard model of particle physics. ...because he was regarded as a heretic. Your response is that if he thinks Islam needs a re-think, he can fuck off?
  • A trend towards religious fundamentalism leads to a trend away from scientific innovation. This study funded by a generous grant from the Foundation for the Glaringly Obvious, with matching funds from the Geprge W. Bush Stem Cell Research Council.
  • This is very interesting. homunculus makes a good point about Lysenko, and I don't think Nazism was especially good for pure science either, what with the Eislehre and all that. The piece suggests that authoritarian attitudes are part of the problem too, with students becoming 'quiet note-takers', reluctant to ask questions, and calling themselves boys and girls rather than men and women. So, as roryk suggests, it might have more to do with authoritarian political systems than Islam in itself. But in that case, why did Islamic science fail earlier - after doing a far better job than Christendom of preserving the classical tradition, to begin with? Maybe Islam has a greater propensity than most religions to throw up successful authoritarian movements from time to time. That seems plausible to me. The relative clarity and single-mindedness of the Koran* for example, contrasts with the complexity and ambiguity of most religious texts (especially the Old Testament) and might well provide more favourable ground for authoritarian ideas. I hope not, though, because that would imply that the problem can never be permanently resolved. *Speaking with all the authority that a quick persual of the Penguin version ten years ago can give.
  • Maybe Islam has a greater propensity than most religions to throw up successful authoritarian movements from time to time. That seems plausible to me...I hope not, though, because that would imply that the problem can never be permanently resolved. I tend to think not - there have certainly been extended corresponding periods in the Judeo-Christian world.
  • Not to mention the fact that, while the period in question may have started before the rise of colonialism, it seems likely that colonialism not only kept it going but likely aggravated any resistance to outside ideas that already existed.
  • No one has read my previous comment closely enough to get its full meaning.
  • Islam may not be the 'only one' that could do with a bit of introspection, but it is 'the one' in most need of it. Anyone that disagrees with that can just have a different point of view.
  • No one has read my previous comment closely enough to get its full meaning. I suspect that when you posted your previous comment you hadn't read the linked article closely enough to get its full meaning.
  • In fact, I haven't read the article at all. I didn't need to, after reading the reddit discussion of it yesterday: it writes itself. It is clear to me that any Islam-bashing thesis will get a chorus of approval from a cadre of people whose intentions are far from pure. George Bush did win 51% somehow, after all. I suspect the chief reason we don't hear about how the Africans or the South Asians or whatever can't do science is because the Arabs have most of our xenophobic focus. Anyway, I have become very tired of internet debates. The next twenty rounds of this purportless dance are as predictable as dawn. Have your victory.
  • Wow! Have a nice day!
  • I always read the article. That way the vowels and consonants flush the poisons that have accumulated in my system from sitting around.
  • Hey, this is a good article. Thanks Hw. It was interesting to read about the defeat of the Mutazilites. There's a lesson in there about what happens to science under fundamentalism. This quote to me, helps explain why there's difficulty with scientific progress in Islamic countries: At Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, where I teach, the constraints are similar to those existing in most other Pakistani public-sector institutions. This university serves the typical middle-class Pakistani student and ...ranks number two among OIC universities. Here, as in other Pakistani public universities, films, drama, and music are frowned on, and sometimes even physical attacks by student vigilantes who believe that such pursuits violate Islamic norms take place. The campus has three mosques with a fourth one planned, but no bookstore. No Pakistani university, including QAU, allowed Abdus Salam to set foot on its campus, although he had received the Nobel Prize in 1979 for his role in formulating the standard model of particle physics. Imagine being interested in science in this environment. It would be comparable to what Galileo went through. Is it a coincidence that the Muslim country with the best scientific indicators , Turkey, is also the least authoritarian?
  • No one has read my previous comment closely enough to get its full meaning. posted by fuyugare at 03:18PM UTC on August 08, 2007 In fact, I haven't read the article at all. posted by fuyugare at 04:02PM UTC on August 08, 2007 Goddamn, that made me laugh. Thank you for that.
  • And with that, H Dawg, victory is apparently yours.
  • Do I get the spoils?
  • The spoils. Congratulations, Mr. Winner of the Internet. Wonder if this was one of the predictable-as-dawn rounds of the dance.
  • I knew HDawg before he won the Internet.
  • Your medal's here, homunculus.
  • Ooh! Steel cage match. H Dawg vs. MCT. Refereed by He Who Cannot Be Named. LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE!
  • Your medal's here, homunculus. Sweet! In your face, sourwookie!
  • *reads old thread* *Googles some more* Wait, wait...those shoes were real?!?!? I...I just...I can't... *head asplodes*
  • I know it's not a popular opinion in some circles, but I think that story highlights the continuing need for separation of church and state that some very vocal Americans believe doesn't or shoiuldn't exist.
  • I hold no brief for those very vocal Americans of whom you speak, TUM, but you should remember that the UK has always had an official state religion, and so far as I can tell it has made no difference at all to science or politics.
  • I don't think Nazism was especially good for pure science either Unless you count all that human experimentation that they did. You can really go far with your medical research if you have an utter lack of scruples.
  • I think that story highlights the continuing need for separation of church and state that some very vocal Americans believe doesn't or shoiuldn't exist. Agreed. Meanwhile, there's this.
  • Good point, Pleg.