“The Shape of Dialogue”: a discussion about ‘ways of knowing’

February 5, 2022 • 11:45 am

Here’s a long interview I had about a week ago with Michael Goldwater, a Kiwi who lives in Auckland.  His podcast, “The Shape of Dialogue” is just starting and has nine episodes so far, the most recent one with Steve Pinker.

The topic of our discussion was “Science versus ‘other ways of knowing’,” which of course is relevant to what’s going on in New Zealand at present. We covered Mātauranga Māori (Māori ‘way of knowing’), of course, but also many other issues.  I can’t even remember much of the discussion, but can’t go back to watch it because I’m constitutionally unable to watch myself on camera. (I doubt that Pinker has that problem!)

Although Michael isn’t a scientist, he has a keen interest in science and that’s the theme of his podcast so far. I wish him luck!

If you want to watch it (it was supposed to be an hour long, but time flew. . . ), here it is. I’ll take a pass. You can find the audio version on Apple here.

12 thoughts on ““The Shape of Dialogue”: a discussion about ‘ways of knowing’

  1. That was very good but quite long. If I had to find something to compare with this New Zealand problem it might be what the religious did with creationism in their attempt to get into the schools. The intelligent design ploy that was finally put down in 2005 in the Dover case. Always that pathetic excuse — Well, just put it in there and let the kids decide.

  2. I enjoyed this podcast episode immensely. My takeaway from this are the parallels between the American vs New Zealand’s secondary system and teaching evolution and creationism side by side are quite shocking. A return to oppression of science as a way to find truth. I went to a religiousJewish school in Canada in the late 70s and when it came time to talk or teach evolution, the teacher left the class and a Rabbi from the U.S. told us something like, evolution is right because Genesis is just a bunch of stories. That if you want you can take the 7 day creation myth as each day was billions of years, but basically he said and the bible teacher said you don’t have to believe in God or the creation myth of the Bible when it comes to science. And this is hilarious! Because we learned about cells and all the biological educational bases, but they skipped helping us understand evolution lol I had to find out on my own.
    Too many years later, because I was distracted by the “it’s ok not to believe in bible myths when it comes to evolution” hooey. It was hilarious because it was so clever, like a magic trick. They could say we taught you, fly be free, do what you want If I could go back in time, I would say But Rabbi, what is evolution, can you bring back the biology teacher because I am feeling so warm and fuzzy I want to hear the truth that you gave me your blessing that I could know lol.

    1. I went to a religiousJewish school in Canada in the late 70s and when it came time to talk or teach evolution, the teacher left the class

      …And your school (“board”, “management”, administration) stopped teaching you 20th-ish century stuff, and handed you back into the late Bronze age.
      When will your case come to court?

      1. I just googled is not teaching evolution against the law in Canada Gravel Inspector. An article about how evolution is taught in schools but not human evolution, according to the law in the province of Ontario “requires that evolution be taught in secondary schools, but not as evolution relates to humans” a 2015 article on guess what The Evolution is True blog.. Jerry Coyne what would we do without you?

  3. Those who have read WEIT, Faith vs Fact or visited the lounge (although I think we are in your kitchen) would find no surprises with this conversation. But for the ‘battle’ between ‘other ways of knowing’ it is a good thing for local folk (NZder’s) engaged with this discourse and get to know one of it’s critics, how and why.

    Interesting though that just below this post in WordPress is this:
    Just what is Matauranga Maori?
    “What exactly is Mātauranga Māori? At its most basic principle, it is knowledge accumulated in a Māori way.”
    by Kiri Dell
    it’s short and I believe Dell is one of the stalwarts of Mātauranga Māori.
    A piece from the above says “…our leading expert on Māori wellbeing, Mason Durie”
    Life, Durie says “…is best understood by the relationships that exist beyond people and their environments.”
    In other words into the realm of the mystical and superstition. I understand how they think it connects (to ancestors, the land) all religions do this and using it to ganar some form of cultural level power, recognition, identity.
    Luck would have it science requires none but the outing of truths of nature without the mystical beyond people and their environments.

  4. I enjoyed the discussion, if not new for frequent readers here. I’m wondering how he roped in such guests as you, and Steven Pinker, even though he has full 43 subscribers now and only 9 videos. Is he a cousin-in-law of John Brockman? 😉

    The host led the interview well, but I had to roll my eyes at the Marx conspiracy theory. Marx wrote major works in economics, and introduced terms to various fields. Here’s a Nature article on “Das Kapital”.

    1. He’s just getting started. And, as Tyson says in his blurb, he, like me, doesn’t choose which podcasts to do based on how popular they are. We have a Kiwi podcaster interested in science and I wanted to have my say about MM and its incursion into science. And if I can help out a well intentioned podcaster with a good mission, I will.

      Believe me, this podcast has already been sent to NZ educational authorities.

  5. An excellent discussion which ties the viewer to the last several weeks of NZ “ways of knowing” discussion in WEIT and also shares some mental space with some of the CRT discussions and books such as Kendi and Delgado (other ways of knowing) and McWhorter, Lukianoff, Pluckrose, Haidt, Lindsay (enlightenment, data-based rationality). The examples of uses of colonization or colonial thinking and products toward the end of the piece were enlightening. Weighing in at just ten minutes short of two hours is a time investment, but I thought one that was well worth it. I stayed fully engaged this afternoon even as the sun setting outside a western window would normally set me to doze on a Saturday afternoon. Both Jerry and Michael emphasize some of Steve Pinker’s material in Rationality” and”Enlightenment”. I must go now as I am an hour late for my regular Saturday 5 o’clock Scotch!

  6. Thanks Jerry. I’m generally not a podcast sort of person, because I think I can read much more quickly than I can listen, but this one was worth it. I hope it gets a wide audience in New Zealand. The only prospect of ending this madness is by a groundswell of public opinion, and messages like yours that are both forceful and inarguable might help drive that..

  7. Great podcast – In the UK, ‘Other ways of knowing’ seem to be making inroads into academia without the help of Matauranga Maori. For example, a Professor of Childhood Studies in Cardiff has published a paper ‘What do bodies know? Moving with the gendered affects of place’
    ‘Inspired by the works of Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari and Erin Manning’ the authors interpret the dance moves of teenage girls and tell us,
    ‘the lack of intentionality in girls’ movements relates to molar forces of patriarchy and in the valleys this is likely to be amplified by the history of masculine corporeal labour valued in mining communities.’
    ‘In these moves, some of their suppressed feelings of oppression might have been re-felt with intentionality enabling their bodies to be less territorialised by patriarchal and valleys’ tropes.’
    There is plenty more like that in the paper and the authors go on to tell us,
    ‘We feel that widening the purview of what counts as knowledge is critical to tackling all kinds of injustices,’
    This is just another form of ‘other ways of knowing.’ In this case, the authors impose their worldview on the dance moves of teenage girls.
    Unfortunately, this comes from an academic who has the ear of the Welsh government and is part of the panel making recommendations on the future of sex and relationships education in Wales.

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