This quote is excerpted from a book on "Critical Dietetics," reviewed by James Lindsay in Dietistaktuellt (pdf document
). Lindsay excerpted the text below, which clearly lays out the stance taken by critical theorists (emphasis added):
Although we do not wholly reject the scientific method as a means of creating knowledge about the world, a critical orientation rejects the notion that it is even possible to produce knowledge that is objective, value-free, and untouched by human bias. A critical orientation similarly rejects the idea that any one way of creating knowledge about the world is superior to another or is even sufficient.
First of all, they state that critical theory is about rejecting things
. It is not about making substantive contributions to human knowledge and understanding. Second, they deny the possibility of knowledge
-- they say they deny "knowledge that is objective," but the most generally accepted definition of knowledge
is "justified true belief," i.e. belief that can be assessed, tested, verified or falsified by someone else. What is the alternative definition?
The third point firmly establishes their anti-science position: there are no better or worse ways of "creating knowledge." The whole project of science -- spanning thousands of years and countless human cultures -- is predicated on the idea that some ways of thinking are better than others, and we can improve ourselves
by improving our methods of thought, observation and judgment about the world. With this line, they've rejected that whole project, and it leaves me wondering what the hell they're trying to accomplish.
Next up is Critical Theory's unrelenting Straw Man about positivism
In contrast to positivism, Critical Dietetics is rooted in an interpretivist epistemology, or interpretivism.
One of the most frequent tropes in Critical Theory is to equate science with positivism, and to setup a false dichotomy pitting positivism against their word-salad-theory. That's one of the things that makes it so weird to read Critical Theory papers. Positivism is one of many
philosophical positions in analytical philosophy, and I doubt if most practicing scientists would be familiar with the term.
It goes on:
Interpretivism considers knowledge as inherently subjective and informed by the values, priorities, and worldviews of the individuals, institutions, and wider social, political, and environmental context that guided its creation. An interpretivist epistemology also sees phenomena as being open to multiple means of knowledge creation and interpretation that are equally legitimate. As such, CD draws on post-structuralism and feminist science (two other windows) that hold that there is not one truth that can be generated about any single thing, that multiple truths are possible depending on who is asking and for what purpose, and that knowledge is not apolitical even if it is considered positivist (i.e. value neutral or unbiased). Because humans generate knowledge about phenomena, and humans bring their own beliefs, biases, and assumptions to their knowledge generating processes, the knowledge that humans generate is always subjective.
What a mess. Individual humans bring their own beliefs, biases and assumptions. The project of science is to test and filter those beliefs, biases and assumptions through an ever-expanding set of critical eyes. Objectivity
is something that emerges from the collective process of testing and correcting. Objective
means truth that is external to any particular individual or group.
It's ironic that objectivity demands that we maximize diversity and inclusion in the actual sense. Science benefits from diverse perspectives because we are seeking objective knowledge
. Critical theorists, by endlessly recycling the same "rejection" rhetoric, offer no constructive contributions and can only serve to undermine the rationale for inclusivity. They are such ardent critics of science, and yet they show almost no comprehension of it. It makes me sad.