Friday, November 5, 2010

Rajiv Malhotra and his pet theories

NRIs like Rajiv Malhotra should rather shut up and take some basic courses on what is the difference between an argument and a theory. Otherwise, these guys are no better than those the former criticize. Here is why: when one collects 'evidence' (these guys don't have clue about theories of evidence that the labor of historians and philosophers of science has brought forth) for some hypothesis H, their competitors can collect evidence for the logical negation of H--logical negation can get translated into many empirical claims. The evidence each party collects establishes the plausibility of their hypothesis; now the question is: whose hypothesis is better? H or not-H? Toss a coin and pick up your answer: frigging lame!

This teaches us a lesson: one needs to develop a theory, which is far, far, more than collecting evidence for your pet hypothesis to establish the plausibility of the latter.

The second mistake that the likes of Rajiv Malhotra commit: selling ad hoc explanations. They find a pattern (or they observe something): for instance, Rajiv's U-turn theory. If you are an MBA, you think that finding a pattern is tantamount to coming up with a theory. U-turn is an observation: this is an explanandum (that which needs to be explaining). What is the explanans (that which does the explaining)? you can come up with your pet explanation: superiority of a culture, psychological superiority of set of individuals, racism, colonialism (a commenter objected to this, check the hyperlink for an answer), etc.

What are they doing: they are appealing to more obscure notions like colonialism; or appealing to deeper causes that the western scholars deny or causes whose factuality that any intelligent yet lay human being can deny (like western scholars are being racist, etc).

Go to hell, Rajiv, guys like you are setting a false precedent for young Indian minds!

2 comments:

Mod said...

You had a good thing going buddy, & I was sorta going along with your witticisms until brought up short by this zinger "...more obscure notions like colonialism..."

In this day & age, it is difficult to swallow the idea that glaring historical facts like colonialism can be dismissed as "obscure notions".

Any coherent reason why one must be in denial about colonialism & it's major effects on ex-colonies like India ?

Thanks

blaoism said...

@Mod,

I will add another blog post that deals with the question "whether colonialism is understood despite tons of books", since the presence of tons of discussions abt colonialism or the talk about it is not evidence for the claim that colonialism is well understood.

Sure effects are present, it doesn't mean that we understand the cause. Just postualting colonialism as a cause for every god damn thing requires an understanding of colonialism: this is what I meant. One can postulate some entity, say, Y to explain some phenomena X: but one has to sketch the mechanism. What people don't realize is that their explanation is ad hoc. Just because their explanation is adhoc doesn't mean that some may not come up with a better explanation that makes use of colonialsim or any other thing.

The post is at: Do we understand colonialism? http://blaoism.blogspot.com/2010/11/do-we-understand-colonialism.html