Subject: ON WHAT SOCIAL SCIENCE IS NOT : A MEA CULPA FROM FRANCIS FEELEY
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
My brief digression into "popular culture" in our previous bulletin (28 December) was a strategic error on my part. The references to the popular books by Mark Phillips and Cathy O'Brien served to distract our readers from the scientific rigor employed by CEIMSA's associate researchers.
I would like to thank Arthur Mitzman, Susan George, and Bertell Ollman for their prompt critical input which serves to protect the high quality of our research center's activities. As each of these scholars have pointed out (Please see items A., B., and C. below.), the authenticity of the information provided by Mr. Phillips and Ms. O'Brien is questionable. But more damaging than being likely prevarications is the fact that this information is imbedded in critical scientific discussions and serves to discredit the rigorous scientific work in which their ideas were insinuated. Whether this was done deliberately or by chance, the effect of mixing discussions of "popular culture" with political analysis serves to distract from the scientific status of political criticism at CEIMSA.
For the above reasons I apologize to readers for this counterproductive mélange, and I invite them to join us in exercising a greater vigilance in differentiating scientific analysis from opinions, innuendos and rumors that are produced endlessly by popular cultural outlets. By entering into the domain of "inconsequential exaggerations" of popular protest --as Professor Richard Cobb has done for another era-- we embark upon a path of infinite variations, which are fruitless from a scientific standpoint.
We, therefore, invite readers to participate in future discussions of scientific strategies that might allow us to arrive at a better understanding of what drives social change in the United States of America and facilitate our recognition of the consequences that such changes produce, both nationally and internationally.
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal-Grenoble 3
From: Arthur Mitzman
I'm very concerned that you've fallen into a trap with the Cathy O'Brien stuff. I looked it up and it seems at about the same level of verisimilitude as the flying saucer stuff with which it is sometimes associated on the web. . . . .
From: Susan George
Francis, I've not read all the stuff Arthur cites but I would trust him. . . . . Bush is bad enough without all the drivel.
From: Bertell Ollman :
Hi Francis -
I think I agree with Arthur here. I gave the lecture below a quick read, and tho I consider our rulers capable of almost anything, there are too many big names involved in the story for it to be credible. And yes, as Arthur says, there is a danger of giving our critics an easy way to dismiss what we have to say about everything else by distributing such stuff (even with the additional question marks).