UCT debate on decolonizing science: Raju vs Crowe – a final rejoinder from the “liar, total ignoramus, racist suppressor”
Tim Crowe B.A. (U. Mass./Boston), M.Sc. (U. Chicago), Ph.D. (UCT), Life F.U.C.T. & Emeritus Professor
Furthermore, no mathematical scientist at UCT (including those who are Deputy Vice-Chancellors) has endorsed his call for the replacement of logic-based, deductive, formal mathematics with an alternative: ‘easy-to-learn’, empirical, inductive, zeroism-based ganita, the ancient art of computation developed in India. Can Raju explain why this is so or ‘refute’ me by providing a list of supporters? All that has emerged in his defence since his original seminar is Transformation DVC Feris’ unsubstantiated characterization of maths at UCT as “dogma” reflecting its “colonial history and epistemology” and “exact similar science as taught in the West” thought to be “objective and universal” and “the singular truth”. The mathematicians reply that there is no Western, Asian or African mathematics. There is only global mathematics that (just like other sciences) is a constantly evolving synthesis of competing ideas developed in different places, sometimes in parallel, over time.
Once again, Raju revisits the “Western” origins of ‘Euclid’ and The Elements, one of the most beautiful and influential works of science in the history of humankind. Contrary to his assertions, no one at UCT is wedded to the idea that Euclid even existed as a ‘white’, individual, Greek male. Nevertheless, the book The Elements did exist and was written in the West, perhaps as a compilation of work by two, more or many mathematicians from throughout the Old World. The only ‘evidence’ that ‘Euclid’ was a ‘black’ she (Hypatia – who was raped and lynched in a church in +-415 CE, some 700 years after ‘Euclid’) comes from Raju’s imagination. Raju could offer a prize of a million US$ and still not obtain a definitive answer to Euclid’s ‘race’, gender, nationality and demise. In short, this information is lost to history.
With regard to relative ‘superiority’, although zeroism-based ganita may be an acceptable inductive way to ‘do’ mathematics, mathematicians worldwide maintain that it has been surpassed by logic-based, deductive formal mathematics (that developed from The Elements and world-sourced advances long after,) that helps students and academic practitioners to ‘understand’, research and innovatively develop mathematics. Marketing mathematics on a geographical, religious, political or racial basis, or favoring ganita because it’s ‘easier’, is insulting to both its end-users and innovators.
I agree with Raju that, since “students should note that faculty salaries are funded by students (sic) fees and public money”, “faculty must be made publicly accountable”. But, if the ‘cowardly Apartheid’ mathematicians are right about it, can the ganita-graduated students make Raju accountable when they can’t find jobs or are never appointed ad hominem during their academic careers when reviewed by peers? Yet, if Raju has his way, the students should be allowed to “choose” on how they should be taught maths. One wonders how fee-paying parents, employers and scholarship donors might react to this.
Once again to Popper. Karl Popper is arguably the 20th Century’s most widely respected philosopher of science. He repudiated induction and rejected the view that it is the characteristic method of scientific investigation and inference, substituting falsifiability in its place. At his seminar and during our various e-mails, Raju and I engaged in a mini-debate on how Karl Popper used the terms “falsifiability” and “refutation” in science philosophy. Raju claims that falsifiability and refutation are philosophically functional synonyms (are "homologous" = they ARE the same thing).
However, if by refutation, Raju means that one idea can supersede another through populist pressure or piles of ‘contextual’ empirical 'findings', as opposed to passing a critical test(s) linked to an unequivocal prediction (the falsifier) built into the hypothesis, then, once again, he’s playing fast and loose with philosophy and science.
With regard to my being “bound by myths” and do “not understand the difference between Einstein and special relativity”, I readily admit to the latter. UCT’s Dr Henri Laurie and Profs. George Ellis and Jeff Murugan have revealed Raju’s weaknesses in this and other matters mathematic. Oh, but this doesn’t hold water because they’re lying, racist, Apartheid scientists too. Raju had an especially ‘complimentary’ comment on Laurie’s contribution to the seminar discussion: “Having nothing to say, he used up his time to recount his autobiography!” To assess the ‘truth’ of Raju’s comment, watch the belatedly released video of the panelists’ comments.
Then Raju offers a chunk of his CV to demonstrate that he’s the leading ‘scholar’ in decolonizing maths. This is disputed by no one. Then, he asks the question: “Who else could they (Feris and the Curriculum Change Working Group) have invited” to promote decolonization of maths at UCT. My and, I guess, UCT’s mathematical scientists’ answer is: “No one, including him.” By this time in his piece, I am also now a “racist total ignoramus”.
Then Raju shows his and pro-Fallists’ true colors in a telling comment.
“But a critical analysis threatens the soft power of the coloniser and the racist—which power persists in education—even after the notional end of colonialism or apartheid.”
The ‘Bottom Line’
What’s really happening (and going to succeed?) at UCT is not adaptive, constructive decolonization. This is evidenced by the virtual absence of any discussion of decolonization at the many meetings of failing Internal Reconciliation and Transformation Steering Committee. The real process is a relentless pursuit of power by Fallists and their sympathizers in the Executive, Council, SRC, Senate, Academics Union and Convocation who are advocates of critical theory (CT), and intend to employ it in decolonizing UCT’s values, structures, curricula, etc. CT is a neo-Marxist philosophy of the Frankfurt School, which originated in Germany in the 1930s, was developed further by the likes of Antonio Gramsci and reached its apogee in critical race theory.
Critical race theorists reject non-racial meritocracy and call for aggressive, race-conscious efforts to radically change the status quo, giving power to the racially oppressed. They assert that property rights are not absolute, and need to be ‘contextualized’ against a societal requirement for affirmative action. Within UCT, ‘CTers’, including Transformation DVC Feris, call for the metamorphosis of a structured, world-ranked UCT, designed by Ph.D.-trained scholars over nearly a century to pursue universal laws and truth, into an inclusive pluriversity, populated by public intellectuals who have flexible epistemologies and truths dictated by culture and the current normative problems of society.
This CT strategy has been revealed vividly by Fallist Dr Lwazi Lushaba (UCT Political Studies) who made no bones about the Fallists’ position and goals at the UCT Assembly co-chaired by UCT Council vice-chairperson Debbie Budlender held on 1 November 2017:
“This struggle is not for poor people. It is for Black people.”
“If you are Black, you are disadvantaged in every respect. If you are White, you are advantaged in every respect.”
UCT continues to “teach precisely the same ideas it taught during Apartheid to perpetuate the colonial system”.
“There is a structure [current ad hominem promotion procedures] that ensures that we are kept outside of the academy. This is not accidental. It is by design.”
“We must tell the White people who are threatening to walk away that a time will come along soon when we will run UCT on our own and give them a new value system and not at the whim of ‘White’ sentiment.”
With regard to the importance of power at UCT, at the 2017 Dinner for UCT Fellows, Research DVC Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng chose it as the topic for newly elected Fellows’ inaugural addresses, rather than one related to the raison d’etre of UCT Fellowship: “recognition of original distinguished academic work”. Fortunately, one of the new Fellows, Traditional Law Prof. Chuma Himonga, pointed out the reality that “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
In the meantime
According to Raju, in the meantime, I and UCT’s other closet-racists use BLAA (Boasts of white superiority, Lies about non-Whites, accompanied Adjectives and Abuses) to “bully”, suppress and subjugate Fallists, ‘blacks’ and all and sundry in a desperate attempt to derail the “decolonisation effort” (still undescribed other than in Feris’ toe-in-the water account). All I can say to this is that, after I finish this piece, I’m going to work on a manuscript with a former student (and now colleague) who I’m supposed to be bullying.
Well, the Faculty of Law (ranked in the top 100 universities internationally) which generates masses of higher employable graduates seems to be in the decolonizers’ sights. Another possible target ‘softer’ science is Biology. The CTers could invite an advocate of ‘Intelligent Design’ to accommodate the views of those who maintain that neo-Darwinian evolution is just another “Theory”. More specifically, they could invite an inductive, highly empirical, theory-free pheneticist to show how massive amounts of DNA sequences can be interpreted to demonstrate the ’reality’ of human ‘races’. However, before they do this, they should consult with at least some of UCT’s eminent evolutionary biologists or read Prof. David Hull’s (my late friend) book Science as a Process or at least my review of it in South African Journal of Science (1989. 85: 632).
As for me, I await some sort of condemnation by UCT VC Dr Max Price of Raju and others who have defamed him, UCT and the academics who are the life blood of UCT.