Lecture: intro to sociology of knowledge

1. Typology of knowledge systems for comparison between different societies:
Western: USA, Europe (and "westernized" groups).
Non-western state: Typically historical studies of Chinese, Hindu, Muslim, ancient Egypt empires.
Indigenous: often tribal or band societies, i.e. the folks who got colonized.
Vernacular: peasants, "street smarts."

2. Rather than ranking these -- an invitation to prejudice and stereotyping -- we need to examine the science, math, and technology each has developed in its own right. ex: the text "Multicultural Mathematics" is focused exclusively on non-western state knowledge systems -- certainly not the students who do poorly in math!

3. The culture concept can also apply to smaller groups, e.g. "youth subculture" (punk v.s. rap v.s. hippy) and "corporate culture" (Hewett Packard v.s. IBM v.s. Microsoft). These too will matter for knowledge systems.

4. The myth of science, math, and technology as "transcedent" or "outside of culture:" This includes elements of truth as well as falsehood. What are the odds of newspaper headline within next 20 years, "rap is dead"? What are the odds of headline, life discovered on Moon? What are the odds of headline, 2+2=5? Here we see the soft-hard spectrum in science.

5. Even in mathematics, at the hardest of the hard end of the spectrum, there is room for social influence. ex: Euler's equation for polyhedra: moebus found shape that violated the equation, so a debate occured: do we throw out the equation, or throw out the shape?

6. Given that debate can happen even in the hardest of the hard sciences, you can imagine how much room there is for social influence in engineering, where an enormous variety of possible configurations can often acheive the technological goals. For this reason researchers have created the SCOT ("social construction of technology") program.