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Yes, there is such a thing as Eurocentric science

Sometimes we hear stories about silly cultural studies types who can’t handle the objective timeless nature of science. Ha ha ha, we laugh—and, indeed, we should laugh if we don’t cry because some of this stuff really is ridiculous.

But let us know forget that science really can be culture-bound.

Not just silly psychology journals that act as if a study of 24 psychology students and 100 people on the internet can give general insights into the human condition. Not just machine learning studies on gaydar that give us timeless knowledge such as that lesbians wear baseball caps.

Culture-bound research also appears in the physical sciences.

Recall this, published in the Review of Environmental Economics and Policy:

This review of estimates in the literature indicates that the impact of climate change on the economy and human welfare is likely to be limited, at least in the twenty-first century. . . . negative impacts will be substantially greater in poorer, hotter, and lower-lying countries . . . climate change would appear to be an important issue primarily for those who are concerned about the distant future, faraway lands, and remote probabilities.

“Faraway lands” . . . this is a laughably Eurocentric perspective. In one sense, this is fine given that this appeared in “the official journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists and the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.” On the other hand, it’s called “the Review of Environmental Economics and Policy,” not “the European Review of Environmental Economics and Policy.” And the article in question is called, “Economic Impacts of Climate Change,” not “European Economic Impacts of Climate Change.”

So, yeah, there’s a problem even in the physical sciences with an implicit Eurocentric perspective. Again, if you want to present your own perspective, that’s fine, and it’s natural. The error here is in considering that perspective as default or universal.

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