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STUPID UNDERGROUNDS - MANN
Quack - Page 22

demonstrable by the given logical means, to relegate it to the exo-real, the margin, the underground of non-fact, of chance, of the unexplained and still-to-be-dismissed. Everything is connected: "the attempt to stop is saying 'enough' to the insatiable. In cosmic punctuation there are no periods: illusion of periods is incomplete view of colons and semi-colons" (52). But in exactly the same manner, it is futile to search for singular and fundamental laws: if one refuses to exclude or suppress unclassifiable data--unexplainable phenomena presented to our senses, which in some sense know better--one always comes to "bifurcations; never to a base; only to a quandary," what one might otherwise dismiss as mere contradiction. "In our own field, let there be any acceptable finding. It indicates that the earth moves around the sun. Just as truly it indicates that the sun moves around the earth" (61). Just as truly? How can one say something so ludicrous? It is one thing to churn out reports of unexplained events, a few of which might actually have occurred, even if one will probably end up explaining them in rather more mundane terms; or to pick out foolish errors in the most rigorous scientific reasoning, which is perfectly capable of dismissing what will someday be widely accepted; but it is another thing to propose seriously--that is to say, with the most rigorous laughter--that the sun revolves around the earth, or that there is no velocity of light ("one sees a thing, or doesn't"), or that "nothing that has been calculated, or said, is sounder than Mr. Shaw's determination" that the moon is--"is?" what is the status of the copula here?--thirty-seven miles away from the earth"(58-59). Shall we even bother to ask about the point of all this? Not quite frivolous, nor yet quite serious; a critique of scientific certainty not without its own games of certainty; not even, necessarily, quackery, if the quack is one who takes himself utterly seriously about things no one in his right mind would believe, and who can produce a mountain of evidence to support what are clearly insupportable claims; who builds this mountain obsessively, one pebble-fact at a time, as if everything depended on it; who is convinced beyond doubt that he has in his hands some sort of key--to secret laws of physics invisible to terrestrial math, to cures for cancer or AIDS driven south of the border by the drug industry, to alien technologies kept not-quite-secret by the CIA--and remains devoted to this research for decades; who

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It is on along the sleepy Anacostia River in the District of Columbia, USA.