Science is …?

  • Sumo

They Might Be Giants. Yay! (Which when translated means, ‘I’m a fan.’)

We recently received their new kids’ album, Here Comes Science. Recommended – though they should have included Mammal, a song from an earlier album that perfectly fits the theme of the new one.

But I wonder about one song, Science is Real. Especially these lyrics:

I like the stories
About angels, unicorns and elves
Now I like those stories
As much as anybody else
But when I’m seeking knowledge
Either simple or abstract
The facts are with science
The facts are with science

What on earth? Shakespeare gives no knowledge? No knowledge from Aesop’s funny little stories? Nothing abstract to help us live if we reflect on Lord of the Rings? These guys need to read Aristotle on poetics – the power of fiction is when we read what’s made-up and are struck by reality (‘Aha!, that’s true love/hate/forgiveness/real life/whatever.’)

Perhaps John & John are acolytes of the empty Richard Dawkins view – science is the only knowledge, and anything not open to investigation by scientific method is ipso facto not knowledge.

This view is both vacuous and impossible to sustain – but that’s for another time. (Except I can’t resist this – TMBG are career musicians, who have devoted themselves to an art form that can’t be reduced to scientific formulae. Come on guys, wake up!)

But the thing that troubles me is putting such a loaded, argumentative piece in a collection of kids’ music. Oh well, the positive is a good chance to talk about this with our little ones.

PS I think my favourite track is The Elements. I know you were wondering.