Here's what I don't like about [what little I understand about] the feminist angle on science:

(Intermission. Point 1! By science I mean the scientific method, at least for now. Point 2! The feminist pov is that science is a cultural phenomenon and cannot be presumed to be universal, like morality, or linguistic metaphors.)

I don't like the fact that the argument for total subjectivity is itself universal. Systems (and feminist philosophy is such a system) always operate within limits, so: If there are two objective entities, the amount a subject understanding is going to differ from the objective truth is going to be different for each.

Or rather, because it makes no sense to talk about "objective truth", and "amount of difference in understanding", let's say it like this.

If a number of cultures each have an interpretation of roughly the same event/entity/thing, we can measure how much these interpretations vary by seeing how much they overlap. By overlap, I mean swapped between cultures without interpretation or translation given that a mutually understood encoding system already exists.

(For example, if the encoding system is technology based on levers, paper and metal, and the concepts of reading and writing, the cultural phenomenon could be the printing press, as exhibited in China and Europe. I've deliberately chosen an example with a difficult to express "objective truth", because there might not even be one.)

So my assertation: For two events, and for each of a number of cultures each having a subjective understanding of both of these things, the difference in understanding will vary.

I'm just making that assertation, I can't back it up. But I tend to trust this feeling, because rules (like feminist interpretations) tend to have a more-or-lessness about them applied to different things.

So, where is this going? Firstly, that cultures tend to move towards the subjective centre rather than away from it over time. This is because a culture isn't a single thing, but a shifting collection of cultures which evolve towards mutual understanding (cultures which can't understand and make use of the economies of scale of development of other cultures die out).

Secondly, that the scientific method is closer than other methodologies for understanding of reality (or rather, moving closer to the centre of subjective understanding), and this is because it's closer to the way the universe actually works (cause and effect, habits, etc). Or at least, it's closer within the limits that humanity operates (outside chaotic systems, importantly), and therefore it's a local attractor for similar cultures.

Thirdly, what comes out of the scientific method is more likely to be closer to the centre of subjective understanding than that which doesn't, because the scientific method demands a formalised coherence of ideas that isn't demanded in other branches of knowledge, and so the entire system is tugged towards the centre. (And the common points, such as mathematics, are more "fundamental" (central) than the far points, such as meteorology and the nature of time.)

Fourthly, that if we're trying to communicate with other cultures it's best to use minimally encoded puns on science rather than speech recording, because one makes use of more-likely overlap and the other doesn't.

(And this whole discussion launches out of the collision between Edward Tufte's joke redesign of the Pioneer plaque [via kottke] (see also the Pioneer spacecraft mission description), and the Feminism and the scientific method thread on Barbelith.)

(Also. Keep in mind I've never studied feminism. Or the scientific method. I'm attempting to express my discomfort with the Barbelith thread; saying that science isn't independent of its culture I can agree with, saying that's it's no more independent than any other belief system makes me post lengthy ill-informed counter-points. Like this.)