"Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship"

william.scherk

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A splendid experiment shows its fruit. This is like Sokal Hoax squared.   The headline is from Aeon, the story written by Helen Pluckrose, James A. Lindsay and Peter Boghossian; it's a forty-seven minute read, so I will leave that for OLers to consume at their own pace.  A highlight:

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Something has gone wrong in the university—especially in certain fields within the humanities. Scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established, if not fully dominant, within these fields, and their scholars increasingly bully students, administrators, and other departments into adhering to their worldview. This worldview is not scientific, and it is not rigorous. For many, this problem has been growing increasingly obvious, but strong evidence has been lacking. For this reason, the three of us just spent a year working inside the scholarship we see as an intrinsic part of this problem.

 



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Looks like this is the same story as this:

http://reason.com/blog/2018/10/03/dog-rape-hoax-papers-pluckrose-lindsay

This part has me in stitches:

Wilson spent 100 hours in three dog parks, where she made note of a whole bunch of times when one dog humped another. When the humping was male-on-male, owners intervened in the overwhelming number of cases. But when the humping was male-on-female, owners were far less likely to stop it. This, the study suggests, might say something about the owners' internalized homophobia and their willingness to overlook female victims of sexual assault.

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I follow each of the three authors on Twitter, and have been watching the evolution of reaction to the hoaxes, both in the authors and informed observers, as well as of course the uncompromising bigots (within and without various 'critical theory' departments, interest groups, hangers-on, halfwits and kooks).

I am lucky to have been around while my best female friend went 'up the hill' to Simon Fraser University, the second largest in British Columbia. I got to 'audit' her passage through what we jokingly called 'Ladies Studies,' which was from my point of view a morass of hideous non-scholarship and non-science.  Oh, the pain of hegemonic discourse with a hangover. She was also a popular singer within our subculture ... 

I'd also gone in hard at McGill University's riches and the curricula of 'critical theory' through my younger friends in Montreal; courtesy of a McGill libraries card, I got some more education in areas where 'critical theory' had made inroads, notably film studies (I found a wondrous trio of books. The first book's thesis was that every story ever written followed an 'and then' formal, so three hundred pages of the author retelling classics; the second was a 'there are 7 essential plots' examination of literary output from the dawn of time; the third was a book arguing that Film must speak through its images in carrying its story. It also romped through film history.  Each of these books stood out to me as ... useful).

I also read these hideous hideous semi-anthropology journals and the works of the earliest 'feminist science' cough experts, and was always making new friends who liked to argue about things 'in the air' like critical theories, feminism, gay liberation, 'political correctness' ... wrapped around what I now know was my hard-assed epistemology.  I read, yes I did, smatterings of all the big fellas from Europe, from Deleuze through Foucault and Derrida to Harding and then ... Susan Haack!

All of that long wind-up to recommend a collection of hers. It is most likely at your local library, but if not, you can explore it here at Amazon and read a few reviews here at Goodreads. Blurb from Reason at bottom. 
2018-10-16%2012_42_55-1998ScienceasSocia

2018-10-16%2012_44_05-1998ScienceasSocia

Sample intro to my fave essay:

2018-10-16%2012_45_10-1998ScienceasSocia

It is cool that Haack had the foresight to visit the chasms of futility, the worst of what she considered fake or sham inquiry.  It offers a useful tonic to the various shouting matches and vengeance fantasies exercized in 'debates' about Pluckrose, Lindsay, and Boghossian's bombshell.

I've gotten around to thinking that Haack and Rand would have been a formidable pair of sisterly inquirers had they been of the same generation.

As for the outfall of the "Grievance Studies" brouhaha ... I wish there were a way for the trio to "Go back in"  -- go back into the realms they hoaxed/fooled, go back into the world of awful scholarship, go back to the weakest 'academy' and write as convincing a rubbishing as Susan Haack's work.  While they have youth and enthusiasm and a bit of a wind at their tales, they could take on The Beast in its Lair, much more effectively/broadly than Haack or Rand or Peikoff have done. 

It's funny-peculiar-surprising that a small crew like the trio can open a Huge Can of Worms. I hope they get over their vengeance fantasies and thrills of the moment, and do some more work to dismantle fake and sham inquiry. Engage and destroy.  Finish supping on the loaded language of 'Grievance Studies' (for those who want, the trio are each on Twitter:  James Lindsay @ConceptualJames, Helen Pluckrose @HPluckrose, Peter Boghossian @peterboghossian )

-- on the other hand, some folks I respect dissent reasonably. From guest "Willard" at Ken Rice's And Then There's Physics, for example:

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Ceci n’est pas un Sokal

Posted on October 9, 2018 by Willard

Yet another hit piece by Freedom Fighters against ideologically-motivated scholarship, radical skepticism and cultural constructivism.” Yascha Mounk called it Sokal Squared. On closer inspection, there’s no Sokal there. Inspired by Michael Lukas I contend it’s more of a Veritas scam.

The Sokal epithet refers to perhaps the most famous scholarly sting ever, where Alan Sokal, a physics professor, succeeded in publishing a paper under his real name in Social Text. (The POMO journal survived the Science Wars and is still active.) Alan parodied Parisian talking heads with what he meant to be fashionable nonsense—an incorrect expression as literary nonsense isn’t exactly gibberish. Almost nothing in that hoax description applies to our Veritas-like scam.

This is not a pipe - René Magritte

The target remains elusive. Gender studies and their relatives defy departmentalization. Academic norms and methodologies vary within STEM, humanities and social sciences, also from one group of researchers to the next. Most disagree with the basic assumptions of one another. To anticipate a recurring discussion, constructivist epistemology is independent from critical theory. Many Freedom Fighters still fail to realize that Marxians are materialists. Analytic philosophy showcases anti-realist theories of science, of metaphysics, of truth, and of morality. From an historical point of view, to consider that concepts like rock are human constructs more than epiphanies looks natural to me.

[If the concept of rock shocks your realism, consider baseball: it is absolutely impossiblethat baseball is a gift from Gods. The case for hockey appears to be an open problem. That humans could produce such perfection all by themselves stretches Canadian incredulity. And then there’s ClimateBall.]

Contrast the power imbalance between the targets of ze Sokal and the Veritas-like scam. Alan mocked Rive Gauche snobs. Our dynamic trio punches down marginal researchers. Matt Blackwell notes that the “highest-cited paper over the last 5 years in [the Journal of Poetry Therapy] has 36 cites and most of its editorial board don’t have university affiliations.” Steve Sterley calculates that, with its impact factor of 0.24, an article from this journal receives on average one citation every 4 years. Their most reputable target, Hypatia, has an impact factor of 0.712. Meanwhile, our scam makes the first page of the New York Times, an influential clique of bien-pensants piled on (e.g. StevenP or NiallF), and the rightwing echo chambers reverberate. [...]

... and so on.  Much hilarity ensued.

For the Haack fan only, perhaps. Science, Yes; Scientism, No:

Spoiler

 

Rauch, of Reason:

rauchOnHaack.png

Review page scrape:

goodreadPassionateModerate.png

-- without grammar, style, orthographic or spelling correction.

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On 10/16/2018 at 1:52 PM, william.scherk said:

I'd also gone in hard at McGill University's riches and the curricula of 'critical theory' through my younger friends in Montreal; courtesy of a McGill libraries card, I got some more education in areas where 'critical theory' had made inroads, notably film studies (I found a wondrous trio of books. The first book's thesis was that every story ever written followed an 'and then' formal, so three hundred pages of the author retelling classics; the second was a 'there are 7 essential plots' examination of literary output from the dawn of time; the third was a book arguing that Film must speak through its images in carrying its story. It also romped through film history.  Each of these books stood out to me as ... useful).

I forgot to post these page fragments, having checked my memory and finding it faulty (the seven items are contained in another, more well-known book).

The book I recognize from its typography, but there were 36 essential dramatic situations/plots on the author's map [PDF], which contained sub-districts of plot, so to speak, with a heavy reliance here and there on 'The Classics.'  My classics knowledge is scant, but you get the picture. I'm contextually-certain this book is on Michael's shelves ...

Guy's name is Georges Polti

polti36-23.png

polti36-23b.png

-- eek! Sacrifice. I don't think we could sell a modern paperback with similar plot to these to any Objectivish person -- except perhaps as a specimen, or for those times when one needs to throw a book against the wall with great force.

Still, maybe one of these hundred versions/methods can supply the dramatic bones to the collaborative effort on Weather Wars.

-- here also is a Powerpoint way to get into the 36 Dramatic whatsits. Click the image and go, if you dare.

PPTfromInternet36.png

Edited by william.scherk

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William,

In this last post, you are in my territory.

Believe it or not, I've read both the Polti book and the Booker book. I even have a modernizing Polti project I started some time back and intend to finish.

Polti's book was used often to generate plots in the days of silent films. (Check out the story of one Mr. Wycliffe A. Hill if you ever want to see how Polti's book can be developed into an automated system for cranking out reams of pure schlock. What's worse, it actually happened. :) See his Plot Robot and Plot Genie. I first heard of Hill in this article. I have since learned a lot more about him and his progeny. And, yes, I now own much of this stuff, including works by others like Plotto.)

On 10/16/2018 at 3:52 PM, william.scherk said:

The first book's thesis was that every story ever written followed an 'and then' formal, so three hundred pages of the author retelling classics...

What is the name of this book, please? 

I would love to get a copy if available. Title and author is all I need, though.

This reminds me of a video from the South Park guys where they blow up the "and then" system of plotting a work. It's one of the best short pieces of advice in all of fiction writing. Seriously.

 

"And then" sucks.

"Therefore" and "but" rules.

Of course, you have to know how to write a beat or event, but that's another subject. 

:)

Michael

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My memory hole ... and pure schlock.

4 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Check out the story of one Mr. Wycliffe A. Hill if you ever want to see how Polti's book can be developed into an automated system for cranking out reams of pure schlock

Plotto!

plotto.png

4 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:
On 10/16/2018 at 1:52 PM, william.scherk said:

The first book's thesis was that every story ever written followed an 'and then' formal, so three hundred pages of the author retelling classics...

What is the name of this book, please? 

I would love to get a copy if available. Title and author is all I need, though.

I dug and dug and have nothing, Michael -- sorry about that.  It was likely a thesis-turned-book, and despite my best attempt at capturing details in a search, I've failed.

On the bright side, I discovered a neat little summation page by Steve Silberman** (Practical Tips on Writing a Book from 23 Brilliant Authors).  All about 'advice to writers' ... samples:

Quote

Cory Doctorow
Author of With a Little Help, For the Win, Makers, and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

  1. Write every day. Anything you do every day gets easier. If you’re insanely busy, make the amount that you write every day small (100 words? 250 words?) but do it every day.

  2. Write even when the mood isn’t right. You can’t tell if what you’re writing is good or bad while you’re writing it.

  3. Write when the book sucks and it isn’t going anywhere. Just keep writing. It doesn’t suck. Your conscious is having a panic attack because it doesn’t believe your subconscious knows what it’s doing.

  4. Stop in the middle of a sentence, leaving a rough edge for you to start from the next day — that way, you can write three or five words without being “creative” and before you know it, you’re writing.

  5. Write even when the world is chaotic. You don’t need a cigarette, silence, music, a comfortable chair, or inner peace to write. You just need ten minutes and a writing implement.[...]

  6.  

.......

Barry Boyce

Author/editor of The Mindfulness Revolution and In the Face of Fear

  1. You’re better off than you think, because you’ve done this before, just not in as large a format. Almost every technique and skill you’ve used to structure and tell a story at feature length scales to book length. So, let go of the excess anxiety about never having done this before.
  2. Planning. Planning. Planning. It’s a campaign. I used some project management tools in the end to put some order into the vastness. That’s the thing about the bigger scale. It requires more management to support the creativity. Cultivate a good relationship with your editor from the beginning. He/she is going to be your task master at some point. That’s going to go so much better if he/she is also your friend, colleague, supporter, and fan. The campaign of writing a book can get so lonely sometimes, you need a good attaboy just to remind yourself of why you’re doing it and that you’re not the crazy loser who needs to get out more.
  3. As Trungpa Rinpoche said (I paraphrase): enjoy refreshing activities from time to time. If you’re planning and scheduling well, you can find opportunities regularly to breathe more fresh air into your life and replenish yourself, because “the work fills the available space” is nowhere more true than on a book project. Watch out for self-indulgent and cheap substitutes for actually taking an honest to god break, of whatever duration.

________________

** Silberman has been noted here at OL a few times, notably for his publications about autism and Silicon Valley ...

 

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Sociology’s Sacred Victims and the Politics of Knowledge: Moral Foundations Theory and Disciplinary Controversies

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Abstract

The field of sociology has long been subject to critique for alleged ideological bias and left-wing groupthink linked to its social justice mission. Critics contend that the construction of “sacred victims” by progressive intellectuals hinders their ability to objectively appraise the circumstances of such vulnerable groups. To address this criticism, we survey 479 sociologists in national universities and colleges in the U.S. regarding three sensitive controversies: urban poverty in the black community; gendered differences in occupational choices; and immigration. We find significant patterns in the data. Commitment to the field’s “moral mission,” preferred research paradigm, gender, and especially political orientation are all significant predictors of sociologists’ views. The results, we suggest, can be understood by conceptualizing the field of sociology as an “emotive community.” In doing so, we draw upon current social psychological research on moral foundations theory developed by Jonathan Haidt and colleagues.

Keywords

Survey of sociologists, Sacred victims, Intuitionism, Moral foundations theory, Emotive communities, Jonathan Haidt 

 

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