Why the “Conceptual Penis” Hoax is Just a Big Cock Up.

After the revelation that a paper on “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct” was submitted as a hoax to the journal Cogent Social Sciences there’s sure to be a lot of merriment at the expense of Gender Studies departments. But it turns out that the joke’s on the hoaxers themselves–both for failing to spot some very obvious red flags about this “journal,” and for their rather bizarre leaps of logic.

In brief, two academics, Peter Bognossian and James Lindsay, submitted an obviously silly article to a journal Cogent Social Studies. It was accepted after what seems to be very cursory peer review, and, from this, they’re claiming that the entire field of Gender Studies “is crippled academically by an overriding almost-religious belief that maleness is the root of all evil.”
It might be. But their hoax gives us absolutely no reason to believe this. First, let’s look at the “journal” that they were accepted at.  Like all the digital, open-access journals run by Cogent (a house most people have never heard of before now) it charges authors fees to publish. No reputable journal in the humanities does this. Worse yet, it allows authors to “pay what they can”. This appears to signal that this journal publishes work from authors who can’t get institutional support to publish in it. (Or, if they could, don’t seek this as they would prefer it not be widely known that they’re paying to publish.) The journal boasts also that it is very “friendly” to authors (a clear sign of a suspect outlet) and notes that it doesn’t necessarily reject things that might not have any impact. (!) It also only uses single blind review. The whole thing just screams vanity journal.
Now, the hoaxers are aware of all of this. But they try to duck the “facile” objection that they submitted to a junk journal by noting that it’s part of the Taylor and Francis group, and that it’s “held out as a high-quality open-access journal by the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)”. Yet even a quick perusal of the journal’s website makes it clear that it operates entirely independently of Taylor & Francis, and that its publishing model is utterly different to theirs. And the DOAJ is a “community run” agency with (it seems) no official standing–and whose express criteria for something being a peer-reviewed journal with quality control is that it “must exercise peer-review with an editor and an editorial board or editorial review…. carried out by at least two editors”. As far as I know, most vanity presses meet this very minimal standard.
Having managed to pay for a paper to be published in a deeply suspect journal the hoaxers then conclude that the entire field of Gender Studies is suspect. How they made this deductive leap is actually far more puzzling than how the paper got accepted.  (It’s thus more than a bit embarrassing that one of them’s a philosophy professor–who, ironically, teaches critical thinking.) I’ve no doubt that there are many things to criticize about Gender Studies. But that a suspect journal published a hoax paper whose topics was gender studies-ish isn’t one of them.
UPDATE: The first journal that Bognossian and Lindsay submitted their hoax paper to, and that rejected it, was NORMA: The International Journal for Masculinity Studies. This journal doesn’t even hit the top 115 journals in Gender Studies. So, what happened here was that they submitted a hoax paper to an unranked journal, which summarily rejected it. They then received an auto-generated response directing them to a pay-to-publish vanity journal. They submitted the paper there, and it was published. From this chain of events they conclude that the entire field of Gender Studies is “crippled academically”. This tells us very little about Gender Studies, but an awful lot about the perpetrators of this “hoax”…. and those who tout it as a take down of an entire field.
  • DBritt

    It was all worth it for the headline though.

    • Jeff Sylvester

      This.

  • Håvard Havøy

    Typical rape-prank by evil penis-carrying men!

    • MyrddinWilt

      Quite a few of the folk cheering this hoax on have been accused of the type of behavior O’Reilly and Ailes and Trump have been accused of in the past. Funny that the people accused of engaging in rape culture in the atheist movement should choose to target gender studies.

      • Peter from Oz

        Three and a half lines and so many errors.

        • No errors identified.

          • Peter from Oz

            “Quite a few folk…” Who aren’t identified. “Rape culture” is a myth made up by loony, Neo-Victorian feminists. And the accusers aren’t named. How does one engage in rape culture in a the atheist movement? It’s all bollocks, matey, a bit of a J. Arthur, as the wise cockney would say.

          • Illy

            That’s not an error. You mean ‘unsubstatiated figure’, or ‘imprecise wording’. And to be honest, you don’t deserve to have that kind of effort given to you in the form of a 3.5 line comment.

            If you’re interested enough to reply, it’s you that can make the effort to find these figures and to understand the real meaning of the concept of ‘rape culture’.

          • Peter from Oz

            There are no real figures. There was on ”survey” that claimed that 1 in 4 women at college are sexually assaulted. That has been used by some feminists as an argument for a ”rape culture”. But such a figure would make American colleges more dangerous for women than all war zones.
            To have a rape culture, you would require constant violent rapes that were ignored by the authorities. That does not happen at US colleges.

          • Those aren’t errors, they are just you being a git.

          • Peter from Oz

            Must be hard for you being such a plonker, china.

      • wagnerfilm

        Shermer has,at the very least. While I don’t know of any others who have faced as strong a series of allegations as Shermer, it is true that the motivations behind this “hoax” are rooted in an alt-right influenced ideological arm of the skeptic movement that’s deeply contemptuous of the notion of sexual or racial egalitarianism. Which is strange, frankly, to see a bunch of atheists and so-called critical thinkers embracing the same “morality” as fundamentalist Christians.

        • Phil

          The left parted with egalitarianism when the third wave started. These days if someone is demanding a law to treat you differently according to your sex or race, smart money is on that person being leftist.
          Racism used to mean treating someone like a member of a racial identity instead of as an individual, now racism is treating someone like an individual instead of as a racial identity.
          It’s the left who are deeply contemptuous of egalitarianism lately btw, they accuse anyone who thinks men and women should be treated the same way as being men’s rights activists now.
          http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Egalitarianism

      • Håvard Havøy

        Could it be because gender studies are the epitome of ridiculousness?

        • rogerg

          There you go – cool, balanced rational assessment. All we need to do now is write a funny hoaxy paper, pay to have it published, and we’ll prove it!

        • Joe Reil

          Whether they are or not, this ‘hoax’ article is not evidence for the positive claim that they are.

        • No, but your question and its framing could reveal a lack of intellectual scruples.

    • jouiie

      It’s normalizing unrealistic expectations of protruding reproductive organs through verbal and highly symbolic representations of capitalistic “maximizing gains” ideology of oppression towards the lower class Penii [sic] thus maintaining the hetero-cis normative paradigm of self-(ap)pointed Male Gaze.

      How did I do?

  • Actual academic

    This is not correct. Open access publishing is a widely accepted model for academic journals, and there are a good number of well respected ones, such as the PLoS range. A good number of free to publish journals are also adding optional OA now too. The big advantage is that your paper does not end up behind a paywall so people not associated with unis in developed countries can access them, and your paper has more of an impact as a result. Indeed, there is a growing movement in academia to only publish in OA journals. The Cogent range are hardly top flight but are perfectly respectable, peer reviewed, and have expert academics as editors and reviewers. Predatory journals do exist, but this is not one. Source: am an academic at a major research University, and an editor of several academic journals, including one of the other Cogent titles.

    • WonkishGuy

      “No reputable journal IN THE HUMANITIES.” Publishing practices vary widely between disciplines. OA is very uncommon in the humanities and virtually all researchers in these fields are very wary of this publishing model. There’s absolutely zero reason why a humanities researcher would choose this journal to publish an article, unless it was already rejected by better journals. Especially considering that it looks like a catch-all journal that published papers in a dozen of fields that have nothing to do with one another.

      I don’t understand how rational/skeptical people think it’s reasonable to cast aspersions on a entire field based on a shoddy peer review process at a virtually unknown journal. Ideology much?

      • Jason Brennan

        QED. /thread.

      • GF-A

        Re: “OA is very uncommon in the humanities.” In philosophy, there are at least two very highly regarded open access journals: Philosopher’s Imprint and Ergo. (There are several other good OA philosophy journals, but these 2 are almost universally considered excellent.)

        http://www.philosophersimprint.org/
        http://www.ergophiljournal.org/

      • Sean II

        “I don’t understand how rational/skeptical people think it’s reasonable to cast aspersions on a entire field based on a shoddy peer review process at a virtually unknown journal.”

        Yeah well, no one’s doing that. The aspersions are being cast because vast regions of academia are already known to produce crap. Some, like gender studies, have quite possibly never produced anything but crap.

        This stunt was merely one attempt to demonstrate that. A poor one perhaps, but so what? Everyone who’s been paying attention knows that with a bit more patience, maybe a better known co-author, etc. this would have worked. At any number of journals.

        How can we be sure? It’s pretty simple. You look at what gets published now. You look at that, and you ask honestly: “Have things gotten generally better or worse since the Sokal hoax?”

        Things are clearly worse. Sokal exposed the fact that one could get meaningless word salad published as social commentary. Today one can meaningfully publish obvious falsehoods. That’s worse.

        • Jerry Coyne

          Sean II’s comment is right on the mark. This hoax is just one more brick in the wall of vacuity that surrounds much of culture studies. It’s telling that people are ignoring the many critiques of those studies, including Sokal and Levitt and Gross.

          • Sean II

            Thank you, very much. Really is a puzzling reaction on display here. Given two choices:

            1) Take the obviously valid general point about sad state of humanities, discuss.

            2) Miss the point in order to get all…er, prickly defending whatever self-esteem one has tied up in humanities publishing status quo.

            The second option seems surprisingly popular this morning.

          • Hannah Cairns

            So to me this sounds like “The majority of commenters here seem to be focused on the fact that this experiment perhaps ‘failed’ in mundane terms, no doubt because of their own personal baggage, but the fact is that it was ideologically impeccable, so it is appropriate to consider it as having succeeded and continue the discussion based on that.” How does this sort of thing not spectacularly trip your breakers?

          • Sean II

            Yeah, but I know this grapevine.

            Note the through line: in both cases I’m making the wild suggestion that we use context to interpret things.

          • Hannah Cairns

            Uh, that’s a how question, not a yes or no question. (And your suggestion is that we use our ideology to interpret things.)

          • Sean II

            Hannah, let me give this comment a second and more explicit response:

            You’re new to this forum (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But I’m not. I’ve commented here since forever. As a matter of fact I don’t comment anywhere else.

            So I know some these characters rather well. Which means I know some of what you describe as “their personal baggage”.

            Specifically, in this case, I know two things that happen to be relevant for interpreting the early tone of this thread…or at least, of what this thread was before it blew up.

            Thing 1: Taylor (the original poster) is a stickler for academic formalities.

            Thing 2: Brennan has a lot invested in the value of humanities journal rankings.

            Hang around long enough, you’d notice both of these things yourself.

            But I’ve hung around before, and noticed them before, so it seemed none too surprising to find both of those gentleman missing the larger point of l’affaire des penis conceptuel, in order to focus on what seem to me (and many others) like mere details.

            Because what’s more important here: 1) the peculiarities of one botched publicity stunt, or 2) the present state and future direction of scholarship in the humanities.

            To me, the second seems a lot more interesting than the first.

          • Puppet’s Puppet

            Look! You’re famous! https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2017/05/20/the-crazies-reveal-themselves/

            Looks like I missed getting brigaded by the woke folk. The alt-righters did it better, frankly. Up your game, ladies!

            It seems fairly obvious that Bognossian did indeed avoid the top journals for a very low-prestige one, for reasons still not explained by him. But what is also obvious–though not at all from Taylor’s piece–is that it was an unambiguously legitimate journal. In this, and in its utter indistinguishibility from contemporary “real” scholarship in the target field, his prank is actually far more legitimate than Sokal’s. The latter is sainted only due to the passage of time and, more importantly, because back then legitimate scholars were far more courageous in circling the wagons against the hordes of buffoonish impostors. You could not simply don a hat marked “progressive” to be spared their contempt. Nowadays, and in particular quite recently, things have become quite different. All but the most defiantly “countercultural” are either on board with the new wokeness or consider it distasteful to criticize it In This Day And Age when we have transgender black gluten-intolerant Muslim climate-scientist date-rape victims being slaughtered in the streets by Trump’s gestapo and so forth.

            Enough ink has been spilled on the juiciness of Bognossian’s prank, and on the lax standards of the “top” humanities journals, and on the counterfeit nature of these fields in general, that it shouldn’t be objectionable to supplement it with a post pointing out that this particular prank isn’t itself quite the knock-down demonstration many are assuming. Taylor doesn’t do even this very well, though. For one thing, he seems to be fixating on certain aspects of the journal, rather than simply its prestige, in order to turn a bottom-rung publication into a predatory one; he seems to be far more guilty of obfuscation than Bognossian was. For another, he seems bizarrely unwilling to be critical of the field of Gender Studies–bracketing his observations of this particular case with a pro forma “it might be” “crippled academically” rather than something like, “Of course, it is obvious that Gender Studies is indeed overwhelmingly a counterfeit academic discipline, with the papers indeed published by its top journals buffoonishly indistinguishable from this deliberately nonsensical one. But this particular hoax, for whatever reason Bognossian chose it to be so, failed to indict it in and of itself the way he claims it does.”

            I don’t know anything about Taylor and Brennan’s tendencies as you describe. If anything, I have noticed that Brennan seems quite attached to the increasingly obviously outdated notion that everything illiberal and/or stupid can still be blamed on the Continentals, crit theorists, and other longstanding counterfeit-academic villains. He does not seem very willing to examine the deep inroads of the problem into the world of legitimate philosophy, or any other deep problems with the field as business is standardly practiced.

          • You pegged it. And it’s remarkable that a public figure like Jerry Coyne endorsed Sean II’s heap of intellectually dishonest manure. He and Sam Harris have a lot to answer for. I once asked Harris’s level-headed friend Dan Dennett to have a word with him about the damage he does to the atheist/skeptic cause, but Harris has only gotten worse, and Coyne lacks even Harris’s level of sophistication.

          • Richard Sanderson

            It isn’t just self-esteem, there are billions of dollars tied up in the humanities. All this po-mo garbage pays some people very well.

          • Jesus Christ

            One dose of gender studies and one of telemarketing, and you have a scheme that rewards handsomely (if you’re a female). Just ask Saint Anita. Jonathan, on the other hand, couldn’t even pay his rent.

          • hurtleduffield

            And here we have someone who again conveniently neglects to mention that Sokal submitted his “hoax” to a journal that did not practice peer-review at all. Why don’t you go and try perpetrating a hoax like this one or Sokal’s in a peer-reviewed, Q1 gender or cultural studies journal (e.g., Gender and Society) and get back to us on how successful you are.

          • ziggourat

            With what they already publish this seems far fetched.

          • gera

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3b1d3df5040416ee37af335c6f3ada4a0a65f35d5fd9954cf5849510f26c4ce0.png

            Maybe, but that brick is put in some other place.. it doesn’t add any evidence at those claims that social studies are mostly non-sense (which might be true!).

            This is the total citations of the journal where it was published… even accepting that its non-ranking is not an issue, their most cited articles have been cited once in total three years of the journal running… How are these results connected at the larger academia of social studies?

            I’m partially mad at Peter B, and Jamiey because they could’ve done A GOOD JOB at exposing a known journal and bring fruitful discussion about gender studies… But they blew it up, and they are not owning up to it…here’s some proof

          • wagnerfilm

            “This hoax is just one more brick in the wall of vacuity that surrounds much of culture studies.” How? Even Sokal, who Bognossian and Lindsay rather pretentiously compare themselves to, had enough in the way of critical thinking prowess to admit at the time “From the mere fact of publication of my parody I think that not much can be deduced. It doesn’t prove that the whole field of cultural studies, or cultural studies of science — much less sociology of science — is nonsense. Nor does it prove that the intellectual standards in these fields are generally lax.”

            As anyone who’s thought clearly about all of this for 10 seconds has already remarked, if the publication of bogus papers in other fields of study don’t discredit those fields in their entirety, how does this sloppy prank do that to culture studies? If there are legitimate failings in culture studies, one has to ask why Bognossian and Lindsay didn’t just do a *real* study, and publish a *legitimate* paper through the rigorous process of traditional peer review? If the data were really on their side, this should have been a routine matter. Right? How is the “conceptual penis” hoax any more a valid intellectual exercise than the efforts of ID creationists like Behe and Dembski to discredit Darwin, efforts you’ve spent a large part of your career debunking?

            We both know the answer is that where evolution is concerned, Behe and Dembski have preconceived ideas they’re desperate to validate. And where gender studies are concerned, so do Bognossian, Lindsay, and their ideological bedfellows in establishment skepticism. This is commonly called pseudoscience.

            Skeptics should do better.

          • “Sean II’s comment is right on the mark”

            Once again you demonstrate that you have no intellectual scruples.

        • Hannah Cairns

          “Everyone who’s been paying attention knows that with a bit more patience, maybe a better known co-author, etc. this would have worked.

          Why bother doing the experiment at all, then, if “everyone” already knew that it would really have worked? Why give yourself the chance to fail?

          I’ve never found the Sokal hoax very convincing. I think basically what you can conclude from it is that a respected physicist can write weird nonsense about physics and social scientists will be willing to publish it.

          • Sean II

            “I’ve never found the Sokal hoax very convincing. I think basically what you can conclude from it is that a respected physicist can write weird nonsense about physics and social scientists will be willing to publish it.”

            Since Sokal’s whole point was to expose social scientist’s inability to spot and/or willingness to publish nonsense provided it came with fashionable names/buzzwords attached, that paragraph sounds like:

            “I’ve never found the Sokal hoax very convincing. All he did was fairly test and convincingly prove exactly what he promised.”

          • Hannah Cairns

            False. You’re deliberately confusing the two very different claims of “social scientists will blindly trust each other about social science” and “social scientists will blindly trust physicists about physics.” (Not any more, though, I bet.)

          • Sean II

            Sokal’s paper didn’t pretend to be about psychics. You’re trying to make it sound like the editor’s merely took an expert’s word, in good faith, on the very subject of his expertise. Not what happened.

            Also, even if it was, it wouldn’t be an excuse for publishing. The proper response for a social science journal editor upon being handed a psychics papers is: “I don’t understand this, am not qualified to review it, and you should publish somewhere else”.

          • Hannah Cairns

            That is exactly what happened. Have you read either the hoax paper itself or the stuff that he wrote about it? I don’t agree with all of it (I think he tries to make that one hoax prove too many different things) but it’s well worth reading.

            Here’s one of the particularly famous bits:

            “…Derrida’s perceptive reply went to the heart of classical general relativity:

            The Einsteinian constant is not a constant, is not a center. It is the very concept of variability — it is, finally, the concept of the game. In other words, it is not the concept of something — of a center starting from which an observer could master the field — but the very concept of the game …

            In mathematical terms, Derrida’s observation relates to the invariance of the Einstein field equation Gμν = 8πGTμν under nonlinear space-time diffeomorphisms (self-mappings of the space-time manifold which are infinitely differentiable but not necessarily analytic). The key point is that this invariance group ‘acts transitively’: this means that any space-time point, if it exists at all, can be transformed into any other. In this way the infinite-dimensional invariance group erodes the distinction between observer and observed; the π of Euclid and the G of Newton, formerly thought to be constant and universal, are now perceived in their ineluctable historicity; and the putative observer becomes fatally de-centered, disconnected from any epistemic link to a space-time point that can no longer be defined by geometry alone.”

            This is certainly at least pretending to be about physics.

          • Sean II

            Don’t be tedious. Take a simple analogy:

            Let’s says a linguist submits something to a chemistry journal with the claim that “such-and-such linguistic hypothesis contains a solution to this-or-that famous chemistry problem”.

            Now ask: what is the chemistry journal’s responsibility here? Should they:

            a) Just go ahead publish the damn thing, on the grounds that as chemists they’re really in no position (nor under any obligation) to judge a linguist and therefore must simply take him at his word. Or,

            b) Investigate the hell out of this extraordinary claim, until such time as they either understand it or don’t…publishing in the first place, politely rejecting in the second.

            Yeah, so a) is obviously absurd, b) clearly correct here.

          • Hannah Cairns

            I don’t doubt that having your bizarre assertions disproven is tedious if not actively unpleasant for you. Sorry, I guess. At least you appear to agree with me now.

          • jouiie

            The problem wasn’t (solely) that they did not understand physics, the problem was they did not understand Derrida.

            Or at least allowed an obvious superficial adaptation to pass as argument.

          • MyrddinWilt

            Nobody understands Derrida. Including Derrida. He doesn’t describe a logical calculus, he describes a method of analysis. Like the surrealists who used to keep dream diaries and the like, it isn’t the application of the method itself that is important but whether you discover something of interest that you can explain separately in its own terms.

            For example, take John Berger’s assertion that oil paintings are not about the artists or the subjects, they are about the people who paid for them to be painted. That is a way of viewing art that anyone could have come up with in the previous 200 years, the signs were already there. But the art world didn’t see oil paintings that way until the 1970s when Berger pointed it out.

          • jouiie

            Yes, all humanities and social ‘sciences’ apply methodology(ies) which is (are) distinctive from the logic-based science method.

            This, on its own, does not preclude a level of common understanding of that methodology. If we agree to use the word itself (method), we must also agree that its application in humanities carries at least some degree of rationality, non-randomness and goes above/beyond pure subjectivity.

            It also does not preclude discerning, when I claim I used (for example) Derrida’s or Derridean methodoly, whether I did it inside of the spectrum between “right” and “wrong”. Derrida has, unfortunately, become the poster-boy for obfuscating mysticism, in spite of his methodology of reading being one of the more rigorous ones (in my opinion at least) among the pool of PoMos or PostSts.

            Simply using a few basic terms and applications of those terms of said methodology and (sugar)coating them in stylistic and “prosodic” similarities is not a sufficient application of said method.

            Both Sokel and the Constructed Penis authors did exactly that: they trivialized the methodology. They made a pastiche.

            My point is: it’s not on them to be rigorous – when it was exactly their intention to not be, and it was a rational decision to mock – it was on the side of the journals to recognize BS when they read it. And for that, they needed to understand and have experience with the methodology itself beyond surface recognition of terms and style.

            Which they did not. And so, here we are.

            And here is where we will continue to be as long as oppressive “single point of bird’s point of view” type of subjectivity dominates as the norm of Reading in certain areas of humanities (it’s not the same in every discipline, and certainly not spread everywhere geographically, so the state of English speaking academia should not be seen as a universal state of affairs).

            The good thing is that it happened before (several times) in the past 3k years, and it always influenced a backlash.

          • Peter from Oz

            Reading Derrida is like playing a game of Mornington Crescent (http://www.isihac.net/mornington_crescent.php#/8/) with a six year old with a speech impediment

          • InfinityBall

            So you’re choosing to be delusional.

          • Hannah Cairns

            A: I hate what this person has said. I want to say they are lying, but I also want to say they are crazy. Which one is more effective?
            B: In the Party, anything is possible. Do both!

          • InfinityBall

            So when called out for being delusional, you choose to go to pure incoherence. Nice.

          • InfinityBall

            But because I’m very clear: you got your ass handed to you. Sean is completely correct: a journal should never publish anything it cannot evaluate. You are a fool for arguing otherwise, and doubly so for declaring victory afterwards.

          • Hannah Cairns

            I’m not sure why you believe that I argued that a journal should publish things it can’t evaluate. Can you provide any quotes to support that assertion?

          • optinion

            For those reading this whole thing top to bottom, this is where Sean should have said “didn’t pretend to be *solely* about physics”.

            What will commence is an impressive derailment followed by mutual reinforcement all of which will do nothing to change the whole “write weird nonsense and social scientists will be willing to publish it” part above.

            Thank you and enjoy your argument.

          • Hannah Cairns

            That is the subject of the argument, though! We both agree that the Sokal hoax proves social scientists are willing to publish weird nonsense. Actually, I am the one who said “weird nonsense.” But was it important that the weird nonsense sounded scientific and seemed to be based on theoretical physics? And even better, came directly from a physicist? I think so, and that’s what I’m claiming here.

            Sokal offers three explanations for why they published the paper: one, they published it because they were persuaded or intimidated by the physics gibberish. Two, they published it because they agreed with the conclusion of the paper, regardless of the argument. And three, they published it because they thought he was on their side in their debate, even though they agreed with neither the conclusion nor the gibberish. (This is the actual position of one of the editors! “Social Text was hoaxed not because we liked
            Sokal’s jargon-filled references to postmodern authorities—in fact, we asked him to cut them out—but because we thought he was a progressive scientist, a physicist who was willing to be publicly critical of scientific orthodoxies. Now we find ourselves accused of positively relishing a style of prose that none of us would ever actually write.”)

            I think he wants to have it all three ways. But you can’t measure the effects of three different interventions with the same experiment. Personally, I find Sokal’s arguments that the humanities are willing to believe weird nonsense about science convincing (the ones in “What the Social Text Affair Does and Does Not Prove,” I haven’t read Fashionable Nonsense) and I hope that the humanities have taken it to heart since 1995 and became more skeptical of claims about the philosophical implications of Godel incompleteness and quantum mechanics and that sort of thing.

            I find his argument that some people in the humanities think objective reality is socially constructed much more sketchy. It seems to me that if that were really true, then you should see humanities guys showing up at physics conferences with proposals to make a few little exceptions to the law of conservation of energy. So that’s the subject of the argument, I guess: why did they publish it.

          • HermanStone

            Do you deny the claim that the postmodernism is filled with well dressed, well credentialed, and well bred nonsense? Does that seem like an unfair, or ideologically motivated claim? If so, have you read Chomsky’s criticisms of postmodern thought? He says much the same thing, quite bluntly, and without the benefit of any right wing delusions.

          • Peter from Oz

            No, Chomsky’s just got left-wing delusions.

          • HermanStone

            Not clever, and not helpful.

          • Peter from Oz

            I agree. I just wanted to ensure that it was acknowledged that Chomsky’s political leanings are of the kooky sort.
            Of course the old cliche comes to mind: even a stopped clock is right twice a day. And sometimes it is necesssary to have some delusions in one area in order to see clearly in others.
            In this regard Chomsky reminds of Harold Pinter, a great playwright but a complete nutter when it came to politics.

          • HermanStone

            I’ll sign on to that.

          • Peter from Oz

            Thanks for the link btw. It made my old Tory heart glad to read such sense.

          • HermanStone

            Really enjoy the throwdown he lays out to have someone translate these ideas into plain words. And the comparison to physics. And the plain admission that the word “theory” is in no way warranted.

          • Peter from Oz

            Indeed. The phrase ”critical theory” itself is an inept collocation in that the meanings of the individual words are clear, but the meaning of the the two of them together is obscure.
            As our rhyming cockney friends would say : “Ït’s a load of J. Arthur Rank”

          • Hannah Cairns

            No, I don’t deny the claim—I mean, I’ve never read Derrida or any of these people, but that’s the conventional wisdom, anyway, and I don’t dispute it. (I was thinking of reading Fredric Jameson’s thing sometime soon to compare it to political reality these days and see how well it lines up.)

            That being said, this is a little bit off topic, but: I don’t think postmodern literary theory or any of this other stuff is the plague that it looks like from the right-wing point of view. American universities still dominate the world top ten, together with three English universities and ETH Zurich. Neither postmodernism nor political correctness nor any of this other stuff changed that.

            (Actually, I don’t think political correctness existed in the first place, or rather I think it was a conservative concept enforced on conservatives for PR reasons. I mean, look at the current US president, right? He said and did a lot of politically incorrect stuff and still got elected. And it’s not that he had a magic shield around him to protect him from leftist assassins, or that the left wing went easy on him either. He just was not in the conservative intellectual loop: he didn’t know that he was supposed to be oppressed.)

          • HermanStone

            “I don’t think postmodern literary theory or any of this other stuff is the plague that it looks like from the right-wing point of view”

            Fair enough. Maybe small potatoes. The real folks who should worry about it are on the left though. It’s uh, not doing good things to the quality of scholarship.

            “Actually, I don’t think political correctness existed in the first place, or rather I think it was a conservative concept enforced on conservatives for PR reasons.”

            It certainly gets enforced on conservatives, but again, the real problem is within the left itself. There are some vicious purity cycles that go on, and the result is usually cannibalism, with a terrible selection effect. If you don’t believe me, see what happens in a feminist thread if you show some concern about transmisandry. I promise, that’s not a concern a conservative will ever get punished for having.

          • Hannah Cairns

            Yeah, that’s true, but I think that it’s fine for my opinion to piss someone off. I don’t mind someone shouting at me in a thread, I don’t feel like that’s a punishment. It’s different if they start internet-stalking me or try to take it into real life of course.

            People radicalize, divide into smaller and smaller cliques, say awful things to each other and everyone else they meet, burn out, mellow out, completely reject their old politics and pick something new—and all of that seems natural and healthy to me. It’s hard for me to imagine a political scene without that.

            I mean, for perspective, on the US right wing, in the last few years, it’s been total chaos. They seem really angry all the time, and 4chan* was suborned by the left and they all had to move to various other sites, and then there was the alt-right vs the old guard, and the Trump guys vs the Nevertrumpers and Erick Erickson had to hire a security guard and ultimately gave in anyway after the election, and now media personalities are kicking each other out of Fox or quitting, viewers are abandoning even Fox for Breitbart, the Reagan Battalion denounced Yiannopolous as a pedophile (!) just to keep him from giving the keynote at CPAC, and even brand names like Ann Coulter are now really unhappy with Trump. A lot of Bush-era conservatives are depressed or terrified or even starting to feel responsible for the situation. It looks unpleasant. And that’s when they won an election!

            I’m happy enough over here on the left. I get to complain about both the Democrats and Republicans as much as I want, and even if I make an offensive joke, it would go like “hey… that’s actually offensive man…” “ok sorry, that’s true, it is offensive. i’ll do better” “ok cool thanks for acknowledging that.”

            Also I would like to keep a safe ideological distance from the alt-right and the people who yell “Check your homophobia, shitlord” (see below) or accuse a black Santa Claus of “cultural appropriation.” You might think that those people are split between the left and alt-right, or that some of that is ironic, but a number of considerations lead me to believe that they’re one big group looking for the most psychologically intense things to yell at people.

          • HermanStone

            Very little disagreement from me on most of that. The right is a shit show. We libertarians are the only ideology ever that’s completely free from infighting or purity signaling. Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman used to play tennis together and talk about how much they had in common, even if they disagreed about a few things.

          • Sean II

            Nothing important hinges on this, but as a 4.0 tennis player, 25 year libertarian, and former objectivist, this is the first I’ve ever heard about Ayn Rand picking up a racket, much less playing with Milton Friedman.

            Mind sharing your source on that?

          • HermanStone

            I deduced it from A=A.

            Alternatively, it was a bad joke. Rand hated Friedman. Though Friedman really did play tennis.

          • Puppet’s Puppet

            Yeah, I thought I remembered reading somewhere about their hostility, not that Rand was particularly easy for anyone to get along with. (Friedman I’m pretty sure was such a good-natured and profoundly moral and decent guy that absolutely nobody else has ever had a bad word to say about him.)

            In any case, the rest of your comment was so obviously a joke I’m surprised he didn’t pick up on the tennis bit. But Poe’s Law makes even the most absurdist humor hit-and-miss in the world of Internet commenting, I guess. Hell, just look at half of this page.

          • Sean II

            I’m sorry. Didn’t know you were kidding.

            Should have though, because it really is funny to picture the chain smoking, Dexedrine addicted Rand running down a drop shot.

          • Relevant Anecdote

            Ted Lowi’s “The End of the Republican Era” recounts–in a footnote, I believe–Hayek’s story that he and Rand only met once, briefly, at a party/reception. It did not last long, and ended with Rand calling Hayek a “compromiser.”

          • HermanStone

            I alsways wondered if anything principled was behind Rand’s respect for some (nonobjectivist) thinkers, but not others. Why did she give Mises a pass, but was SO HARD on Rothbard, Hayek, Friedman, Spencer, etc? The obvious answer is “No good reason.” But maybe I’m being uncharitable.

          • MyrddinWilt

            Maybe I can help as I have a degree in nuclear physics and I have studied hermeneutics. Sokal’s article was far from being nonsense. It was an attempt to dress up nuclear physics in po-mo language. The physics was obviously nonsense if you understood the physics. But I really fail to see how someone who was not familiar with the physics was expected to spot that it was a deliberate hoax.

            A couple of MIT grad students did the job properly and used a perl script to generate genuinely random text and submitted it to a pay to play conference, like this journal. That was in cybernetics so applying the same argument, all of cybernetics is bogus.

            Of course the skeptics aren’t skeptical at all, they are merely reinforcing their ideological commitments. It isn’t exactly a surprise that this pair decided to attack ‘gender studies’ or that they have been applauded by the assorted misogynists and rapey types that Dawkins and co hang with.

          • Sean II

            “But I really fail to see how someone who was not familiar with the physics was expected to spot that it was a deliberate hoax.”

            If the Social Text crowd couldn’t spot fake physics, that means they couldn’t have understood real physics.

            But they pretended to anyway.

            Which is part of what Sokal was trying to expose. Trafficking in phony physics and math was an especially obnoxious part of ’90s PoMo. He was targeting that.

          • oetpay

            babe Sokal was a physicist and the paper’s topic was physics.

            What Sokal proved was that journals will publish the work of reputable authors from outside their field, even though they lack the ability to properly peer review it.

            In other words, it has nothing to do with social science – and your hypothesis that it does is entirely unsupported by the evidence. Which you’d know if you knew LITERALLY ONE THING about social science, which teaches how to link hypothesis to conclusion only when one has a reasonable basis for doing so as its very first lesson.

          • Jesus Christ

            I do know that there’s a lot of bullshit in social science, such as EMDR in psychology and all sorts of other pseudoscience. Gender Studies also has a lot of nonsense and misandry. New Real Peer Review covers a lot of it.

          • Henry Vandenburgh

            It’s not “social scientists.” It’s a bunch of weird-ass cultural studies morons.

        • Sean II

          Also, I forgot to mention one of the big indicators that things have gotten worse from Sokal to present. It’s this:

          The original hoax showed social science could be duped by nonsense, if it came with the prestige of real science attached.

          Recent events like the Science March show the trick can now be run in reverse. Real science can be cowed by the political power of social science, into humoring next level nonsense like intersectionality.

          Open contract: the next hoax should run along these lines. Maybe someone could get arm-twist Nature Genetics into publish something that says cytosine is socially constructed. That sort of shit.

          • Hannah Cairns

            The Science March is not a science journal, or real science, or anything like that. It’s a march, so it’s politics.

            Also, I’ve been thinking this for a while, but what the hell is with this attempt to turn the word “intersectionality” into some terrifying wraith? It has a perfectly clear definition that obviously makes sense, and it’s not an ideology or anything.

          • Sean II

            “Intersectionality…has a perfectly clear definition that obviously makes sense”

            How about you and me stop talking now.

          • Hannah Cairns

            Are you asking me to close your browser? I can’t do that from here, but there should be a button somewhere on the top if you can find it.

          • mesosuchus

            He is MRA. It’s pretty obvious now.

          • HermanStone

            The dude once said that the only sane thing about leftist rape attitudes is that they DON’T apply those attitudes when the alleged victim is male. And he has this quaint and oft expressed idea that the disproportionately high number of men in prisons kinda might sorta represent something other than the sinister oppression of males. Yeah, he’s a real foot soldier in the battle for po-lil-ole penis wielders.

          • Hannah Cairns

            Yup. Let’s not forget that this sort of writing does not come from a single source. Sure, most of it is written with the premise that the author’s opinions are the single common-sense way of looking at the world and that all they have to do is shout sufficiently loudly to persuade the few remaining holdouts, but the body of criticism taken as a whole is actually totally incoherent and self-contradictory.

          • HermanStone

            This seems like the kind of blanket criticism that gets used when details just seem too… detailed.

          • Hannah Cairns

            Maybe, but you gave a specific example yourself: “feminist focus on women is hurting men” vs “actually the treatment of male rape allegations is good.”

            Other examples are “we should tear down the humanities and focus on STEM and practically valuable knowledge” vs “we should tear down the humanities: abandon this modern shit and start reading the classics again in Greek and Latin” or “liberals are blocking outsourcing, free trade, and corporate growth” vs “liberals are promoting outsourcing, globalization and killing our jobs.”

          • HermanStone

            Specific example of what? I gave specific examples of why Sean is not an MRA. Not sure what these other claims have to do with it.

          • Hannah Cairns

            Oh, I interpreted “details just seemed too… detailed” as a request for more details about the criticism.

          • HermanStone

            Fair enough. A mutual misunderstanding perhaps. Just what was your comment on “this sort of writing” directed towards?

          • Hannah Cairns

            Oh, yeah, I left that vague because I had a hard time exactly explaining it, but I mean criticism of modern academia, the left wing, and/or feminism or broader social-justice movements, using some subset of the ideas that (deep breath) the left has taken over academia and rendered it worthless or is rendering it worthless; left-wing/Marxist postmodernism has brainwashed academics into thinking everything is meaningless; radical left-wing dogmatists have taken over the universities and are about to or at least want to take over the country and kill every conservative (possibly literally or metaphorically); feminists have corrupted modern women and turned us against men or otherwise ruined us; or the left wing/feminists are waging a culture war against truth/non-leftists/men/white people, (whew) and we have got to take action to make them stop that, kick out or counter-indoctrinate all the modern academics/leftists/feminists so that they go back to being the proper, right-thinking academics/leftists/feminists that we used to have in the olden days, and turn our country, and indeed the world, back on the right course.

            I’m not sure how to say it in a simple way, but all those ideas I listed seem basically similar to me.

          • Sean II

            Until about three weeks ago, I thought MGTOW was just the acronym for a man-portable anti-tank weapon. Like an updated version of the malyutka or something.

            Reason why this made sense to me: I first came across the term in a board game forum.

          • HermanStone

            Well I certainly had to look it up.

          • Hannah Cairns

            Psh, you’re not informed of every detail of every weird internet philosophy by hundreds of angry perma-trolled dogmatists in random comment sections? Get out of your bubble, guys.

            (This is not angry, is humor with joke)

          • HermanStone

            That was pretty good.

          • optinion

            “All these people using the word ‘intersectionality’ to signal some kind of boogieman.”

            Forthcoming: “An MRA! He’s an MRA! He’s one of them, and you know it!”

          • Sean II

            Ha! Your warning reached me too late. That already happened.

          • HermanStone

            You get called a lot of things round these parts, but I don’t remember that one coming up before. Refreshing to taste a new insult I imagine.

          • Sean II

            It was funny the way they said it.

            “Watch out, this guy’s MRA…”

            Then later:

            “He’s MRA. It’s confirmed now.”

            Sorta reminded me of the way they used “VC” in 80s Vietnam movies.

          • HermanStone

            “Anyone who runs, is an MRA. Anyone who stands still, is a well-disciplined MRA”

          • Puppet’s Puppet

            Whoa, everyone is still at it! This really is better than the alt-right brigading over the Hoppe Caucus incident. Good job, BHL!

            Apparently there really are a tiny (though loud) and largely incestuous group of dudes who do call themselves “MRA”s. It’s not an entirely fictitious bogeyman like the Illuminati or anything. But mostly it seems to be used exactly as it is here, as a weird and somewhat creepy slur for mal pensants. Like “fascist!”…”cultural Marxist!”…”cuck!”…even “white supremacist!” these days, and so forth. Flattering as those slurs can be, I much prefer the bygone simpler days of “liberal!”. At least that would have been accurate.

          • Jesus Christ

            Yeah, and Christianity isn’t a religion. Intersectional feminism is not only wrong, but it has brought increased hatred towards men, has shielded people who promote Sharia, it champions Marxism, and it calls questioning the ideas of women mansplaining.

          • Hannah Cairns

            I honest to God cannot decipher this part of the tapestry. Didn’t the shriek already say all this stuff about regular feminism? What does “intersectional” add?

          • Jesus Christ

            By that, I meant that if intersectional feminism isn’t an ideology, then Christianity isnt a religion. Most brands of feminism do those things, but the Marxist and anti-white streak is stronger in intersectional feminism.

          • Henry Vandenburgh

            Actually they don’t like the Marxists much. Intersectional feminists are ultra bourgeois, so it’s not for them.

          • Hannah Cairns

            See, this is what I’m talking about. One person will say “Um intersectional feminism is clearly Marxist, no proof is necessary, it’s obvious” and the other person comes and says “Actually, intersectional feminism is clearly not Marxist, no proof is necessary, it’s obvious.”

            You might not think feminism has a lot of academic rigor, but it’s a million miles beyond this kind of stuff.

          • Swarn Gill

            Hannah….you are just hands down the smartest person in this thread. It’s just a pleasure to watch someone debate who understands science, avoids argumentation fallacies, and who has wit to boot.

          • Jesus Christ

            I’ve seen some intersectional feminists on Twitter with “communist ” in their bio and/or the hammer & sickle. Maybe they aren’t the majority, but I haven’t seen polling data. A lot I’ve seen do appear to come from a background of economic privilege, though.

          • Peter from Oz

            They are in truth ”folk-Marxists” in that they haven’t read any Marx, but have through a process of Chinese whispers received as wisdom a perverted from of Marxism where all human relationships are based on power and oppression. Instead of the downtrodden proletariat we now have the victim groups and their intersectionality as the the victims de nos jours. Like Marxists, folk-Marxists don’t seem to be able to see people as individuals but only as members of groups.
            This is allied to what Roger Scruton has labelled ”oikophobia” and what I like to call ”conservatism by proxy”, meaning a suspicion or even loathing for one’s own culture whist respecting the traditions of other cultures because they are traditional. The classic example of this is the way so many middle-class western women will wax lyrical about the ”spirituality” of the temples and the monks in Cambodia, but never step into a church in their own countries. Or the strange respect that many people have for the fact that Aboriginal culture existed for 40,000 years in Australia before the British came.
            Another indicator of left wing silliness is the zero sum fallacy, that strange cast of mind that sees the economy as some vast zero sum game. Thus we get those who think that somehow the gap in income and wealth can be explained merely by the fact that the rich somehow unfairly made more of the ”nation’s wealth” (meaningless term) than
            the poor.

          • jouiie

            You got it wrong: intersectionality is the way to shame / witch-hunt / dispose of internal enemies within feminism.

            For the rest of us, its all the exact same brand of BS.

          • HermanStone

            Of course intersectionality is ideological. It’s a way of marrying together all the little kinds of structural oppression into one polygamous super marriage. And structural oppression is an ideological concept. Sure, you can come up with very neutral, very boring definitions of these things, but that’s not how they get used. Find me someone who uses the terms “structural oppression” or “intersectionality”, and I’ll show you someone talking about an ideology. You know the one.

          • Hannah Cairns

            Sure, structural oppression is an ideological concept, but I don’t see why adding the idea that “if you have two problems, you have different problems than two people with one problem” makes it worse or more ideological.

          • HermanStone

            It makes it worse and more ideological because it commits a long list of problems to being explained in the same controversial way, via structural oppression.

          • Hannah Cairns

            Regular feminism explains only a small number of problems using structural oppression?

          • HermanStone

            Not sure what that question is getting at. I’m saying that intersectionality compounds an already controversial and ideological concept.

          • Hannah Cairns

            Hmm… Ok, now that I think about it, I think I am getting some idea of what Sean ][ meant. Thank you.

          • HermanStone

            Of course. And I apologize if I came off briskly.

          • Hannah Cairns

            No problem, and no, I don’t think you did.

            I’m pretty sure that I sound annoyed or sarcastic in various places here and elsewhere, and, well, let’s be honest, I probably was annoyed or sarcastic at that moment, but let me say to you and the other commenters that the conversation is fun and I appreciate it.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Because if you live under the brutal theocratic dictatorship of Hamas in Gaza you have a radically different and unrelated problem to that of a US academic who believes she was passed over due to the malevolent power of the Patriarchy. Intersectionality, deliberately ignores this, making it harder to understand and address either problem. https://www.thenation.com/article/can-you-be-a-zionist-feminist-linda-sarsour-says-no/

          • Sean II

            Man, will you look at this thread. Seems like a good 75% of the comments are from people who’ve never posted here before.

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            BHL can dramatically increase its traffic with gender studies posts! Who knew?

          • Sean II

            Interesting part is: whatever brought them in, brought them in from two distinct factions. One can clearly make out a crowd that came in to defend feminism, and another that came to attack it.

            What gives? Do they all follow each other on social media or something?

          • MARK_D_FRIEDMAN

            Dunno. You throw blood in the water to attract sharks, then the Orcas come to eat the sharks.

          • Hannah Cairns

            Let’s see, I think I came in from a skeptic group in Vancouver that I follow on Facebook.

          • Sean II

            You don’t seem like much of a skeptic to me.

          • Hannah Cairns

            Uh, sorry that your worldview is wrong, I guess?

          • Sean II

            What are you, about 26? Never been anything but a student, apart from summer jobs?

            And on the strength of that vast experience you stare into the face of life’s mysteries and say: “I got this”.

            Hannah, how does that usually end?

          • Hannah Cairns

            You’re disagreeing with a true and objective statement of fact about the link that I clicked on to get here on the basis that I don’t seem, to you, like the kind of person who would do that.

          • Sean II

            Thing about skeptic is, it’s the kind of title you have to earn. Not like “man” or “woman”, which as we know can be arbitrarily picked up or discarded at will.

            And the way you earn skeptic is by having heterodox views. A “skeptic” who only ever doubts things that are safely despised in their own social orbit is no skeptic at all.

            You got any heterodox views?

          • Hannah Cairns

            Wait, so you now believe that I follow the group? Then what the hell are you objecting to? What statement of mine are you trying to rebut?

          • I personally know people who submit certain blog posts to feminist Reddit communities to ensure this kind of thing happens. I won’t name names, for now.

          • Sean II

            I can believe that. Nothing subtle about the bum rush so you knew it had to be something along those lines.

            I wouldn’t mind, except for the drop in comment quality. Some of these posters make Lord Mutton look like Aristotle.

          • Lacunaria

            Were you really only asking whether that abstraction by itself is ideological? Is that abstraction all that “intersectionality” is?

            Because I thought that the term was specifically coined for application to structural oppressions in order to resolve ideological conflicts and in-fighting over who is the most oppressed and offended.

          • Hannah Cairns

            Yes, that’s what intersectionality is, as far as I understand it.

            I don’t know why it was coined. But even if we assume that it was coined for some sinister reason (and, if true, it’s the kind of thing you ought to be able to give a source for) that doesn’t affect the definition.

          • Lacunaria

            I didn’t say it was sinister, I was saying that you are taking a term that was coined for a particular purpose and application, and abstracting it to the point that it is innocuous.

            It’s like saying, why are people upset with Women’s Studies? They are just studying women, right? Well, abstractly, sure, that may be its strict denotation, but in practice its nature and connotations are much more particular.

            Or why are people upset with feminism? It is just equality between the sexes, right? Well, abstractly, perhaps, but there is a lot packed into their particular ideas of equality and how it is studied and practiced over time.

            So, yes, abstractly, intersectionality is unobjectionable — surely, we are not merely one identity! That is so obvious that it defies comprehension as to how it could be ignored. The fact that SJWs see everything through race or sex colored glasses is half the problem, so you might think that intersectionality would be an improvement.

            But in practice, rather than that leading to individualism and actual merit, it instead leads to even more identity groups by which to see the world and be offended, the intersection of which coincidentally still reveals the same single enemy. It is fruit of the poisoned tree of Offended Studies.

            I think that is why Sean was exasperated. Disagreements over fundamental terminology and their moral entailments seems key to these discussions. Without a common dictionary and framework, people talk past each other.

          • Sean II

            “It’s like saying, why are people upset with Women’s Studies? They are just studying women, right?”

            Yes, it’s the old motte-and-bailey.

            Same thing with “intersectionality”, which – among friends – names a very broad left wing social movement, but which – among strangers – gets motte-defended as “the simple observation that different people have different experiences”.

          • Lacunaria

            Exactly, but my sense is that Hannah is actually still in-between the “friend” and “stranger” roles you describe.

            She has tentatively accepted their premises but not rigorously explored their implications, and since the abstract definition of intersectionality alone is reasonable enough, she was genuinely puzzled by the pushback.

          • Hannah Cairns

            Nice, I’ve got not just an age and friend group but a character arc!

          • Hannah Cairns

            Hang on, if you say I “abstract[ed] it to the point that it is innocuous,” you must think it wasn’t originally innocuous. Not only that, but you follow that up with an analogy to poison. I can hardly imagine you don’t believe it’s sinister.

            So when you say “I didn’t say it was sinister” you’re saying that, while it is perfectly true that you believe it, you technically never said it. And you don’t think I should be making any assumptions about anything you did not explicitly write. While you yourself invent all kinds of bizarre and unprovable motives for me and everyone else who gets into range. That’s pretty hypocritical, my friend.

            This “fruit of the poisoned tree” argument is fine as an answer, and I have elsewhere accepted “a poisoned tree with fruit is worse than a poisoned tree without fruit” as a reasonable position that explains a hostility to the word “intersectionality.”

            Let me point out, though, that this conflicts with the usual thirty-year horizon, since the third wave showed up in the 80s or 90s, so you’d have to move your horizon back at least to the 1970s and stop saying things like “Feminism was fine until this darn third wave.”

          • Lacunaria

            Results can be poison without the intent being sinister. I was saying that whether the word was coined for sinister reasons or not was a red herring to my point, as I explained. Yet it somehow remains half of your focus.

          • Hannah Cairns

            …So you admit that there’s still a whole other half of the comment that you’re not replying to?

          • Lacunaria

            Haha, sure, but I don’t have any problem with your calling it fruit of a poisonous tree or with whatever you want to say about the various waves of feminism. Sorry, perhaps I should have said that.

            My interest is just in the moral principles and clarifying definitions and the arguments stemming from them.

          • Henry Vandenburgh

            Intersectionality is problematic because it’s a theoretical construct not supported by empirical study. It stereotypes, generalizes, and adopts a value stance without any firm support. It’s part of an ideology that indicts classes of people based on race, gender, and even (crazily I might add) whither they are transsexual (an almost non-existent group) or not. It’s used as a starting point to move away from science toward outrageous and narcissistic identity claims by people who are supposed to try to be honest. No thanks.

          • Hannah Cairns

            (Let’s try this again:)

            For empirical support, all you’d need is a study where some statistic for e.g. black women is different from black men + white women – white men. Like, I don’t know, let’s look at the median hourly wage in 2015. The actual figure for black women is 65%, but (82% + 73%) – 100% = 55%. There you go.

            (Also, if you demand that all these different things be empirically tested, how does that happen without a field of gender studies?)

            Intersectionality would seem to reduce stereotyping and generalization, since it takes people out of the identity boxes, or at the very least creates a large number of extra boxes. What’s a “value stance”? What would constitute “firm support”?

            My standards are not high, but even so, the word “indict” has a definition. The definition involves accusing someone of a crime. Like, a real legal crime, not the imaginary non-crime of being white or whatever. It’s not just a good-sounding word to shout.

            Feminism didn’t start out as a science, so how can intersectional feminism move away from being a science? I don’t get this one. This concept that there are certain “people who are supposed to try to be honest” and certain people who aren’t is interesting, though. I suppose you are in the latter group?

          • Sean II

            “For empirical support, all you’d need is a study where some statistic for e.g. black women is different from black men + white women – white men…”

            Nope. You’re just assuming that discrimination is the only possible source of disparity. It isn’t.

            What you need is to show that different groups suffer from different levels of discrimination.

            The simple approach you describe only shows that they experience different outcomes.

            Which could be and is better explained by different groups actually being different.

          • Hannah Cairns

            Yeah, I assume that we can get information about discrimination from these pay differences, but I’m allowed to do that here. I start from ye olde feminism, where we do think for various reasons that differences in median hourly pay reflect systematic discrimination (which is an endless debate I don’t want to get into), and try to provide empirical evidence for intersectionality under that assumption. I’m not claiming that those statistics prove everything all by themselves.

          • Lacunaria

            Is the premise that any sex disparity is due to (immoral) discrimination really defining of ye olde feminism?

            Would I not be a feminist if I considered that to be a false premise while also opposing actual cases of irrational discrimination?

            Because if that premise is false and discrimination is insignificant, then the empirical evidence does not support your claim and you are conflating two very distinct moral valuations.

            This seems to be the crux of the disagreement that you avoid by saying you are allowed to rely upon that false premise because that is the nature of the field. That’s the kind of thing that brings the entire field into disrepute.

          • Hannah Cairns

            I said extremely specifically “we think for various reasons (i.e. not just because there is a disparity) that differences in median hourly pay (i.e. not any sex disparity but this one specific thing, median hourly pay) reflect systemic discrimination.” Argue with the thing I said.

          • Lacunaria

            I asked you specific questions in order to understand what you said. Let me try again:

            So, while pointing at disparity, you are actually relying upon various other unnamed (but essential) empirical factors to conclude discrimination? Factors which you don’t want to get into because it is an endless debate?

            Can’t you see how that weakens a claim of empirical grounding? I mean, even crackpot theories have some empirical basis in reality — they just ignore other facts in order reach their conclusions.

            As I imagine you know, in your example, it is the rational, non-sex factors such as interests, family, hours, etc. that are typically ignored, along with basic functioning of a free market. So, the whole cannot then be said to be empirically justified.

            In any case, I think the problem is deeper than this. I think that such contradictory evidence are often ignored because there is actually a more fundamental moral disagreement which infects terminology, so people talk past each other.

            For example, the term you use: “systemic discrimination” by some definitions only requires a disparity. It need not involve any actual immoral discrimination by any individuals. Same thing with “systemic racism”, “systemic sexism”, etc. In this way, by definition, you don’t actually need to prove any other “various” factors to reach your conclusion.

            But other people are not using that definition. They define “racist”, “sexist”, and “discrimination” by an irrational or unjust cause of action, which has significant moral weight. They see “systemic racism” as Jim Crow. Of course, your definition subsumes that, but it is also _any_ racial disparity, which has totally different moral implications and thereby confuses any discussions.

          • Hannah Cairns

            In the first phrase of the first sentence of your last comment, you had already slammed into high dogmatism with the classic ideological assumption that the feminist premise is that “any disparity between the sexes necessarily follows from, parenthesis, immoral, end parenthesis, discrimination.” And then you took what is already a giant assumption and jammed it into a complex question fallacy: you didn’t say “This is the premise of your argument” but “Is the premise of your argument, namely (thing I made up), really a definition of old-school feminism?”

            “Can’t you see how that weakens a claim of empirical grounding?”

            No, because, of course, it doesn’t. The position I am taking here would be weak against evidence, if you had it. It is essentially invulnerable against your style of argument, where you provide no evidence, read maybe half a sentence total of my comment, extrapolate absurd general principles from it, and then treat me as if I had actually said any of the stuff you made up for me to say.

            “As I imagine you know, in your example, it is the rational, non-sex factors such as interests, family, hours, etc. that are typically ignored, along with basic functioning of a free market.”

            They are not ignored. Take your three examples there: feminists are aware that part of the wage gap comes from the fact that women are financially penalized for getting married or having children. We just don’t see that as natural or just. We see it as a part of systemic discrimination. (I mean, the same people who say a woman ought to make less money if she has children will then turn around and complain that the birth rate is low. I don’t think it’s me that’s ignoring inconvenient details.) We think that the fact that women’s interests typically pay less than men’s interests is not some kind of wacky accident, or because women don’t like to make money. We see it as a part of systemic discrimination. (There’s some recent research suggesting that salaries of women’s jobs drop with a small time lag.) We don’t think the fact that women work less paid hours on average than men is a natural phenomenon. We see it as an effect of systemic discrimination, because women are doing more other stuff that’s unpaid. Also, it is arguable that work hours are taken into account by measuring the median HOURLY wage.

            I enjoy the fact that “some definitions” in the second-to-last paragraph has become “your definition” by the last paragraph, but don’t you think that you should ask me what my definitions are before trying to prove contradictions in them or problems with them? Whatever else you can say about Socrates, he at least asked you what you thought before he argued against it.

          • Lacunaria

            I’m not sure what happened to your response or if we are continuing, but here is mine:

            Yeah, I assume that we can get information about discrimination from these pay differences, but I’m allowed to do that here. I start from ye olde feminism, where we do think for various reasons that differences in median hourly pay reflect systematic discrimination (which is an endless debate I don’t want to get into), and try to provide empirical evidence for intersectionality under that assumption. I’m not claiming that those statistics prove everything all by themselves.

            That honestly sounded like you were jumping from disparity to discrimination and saying that you are allowed to do that because that is a premise of ye olde feminism. That’s why I asked. You then emphasized “for various reasons” and I noted that they were unnamed but essential to your discrimination argument.

            Perhaps I’m projecting onto you from other debates I’ve had, but it’s not like that is an outlandish question considering that the leap from disparity to (immoral) discrimination is commonly the crux of these debates.

            And, just to be clear, your narrow justification of abstract intersectionality is fine (and it can be shown simply from disparities without even claiming actual discrimination). My response was to your subsequent comment (which I quote above) that seemed to justify your leaping to discrimination on vague grounds (I can respond to your specific elaborations later if we are continuing our discussion).

            I enjoy the fact that “some definitions” in the second-to-last paragraph has become “your definition” by the last paragraph, but don’t you think that you should ask me what my definitions are before trying to prove contradictions in them or problems with them? Whatever else you can say about Socrates, he at least asked you what you thought before he argued against it.

            I expected you to respond to my questions about what is “really defining of ye olde feminism” by providing your definition and explaining your reasoning. In fact, I find it odd that you still haven’t provided definitions for that or for “systemic discrimination” but instead choose to argue over my not explicitly asking for them. Would you please provide your definitions?

            I’m sorry I didn’t phrase my questions in a way that prompted you well enough to define your terms. And I’m sorry I assumed that you were using the typical definitions of the side that you seem to be arguing for.

          • Hannah Cairns

            My comment seems to have gotten detected as spam. That’s fine, it’s not like it’s relevant to the topic.

            Again, I don’t think that another installment of this endless debate will add any value to this thread. I realize this is an extremely advanced concept by Internet commenter standards, but it’s possible to mention a controversial topic for the sake of argument without wanting to start an argument on that topic.

            “Ye olde feminism” is in contrast to feminism after intersectionality expanded its reach or did whatever it did.

            “Systemic discrimination” is unfair discrimination built into a system, which may have been deliberate on someone’s part or it may just be how things happen to work. (You could quibble with that word “unfair” or something else, but for me that’s what it is. You can’t replace it by “immoral” unless you are willing to anthropomorphize the system and give it volition.)

          • Lacunaria

            Ah, I mistakenly thought that you were referring to some particular wave of feminism. With “racism”, I see a pretty clear conversion from willful discrimination, to disparate impact without a rational basis, and now increasingly to just any disparate impact, and I was curious if and where that occurred in the history of feminism (unless you don’t see any parallel).

            Yes, both “unfair” and “discrimination” seem strangely anthropomorphic to me. Would you say that it is “unfair” in the same sense that a tornado hitting your house is “unfair”? If so, what obligations do you think that creates upon others? In particular, I’m considering the distinction between charity and justice, and I see a communication problem in morally conflating the two in “social justice”.

            I could go into correlation and causation and free market dynamics regarding discrimination, but I’m also fine with wrapping it up if you don’t think it is productive. Thanks for indulging my curiosity.

          • Hannah Cairns

            I would think of “racism” as the collection of social and pseudoscientific theories about racial qualities, racial suitability for leadership or servitude, race and civilization, and things like that. They are now scientifically discredited, but they seem to have stuck with us, as ideas do.

            (So if it’s a collection of theories, then what happens to the idea of subconscious racism? How can you subconsciously believe a theory? And what do you mean, “ideas stick with us”? Here’s an example of what I mean: it’s been hundreds of years since America was governed by a monarchy. But Western popular culture still dreams of English kingdoms, and thinks of knights as brave and kind defenders, princes as handsome romantics, princesses as beautiful and innocent, and a royal title as impressive. You’ll have a hard time finding anyone in the US who wants to bring back the English monarchy, but the prejudices we got from it live on somehow or other.)

            I think a problem with the willful discrimination standard for racism is that almost everyone who discriminated on the basis of race could have given you a justification, even back in the bad old days. Landlords who rented only to whites would have said they had nothing against black people, they had just found that renting to whites caused less trouble. It would have been hard to point out any person who deliberately set out to hurt black people in the conscious knowledge that they had done nothing to deserve it.

            Hannah Arendt wrote that “…the murderers were not sadists or killers by nature; on the contrary, a systematic effort was made to weed out all those who derived physical pleasure from what they did. … [They worked out a psychological trick so] that instead of saying: What horrible things I did to people!, the murderers would be able to say: What horrible things I had to watch in the pursuance of my duties, how heavily the task weighed upon my shoulders!” The history of atrocity is a history of rationalization.

            So we need a definition of racism that covers even the case where everyone in charge has a persuasive justification or rationalization for what they are doing, because in practice they nearly always do. I think the simplest one is to say that a society or a company is racist [edit: sorry, I mean “has systematic racial discrimination”] if some races systematically have a better chance and some have a worse chance, other things being equal. That’s what I mean by unfair.

            “In particular, I’m considering the distinction between charity and justice, and I see a communication problem in morally conflating the two in ‘social justice.'”

            Hmm. I don’t know if this is exactly what you’re saying, but I think something that’s legally mandatory doesn’t morally qualify as charity.

          • Lacunaria

            (1) How are you measuring who has a better or worse “chance” in determining fairness? Is it by disparate outcomes? e.g. are you proposing that a group is only “fair” if its racial, sexual, religious, etc. proportions match that of some encompassing society (e.g. a club relative to a school, city, county, state, or country)?

            (2) If you choose to hire help based upon years of experience and that just so happens to have a disparate impact (based upon race, sex, etc.), is that unfair?

            (3) You seem to be arguing that because people rationalize or hide their motives for doing evil, then that justifies assuming that people are doing something wrong just because we might not like or understand the outcomes. Is that right?

            By analogy, that would be like you are refusing to distinguish murder from self-defense just because you don’t like the fact that someone is dead in both cases and that we’d have the difficult job of figuring out motives.

            But the killer’s own rationalizations aren’t really the issue, are they? The issue is whether we as his judges can identify a rational moral basis for his actions. Coincidentally, such a basis doesn’t exist in Arendt’s example even with their rationalization.

            (4) I brought up charity vs. justice to highlight the moral difference between what we should do and what we should force people to do. e.g. we should brush out teeth, but that doesn’t mean that we should force other people to brush their teeth. We should give to charity but we shouldn’t force people to give to charity. On the other hand, we should use force against theft and murder (i.e. justice).

            This comes into play in sexism and racism because a lot of discrimination is automatically and proportionately penalized in a free market without requiring coercive intervention and guessing as to people’s motives. Confer:

            http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Discrimination.html

            http://nypost.com/2013/09/17/why-racists-love-the-minimum-wage-laws/

          • Hannah Cairns

            (1) I’m not a positivist, so I don’t necessarily have a method of measurement in mind when I make a definition. “Some races systematically have a better chance, other things being equal” is a sufficiently concrete definition for me.

            If you’re asking how I would measure that if I had to, well, that’s the trick, isn’t it? That’s what all these economic studies and striking anecdotes are trying to accomplish.

            (2) It wouldn’t usually be unfair (that’s one of the “other things” that are equal), but it could be, if I chose to hire that way in order to exclude some group or other. Your second article gives some examples of that, actually, why not read it?

            (3) No, and I don’t see why anything I said requires me to assume that. Can you explain?

            That’s NOT the issue. If all you had to do to legally murder someone was to find a judge who thought your reasons for committing murder were rational and moral, then that would barely even be a legal system any more. A proper legal system protects even people who society thinks ought to be dead.

            (4) What’s your argument that you have a moral obligation to brush your teeth? And like I said, I don’t think “charity” is the right word for being forced to give money.

            Responding to the articles: Theoretically, yes, companies are penalized for discrimination (and there are some industries that have been taken over by lower-paid women!) but it is often compensated by non-market pressures like death threats or arson.

            (Sadly, I am too stupid to even notice your clever trick of switching the definition of “charity” you are using from charity, n. the voluntary giving of help, to charity, n. an organization set up to provide help and raise money for those in need. That trap works only on persons of sufficient intelligence, and I would appear to be unfortunately lacking in that quality. Worse, while someone like me of course has no idea that “confer” is Latin for “compare,” I’m not even sure about the definition of “confer” in English! I just assumed you knew better than me and were using it correctly. Better aim lower.)

          • Lacunaria

            (1) I’m not a positivist, so I don’t necessarily have a method of measurement in mind when I make a definition. “Some races systematically have a better chance, other things being equal” is a sufficiently concrete definition for me.

            Sufficient for what exactly? You are basically telling me that you can’t articulate or don’t even understand what you yourself are saying, and instead choose to rely upon some vague or a priori knowledge of “better chance” and “other things being equal”.

            If you’re asking how I would measure that if I had to, well, that’s the trick, isn’t it? That’s what all these economic studies and striking anecdotes are trying to accomplish.

            Yes, these questions should be answered if you are trying to convince people that something is unfair and something should be done about it.

            The trick in detecting covert racism used to be looking for a rational basis, but sadly, the increasingly common trick is to: (1) redefine emotionally charged words in vague or morally careless ways, and (2) only look at part of the evidence, and (3) assume covert racism.

            (2) It wouldn’t usually be unfair (that’s one of the “other things” that are equal), but it could be, if I chose to hire that way in order to exclude some group or other. Your second article gives some examples of that, actually, why not read it?

            You make it sound like I’m denying any covert racism, when I am instead asking you, how do you externally distinguish covert racism from a fair basis for hiring someone?

            (3) No, and I don’t see why anything I said requires me to assume that. Can you explain?

            You don’t have to assume that; I’m just trying to figure out how all of your statements fit together into a coherent whole.

            If my guess was wrong, then please explain how do you catch covert racism that has persuasive justification (your stated goal) without also ensnaring those who are innocent of racism?

            After all, if a justification is persuasive, then, by definition, there isn’t enough evidence to conclude racism.

            (4) What’s your argument that you have a moral obligation to brush your teeth?

            Haha, you don’t know why you should brush your teeth? Brushing teeth helps prevents the harm of cavities and infection. It’s a weak moral obligation to yourself and to others affected by your well-being.

            And like I said, I don’t think “charity” is the right word for being forced to give money.

            I agree: forced payment is not charity. Where did I say otherwise?

            Responding to the articles: Theoretically, yes, companies are penalized for discrimination (and there are some industries that have been taken over by lower-paid women!) but it is often compensated by non-market pressures like death threats or arson.

            Often? When? I agree that death threats, arson, and Jim Crow laws are all a violation of the free market. How does that apply to present day scenarios?

            (Sadly, I am too stupid to even notice your clever trick of switching the definition of “charity” you are using from charity, n. the voluntary giving of help, to charity, n. an organization set up to provide help and raise money for those in need. That trap works only on persons of sufficient intelligence, and I would appear to be unfortunately lacking in that quality.

            How is this a trap? The difference between giving help and paying others to give help isn’t significant in this context.

            Worse, while someone like me of course has no idea that “confer” is Latin for “compare,” I’m not even sure about the definition of “confer” in English! I just assumed you knew better than me and were using it correctly. Better aim lower.)

            Sorry to confuse you. I honestly didn’t realize that was a big word, and I think you are right that “see” would have been more apt.

          • Hannah Cairns

            “Sufficient for what exactly?”

            Sufficiently concrete to satisfy me. Like I said. It’s right there in the sentence: “it is a sufficiently concrete definition for me.”

            “You are basically telling me that you can’t articulate or don’t even understand what you yourself are saying…”

            Gosh, what an idiot I am! Help me out with an example: tell me what you consider an adequate definition, and how to objectively and statistically measure the adequacy of a definition, in a way that meets the standards that you are applying to me, and that you can manage to understand all the way through without breaking down and writing one of these “You say (thing)? You are basically saying (completely different thing)!” lines.

            “Yes, these questions should be answered if you are trying to convince people that something is unfair and something should be done about it.”

            Yes. Good thing there are all those things I mentioned to help do that.

            “Brushing teeth helps prevents the harm of cavities and infection. It’s a weak moral obligation to yourself and to others affected by your well-being.”

            So, what’s your argument that preventing harm to yourself is a moral obligation to yourself? (Also, for someone who spends half their time making up stuff that I “seem to be saying,” you’re pretty obtuse when it suits you.)

            “You make it sound like I’m denying any covert racism…”

            This, too. I always seem to be making it sound like something convenient. Define that, up to your standards for me. What does it mean, objectively and statistically, to make something sound like something? And once you’re done with that, why does my answer to your question “make it sound” like that? Can you link to a study?

            “I agree: forced payment is not charity. Where did I say otherwise?”

            You claimed that you can be “forced to give to charity.”

            (Eh? What’s that, reader? You say I am confusing the two definitions of “charity”? Giving money to a charity, n. an organization set up to provide help and raise money for those in need, is not necessarily charity, n. the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need? Well, to be honest, I agree with you, but I have been assured that “[t]he difference… isn’t significant in this context”!)

            “Often? When?”

            What’s the question? Are you asking me for examples of death threats or arson? How many?

            “I agree that death threats, arson, and Jim Crow laws are all a violation of the free market. How does that apply to present day scenarios?”

            You see, death threats and arson still exist.

            “Sorry to confuse you. I honestly didn’t realize that was a big word, and I think you are right that “see” would have been more apt.”

            Are you serious?

            Ok, listen. This is the worst use of Latin I have ever seen in my life. First, although this is a minor thing, you are using “cf” wrong. You shouldn’t use it just to introduce your references, you should use it after you say something to give references that disagree with what you are saying. That’s a pretty common misunderstanding, though. And the unabbreviation of “cf” to “confer” is a bit obnoxious but acceptable. The real problem, and this is excruciating, is that you cannot use the Latin word “confer” in an English sentence to mean “compare,” because “confer” is already an word in English with a different meaning that doesn’t fit in this context! Substituting a random Latin word into a sentence is already irritating, but substituting a random Latin word that has the same spelling as an English word that has a different and unsuitable meaning is one for the record books.

          • Hannah Cairns

            Oh, it was detected as spam. Ok, let’s try again:

            “Sufficient for what exactly?”

            Sufficiently concrete to satisfy me. Like I said. It’s
            right there in the sentence: “it is a sufficiently concrete definition
            for me.”

            “You are basically telling me that you can’t articulate or don’t even understand what you yourself are saying…”

            Ok, help me out with an example:
            tell me what you consider an adequate definition, and how to objectively
            and statistically measure the adequacy of a definition, in a way that
            meets the standards that you are applying to me, and that you can manage
            to understand all the way through without breaking down and writing one
            of these “You say (thing)? You are basically saying (completely
            different thing)!” lines.

            “Yes, these questions should be answered if you are
            trying to convince people that something is unfair and something should
            be done about it.”

            Yes. However, I am not trying to make any part of that
            case at all in this argument. Remember what you’re doing here: you’ve
            discovered that I have an opinion that you disagree with and you are
            demanding that I answer a litany of questions about it. This whole
            conversation is you demanding answers to questions. I never made any
            attempt whatsoever to convince you, and if I am convincing you of
            anything, it is purely accidental.

            “Brushing teeth helps prevents the harm of cavities and
            infection. It’s a weak moral obligation to yourself and to others
            affected by your well-being.”

            So, what’s your argument that preventing harm to
            yourself is a moral obligation to yourself? (Also, for someone who
            spends half their time making up stuff that I “seem to be saying,”
            you’re pretty obtuse when it suits you.)

            “You make it sound like I’m denying any covert racism…”

            This, too. I always seem to be making it sound like
            something convenient. Define that, up to your standards for me. What
            does it mean, objectively and statistically, to make something sound
            like something? And once you’re done with that, why does my answer to
            your question “make it sound” like that? Can you link to a study?

            “I agree: forced payment is not charity. Where did I say otherwise?”

            You claimed that you can be “forced to give to charity.”

            (Eh? What’s that, reader? You say I am confusing the
            two definitions of “charity”? Giving money to a charity, n. an
            organization set up to provide help and raise money for those in need,
            is not necessarily charity, n. the voluntary giving of help, typically
            in the form of money, to those in need? Well, to be honest, I agree with
            you, but I have been assured that “[t]he difference… isn’t
            significant in this context”!)

            “Often? When?”

            What’s the question? Are you asking me for examples of death threats or arson? How many?

            “I agree that death threats, arson, and Jim Crow laws
            are all a violation of the free market. How does that apply to present
            day scenarios?”

            You see, death threats and arson still exist.

            “Sorry to confuse you. I honestly didn’t realize that
            was a big word, and I think you are right that “see” would have been
            more apt.”

            Are you serious?

            Listen, this is the worst use of Latin I have ever seen in my life. You cannot use
            the Latin word “confer” in an English sentence to mean “compare,”
            because “confer” is already an word in English with a different meaning
            that doesn’t fit in this context.

            (Also, although this is a minor thing, you are using
            “cf” wrong. You shouldn’t use it just to introduce your references, you
            should use it after you say something to give references that disagree
            with what you are saying. That’s a pretty common misunderstanding,
            though.)

          • Hannah Cairns

            Man, this spam filter is pretty intense; I can’t get a reply past it. I put my reply on pastebin dot com slash NewH7CsQ.

          • Lacunaria

            Sufficiently concrete to satisfy me. Like I said. It’s right there in the sentence: “it is a sufficiently concrete definition for me.”

            I said “for what” not “for who”. As in: for what purpose do you expect to use your definition of “racism” and its “better chance”? Because it certainly isn’t for arguing with others if you leave it so vague and only have to satisfy yourself.

            And indeed, you indicate that you don’t want to argue with me, so why was it even important to you to make sure I saw your crazy response 21 days later?

            Ok, help me out with an example: tell me what you consider an adequate definition

            Well, there’s the original definition for racism: (1) the belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others. Essentially, the test is whether people assert this belief.

            Then we have the more popular (2) irrational discrimination on the basis of race. I note “irrational” because simply discriminating on race, such as to track a killer, is not considered racism.

            To test this one you actually have to prove their motives. There is no mention of outcomes or chance in this definition, so a simple racial disparity doesn’t cut it.

            I’d define “covert racism” as the use of proxy criteria for irrationally discriminating on the basis of race. This would be tested by whether the supposed proxy criteria actually has a rational basis.

            When you introduce additional factors to your definition, like that you want to catch supposed racism in the presence of a rational basis or include those with “better chances”, then you need clear justification, unless you explicitly do not care anymore whether innocents and fair systems are called “racist”.

            In other words, from what I can gather, your vague definition of “racist” includes innocents and you’ve provided no clear way to exclude them.

            I’m a stickler for clearly defining these morally charged words and how they are applied because that is the root of almost all of the disagreements I’ve seen on this topic.

          • Hannah Cairns

            What? “For what purpose”? I intend to use it as a definition.

            ? You’re complaining that I replied to you? Or you’re complaining that it was late?

            I replied now for the same reason I replied before, politeness, basically, or the desire to see an argument through. It took a while because my life contains other things than Disqus, and I was not particularly obsessed with getting that long post through the spam filter, so I just did it on occasional evenings when I was bored.

            No, not “an adequate definition of racism,” I want to know your definition of an adequate definition. What exact standards are you demanding from me? I mean, I’d say my definition is much more concrete than yours.

            First, you’ve given two different definitions for the same word. That’s about as fuzzy as you can get. Second, both of them are unusably vague. For the first one, I don’t think you’ve decided whether a person just has to have the belief or has to “assert” it, and if so, what it means to assert a belief. It seems like you’d have to bug someone’s house or go through their diary to test that.

            For the second one, the question of whether a certain behaviour is “irrational” or not is spectacularly subjective. Suppose I say that a certain instance of discrimination on the basis of race is rational and you say that it is irrational (because you think it was unnecessary, say). How are we going to decide who is right? If you’re defining rationality in terms of the contents of people’s heads, you’ll need to invent some kind of brain-reading technology. If you’re defining it in terms of some objective standard that detects the “presence of a rational basis”, philosophers everywhere would love to know that standard.

            “In other words, from what I can gather, your vague definition of ‘racist’ includes innocents”

            Racism isn’t a crime, so this objection makes no sense to me. Re: “fair system,” my definition lays out what it considers to be fair and then says that a fair system is not racist, so I don’t think your reply is very well considered.

          • Hannah Cairns

            Ah, and I should remind both of us that your problem is with my definition of “systematic discrimination,” not my definition of “racism,” which was apparently unobjectionable.

          • Lacunaria

            Racism actually is illegal in various contexts, which you must surely know. More generally, “racist” is a moral indictment. So, it is relevant that you are ensnaring innocents in your expanded definition focused on a morally ill-defined “better chance” and catching supposed covert racism that also has persuasive justification.

            I’m sorry I distracted you with the first definition. Words can have more than one definition, but that doesn’t make them fuzzy if you can tell them apart. I have been trying to assess the moral validity of your definition compared to others.

            Look up rational basis and strict scrutiny. It seems like rationality itself is subjective to you, so I think we are done here.

          • Hannah Cairns

            Well, I don’t know any context in which having a belief is illegal, and that’s my definition of “racism.” Even when it comes to hate speech laws, it’s the call for certain groups to be attacked that constitutes hate speech, not the belief that they are inferior.

            I notice that your double definition of racism is so broad that it could include murder if that murder were “irrationally” discriminatory on the basis of race, but it’s useless, like I said, and so I’m not using it.

            I guess it’s a “moral indictment” if you consider holding racist beliefs to be immoral (although I think the existence of pervasive unconscious bias complicates that simple view of the world to the point that it’s useless) but basically it’s a description of a category of belief systems. We cannot function without at least the ability to describe beliefs.

            And that cryptic last paragraph is beautiful, but are you trying to say that legal standards like “rational basis” or “balance of the evidence” are necessarily objective because they are what the legal system uses? Or, even more wonderful, are you trying to create an objective test for rational behavior that involves going to a US court and getting it to try a constitutional case involving that behavior?

          • Lacunaria

            The first definition of racism, which I again regret providing, is strictly a matter of belief, but the second one is a matter of discrimination which is the one with legal implications in cases of government, public accommodation, employment, etc. Your second and third paragraphs are hard to understand in light of that.

            “Racist” absolutely has moral and legal implications.

            I’m saying that a “rational basis” is a far more reasonable and moral way of determining racism than merely appealing to racial disparity and pervasive unconscious bias.

            You are basically saying that everyone is racist, so it’s not significant, but that belies why some people are indicted as racists and others are not, and also why only whites are accused of being racist by the typical sociological definition.

            http://www.chronicle.com/article/Can-We-Really-Measure-Implicit/238807

            Researchers from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Harvard, and the University of Virginia examined 499 studies over 20 years involving 80,859 participants that used the IAT and other, similar measures. They discovered two things:

            One is that the correlation between implicit bias and discriminatory behavior appears weaker than previously thought.

            They also conclude that there is very little evidence that changes in implicit bias have anything to do with changes in a person’s behavior.

            These findings, they write, “produce a challenge for this area of research.”

          • jbwilson24

            Anyone who thinks that a concept like ‘intersectionality’ has a perfectly clear definition hasn’t studied much philosophy. Terms like ‘good’, ‘love’, ‘truth’ all lack clear definitions, so why should I believe that a goofy concept like ‘intersectionality’ is well defined?

          • Hannah Cairns

            Generally it’s those short familiar Anglo-Saxon words that are the most complicated and hardest to define precisely, and the unfamiliar Latinate words are the ones with the clear definitions.

            You can explain electronegativity on a page. Infinity might take a chapter or two of set theory. Intelligence, that’s a slippery one but you can read a few books and start to feel like you have a handle on it. And trying to define what it means to be good has fed philosophers for centuries. But the fact that philosophers can’t define what it means to be good doesn’t mean that chemists can’t define electronegativity.

            I’m not proposing this as an absolute rule, there are many exceptions (I’m looking at you, “postmodern”) but your argument is not a good argument.

          • mesosuchus

            There it is! “next level nonsense like itnersectionality”. Please do tell me what are you’re credentials to comment both on the humanities and on science? Or even INTERSECTIONAL fields like social science? You are getting dangerous close to MRA country dear sir.

          • Sean II

            Magnetic Resonance Angiogram?

            Oh, I hope not.

          • mesosuchus

            Don’t be coy.

          • Jesus Christ

            MRAs are no worse than intersectional feminists. At least they don’t support people like Linda Sarsour who defend Sharia.

          • Hannah Cairns

            Rule of thumb: if you find it necessary to insist that some group is “no worse than” some other group, they are, in fact, worse.

          • Jesus Christ

            Feminists are no worse than Hitler. Guess that means feminists are worse.

          • Hannah Cairns

            Hey, I got you to compliment feminists! High five?

          • mesosuchus

            Your ignorance is our bliss.

          • Jesus Christ

            The intersectional feminist crowd was up in arms when Michael Shermer made the innocuous claim that science is universal rather than being segregated into categories like feminist science, gay science, etc. What a joke that march was.

        • Sean II wrote: “This stunt was merely one attempt to demonstrate that. A poor one perhaps, but so what? Everyone who’s been paying attention knows that with a bit more patience, maybe a better known co-author, etc. this would have worked. At any number of journals.”

          You sound like a Scooby Doo villain, “If it weren’t for you meddling kids…” Don’t be a Scooby Doo villain. No one respects a Scooby Doo villain.

          Getting rejected at an unranked journal and then publishing in a pay-to-publish journal really doesn’t show anything.

          This stunt doesn’t demonstrate what you want it to demonstrate, full stop. You might have other criticisms of gender studies, but this example doesn’t provide evidence for your cause.

          • Sean II

            “…but this example doesn’t provide evidence for your cause.”

            My whole point: no one needs this example, because there’s already a mountain of evidence.

            Also, the problem is much bigger than gender studies. That’s just one little symptom.

          • Joshua

            “My whole point: no one needs this example, because there’s already a mountain of evidence.”

            What do you mean by “evidence?” And evidence of what, exactly, that is a problem much bigger than general studies?

          • Sean II

            Read the thread. Figure it out from context.

        • oetpay

          except I know for a fact what “robustly established” knowledge you mean, and you DEFINITELY don’t have the evidence to back it up.

          maybe you should try reading some science, not merely tonguing the ass of the abstract concept.

          • oetpay

            (it’s “biological sex is chromosomal and nothing else”, a notion which hasn’t been accepted in science… uh, ever, the discovery of chromosomes postdates the Jost paradigm)

          • Jesus Christ

            Check your homophobia, Shitlord.

        • diannebrown

          “Now, if someone chooses to miss such an important point in order to quibble over the relative silliness of various publishing organs within the silliest part of academia”

          The point is that some self-described “skeptics” are not being skeptical. Getting a paper published in a play-to-pay journal is not evidence of *anything*. zip. zada. zilch. If Boghossian, (and Shermer, and Dawkins, and Jerry Coyne) can’t see that, well, they all need to take a break from the back-patting and take a refresher course in critical thinking. First lesson: confirmation bias.

          They might as well have simply written an essay saying “Gender Studies sux, here’s why” and submitted that to Skeptic.

          To be worthwhile, a hoaxer–like a satirist–has to know his or her target. Unlike Sokal, Boghossian doesn’t know his. These days, no academic in Gender Studies would call the penis a “male organ.” The Trans Studies academics would amputate their discourse.

          Somebody could’ve pulled off a delicious hoax, all right. This wasn’t it.

          • Jesus Christ

            That they wouldn’t call the penis a male organ shows how out of touch with reality they are.

          • jbwilson24

            “These days, no academic in Gender Studies would call the penis a “male organ.””

            I’m suspicious of claims like this. Linda Sarsour has tweets in which she says that certain women should have their vaginas taken away (for their deviation from feminist orthodoxy). I haven’t seen any slew of trans people attacking her for such trans-phobic claims, or alternatively for her lack of consistency (i.e., biology does not determine gender, but women who don’t agree with us should give up their vaginas).

          • diannebrown

            Meh. I see these claims (e.g., “the penis is not a male organ,” “some women have penises”) all the time, but then I keep an eye on the gendertrenders.

            I’m not invested enough in the argument to provide evidence (I’m on a Smart Phone and commenting is unwieldy enough without that.) And I cannot pretend to know what contemporary Gender Theorists would say on the subject. I do know that the Sex Is A Social Construct crowd seem to love them some Judith Butler.

            I’ve also been following the Tuvel affair, and I’m pissed. If this feminist is being unfair to Gender Studies, I’m truly sorry.

            This was still an embarrassing excuse for a “hoax.” It makes a lovely object lesson for Skeptics who think they’re immune to cognitive bias, though.

          • Puppet’s Puppet

            I have no idea where you got that, that Linda Sarsour says that women should have their vaginas taken away “for their deviation from feminist orthodoxy.” She is hardly a devotee of “feminist orthodoxy.” Linda Sarsour tweeted that women should have their vaginas taken away for their criticism of fundamentalist Islam, including female genital mutilation. The fact that mainstream feminism continues to shower this woman with accolades and place of honor (perversely, the more “militant” the more dedicated they are to this) shows how detached from reality and utterly bankrupt of principle they have become. They do not even deserve the dignity of being described as having an orthodoxy nowadays. Like all other bien-pensants of today’s “left,” they must subordinate all thought and will to the God of Intersectionality.

        • Dee

          “This stunt was merely one attempt to demonstrate that. A poor one perhaps, but so what? Everyone who’s been paying attention knows that with a bit more patience, maybe a better known co-author, etc. this would have worked. At any number of journals.”

          You’re brushing away the criticism of this quite obviously failed experiment with the claim that you believe “it would have worked”. Do you apply this reasoning to other topics as well, that failed attempts at proving something should still be considered valid proof if it matches your personal beliefs (bolstering the claim with “everyone who’s been paying attention knows…”)?

          • Sean II

            I don’t believe it would have worked. I KNOW it would’ve worked. Important difference.

            As another commenter pointed out: once you’ve followed @RealPeerReview for a while, the worst thing you can say about Boghossian and Lindsay is they tried to parodied something long since maximally ridiculous.

        • Aeian T’goni

          It could’ve worked in your imagination scenario, so even though there’s no real evidence, surely it is true!

          • optinion

            …for the simple reason that there is real evidence, because people have been performing the experiments, even if they didn’t know it 😉

        • andrewthesmart1

          Things are clearly worse since Sokal, half of all published medical research is false, hundreds of peer-review rings have been discovered in the hard sciences, p-hacking and statistical errors are widespread – it makes one wonder why people are so fixated on feminist scholarship when all of science is in crisis.

          • Sean II

            Well, you have something of a point there. Shady things going on throughout the whole bloated enterprise of the hyper-subsidized research university.

            A lot of papers that should never have been written by a lot of profs who shouldn’t have jobs teaching a lot of people who shouldn’t even be students.

            But even with that granted, there are better places and worse ones. And it is perfectly obvious that somehing like human genetics is better than something like feminism.

          • Dom

            “Feminist scholarship” as you called is in a different category.
            Problems with non reproducible finding https://academic.oup.com/bib/article/14/4/391/192999/Comparability-and-reproducibility-of-biomedical
            and etc. are results of difficulty inherited in how we produce knowledge.

            “Feminist scholarship” does not produce knowledge. If they are onto something it’s by accident. They are intellectual rent seekers.

        • “Yeah well, no one’s doing that”

          Yeah, well, you are extraordinarily dishonest.

      • Pope Ron Polyp II

        “Publishing practices vary widely between disciplines.”

        Oh, my.

        • Sean II

          Wonkish wrote this: “OA is very uncommon in the humanities”

          But of course it’s important to remember why.

          Which is to ask, why can a hardball science like biology have PLOS, and have it be a nice, neat, innovative thing…while humanities have to avoid such openness like the plague?

          It’s not hard to figure out. Biology has sound methods for separating signal and noise. Things work, or they don’t. They replicate, or they fail.

          The humanities lack such means, so they have to rely on corrupt workarounds, most of which come to down to putting undue weight on who wrote something, and where they wrote it from, at the expense of judging what is actually written.

          • Rob Gressis

            What do you think of analytic philosophy as a field? Do you think it suffers from the same problems as the rest of the humanities?

          • Sean II

            Not the same problems, no. Philosophy might be the least infected part of the body here. Picture a kind of triage where the steps to be taken are:

            1) Amputation
            2) Debridement
            3) Physical therapy

            Gender studies is an obvious candidate for 1). Nothing to be saved, we can easily live without it, and like any gangrenous limb it threatens the very life of its host.

            An example of 2) might be English or something. Highly corrupt, but maybe some healthy tissue left under the crust there, and worth trying to save because important by function.

            Philosophy I’d put at 3). Not out of the woods, but capable of healing itself through the exercise of its own muscles, and certainly important by function.

            The main problem I see with philosophy today is narrowness (dictated by the needs of career-building & rent-seeking under academic feudalism).

            The classic picture of a philosopher would seem to require someone who knows something about everything, and a lot about certain key things. Or maybe it’s better to say: there is nothing about which a great philosopher can afford to know nothing.

            But the people we call philosophers today often seem totally unaware of major developments, even in fields clearly relevant to their own.

            Last week, for example, a new method of neuroimaging was found to predict almost half the variance in human intelligence. It’s a big step toward bridging the gap between brain and mind, and has heavy implications for human consciousness, free will, ethics, social policy, etc.

            How many philosophers even know this happened? How many, even in sub-fields concerned with consciousness? How many will manage to know this even two years from now, by which time the same technique might be successfully predicting personality traits besides IQ?

            Experience suggests: few, to none. I feel safe in saying that because most of these folks have never come to grips with the implications of twin/adoption studies. And those are hardly new.

            They continue to philosophize as though humans were a) more or less interchangeable, b) more or less malleable, or worst of all, c) both.

            The end result is that you get very smart people sticking themselves to unbelievably huge errors.

            You get a lot of A+ plus answers to C+ questions. You get people who can produce masterpieces of argumentation on 10 minor topics, then turn right around and be dangerously ignorant of some colossal thing that most of history’s illiterate farmers managed to figure out. You get people who are so wrong about giant thing Z, it ends up not mattering how right they can be about lesser things A through Y. On an impact-weighted scale, they still end up serving as net subtractors from the sum of earthly wisdom.

          • Rob Gressis

            One promising grad student at the central APA this year gave a talk about the heritability of the big five and its relevance for moral psychology. I presume his advisor was ok with it. And I bet Sterlerny knows about it. That’s three!

          • Sean II

            Hey, that’s a damn fine start.

          • Puppet’s Puppet

            Don’t lump history in with English. English is almost exclusively a pseudo-discipline. It was also so back in the “good old days” of reading Dead White Males, long before the conservatives’ bogeymen took over. There is, and always was, some genuine, rigorous study of the English language and some historiography going on in those departments (though much less so in English-speaking countries). But mostly it is and long has been literary criticism, which in its legitimate form is essentially Siskel and Ebert type advice but which has been elevated by half-witted pontification into a supposed rigorous study. Now these stuffy old pipe smoking white guys have been replaced by equally pompous weed smoking women in braids and dashikis. If anything, it’s slightly better that undergrads expand their horizons by reading stories about women in African villages or whatever. This is one place where multiculturalism hasn’t ruined shit, because there wasn’t shit to ruin. It’s a strictly nonacademic part of the college experience and university community, like the fine arts; but it’s masquerading as academic, so it’s bullshit.

            History is different. Unlike philosophy, mathematics, and the sciences, it is not a theoretical discipline at all; but it is a genuinely truth-seeking one, and so it deserves to be called academic. And it’s really not in bad shape at all; one area, medieval history, has actually been net improved by the influence of Marxism. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t continue to be vigilant. But for now, it’s actually in much better shape than philosophy–both in the percentage nationwide of legitimate work done under its label, and in the willingness of its legitimate scholars to stand on the right side of our own history at this crucial moment.

          • Sean II

            Gotta disagree there. As long as the plays and novels are actually good, English can be a decent subject in the sense of: study this, end up understanding the world better. There’s a lot of practical information about human nature to be found in good stories.

            Example: even after 200 years, it’s hard to beat Pride and Prejudice for insight into the mating preferences of Northwest European females. That’s why ever rom-com ever made is basically a rip-off of it.

          • Puppet’s Puppet

            I have little doubt of any of this! But on this matter Chomsky had the best insight. As you probably know, he studies language, he says, not because he is interested in language per se but because he is interested in the human mind/brain. The language faculty, he says further, is not even close to the most interesting aspects of the mind/brain; it’s just one of the few that can be studied theoretically. And he in turn declines to hold that theoretical understanding is the most important or valuable type of understanding, just the one that he in particular has chosen to pursue. He thinks, as a matter of fact, that it is especially untrue in the matter of the human mind, with its myriad much more fascinating aspects that have not shown themselves at all promising for being studied with theoretical rigor. You can learn much more about the human mind, he says, by reading novels than by toiling away at Merge and Move-αs.

            And so it is. If reading literature were just thought of, with a nod to the Greeks, as something an enlightened mind and citizen should be doing, then its presence at the university could be justified. As mentioned before, we already include the Fine Arts for that very reason. But we do so on honest terms, without pretending that they are academic. You don’t earn a Ph.D. or even a M.A. or B.A. for being able to paint beautiful pictures or play beautiful music; you earn that for submitting a rigorous academic study of some subject. I’m not quite sure how reading books might be introduced into the university on similar terms; it isn’t really a talent so much as something people should be doing. In this it’s certainly much more like Phys Ed, whose place in the undergrad curriculum could also find Classical justification. Whatever it is, the present (and past) system is a thoroughgoing fraud. We have “scholars” pretending to study literature in a rigorous theoretical manner, but who are actually spouting pretentious bullshit. As I pointed out, this is not a problem introduced by the Frankfurters or their progeny; it is a problem that cuts right to the core of the pretense to study literature in this manner. The conservative cultural warriors are just being fusty antiquarians for its own sake in this case, right though they may happen to be on much else, and proponents of academic rigor have no dog in this fight. If I seek the insights of professionals into works of artistic literature, I will turn to historians, linguists, analytic philosophers, and other legitimate scholars in their respective fields (these people or specialists with adjacent interests could have lines in English departments, but as mentioned before rarely do in this country). But their insights will be relatively narrow, as befits the scope of their professions. Mostly I will just read to enjoy myself, exercise my mental faculties, and gain valuable–but nontheoretical–understanding of the human mind, female and otherwise. There is, as of yet, no true scholar of that, and probably never will be.

          • Peter from Oz

            “You get a lot of A+ answers to C+ questions”
            That’s like the fact that EU is a 1970s answer to a 1940s question.

          • Sean II

            ” EU is a 1970s answer to a 1940s question…”

            …and now the source of a 1560s problem.

          • Peter from Oz

            Ah, the 1560s…
            The Peace of Augsburg has temporarily solved the Religious problem in the Empire, but hasn’t really taken Calvinism into account; the Dutch havený yet revolted against the Spanish; Philboy II is brooding in the Escorial; the Scots are being dour and calvinist so Mezza, Queen of Scots is awa’ to the land of the Sassenachs for a wee bit of imprisonment; the French are revolting (that’s not a value judgment on the modern population of France); the Turks are getting out of hand and good Queen Bess is ruling with aplomb. But the problems of religious divide and Muslim fractiousness are simmering.
            Yes the 1560s have something in common with the 2010s…

      • Jesus Christ

        New Real Peer Review has documented much of the gender studies madness if you want to take a look. There are tons of papers out there with similar jargon along with plenty of misandry.

      • KiteFlyer89

        “virtually unknown journal”

        I don’t buy this and think it’s a cover.

        “In stark contradiction to the criticism above, many defenders of gender studies have claimed that Cogent Social Sciences is widely known to be a bad journal and more reputable ones would not have taken it seriously. The problem with that is that it is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), the Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (IBSS), Academic Search Ultimate (EBSCO), ProQuest Social Science Journals, the British Library, Cabell’s International and many more of the largest indices. It is not highlighted as a problem in the much-relied upon Beall’s list of predatory journals and was recommended to Lindsay and Boghossian by the NORMA journal. It is part of the highly-regarded Taylor & Francis Group which confirms that Cogent offers thorough scholarly peer review and has all the “traditional values and high standards associated with Taylor & Francis and Routledge at its core.”

        • James Taylor

          This response assumes that databases are some sort of academic accreditation agents–they’re not. They’re databases–think Google Scholar. It also confuses vanity presses with predatory presses. You can be a vanity press without being predatory.

          • KiteFlyer89

            Okay – surely it will be removed now? With apologies?

            I admit I’m not deep enough in that world to litigate the journal myself. However, I also know that these more social activist disciplines have a tendency to…lie about things if it will further the cause of social justice, in their mind. And downplaying the significance of this hoax fits into that perfectly.

            That’s Helen Pluckrose’s Aeon article on this, if you’re curious.

          • James Taylor

            I agree with you that persons who are ideologically driven have a tendency to dissimulate when it’s to their advantage. But this point can be made about all ideologues…. and it’s striking that a lot of the alt-right and the “new atheists” who are *not* professional academics are holding up Cogent Social Sciences as a perfectly reputable journal, when it’s clearly not. I’m read Pluckrose’s article on this, and found it very mixed. She was on target when she criticized persons who found the attempted hoax article to be good–although that seems limited to a couple of people with Twitter accounts, and noone in Gender Studies. But she was WILDLY mistaken to say that because this journal is indexed and not a predatory journal that it’s therefore a normal peer-reviewed outlet. Vanity Press publications–such as those from Vantage Press, which makes no bones about what it is–are often indexed. All indexing means is that the journal’s articles appear in a database. Indexing is NOT the same as accreditation–something that seems lost on many of the attempted hoaxer’s supporters. And noone has claimed that Cogent is a predatory publisher, just that it appears to be de facto (if not de jure) a vanity pay-to-publish outlet.

          • KiteFlyer89

            Well, Boghossian said he wanted to expose bad journals as well – but again, if Cogent is as bad as people say, I see no further reason for it to exist at all. Hopefully it will be closed down and de-indexed.

            Also, as regards the broader ideas of postmodernism, the authors of this paper would’ve been equally effective to just link ACTUAL studies from pomo departments, such as the Twitter account Real Peer Review does. Reading that for 20 minutes is far more discrediting.

      • JAY

        “Ideology much?”?!?

        snarky and weak.

    • Jason Brennan

      Even if Open Access is fine, the point is this is not a serious journal.

      Also, some of us are “actual academics,” too. Like I’m kind of a big deal.

      • jbwilson24

        “the point is this is not a serious journal.”

        That is a problem in and of itself. It certainly represents itself as a serious journal. It has reasonably high citation stats. It was recommended by the editors of what does appear to be a serious journal.

        If the quality control is so bad with respect to journals, perhaps this is a systematic problem with the field.

        • Vegard Otterlei

          It’s actually a systematic problem with the whole publication industry, not this particular field. Presenting it as such seems very disingenuous.

        • optinion

          It didn’t just make a recommendation, it referred it to be published by one of it’s own co-subsidaries.

      • Kurt H

        It’s also important that you have been quite willing to declare other academic fields to be full of nonsense. There are ways to take a sloppy field down a notch, but this hoax fails to do so,

        Now, the Conceptual Penis Hoax is successful in one respect. Lots of right-wing dipshits got their biases confirmed, and what’s more important than that?

    • James Taylor

      “The Cogent range are hardly top flight but are perfectly respectable, peer reviewed, and have expert academics as editors and reviewers”.

      “Source: ….an editor of… [one] of the other Cogent titles.”

      No comment.

    • oetpay

      “source: personal opinion from someone with a financial incentive to lie about the quality of Cogent journals because they pay his freaking salary”

      you… might not have the strongest evidence you could have brought.

      • Actual academic

        You don’t get paid to be an action editor of a journal.

    • jbwilson24

      “there are a good number of well respected ones, such as the PLoS range”

      Yep, I was quite impressed at the caliber of peer reviewers at PLoS biology. They hit our paper with some trenchant criticisms. Big names too, out of stanford, etc.

      Some of the open access journals are excellent.

    • Milo

      Without some peer review and critical editing, open access academic journals are basically vanity publishers for crack pots and weak academics.

    • “The Cogent range are hardly top flight but are perfectly respectable”

      Um, the facts of this affair clearly contradict that.

      “Source: am an academic at a major research University, and an editor of several academic journals, including one of the other Cogent titles.”

      No wonder you’re posting anonymously.

  • pj

    Thankyou for this, (and also that headline is a beauty!)

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  • stevenjohnson2

    News flash! James Lindsay=Jasper Brennan!

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  • Tiffany Kraft

    Oh, thank you for this. I was hoping y https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/dc015b89bd5dab1d6815c07528a91d5d71891d2ab51cf493eced546a4a49549f.jpg our big gun would weigh in with one of his pithy dictums and make my day.

  • Satanic_Panic

    Hahah. Cue the butt hurt whinging. gender Studies is fucking trash – a more useless field of “study” cannot even be imagined.

    • mesosuchus

      What is your field in academia? Also as an aside, what has a woman done to you?

      • Satanic_Panic

        I don’t engage with third wave feminist retards. Next.

        • mesosuchus

          What telling rhetoric. I have a BA in Philosophy of Science. Do you?

          For the class, please define “3rd wave feminism”.

          PS. It will be on the exam.

          • Satanic_Panic

            Ooooooohhhh a BA. Color me impressed…

          • mesosuchus

            Oh. My bad. I forgot to mention my PhD in ecology, MS in Botany and a couple BSs.

            Also you didn’t define 3rd wave feminism. You lose all in class points for tpdayu

          • jbwilson24

            You sound like a professional student, and an obnoxious one at that.

          • mesosuchus

            Professional scientist. Why do you distrust scientists?

          • optinion

            For passing articles like this, I imagine.

          • mesosuchus

            Peter Bognossian and James Lindsay are no scientists

          • optinion

            But Judith Butler is, Roger that.

      • Satanic_Panic

        Here a little bit more evidence that Gender Studies is garbage:

        http://www.nationalreview.com/article/448102/quantum-physics-oppressive-marginalized-people

        Only an idiot who’s mind is polluted with trash (i.e. Gender Studies) could come up with this nonsense.

        • mesosuchus

          PhD. in paleoecology but thanks for asking. Now why did it take you 11 days to come up with one skewed garbage article from the National Review?

          • Satanic_Panic

            Slow hand clap for your PhD. Shit talking gender studies and rad fem retards is just a hobby – I have other things that amuse me. Sorry if I kept you waiting too long but it did give you 11 days to flick the bean while staring longingly into the eyes of your Andrea Dworkin poster.

            Oh, and gender studies is still garbage that hasn’t appreciably added to the store of human knowledge what so ever.

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  • KiteFlyer89

    Agreed that it was unnecessary to publish this when RTing “Real Peer Review” is much more effective at making the broader points about the field.

  • Count_Yob

    Somebody’s feminist nose is all bent out of shape by this amusing hoax.

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  • lanceken

    Inevitable response… indeed, exactly as they predicted in their blog post. Here’s a link to another article, published by the exact same journal, written by the Senior Lecturer in Gender Studies at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Now pipe down and take your medicine, we’re not just going to let you walk away from this one.

    https://www.cogentoa.com/article/10.1080/23311886.2017.1309108

    • Simply Simon

      “I then conduct a close reading of a graphic novel, as well as of the reception of this novel. Finding that normative understandings of love and sexuality in mainstream culture sustain their status by a selective inclusion of more radical views, I show that the dominant view of sexual rights in Sweden is ambivalent. ”

      To be fair, the academic in question did read one comic.

      • jbwilson24

        Yep, it is this sort of thing that drives me crazy. Lax methodology. You can’t criticize the hoax paper for only trolling one journal, and then accept ‘lived experience’ methodology in which the ‘researcher’ extrapolates from a single example.

  • Pingback: The Hoax That Failed, or Skeptics Who Aren’t Very Skeptical | ACADEME BLOG()

  • Simply Simon

    Bigger question: is my penis a social construct? let me know because I’m very confused this morning.

  • Simply Simon

    More “hoaxes” here:

    https://twitter.com/RealPeerReview

  • Simply Simon

    One of my favorite academic ‘hoaxes”: why anti-sexist men can’t get hard-ons:

    Women’s Studies International Forum
    Anti-sexist men: A case of cloak-and-dagger chauvinism
    Marianne Hester
    Leeds, U.K.

    https://doi.org/10.1016/0277-5395(84)90081-5

    Abstract
    The paper looks at the sexual behaviour of anti-sexist men as this is presented in writing, in discussion, and in personal experience of them. It shows that changes in the sexual behaviour of anti-sexist men have been those that serve their own interests. Some anti-sexist male writing about sex describes how some of them cannot get an erection without objectifying the women they’re in bed with; and they don’t tell these women about the misogynistic fantasies they have in order to objectify them. Drawing on this, on discussions with anti-sexist men and on personal experience, it seems that ‘impotence’ is a common reaction to stroppy feminists and sexually active women. The paper concludes that male anti-sexism is more a ‘cloak-and-dagger form of chauvinism’ than a genuine attempt to lose their power over women.

  • Ryan

    Is the author then standing behind the claim that nothing historically printed in this journal is worthwhile? Taking down the journal entirely is fine, but you must be consistent.

    • James Taylor

      That’s not my position–nor is it implied by anything I wrote. My view is that this is either a vanity journal, or one so close to a vanity journal as makes no difference, and so it shouldn’t count as being a standard peer-reviewed journal. This is consistent with there being very good pieces published in it–although I very much doubt that this will be the case. I strongly suspect that any author who can write something worthwhile will also be able to identify this as an inappropriate outlet for scholarship.

      • lanceken

        Then perhaps you’ll address the point I raised earlier about Mia Liinason. From a quick google, she seems to be at the forefront of scholarship in gender studies in Sweden as well as a fellow of the London School of Economics. If, as you are obviously so desperate to insinuate, this particular journal carries absolutely no academic prestige within the gender studies community, why on earth would someone so “qualified” choose to publish with them? Of course I know the answer…as we all do: you’re desperately trying to amputate the gangrenous appendage which casts a shadow over the whole discipline of gender studies and perhaps even the social sciences generally. I wonder what on earth makes you think any intelligent person would let you get away with that? If I were you, I’d just quit while I was behind and hope the article goes away somehow. Kisses.

        • jbwilson24

          Perhaps the London School of Economics is a vanity school? 🙂

          One can reject any position, depending on how many other claims one is willing to give up. For instance, one can maintain the earth is actually flat by rejecting much of physics and geometry.

          Your point about this Mia Liinason is an interesting one. One suggestion might be that she needs to up her publication count. Academics in gender studies have a pretty sorry research output, to be honest. (Much like law, so that isn’t a deep criticism of that particular field). Perhaps she was under the gun to fire off a paper quickly.

          It does seem to be a reasonable assumption that a person with some success wouldn’t bother to publish in a ‘vanity’ venue, however.

          • lanceken

            I’ve always thought that about LSE 😉

            Anyway, everybody knows what gender studies is really about, hoax or no hoax. It’s actually quite funny watching them trying to move the fig leaf.

        • James Taylor

          I’m afraid that I’ve absolutely no idea what this is supposed to mean. Perhaps you’d like to ask Prof. Liinason why she published in a vanity journal, and not me?

          • lanceken

            Lol @ “trying”. Oh come now Jamie, I know you’re not THAT stupid. You’ve been confidently asserting that this particular outlet has no credibility within Gender Studies, and that it would be unlikely for a respected academic in the field to publish with it. I directed you to a paper published there. By a seemingly respected academic. In the field.

            Of course this does not categorically prove that the outlet IS considered credible. But you’re nowhere even close to proving that it ISN’T. Which is what you were trying to do.

            Do you understand now?

          • James Taylor

            I’ll charitably assume that you’re trolling.

  • Richard Sanderson

    This tells us very little about Gender Studies, but an awful lot about
    the perpetrators of this “hoax”…. and those who tout it as a take down
    of an entire field.

    Erm, try following Real Peer Review on Twitter……..and you might have a different perspective.

  • Jesus Christ

    Although it’s not a high-ranking journal, it’s quite similar to what comes out of gender studies and feminists who take their ideology with them into other fields (e.g. Piper’s piece on the American Mathematical Society blog or the Feminist Glaciology paper).

    • jbwilson24

      Don’t forget the paper about racism and squirrels. That has to be my favorite.

    • diannebrown

      “Although it’s not a high-ranking journal…”

      The journal that *rejected Boghossian’s paper* was not ranked AT ALL.

      The journal that accepted their paper is pay-to-play.

      To recap: they were rejected by a nothing journal, and got an auto-recommendation to publish in a vanity outlet.

      That’s not a hoax. That’s not even good satire.

      This is intro-level cognitive bias, here. People want so desperately to believe that this stunt is meaningful they’re willing to defend it beyond reason.

      We get it. You wish the hoax had taken in someone in Gender Studies.

      Next time find competant hoaxers.

      • Jesus Christ

        According to Helen Pluckrose: “In stark contradiction to the criticism above, many defenders of gender studies have claimed that Cogent Social Sciences is widely known to be a bad journal and more reputable ones would not have taken it seriously. The problem with that is that it is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), the Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (IBSS), Academic Search Ultimate (EBSCO), ProQuest Social Science Journals, the British Library, Cabell’s International and many more of the largest indices. It is not highlighted as a problem in the much-relied upon Beall’s list of predatory journals and was recommended to Lindsay and Boghossian by the NORMA journal. It is part of the highly-regarded Taylor & Francis Group which confirms that Cogent offers thorough scholarly peer review and has all the “traditional values and high standards associated with Taylor & Francis and Routledge at its core.”

        We get it. You’re a feminist who thinks that women in the West are oppressed.

        • James Taylor

          I think that all this shows is that Pluckrose (a) doesn’t understand the difference between being listed in a database and being accredited as a respectable journal, and (b) doesn’t understand the difference between a vanity press and a predatory press.

          • Puppet’s Puppet

            I am discouragingly finding that both sides of this issue seem to be wanting in frankness. On the one hand, Boghossian and his defenders do seem to be evading or waving away the kind of criticisms you made of his specific hoax, directing everyone’s attention to other evidence for the corruptness of Gender Studies and so forth. They seem to be claiming, rather oddly for philosophers, that it is disgraceful to pay this particular matter of fact any attention whatsoever when there is a Much Larger Issue to be addressing. (Worse yet, they do, indeed, thus begin to sound vaguely like what they are fighting.) Pluckrose is indeed especially serving up some weak sauce when she makes the truly bizarre claim that

            the other “prong” of the two-pronged problem they intended to demonstrate existing in gender studies – the existence of pay-to-publish journals with very low standards. Job done.

            Well, what the fuck was it then? An exposé of Gender Studies, or one of the predatory journal industry? If it’s the latter he might have started with the sciences, since the problem is rampant there. This is a worse designed hoax than I’d thought! (Charitably, perhaps the lack of hand-wringing over predatory journals and lack of debate over Open Access in fields like Gender Studies is a symptom of its lack of seriousness. That could be a promising discussion. But the hoax doesn’t do much to highlight that, and I haven’t seen that line of thinking spelled out by Boghossian, Pluckrose, or his various defenders in all their ink spilled on the matter.)

            On the other hand, I don’t think you have served your cause as well as you might have. The fact is that Gender Studies is (though it might not have been in principle) a discipline seeped to its very core in pure, grade-A bullshit. It is (with minor exceptions) a counterfeit discipline that has no place in academia in its present form, and the greatest case for the uselessness of this hoax is indeed the fact that there are enough non-hoax papers that are even more idiotic than this one published in “reputable” journals to overflow a very active Twitter account. And this point does indeed dwarf in importance, in the grand scheme of things, any details about the hoax itself. Anyone who fails to at least acknowledge all this does indeed invite suspicion that they do not believe, or are hesitant to state, this obvious (but commonly contested) fact. If I were about to launch the salvo you did, it would be completely obvious to me that I would come under such suspicion, and I would have bent over backwards to allay it.

            Additionally, you might have pointed out that the Boghossian hoax actually exceeded the standards of the Sokal hoax. I don’t think an assessment of it is complete without a mention of this fact, in the context of the current discussion.

  • Richard Sanderson

    I like Meosuchus’s reaction…claiming you can’t criticise anti-science, post-modern BS unless you actually study in that field.

    Who does that remind you of?

    That’s right! Biblical and Quranic scholars who insist their texts are “proof” that their religions are true, if only yout”understand” the works/field properly.

    PS – “feminist glaciology”. This is the guff the pro-gender studies industrial complex are defending.

    • jbwilson24

      Yes, it is a preposterous claim.

      A statistician doesn’t have to have training in a particular area of plant biology to criticize the statistical methodology used in the latter. I can cringe at a bad play in hockey without being an NHL caliber hockey player.

      If someone is making a deductive argument, I can evaluate its validity without questioning the empirical claims being made. If someone is making a statistical argument, I can examine the methodology and question the underlying ontology, data collection approaches, etc. The same is even true of analogical reasoning, although it gets a bit more fuzzy due to the lack of standards.

  • Simply Simon

    Another classic hoax: how men have to be taught to take it up the butt. For equity!

    American Journal of Sexuality Education

    Teaching Men’s Anal Pleasure: Challenging Gender Norms with “Prostage” Education

    To help students critique sex/gender norms, sexuality educators should address men’s anal pleasure. Men’s anal receptivity blurs accepted binaries like male/female, masculine/feminine, and straight/queer. By suppressing men’s receptivity, the taboo against men’s anal pleasure helps legitimize hegemonic sex/gender beliefs—and the sexism, homophobia, and male dominance they encourage. Conversely, by deconstructing men’s anal taboo and creating a new language of anal pleasure—“prostage” (pro-STAHJ)—educators can help students challenge restrictive gender norms. We base this argument on an anonymous, online, mixed methods survey we conducted with 228 undergraduate men, as well as existing literature on men’s anal sexuality.

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  • Henry Vandenburgh

    Look, Gender Studies is little better than the satirical article tout court, unfortunately. Face it. The satire is funny in spite of where it was published because of the outrageous bullshit that characterizes the field.

    • Sean II

      Exactly. The place of publication is trivial beside the accuracy of the caricature.

      • petesh

        Petitio principii; see also supra.

        • Sean II

          For at least the fourth time: the accuracy of the caricature is not in dispute here. It is previously established by the actual literature of feminism, gender studies, etc.

      • diannebrown

        “The place of publication is trivial beside the accuracy of the caricature.”

        This is being sold to us as a “hoax,” not a “caricature” (or a satire, though dollars to donuts Boghossian & Friends are moving the goalposts as we speak.)

        And then we’d all have to go read some GS papers to see how “accurate” it is. I wouldn’t just take your word for it–and I certainly wouldn’t take Boghossian’s. Because that would be foolish.

        • Jeff R.

          That is a pretty simple test, though, isn’t it? If this hoax/satire/caricature/whateveryoucallit is really doing the field of Gender Studies a disservice in terms of merit and rigor, someone here, anybody at all, name what they feel is a leading GS journal and then compare the content of said journal to the hoax paper.

        • Sean II

          You should already be familiar with the level of work turned out by feminism and ______ studies.

          And if you aren’t familiar with it, you shouldn’t have an opinion on this matter.

    • Kurt H

      If it’s so easy to publish nonsense in the field, why did they have to go to an online vanity journal after getting rejected by an unranked journal? Moreover, why was an unranked journal their first choice? I mean, if you’re going to pull a scam like this to expose a field of study as worthless, shouldn’t you target the *top* journals in the field?

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  • Alastair Haines

    Well done, James. That’s a very balanced critique. I think you’re too kind to gender studies and the social justice side of the humanities, but you admit there may be real flaws (and there are … many). But I also think you’re right to allude to a ballpark defence of academic analysis of flaws in meritocratic thinking. The key thing, is, though, that all we have is one data point, probably representative of broader things we all see, but no substitute for real engagement on real issues. Free markets leave the disabled behind. Central planning of charity allows sewerage systems to get built in poor suburbs, that wouldn’t attract voluntary charity like fashionable ones, say an intersectional Rosie’s Fund for Blind Girls of Colour Who’ve Survived Abuse. I’m very, very glad of the hoax, entertained by it, though think it’s serious and will have impact on exposing excesses. But I agree it’s much better as an example of the plethora of vanity presses these days, *including* the minting of doctorates in po-mo nonsense.

    • James Taylor

      Thank you!

  • Aeian T’goni

    “one of them’s a philosophy professor–who, ironically, teaches critical thinking”

    Maybe the actually field they were trying to disprove was philosophy? This would be at least the third philosophy Phd / prof I’ve seen publicly say or do something blatantly illogical. I love philosophy, but its full of people who seem to think the definition of ‘critical thinking’ is ‘whatever I want to be true is true because I have a degree in philosophy’.

    On the bright side, they wasted $625 of their own money on this. So that’s kind of funny.

    • jbwilson24

      Perhaps you can point out the ‘blatantly illogical’ part of their argument there, Mr Philosopher.

      You can formalize it in whatever logical framework you see fit. Deontic, modal, predicate calculus, etc.

      PS: 625 is readily worth it for the publicity.

      • James Taylor

        I think that Aeian is referring to the argument form “One A is X, therefore All A’s are X” that is used to support the conclusion of this hoax.

    • James Taylor

      I very much hope that the $625 was theirs! I’d be very displeased indeed if I was a Dean and this came from my research budget…..

  • Evidence Please

    dr. boghossian’s had a bug up his ass about the women’s studies department at PSU, and gender studies generally, for a few years now. he strawpwersons feminism to bag on it in his class lectures, but hasn’t read anything about feminism that didn’t come from c.h. sommers, so…

    • Dmitri

      “strawpwersons”[sic]? Really? Would it be too much of a microaggression to say “strawmans”?

      • Evidence Please

        one, thanks for catching the typo for me. two, if you can’t help but whine about the de-gendering of a word like that, maybe you… oh, master’s in philosophy? i see. looks like you literally have nothing better to do with your time – carry on

      • Evidence Please

        i already replied to this once, but my comment has been removed. i thanked you for pointing out the typo, and then made fun of you. i guess libertarian websites don’t like that sort of thing

      • Evidence Please

        funny how i have replied twice to this already, but keep being deleted

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  • FreeYourMindinSC

    There are 115 journals in “Gender Studies”??? One hundred & fifteen??? Now that’s scary!

  • bzfgt

    You’ve seen fire and you’ve seen rain, but you’ve never seen anything like this before!

  • j_m_h

    But surely they have a point. After all the univers seems to support them …

    https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap170521.html

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  • JJ Walker

    FYI to the author of this piece…Cogent is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, and the company refers rejected papers from many of their journals to Cogent journals

    • James Taylor

      Actually, that’s not true. Cogent is explicitly not a T&F imprint, but is independent of them. Instead it is part of the T&F “Group”–whatever that means. My suspicion is that it means little more than Cogent pays to be part of this “Group”, receive rejected mss. from T&F imprints, and to be indexed on the coattails of T&F. I stress, though, that this is all speculation on my part!

  • Kurt H

    I knew this story seemed fishy, and this confirms it.

  • urstoff

    I don’t know whether Cogent is a good journal or not, but charging author fees is not evidence that it isn’t. Author fees is how open access journals stay open access. Either you are paid by uses, authors, or are independently funded by a third party. Only the latter two are compatible with an open access model. PLOS ONE, the flagship OA journal, charges $1,500 for publication but also provides various fee assistance depending on geography and need.

    • James Taylor

      That’s a reasonable point. However, open access journals that charge *all* authors fees on publication are almost unheard of in the humanities–in fact, I know of *no* reputable journal that does this. Given this, to publish in an unranked OA humanities journal from a very obscure house that charges author fees on publication and that stresses how “author friendly” it is raises LOTS of red flags.

      • urstoff

        How are OA humanities journals typically funded?

        • James Taylor

          Of the three that I know of (all of which are excellent) JESP and BEJR are institutionally funded, and Philosopher’s Imprint charges, I think, $20 *a submission*. i know of NO legitimate journals in the humanities that charge all authors a large fee ($1000 plus) for publication and NONE that are willing to negotiate with individuals, as Cogent seems to do.

  • Milo

    The fact that these two ding dongs couldn’t come up with a better “hoax” and get it in a legit journal says hacks with PhDs who don’t understand how a real hoax works but also shows they’re incompetent. They seem have shot themselves in their fake dicks because they’re not going to get tenure after this.

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  • Scipio Africanus

    I read the article. Compared to the frothing of the lesbians in the G&WS department at my former institution, the Bognossian/Lindsay essay was remarkably sane.

  • Elyce Rae Helford

    Thank you so much for talking back to Shermer and Boghossian, the former of whom I respected as an atheist activist until I read his Manual for Creating Atheists and came to the part where he bashes feminism without understanding it. Meanwhile, Shermer touts anti-left conspiracy theories on Twitter. Bah.

  • Mel Profit

    Let’s put it this way. If every department of gender studies was suddenly closed tomorrow, except for the professors and support staff no longer getting a salary, would anyone care? Would it have any influence at all on anyone?

    • Rob Gressis

      I think so. It seems that a lot of the concepts developed in such departments–white privilege, intersectionality, microaggressions–have had fairly large uptake by many elite institutions, especially cultural ones. I presume that such departments will continue to be influential (they certainly seem a lot more influential to me than, say, analytic philosophy, but maybe in underselling us).

      • Mel Profit

        I can assure you that all 3 concepts that you named will be the subjects of jokes in just a few years time as they are all absurd but in line with the current trends of victimology, passive aggression and curbing of free speech

        • Rob Gressis

          Maybe. But I think it’s likelier that they’ll be replaced by different, more specific concepts along the same lines. They won’t be seen as jokes so much as too broad.

          Part of the reason I think this is that they are already seen as jokes by about half of the population who is familiar with them and as extremely helpful by the other half who is familiar with them (obviously, I don’t have empirical data for this), so I don’t see why all of a sudden one half would start to find them funny.

          By contrast, what does philosophy have? Effective altruism? Not many people have heard of that, and of the many who have, many think it’s silly.

          • Mel Profit

            I’d dispute your figures. Probably 80% of the population has never heard of these terms. Of the 20% who have probably half know what they mean and probably 20% of those agree. However the whole gender studies thing has opened up some academic employment opportunities for people who would have no chance of finding a job otherwise

          • Rob Gressis

            I agree that around 80% (maybe more) of the population has never heard of these terms. I don’t dispute that. As for your “only 20% who have heard the terms agree”, I have no idea. Of course, I have no idea about my 50% figure. It just seemed right, based on the thought that around half of the US population is left or center-left, and about half is right or center-right. I figured that about all of the left or center-left would think those terms are useful for accurately describing important phenomena.

            That said, I’m in academia, so perhaps that’s misleading me. (That said, approximately 95% of faculty have heard of these terms, and of that 95%, probably 80-90% think they are useful terms accurately describing important phenomena. Again, no empirical data; just hunches!)

  • Terence Blake

    The hoax is a real exploit, but an imaginary success. It does not prove what it is said to: https://terenceblake.wordpress.com/2017/05/23/microcosmic-hoax-a-phallic-storm-in-a-conceptual-teapot/

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  • Dmitri

    “It was accepted after what seems to be very cursory peer review…”
    What is the evidence for this?

    • James Taylor

      There’s a LOT of evidence for this! First, the timeline: Received 17 Apr 2017, Accepted 11 May 2017. Three weeks from submission to acceptance–with a revision in between?! As an editor I know that *finding* competent referees who are willing to take on the job usually takes longer than this. That’s a HUGE red flag–indeed, it raises the question of whether this was actually sent out for review at all, or if the review is done in-house, by whoever handles their submission process. (And who might not be qualified at all to referee anything.) This timeline is especially shocking at this isn’t a GS journal, but an “interdisciplinary” social sciences journal–which should therefore have more trouble finding referees, not less. Second, the comments themselves, as the attempted hoaxers report, were, shall we say, “sparse”, and had basic spelling errors. Finally, this journal prides itself on being “author friendly”, making a big deal out of the fact that they won’t reject a paper just because it will have no “impact”. Translation–we accept everything!

    • James Taylor

      I suspect as more details emerge that this might not even have undergone “peer review” at all. Given the content it would need to have been vetted by someone in GS, and possibly also a climatologist.

    • Evidence Please

      at the very least, the rapid turn-around time… but maybe you didn’t get far enough up the ivory tower to know about this stuff

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  • static

    Sure, why don’t you put a paper in that goes against the received wisdom in the subject and see if that gets published?

    Of course it couldn’t go into a high ranking journal, as they investigate the authors to ensure they are high status enough to be published. (never mind the actual content…)

    • James Taylor

      Because my opportunity costs are too high. Of course, if you’re willing to buy them out, I’d be happy to do this!

      I believe your second claim is simply false.

  • Frank Delta

    But enough silly feminists urinated them selfs for the other hoax I piss for feminism

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  • So, a couple of MRAs who hated the Gender Studies field wrote a bogus paper AND a bogus “expose” of the Gender Studies at the same time, got them published at the same time, and a bunch of other MRAs, from Richard Dawkins and Michael Shermer on down, predictably accepted the “expose”. One could write a legitimate study of the role of penises in this whole affair that shows just how uncritical and unskeptical the “skeptic” community is.

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  • Mark

    The only thing I got out of this article is that there are more than 115 Gender Studies Journals. And one wonders why the cost of higher education has increased so much recently…