Sunday, November 08, 2015

Wikipedia Watch: "Social Construction" Nuttiness In The Race Entry

Wow.
   Wikipedia is pretty good on a lot of topics, but as soon as it intersects with the fads that are trendy on the nutty academic left, it goes crazy. Here's the first sentence for the entry titled:  Race (Human Categorization):
Race, as a social construct, is a group of people who share similar and distinct physical characteristics
   First, this is wrong, and, in fact, crazy wrong. Second, it's actually worse than wrong; it probably has no determinate truth-value given that 'social construct' is used in so many different ways--and often in no particular way at all. Given that the meaning of 'social construct' is itself probably indeterminate, the meaning of the sentence is probably indeterminate. As Pauli might say: it isn't even wrong.
   But forget all of that. Even more importantly: one particular (loony, politically-motivated) theory of race is built right into the first sentence of the entry.  For the love of God! The normal way to discuss something like this in an encyclopedia entry is to start out with a general discussion. Then you move on to various theories, with emphasis on the prevailing theory among the experts. I absolutely acknowledge that--from outside anthropology, anyway--"social constructionism" seems like the prevailing theory...astonishingly unscientific, semi-coherent, and false though it might be. If it were merely receiving the majority of the ink...or electrons...in the entry, I'd have no complaint. But that isn't what's going on there.
   What's really telling here is that--as in the "gender" entry--the editors trip all over themselves to cram "socially constructed" into the entry as quickly as possible. There's no discussion of the general concept, no acknowledgement that social constructionism is one (unverifiable...but let that pass) theory among others... Rather, in the race entry, as you'll note above, "social construction" is crammed in as quickly as possible...as one might do were one writing the entry specifically on the theory that race is a social construct. In fact, it's actually even a bit worse than that... The beginning of the entry only makes sense if the entry is on a specific conception of race--not even merely a specific theory: race conceived of as a social construct.
   This is not an introductory sentence that is appropriate for an entry on race. It is not an introductory sentence that is appropriate for an entry on race "as a categorization of humans." It is an introductory sentence that is appropriate only to an entry on race as a human categorization conceived of in one particular way--as a social construct.
   Look, here's the deal. These Wikipedia entries have been taken over by liberal/leftist zealots pushing the prevailing pet quasi-metaphysics of the left. It's as if the entry on the generic concept of gods or divine beings had been taken over by Christians, and the first sentence began something like: God, a triune being constituted of the father, the son and the holy ghost...
   The very fact that "social construct" is shoved so quickly and unnaturally into these entries--the race and gender entries--should make it fairly clear that there is an agenda in play. Oh...and don't forget the political correctness entry...
   Wikipedia has a problem. It's a great idea, and it seems to work pretty well for some topics. It seems to have shut out kooky conservatives very, very effectively...but if anything, the opposite is true of loony lefties--in many cases, those are the very people who are, apparently, running the show.
I make fun of "Conservapedia"...but one thing I'll give those guys...they went out and made their own, politically biased, wiki. The leftier liberals took over the wiki that's supposed to be unbiased, and turned it into a platform for spreading their dogma. (To be honest, I think these two different strategies are pretty much par for the course for both sides...) Either the social construct crowd realize sthis and is perfectly happy to substitute indoctrination for information, or they're so deeply immersed in groupthink of the lefty parts of acadeia that they don't realize that that's what they're doing. Which it is, I have no idea.

5 Comments:

Blogger The Mystic said...

And also:

"Race, as a social construct, is a group of people who share similar and distinct physical characteristics"

seems to to be totally incoherent given any commonly-used definition of "social construct." The term "social construct" is most commonly used in an attempt to refute the idea that there are any real, objective distinctions between people beyond arbitrary sociological or ethnological (or whatever) forces. Pending intelligibility, for every use of the term I've encountered: if race is a social construct, then it is false that people of a given race share similar and distinct physical characteristics. Rather, it would be argued, people of a given "race" are merely designated as such entirely by social forces.

It seems likely to be the result of either an editing war or it was tacked in there by a redactor who is so dimly lit that he failed to recognize the incoherence of the sentence as a whole, merely wanting to center the discussion around his theory, as you point out. If I was less lazy, I'd probably look at the page's edit history and figure it out.

Incidentally, you see similar errors in some religious scriptures that were transcribed by later individuals who often desired to harmonize the scripture with his faith, gently omitting things and replacing deities and what not. Some of it's pretty flagrant, though, like in the middle of Beowulf, it'll be all "And Beowulf kicked some serious ass, taking no names, for he had not the time given the extensive amount of ass he was engaged in kicking" followed by "Good thing God was there!"

Right. Pretty sure that wasn't in the original.

10:55 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Hey, your link is broken, but you need to go to bed. You're all:

"Even more importantly: one particular (loony, politically-motivated) theory of race is built right into the first sentence of the entry. For the love of God! The normal way to discuss something like this in an encyclopedia entry is to start out with a general discussion. Then you move on to various theories, with emphasis on the prevailing theory among the experts."

So I go to Wikipedia and look up "Race" and I see "Race (biology)" and "Race (human categorization)". The latter is the only one containing the phrase "social construction" and the first sentence you're pointing out. But the first sentence is placed right under:

"This article is about human races as a social concept and in anthropology. For the sociological concept, see Race and society. For "the human race" (all of humanity), see Human. For the term "race" in biology, see Race (biology)."

D'oh?

10:58 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

That mock Beowulf passage is hilarious, yo. Also the point is interesting.

Nope...all your second comment shows is that they've even squashed the social stuff into the headers. You can choose (a) the human race, (b) the anthropological-conception-which-is-social, or (c) the sociological entry on race and society. Oh, or (d) a generic entry on 'race' as a sub-sub-species term in biology that applies to any species.

They have disappeared any generic discussion of race.

Oh...note also that the entry I point to *starts off* with a discussion of colonialism.

This is all creepy as shit.

There IS no generic

11:07 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Oh I see your point. Maybe I need to go to bed.

Yes, that is what is happening. Well, at least there's an entry "Race (biology)" which basically refutes the shit out of "Race (human construct)" right next to it and linked at the top.

At least there's that.

11:14 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

NO! BUT THAT'S THE THING...or...y'know...A thing... That race (biology) entry doesn't refute it at all. It's a short little entry that might as well be on a different topic.

5:56 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home