Thursday, May 12, 2016

Real Peer Review Is Still On Fire

   Well..."on fire" is maybe a funny thing to say, since you can't swing a dead cat without hitting this kid of nonsense in academia.
   RPR has gotten some push-back in some of the standard ways and from some of the usual suspects, e.g. Tumblr For Grownups (aka Metafilter). Some of the complaints include:
1. RPR seems to have a problem with feminism
   Well...academic feminism is largely an intellectual train wreck of exactly the general kind that RPR is out to ridicule/publicize. That's not so much "having a problem with feminism" per se--it's having a problem with intellectually bankrupt pseudo-scholarship. Furthermore, one ought to "have a problem" with this sort of thing. It's bullshit masquerading as serious thought, and one ought to have a problem with bullshit masquerading as serious thought. Also, there is nothing wrong with "having a problem with" feminism. Feminism has gone down a bad path, and it's gone down a bad path largely because it is (as someone else once said somewhere) treated as a protected species. Academicians shy away from criticizing it, and so it evolves into ever-more outlandish forms--forms that could never survive in an ordinarily critical academic environment. People like me have a problem with (especially academic) feminism not because we have a problem with egalitarianism with respect to sex. The vanguard of (especially academic) feminism doesn't really advocate that so much anymore. Contemporary (especially academic) feminism is about the application of weird, indefensible pseudo-philosophical theories to ever more abstruse and minuscule minutia about sex and gender, usually straining for conclusions roughly equivalent to men suck. Though reason sucks, science sucks, the West sucks, and capitalism sucks are also acceptable conclusions.
   This is in no way to say that feminism is inherently stupid, nor that males and females are not morally equal, nor that one can't generalize in interesting ways about discrimination and oppression against women. It's just to say that a lot of prominent academic feminism is bad--and bad in ways that a lot of other current pseudo-scholarship is bad.
2. The stuff posted by RPR merely seems like bullshit because it's, y'know, technical and stuff. The author of RPR doesn't have the expertise to understand the abstracts...so joke's on him! It's like making fun of high-energy physics just because it sounds funny.
   Yeah, no. That's the thing about this sort of pseudo-scholarship--it isn't rigorous and doesn't take extensive training to understand, evaluate and criticize. And it's just as ridiculous and bullshitty as it sounds. Sometimes that which sounds like bullshit is deep and/or difficult...but sometimes that which sounds like bullshit is just bullshit. This sector of academia is a swamp of bad ideas, bad reasoning, silly, bombastic terminology, and de rigueur extreme leftism. The method is one of quasi-literary free-association and cherry-picking. You can trust me--and your own judgment--or you can trust the tossers of word salad. Or you can, if you like, go learn a bit about the stuff. But, if you don't choose to go learn a bit about it yourself, then all you can do is trust your instincts and seek out the opinions of people who do know about it who you think you can trust. In the end, my guess is that you will conclude that "deconstruction of the heteronormative Go-Pro gaze" sounds like bullshit because it is bullshit.

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