Monday, May 22, 2017

Helen Pluckrose: Sokal Affair 2.0: Addressing Its Critics

There are some good points here, but some stuff I thought was a bit weak. But, overall, Pluckrose is on the side of the angels.
   Again, I agree that gender studies is more full of shit than the average humanity or social science...though do keep in mind that the average is pretty bad... But I'm inclined to think that the Conceptual Penis hoax doesn't tell us much more than we already knew.
   OTOH, some philosophers online (including, kinda, this jackass) are asserting that it only tells us about pay-to-publish journals...which doesn't seem to be true. In fact, the conclusion is underdetermined by the evidence. We know--or ought to know--that gender studies is largely crap. Conventional wisdom is that pay-to-publish journals are pretty much crap. Seems like, by something akin to a principle of indifference, we ought to guess that the two factors are more-or-less equally responsible for TCP being published. That's a kind of starting guess, anyway.
   Some people are insisting that this is different than the Sokal hoax in that Sokal proved something about his target, whereas Boghossian and Lindsay show nothing about gender studies. Well, be that as it may, it's fairly important to recognize that whatever it is that Sokal showed, it applies in spades to gender studies. One of the two main problems with gender studies is that it uses the same crap methods that Sokal was criticizing in a rather general way. (The second main problem is: gender studies is thoroughly political--it's largely activism pretending to be scholarship.) At any rate, the contrast between Sokal and Boghossian/Lindsay goes only so far.
   One last thing that hardly needs to be mentioned: Pluckrose is right about one of the major sophistries of the intellectual left: that any criticism of it is a type of bigotry. That's the bullshittiest bullshit at the heart of that whole bullshit view. Well, maybe this point does have to be mentioned--maybe it can't be mentioned too much. Neo-Lysenkoism (or, as Peirce would say: prope-Lysenkoism) is kind of the heart of darkness of that nonsense over there.


Blogger Pete Mack said...

Actually, if you look at the particular journal in question, it is probably a vanity press. Google Scholar shows a total of 4(!) citations; it runs non-pomo stuff too, and a quick look shows that it's crappy too. A quick check of the most interesting sounding article will find that it determines that police need better and more social work essentially by begging the question. No studies of outcome, just some silly polls.

The fact that the paper was rejected at NORMA, which is not exactly a major journal, suggests that peer review isn't entirely broken.

Finally: there are is hard evidence, published in Science and Nature, that too many journals will publish absolutely anything, for a fee. And some of those journals are owned by major publishing houses.

11:46 AM  

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