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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The state of science 2017

I have said for a long time that the science of, well, science isn't what it used to be.  Once upon a time, you observed something, made a theory based on the observations, tested the theory, and that's how you learned.  Nowadays, you start with an agenda- say, changing the way the world uses fuels- and come up with a theory that supports what you want to make of it- say, man-made climate change.  Then, instead of testing the theory, you seek out observations that support your stand, and instead of testing, you just shout louder than the other guy, bashing him if he disagrees with your "settled science".  And thus clowns like Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye the Science Guy replace Einstein and Newton.

Hey, I resent you calling me a clown just a little bit...



Ok, let me fix that...

Better?  Anyhow, a major problem in the field of science is that peer review has slid down the path of "just check the right boxes", and a great example of that comes in a story I found earlier in the week.  It involved a pair of professors- Peter Boghossian, a full-time faculty member in the Philosophy department at Portland State University, and James Lindsay, who has a doctorate in math and a background in physics.  Their goal was to write an entirely nonsense paper to see if a peer-reviewed science journal- in this case, Cogent Social Sciences- would publish it.  And, with a few small changes, they did.


The paper, “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct,” not only removes the penis from the list of male organs and adds it to the list of nebulous social ideas, but also places the blame squarely on the penis for climate change!  How, you ask?  Read this...


Destructive, unsustainable hegemonically male approaches to pressing environmental policy and action are the predictable results of a raping of nature by a male-dominated mindset. This mindset is best captured by recognizing the role of [sic] the conceptual penis holds over masculine psychology. When it is applied to our natural environment, especially virgin environments that can be cheaply despoiled for their material resources and left dilapidated and diminished when our patriarchal approaches to economic gain have stolen their inherent worth, the extrapolation of the rape culture inherent in the conceptual penis becomes clear. (from the actual paper.)


I suppose it was so easily accepted on the basis of science as I described it above.  Start with an agenda, find observations that equate with your agenda, model a theory around it.  Which is just what they did, according to the authors:

We intended to test the hypothesis that flattery of the academic Left’s moral architecture in general, and of the moral orthodoxy in gender studies in particular, is the overwhelming determiner of publication in an academic journal in the field. That is, we sought to demonstrate that a desire for a certain moral view of the world to be validated could overcome the critical assessment required for legitimate scholarship. Particularly, we suspected that gender studies is crippled academically by an overriding almost-religious belief that maleness is the root of all evil. On the evidence, our suspicion was justified.


Or, to put it another way...


“The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct” should not have been published on its merits because it was actively written to avoid having any merits whatsoever. The paper is academically worthless nonsense.


And yet, two "experts in the field" of social sciences readily lapped it up.   But wait!  Our leftist friends at Salon.com tried to defend Cogent Social Sciences- but I don't think they did a very good job....


 First, the open-access journal that published their article requests that authors pay to publish. In the case of Cogent Social Sciences, the recommended fee is a whopping $1,350. I have affirmed that Boghossian and Lindsay were, for unknown reasons, asked to pay less than half of this, namely $625, but the journal apparently never got around to actually requesting the money. Boghossian has repeatedly declared on social media that he and his colleague paid “nada” for the article’s publication, which taken out of context is patently misleading.


So now, if we have this right, Salon says that CSS is really the scientific equivalent of all those ads you used to see in comic books where you could "get your poem published" if you paid the $50 bucks to buy the book that was going to contain the poem that you along with other poor losers submitted.  And that pretty much PROVES the Profs' point- that peer review can be had for a little cash or a little bit of flattery.

Salon's piece reminds me of an old joke where a rich man comes up to a beautiful lady.  Will you go to bed with me for a million bucks?"  He asks, and she gives him a quick look over and says, "Sure."  Then he says, "Will you sleep with me for $20?" She turns red and says, "How dare you?  Do you think I'm just a... a prostitute?"

"We've already established that," he replies.  "Now, we're just dickering over price."

2 comments:

  1. Chris:
    ---I like the way you cite THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD at the start...that's the way WE were taught as well, and I'm a gen behind you.
    ---And your call on the "new science" is spot on.
    ---So this guy "Pete" calls their bluff with his paper, and the "labcoats" BOUGHT it...that's brilliant!
    ---I heard about the penis-paper...didn't make the connection at first.
    ---"Social Science"...aye, there's the rub.
    ---I didn't think the left had ANY horses in their "moral" corral.
    ---So, in conclusion, we can say that this NEW science is entirely predicated upon a bunch of DICKS? Sounds convincing to me.
    ---Love the ending joke, too.

    Excellent call.

    Stay safe (and humorous) up there, brother.

    ReplyDelete