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Re-edition of the Sokal affair proves once again that social sciences have become a joke in the US

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by luiz, Oct 13, 2018.

  1. luiz

    luiz Trendy Revolutionary

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    From the NYT:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/04/arts/academic-journals-hoax.html

    Of course the NYT has to include the mandatory "other side", basically people who think it's mean to expose pseudo-science such as gender studies as pseudo-science.
    Also of course the authors of the "hoax", much like Sokal 20 years ago, have to at least claim to be "from the left" to have any chance to be heard in the left-wing echo chamber that are social studies in the US.

    Discuss. What do you think of the ridiculously low standards of social studies papers in the US? What do you think of the growing importance given to fields that are obviously pseudo-science and in which any garbage can be published in peer-reviewed magazines, as there is no objective standard of truth whatsoever in these fields?

    Final point of discussion: due to our situatedness as humans, rather than as a dogs,can we properly determine when an incidence of dog humping qualifies as rape?
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2018
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  2. Synsensa

    Synsensa Warlord Retired Moderator

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    As long as it makes you mad, I'm in support of social studies.
     
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  3. Broken_Erika

    Broken_Erika Nothing

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    I believe the only proper response is;
    "You're a social construct!"
     
  4. JollyRoger

    JollyRoger Slippin' Jimmy Supporter

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    It's really fracking ridiculous.
     
  5. luiz

    luiz Trendy Revolutionary

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    Why would it make me mad? This is hilarious.
    Seeing quacks and charlatans getting discredited and humiliated is one of the greatest intellectual pleasures. We thus need quacks and charlatans to enjoy this pleasure, and the humanities departments in the US provide an endless supply.
     
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  6. Bootstoots

    Bootstoots Warlord Super Moderator

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    People have managed to publish garbage in pretty much every academic field. The Bogdanov affair is a well-known case where a pair of twins who aspired to be taken seriously as physicists managed to publish on their own essentially nonsensical theory in several theoretical physics journals and got their Ph. D theses accepted. A closer look showed that they were superficially copying the jargon of the field without any real substance, and peer reviewers had accepted their papers for publication because they had not taken the time to try to understand what they were reviewing and figure out whether or not it made sense.

    Work done to try to replicate experimental results have shown that a large proportion of all psychology and medicine papers involve shoddy statistical work and have dubious conclusions as well. In fairness, it's very hard to control for all the variables that are introduced whenever you try to study people.

    That said, I agree that the standards in fields named things like "[Insert disadvantaged group] Studies" are especially low. I'm actually kind of surprised that only 7 of the 20 submitted papers were accepted for publication.
     
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  7. uppi

    uppi Chieftain

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    Growing importance? Just look at how the funding for humanities has developed compared to the funding of the humanities. I would rather make the argument that if you cut funding to scholarship, you get what you pay for.

    The lack of objective standard of truth is a feature, not a bug. There are points which need to be discussed, although there is no measure for truth and trying to impose one ends in disaster. That doesn't excuse the lack of sufficient quality control, but in the current system I don't have much confidence in the quality control in the sciences, either. A lot of craps slips by in the sciences as well and as the past has shown, if you are willing to dedicate much effort to faking, it takes some time to be found out as well.
     
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  8. JollyRoger

    JollyRoger Slippin' Jimmy Supporter

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    We have enough quacks and charlatans on this forum to discredit and humiliate.
     
  9. Synsensa

    Synsensa Warlord Retired Moderator

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    The only reason it makes you laugh is because the concept personally offends you.

    At any rate, your position kind of defeats itself. There is no objective standard for SOCIAL studies. Obviously. That's kind of the whole point. Expecting there to be an objective standard is silly. It is not a math nor is it something you can put in a beaker. Most of what you gather in social science will only apply to the society it was gathered in.

    It is not a big surprise that there is nonsense being peddled when a century ago women were slapped with hysteria diagnoses and every family had an attic specifically for their disturbed relatives. Nobody else is doing the legwork in setting up a reasonable foundation for studying this stuff. Why laugh at the US for trying? What has Brazil or France done for this lately that is so special and sets them apart?
     
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  10. JollyRoger

    JollyRoger Slippin' Jimmy Supporter

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    I submitted an article entitled "Fascism comes to Brazil (but there's still hope)" and it was rejected as even more silly than the Hooters paper.
     
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  11. Peuri

    Peuri Game

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    Well, they are growing in importance. For better or for worse. Almost daily I get to read my country's leading newspaper in the desolate north push the narratives of American [insert group here] studies findings. You say that there is no objective standard for social studies, but the narratives formulated in those fields are treated as definitive. Criticism is treated as a "backlash" by an MRA, alt-rightist, misogynist, racist or white supremacist. What ever seems to be in vogue that week.
     
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  12. Synsensa

    Synsensa Warlord Retired Moderator

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    Maybe on Twitter.
     
  13. JollyRoger

    JollyRoger Slippin' Jimmy Supporter

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    Hooters are designed so that MRAs can have someone other than their mom bring them a sammich. That they have to pay for such a service is an oppressive check on their privilege.
     
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  14. uppi

    uppi Chieftain

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    I would like to point out that even in the sciences, the objective standard of truth is mostly an illusion. Theories are supposed to be tested with experiments, but the interpretation of these experiments is sometimes quite subjective. What convinces one person might not convince another person. There is always some wiggle room, always possible objections that start with "what if?". There is just a point at which most scientists in the field are convinced and do not care for the remaining objections. And that point can vary very much from field to field.

    That narratives are treated as definitive is not a problem that is limited to the humanities or social sciences. This applies to science as well. The problem is, that the people lack the education to critically engage with these topics. Unfortunately, this can hardly be avoided with an ever growing body of human knowledge and it is something that society has to deal with. There is the problem that contrary opinions get mistreated, just because there are contrary, but often such objections are very much unfounded. There is only so much crap you can deal with, so sometimes objections get swept away too easily as a defense measure.

    And, as I said, it is not exactly surprising that a declining budget results in declining quality.
     
  15. Peuri

    Peuri Game

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    Your transgressive obsession with Hooters is perpetuating the oppressive white patriarchal narratives about women and people of colour as habiting a space for white forms of knowing as a definitive and seperate form of action performed upon the bodies of gendered and racialised bodies by oppressive conceptions of "conserningness", which is informed by bourgeoisie Erlebnis.
     
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  16. Cheetah

    Cheetah Chieftain

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    Could we perhaps fix this by tying the reputation of the reviewers to the papers they are reviewing, so that their own academic reputation would be tainted if they let through obviously wrong papers? Perhaps by taking away research grants, or even academic titles?

    Since that would make it even harder to get enough reviewers, of course, we should probably also create a state-subsidised minimum payment for reviewing papers, which could also give bonus research grants to the reviewers?
     
  17. Synsensa

    Synsensa Warlord Retired Moderator

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    Proper compensation would fix a lot of problems in academia.
     
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  18. uppi

    uppi Chieftain

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    I think you could, just by publishing the review along with the (true) name of the reviewer. However, this is not so easy, because doing so would come with a host of potential bad side effects. The funding issue is one. The other one is that I fear this would lead to even more groupthink, because nobody would dare to go after the big guys. Shooting down a paper from a powerful figure in the field is much easier from (relative) anonymity. The last thing you want are courtesy reviews.
     
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  19. luiz

    luiz Trendy Revolutionary

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    It doesn't "offend" me, except perhaps as a "scientist" (so far as engineers can be called scientists).
    Of course social studies are not like physics, but still their primary goal should indeed be the search for objective truth (which obviously does exist for social sciences too), or at least the closest approximation of it. Social theories should also be formulated in a scientific way, they should also be falsifiable and open to tests and contradictions. The way social studies are evolving in the US is the exact opposite of this, especially when we're talking about "grievance theory". The theses on these fields are formulated as dogmas; they can't be challenged or falsified and indeed discussion is interdicted to the "out-group" (only the grieving party can understand this!) and as such are the opposite of science, social or otherwise.

    As for what Brazil and France have done lately... well I'm sure this crap would actually be accepted in social studies publications in Brazil too, as we ape all the nonsense that comes out of the US. And France pretty much invented the nonsense machine, what with Lacan, Althusser, Deleuze, Gattari... The US nowadays is just spewing recycled French nonsense from the 60's.
     
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  20. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    The difference between physics and the social sciences is the duration of truth. In physics, if I make a seemingly extraordinary observation, I can point it out to you and you can make it also. I can put it in a book and physics students several generations later can make the same observations. John Maynard Keynes made an extraordinary observation about economics, which was promptly used to manipulate the system under observation. Several generations later his observation cannot be reliably recreated, yet it was no less "objectively true." Of course, in their mindless arrogance many people involved in the "hard" sciences mistake longevity for permanence. There is every reason to believe that the "objective truths" of physics will also pass, and that a sufficiently extraordinary observation could cause drastic change in the system through manipulation.
     

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