How many of you remember Alan Sokal and his mildly famous academic hoax perpetrated against Social Text? The purpose of Sokal’s hoax was to prove that there is virtually no substance whatsoever to “social science”; he succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. Twenty-five years later, most sane people understand that the vast majority of social science, philosophy, and “(whatever) Studies” taught at universities is utter and complete garbage, using the jargon and conventions of real science to thinly clothe a naked emperor. (The linked article takes a hard shot at Derrida, which personally pains me, but I have to admit that much of Derrida, Focault, et al is just nonsense despite the fact that an intelligent critic can derive real advantage from reading them.)
If the “Sokal affair” amounted to a headshot against social science — and it did — then what you’re about to read amounts to digging up the corpse of social science, defiling it, then burning it in the town square.
Many papers advocated highly dubious ethics including training men like dogs (“Dog Park”), punishing white male college students for historical slavery by asking them to sit in silence in the floor in chains during class and to be expected to learn from the discomfort (“Progressive Stack”), celebrating morbid obesity as a healthy life-choice (“Fat Bodybuilding”), treating privately conducted masturbation as a form of sexual violence against women (“Masturbation”), and programming superintelligent AI with irrational and ideological nonsense before letting it rule the world (“Feminist AI”). There was also considerable silliness including claiming to have tactfully inspected the genitals of slightly fewer than 10,000 dogs whilst interrogating owners as to their sexuality (“Dog Park”), becoming seemingly mystified about why heterosexual men are attracted to women (“Hooters”), insisting there is something to be learned about feminism by having four guys watch thousands of hours of hardcore pornography over the course of a year while repeatedly taking the Gender and Science Implicit Associations Test (“Porn”), expressing confusion over why people are more concerned about the genitalia others have when considering having sex with them (“CisNorm”), and recommending men anally self-penetrate in order to become less transphobic, more feminist, and more concerned about the horrors of rape culture (“Dildos”). None of this, except that Helen Wilson recorded one “dog rape per hour” at urban dog parks in Portland, Oregon, raised so much as a single reviewer eyebrow, so far as their reports show.
The only remaining question, stolen directly from our legitimate but Russian-subverted forty-fifth president: “What difference does it make?”
The fake articles written by three academics eager to display the corruption, stupidity and laziness of modern social-science publications have the deliberate aspect of parody, but that’s not because the writers are merely trollin’ or pranking for the sheer malicious joy of it. Rather, the plain ridiculousness of the articles are meant to display the almost unimaginable gulf between what the social-science crowd believes and what any normally socialized human being would accept. These people have marinated for years or even decades in social circles where everything is viewed through a lens of race, culture, gender, and grievance. They are like Samuel Johnson’s astronomer; they have been away from reality so long that they have stopped understanding it.
As a result, they saw no issue with articles like the following:
Who Are They to Judge?: Overcoming Anthropometry and a Framework for Fat Bodybuilding
Going in Through the Back Door: Challenging Straight Male Homohysteria and Transphobia through Receptive Penetrative Sex Toy Use
Tempo-rarily fat: A Queer Exploration Of Fat Time
Stars, Planets, and Gender: A Framework for a Feminist Astronomy
“I’m Not Gonna Run Around and Put a Condom on Every Dick I See”: Tensions in Safer Sex Activism Among Queer Communities in Montréal, Quebec
Alright, I just played a little hoax on you: the third and fifth articles were non-hoax articles accepted and published by Fat Studies and Sexuality and Culture, respectively. “Okay,” you respond, “you’ve just played yourself, because these journals are entirely composed of ridiculous garbage. So what’s it matter if their ridiculous articles are ‘fake’ or ‘real’?”
The answer is that it doesn’t matter — and that is also the point. The entire social-sciences profession is almost identical to the “meme culture” on 4chan and its many derivatives, creating rank nonsense in a fast-forward feedback loop. The three differences are:
* The guys on the chans know they’re spouting nonsense, and these people don’t;
* These people get paid, and their salary comes out of your pocket via increased tuition, college debt, and other parasitic losses on society;
* The “work” that the social-science crowd does has real implications for society.
The example used by the authors of the hoax papers:
This matters because even though most people will never read a single scholarly paper in their lifetimes, peer-reviewed journals are the absolute gold standard of knowledge production. And these concepts leak into culture. A good example of this is Robin DiAngelo’s concept of “white fragility,” which posits that white people have become fragile because of their privilege and will act out like spoiled children if it is challenged. DiAngelo forwarded this concept in the International Journal of Critical Pedagogy in 2011. Seven years later, in 2018, she landed a major book deal on white fragility, even as activists pushed it into the common parlance and started putting it on billboards around Portland, Oregon.
So now we have “white fragility”, which is a denial of reality on par with O’Brien claiming that he could float off the floor. Anyone who lives in or even visits a major American city knows that the “privilege” of white people can be confronted, accused, and even attacked with impunity; suggesting that a non-white person is racist frequently results in first-rate drama and, if you’re lucky, lectures on bum-ass white bitches.
In other words, social science is the process by which we are taught to deny reality so we will acquiesce to the desires of our self-appointed superiors in the media-academia complex. One of the eagerly-accepted hoax papers suggested that students should be forced to sit in the floor in literal chains during class — as long as they are white and male. Well, that’s clearly ridiculous and nobody would ever do that…
Well, maybe if you’re lucky they won’t do it to your kid. And yes, I understand that the purpose of this slavery-cosplay is to impress the horrors of slavery on young white students. So what’s next? Do we teach Chinese-American kids about the Rape Of Nanking by letting Japanese-American kids force them down on the ground and dry-hump them?
The future direction of our society is being set by a bunch of idiots in ivory towers who are so deeply ignorant and bigoted that they are willing to publish a chapter of Mein Kampf as long as you replace the word “Aryan” with “woman”. To co-opt a phrase here, if you aren’t outraged then you aren’t paying attention.
But wait, there’s more. The Sokal affair didn’t bring Social Text down. Quite the contrary. The journal is still around. Nowadays, they verify each and every piece they publish. They don’t verify the content of the piece — as we’ve seen, there’s no clear way to distinguish between hoax and reality in the social sciences. They verify the submitter. You can’t contribute to the journal unless you’re a proven goodthinker whose livelihood depends on keeping the social-science merry-go-round in motion. It’s the ultimate bigotry: the what is completely subordinate to the who. Expect the fat-studies and sex-studies journals to adopt the same practices in the future. So if you want a picture of the future, just imagine a verified fat person being paid six figures to submit verified fat articles to a verified fat journal… forever. It’s true what they say: you really can’t make this stuff up. Even if you try.