A member of the Intellectual Horse Paste Web has taken to Bari Weiss’s ShakeShack to announce his flouncing from academia with unintentionally hilarious results. Here is a man who was Just Asking Questions:
At first, I didn’t realize how systemic this was and I believed I could question this new culture. So I began asking questions. What is the evidence that trigger warnings and safe spaces contribute to student learning? Why should racial consciousness be the lens through which we view our role as educators? How did we decide that “cultural appropriation” is immoral?
These are not scholarly questions or indeed questions being raised by someone interested in learning a goddamned thing about anything. It’s just a litany of rote buzzwords with pre-determined conclusions countless people have already tiresomely reached. It would be hard to empirically evaluate the effect of “safe spaces” on campus, for example, because for all intents and purposes they exist solely in the imagination of anti-PC rube runners. A better question about “trigger warnings” is what harm comes from courteously informing students that material being presented might be disturbing. And not only is the consensus about the highly contested and often derided term of “cultural appropriation” imaginary, the most commonly cited anecdote about it was 100% pure bullshit.
After a description of a Title IX action brought against him in which he claims not to have been afforded due process but was acquitted, we get to the best part:
So, in 2017, I co-published an intentionally garbled peer-reviewed paper that took aim at the new orthodoxy. Its title: “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct.” This example of pseudo-scholarship, which was published in Cogent Social Sciences, argued that penises were products of the human mind and responsible for climate change. Immediately thereafter, I revealed the article as a hoax designed to shed light on the flaws of the peer-review and academic publishing systems.
Boghossian’s co-author James “Jimmy Concepts” Lindsay is so proud of this dumb stunt that it is the source of his Twitter handle. But here’s the punchline: as you can see in the link helpfully provided, the paper was accepted less than a month after it was received. This is not “peer review” in any remotely meaningful sense.
What gave Sokal’s hoax its real bite is that his paper was accepted by one of the most prominent and influential journals in the field. He also extensively quoted some extremely prominent names spouting nonsense about science. Boghossian and Linsday getting a nonsense paper approved in an unread journal with no standards, conversely, tells us nothing about anything (beyond the banal point that journals that will publish anything are going to publish a lot of crap.)
This show was always destined to end up chez Bari, the patron saint of “classical liberals” wink-wink who walked away for richer pastures after trying and failing to get fired for extra victim points. It’s the American intellectual equivalent of the lounge at the Ramada Inn near the Des Moines airport. The most salient point here is that if you do it right the SubStack/Rumble/Patreon/horse paste shilling gravy train can be much more lucrative than college instruction for a lot less work.