Postmodern Glacier professor defends his dreadful study as “misunderstood”. It wasn’t.

Along with three co-authors, Mark Carey, a dean and professor of history at Robert D. Clark Honors college at the University of Oregon, recently published a dreadful postmodernist paper in Progress in Human Geography, “Glaciers, gender and science: A feminist glaciology framework for global environmental change research.” (reference and link below).  I wrote about it on this site last week, and have since read the whole thing twice. I still haven’t recovered.

At first I thought, with others, that the paper might be a hoax, but it wasn’t—it’s a real paper, just as opaque and crazy as Alan Sokal’s paper that caused such a furor when published in Social Text in 1996. But Sokal’s paper was an out-and-out hoax, designed to show just how insane the whole postmodern enterprise really was. And it did its job—mostly. But it didn’t eliminate this kind of nonsense in the humanities, because papers like that of Carey et al. are still being written, still being reviewed favorably and published, and still getting funding from the American taxpayers.  Carey’s work, including this paper, was funded by a National Science Foundation grant to the tune of nearly $413,000 (see below).

The Carey et al. paper was written to try to to infuse the study of glaciers with a feminist perspective. But it suffers from a number of problems:

  • It’s horribly written, in the kind of obscurantist, ideology-packed prose that we’re used to from postmodernism. And it says the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. These people need to learn how to write.
  • While the paper does call attention to the underrepresentation of women in the earth sciences, and mentions one program designed to give young women experience in glaciology and polar ecology (admirable aims), that’s not its main point. Its main point is to show how a “feminist perspective” in glaciology will advance the field. It does not make this case (see below).
  • It’s actually anti-science, for it repeatedly points out the problems with so-called objective Western science, namely its refusal to incorporate the voices of marginalized people, but, more important, to accept “other ways of knowing” about glaciers. It turns out that these “other ways of knowing” are simply subjective and emotional views incorporated in human narratives, art, and literature. These are not “ways of knowing” that will advance the field. Science is repeatedly denigrated, and, in fact, I’m surprised that this stuff was funded by the National Science Foundation. Has it become the National Science and Other Ways of Knowing Foundation?
  • The paper is an exercise in confirmation bias, picking and choosing bits of the literature that confirm the authors’ preconceived views that science is a male-dominated, Western hegemony that tramples all over women and minorities. Reading the paper, you see that it’s a series of cherry-picked anecdotes that support this view. While it’s certainly true that minorities and women have been discriminated against in science, that is well known, and remedies are already being formulated. The paper itself adds nothing to that discourse but to apply it to glaciology, and in an anecdotal rather than systematic or statistical way. One could write exactly this kind of postmodern paper about any discipline in which women and minorities are underrepresented. But, as I said, the point of Carey et al. is not to re-plow this well-trodden ground, but to claim that the field of glaciology, and how we use our knowledge to effect change, will be drastically transformed using a feminist (and minority) perspective.

In the end, the paper, infused with anecdotes, confirmation bias, and calls for “other ways of knowing,” reminds me a lot of theology. It’s a maddening and useless piece of work, and it angers me that the money we taxpayers spent on it wasn’t diverted to something that actually adds to our knowledge. Here are a few highlights (?) of the paper and my take on them—quotes from the paper are indented:

The rationale:

The feminist lens is crucial given the historical marginalization of women, the importance of gender in glacier-related knowledges, and the ways in which systems of colonialism, imperialism, and patriarchy co-constituted gendered science. Additionally, the feminist perspective seeks to uncover and embrace marginalized knowledges and alternative narratives, which are increasingly needed for effective global environmental change research, including glaciology (Castree et al., 2014; Hulme, 2011).

. . . The tendency to exclude women and emphasize masculinity thus has far-reaching effects on science and knowledge, including glaciology and glacier-related knowledges.

We’ll see what the “other ways of knowing” add to glaciology in a minute.

The good stuff:

Carey et al. mention one program, “Girls on Ice,” that gives training about glaciers in Alaska and Washington State to help facilitate women’s entry into science and give them “life training.” That sounds useful, but the authors can’t resist this postmodern snipe:

While the program may perpetuate a male-female binary that feminist studies and queer theory have long sought to dismantle, Girls on Ice plays a key role in glaciology to provide female role models. . .

But what’s the alternative to “perpetuating that binary,” which, after all, is really a pronounced bimodality with a low-frequency continuum between the male and female peaks? Should the program be “Girls, Transgender Women, and Genderfluid (But Mostly Female) People on Ice?” But I digress. . .

The dissing and deposing of science. Here are a few quotes:

Much geographical fieldwork involves this masculinist reflexivity generating supposed objectivity through distance from and disinterest in the subject (Coddington, 2015; Sundberg, 2003). These conclusions transcend gendered dimensions of knowledge by acknowledging broader trends in Western sciences that have sought to place science at a god-like vantage from nowhere, ignoring both situated knowledges and the geography of science (Haraway, 1988; Shapin, 1998; Livingstone, 2003).

. . . Castree et al. (2014: 765), for example, contend that other forms of knowledge, discourse and understanding [beyond natural sciences] must be properly acknowledged, precisely because they both affect, and are affected by, science and technology. These forms range beyond the cognitive to encompass the moral, spiritual, aesthetic and affective.

These calls align with those of feminist political ecology and feminist postcolonial science studies that seek to unsettle dominant Western assumptions, narratives, and representations which tend to privilege the natural sciences and often emerge through the co-constituted processes of colonialism, patriarchy, and unequal power relations (Harding, 2009).

Yes, that’s the postmodern Sandra Harding, whose writing, along with that of Judith Butler, is just as bad as that in this paper. Note how poorly written that last sentence is. It reeks of obscurantism. But wait—there’s more (my emphasis)!:

These alternative representations from the visual and literary arts do more than simply offer cross-disciplinary perspectives on the cryosphere. Instead, they reveal entirely different approaches, interactions, relationships, perceptions, values, emotions, knowledges, and ways of knowing and interacting with dynamic environments. They decenter the natural sciences, disrupt masculinity, deconstruct embedded power structures, depart from homogenous and masculinist narratives about glaciers, and empower and incorporate different ways of seeing, interacting, and representing glaciers – all key goals of feminist glaciology.

and

But the natural sciences are not equipped to understand the complexities and potentialities of human societies, or to recognize the ways in which science and knowledge have historically been linked to imperial and hegemonic capitalist agendas. Feminist glaciology participates in this broader movement by suggesting richer conceptions of human-environment relations, and highlighting the disempowering and forestalling qualities of an unexamined and totalizing science.

In other words, “Hey, science, look over here—don’t forget us in the humanities!”

Granted, if you want to incorporate scientific findings into social policy, you need to know something about society. But the examples in this paper don’t tell us anything useful about that. What are those examples? Read on.

The “other ways of knowing.” 

It turns out, after all the bloviating of Carey et al. about the need for marginalized perspectives in glaciology, that the “other ways of knowing” are completely lame. They involve art and literature, and don’t seem to advance glaciology— either technically or in its interactions with society. The authors give four examples of these “other ways of knowing”; get a load of them:

For instance, Scottish visual artist Katie Paterson’s 2007 work, Langjökull, Snæfellsjökull, Solheimajökull, depicts the impermanence of glaciers while broadening the notion of glaciers as repositories for climatic records and diverting what it means to ‘record’ and be a ‘record’ (Paterson, 2007). Paterson chronicled the ordinary sounds of the Langjökull, Snæfellsjökull, and Solheimajökull glaciers in Iceland, and then transferred the audio tracks to LP micro-groove vinyl ‘ice’ records – records created by casting and freezing the glaciers’ own meltwater. She then played the frozen records simultaneously on three turntables as they melted. The audio recordings (available [here]) fuse glacier sounds with the high whine of the ice record itself. After ten minutes, the actual ice LP record deteriorates and the sound melts away. Climatic data from ice core records are often imported into climate models, while rates of glacier retreat chronicling meters melted per year are usually taken directly at face value, with policy implications. Both the ice cores and ice loss measurements feed homogenizing global narratives of glaciers with somewhat restricted views of the cryosphere, lacking emotional and sensory interactions with the ice that occurs in Paterson’s artworks. Paterson and other artists thus intervene in such ‘truths’ by presenting purposefully imprecise social and scientific methodologies and works.

Well, that’s useful, isn’t it? Art it may be, but not glaciology.

Here’s another example.

In addition to glacier artwork, there is also a growing body of literature that expands understandings of the cryosphere and grapples with core issues in feminist geography.Uzma Aslam Khan’s (2010) short story ‘Ice, Mating’, for example, explores religious, nationalistic, and colonial themes in Pakistan, while also featuring intense sexual symbolism of glaciers acting upon a landscape. Khan writes: ‘It was Farhana who told me that Pakistan has more glaciers than anywhere outside the poles. And I’ve seen them! I’ve even seen them fuck! (Khan, 2010: 102, emphasis in original). This fictional story draws from local understandings of Karakoram geomorphology, their cultures of glaciers and mountains, the gendered nature of landscape perceptions, and the legacies of colonialism. In Khan’s story, glacier knowledge, while highly sexualized, is acquired through locals’ interactions with the surrounding glaciers rather than through classic Western channels of knowledge dissemination through reports and academic articles. Khan subverts traditional roles of who acts upon whom, complicating patriarchal assumptions that, as with society, nature must have rulers and the ruled (Keller, 1983).

Pay attention to the notion above that glaciers “fuck”; for, as we’ll see, the sexual metaphor is not nearly so wonderful when applied to men.

Here’s another:

The American science fiction and fantasy author Ursula K. LeGuin has also explored ice and glaciers in several works. Her novel The Left Hand of Darkness (LeGuin, 1969) upends notions of gender while re-imagining masculine polar exploration. The novel sends two fugitives on an 81-day journey across the Gobrin Glacier on the fictional planet of Winter. In a frozen world without warfare, LeGuin imagines a place without men and women, where there are no fixed or different sexes. In her 1982 short story Sur, LeGuin portrays a group of South American women who reach the South Pole two years before the all-male Amundsen and Scott parties. But these women leave no record of their activities in Antarctica, and upon their return tell nobody of their feat. Such a radical, postcolonial, feminist narrative about polar exploration serves to underscore the history still perpetuated today, a history imbued with masculinity and heroic men (Bloom, 2008).

Note that last sentence, which shows that the authors will glean anything to buttress their confirmation bias. This is like theology!

Below is my favorite example of how the authors claim that “folk knowledge” can advance glaciology (my emphasis):

. . . whereas glaciologists may try to measure glaciers and understand ice physics by studying the glacial ice itself, indigenous accounts do not portray the ice as passive, to be measured and mastered in a stereotypically masculinist sense. ‘The glaciers these women speak of’, explains Cruikshank (2005: 51–3), ‘engage all the senses. [The glaciers] are willful, capricious, easily excited by human intemperance, but equally placated by quick-witted human responses. Proper behavior is deferential. I was warned, for instance, about firm taboos against “cooking with grease” near glaciers that are offended by such smells.…Cooked food, especially fat, might grow into a glacier overnight if improperly handled.’ The narratives Cruikshank collected show how humans and nature are intimately linked, and subsequently demonstrate the capacity of folk glaciologies to diversify the field of glaciology and subvert the hegemony of natural sciences.

And here is how the authors denigrate those skeptics who dismiss the effect of cooking grease on glacial advance:

Such knowledge diversification, however, can meet resistance, as folk glaciologies challenge existing power dynamics and cultures of control within glaciology. For instance, in response to Cruikshank’s detailed and highly acclaimed research, geographer Cole Harris suggested instead that Cruikshank attributed too much weight to ‘Native’ stories and non-scientific understandings of glaciers. He questioned the relevance of indigenous narratives about sentient glaciers in today’s modern world by explaining how he consulted a colleague, ‘an expert on snow’, about why glaciers advanced rapidly (surged). The expert ‘spoke of ground water, friction, and the laws of physics. Is it possible, I [Harris] asked, that they surge because they don’t like the smell of grease? He looked at me blankly, slowly shook his head, and retreated into his office’ (Harris, 2005: 105).

And that’s pretty much it: the “other ways of knowing” whereby “marginalized voices” can advance glaciology. Read the paper for yourself if you don’t believe me.

One more point. It’s apparently okay to sexualize glaciers when women do it. But Ceiling Cat forbid when men stick their coring apparatuses (i.e., surrogate penises) into glaciers to acquire their supposedly objective knowledge:

Structures of power and domination also stimulated the first large-scale ice core drilling projects – these archetypal masculinist projects to literally penetrate glaciers and extract for measurement and exploitation the ice in Greenland and Antarctica.

Oh dear–those men with their Big Drills, penetrating the glaciers, are horrible! I’m sure, though, that Carey et al. also mean “figuratively penetrate”.  And then the cores (metaphorical semen?), which have yielded immensely valuable scientific data, are devalued as tools of Western and postcolonial hegemony:

These ice cores were born in the contest for scientific authority and geostrategic control of the polar regions, manifesting the centrality of power, conquest, and national security in the history of glaciological knowledge.

. . . Both the ice cores and ice loss measurements feed homogenizing global narratives of glaciers with somewhat restricted views of the cryosphere, lacking emotional and sensory interactions with the ice that occurs in Paterson’s artworks. . . These interactions and acquaintances with the ice diverge from the more masculinist domination of the glaciers in polar colonial science, ice core extraction, and quantification.

I could go on and on, but I have neither the time nor the will to continue “unpacking” this dreadful paper. If you think I’m exaggerating, read it for yourself—it’s free. And it’s even worse than I have shown above. For example, read the stuff on Arctic exploration, like this:

The scientific leaders of the Canadian Polar Continental Shelf Project (1958–70), for example, attempted to frame the Arctic as an ‘experimental space’ rather than an ‘expeditionary space’, as the basis of the credibility of both their scientific work and Canada’s territorial aspirations. Yet, their deployment of ‘a precarious authority of experiment’ fared poorly in the course of difficult Arctic field work; they could not escape the ‘Boy Scout attitude to Arctic fieldwork’ and the ‘epistemic baggage of the exploratory tradition and adventurous observation’. Though these attempted reframings of Arctic work did not preclude latent masculinities, they did suggest tensions with more explicit masculinities (Powell, 2007).

Carey and his co-authors were rightly slammed for publishing this paper, and in an interview by Carolyn Gramling, a staff writer for Science, Carey has just tried to justify his work. Read the interview: “Q&A: Author of ‘feminist glaciology’ study reflects on sudden appearance in culture wars” (free access). Not only does it make clear that the paper was dead serious, but Carey says all the kerfuffle about and criticism of the paper came from people misunderstanding it. Gramling throws softball questions at Carey—it’s a lame interview in which she doesn’t challenge the paper at all:

Q [Gramling]: Were you aware about the brouhaha over your paper? How do you feel about it?

A [Carey]: Professional research is published in journals for specialists in a given field. When removed from that context and described to nonspecialists, the research can be misunderstood and potentially misrepresented. What is surprising about the brouhaha is the high level of misinterpretations, mischaracterization, and misinformation that circulate about research and researchers—though this has, unfortunately, been happening to scientists for centuries, especially climate researchers in recent decades.

The good news is that people are talking about glaciers! But there’s much more to the story than just the glaciers. People and societies impose their values on glaciers when they discuss, debate, and study them—which is what we mean when we say that ice is not just ice. Glaciers become the platform to express people’s own views about politics, economics, cultural values, and social relations (such as gender relations). The attention during the last week proves our point clearly: that glaciers are, in fact, highly politicized sites of contestation. Glaciers don’t have a gender. But the rhetoric about ice tells us a great deal about what people think of science and gender.

That’s just like theology: Carey argues that the pushback against this paper simply confirms its thesis. It’s clear that he will brook no dissent, for that simply arises from misunderstanding. And that’s like theology, too—Sophisticated Theology™.

I’d love to see Alan Sokal write a mock “defense” of his famous Social Text paper along the lines of Carey’s exculpatory interview. You can pretty much defend any piece of postmodernist tripe by saying that it was “misunderstood;” and in fact I think Sokal has raised exactly this point somewhere in his writing.

In the meantime, all ye scientists who have trouble getting funding, read and weep about Carey’s NSF award:

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 8.30.29 AM

mark_carey-2015

Carey

_________

Carey, M., M. Jackson, A. Antonello, and J. Rushing. 2016. Glaciers, gender and science: A feminist glaciology framework for global environmental change researchProgress in Human Geography, Published online before print January 10, 2016, doi:10.1177/0309132515623368

287 Comments

  1. Ken Phelps
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Carey: “Professional research is published in journals for specialists in a given field. When removed from that context and described to nonspecialists…”

    Perhaps if his “Emperor has no clothes” experience was explained as “intersectional peerism” he would grasp it more easily.

    • eric
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

      Its kinda ironic how someone who complains about “hegemonic” science would then defend his paper by saying its for experts/only experts can get it.

    • eric
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

      The quote is also amusing given how much he rails against ‘hegemonic’ science. Hegemonic science bad! And anyone who wants to say otherwise had better be an expert in my field, or I’m not going to listen to them! LOL.

  2. Posted March 13, 2016 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    That is $412,930 flushed down the glacier.

    • Michael Scullin
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

      Yeah. There really is an issue in just how carefully some of this crap is scrutinized at NSF.

  3. Posted March 13, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    It sounds to me like the information Carey et al. have found about gendered interpretations of glaciers can tell us about how humans think about and interact with glaciers. Not much about glaciers themselves, though.

    Personally, I like centering the natural sciences in my understanding of the world, partly because it helps get beyond human limitations and biases.

  4. GBJames
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    He’s wearing a BLUE shirt!

    Has he no understanding of the bimodal blue-pink gender based colonialist, imperialist, and patriarchal narrative he’s reinforcing?

    • Martin Levin
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      There’s also his haircut, which is decidedly “cis.”

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      The blue shirt was what struck me about his picture too!

      As a woman, I feel a bit insulted by all this. Carey implies we women can’t do proper science and therefore our efforts in other areas where they intersect with glaciers in general must be absorbed into glaciology. That’s just patronizing?

      He’s also perpetuating the prejudice that science is better than the humanities and those whose interests lie elsewhere aren’t as good as scientists. That pi$$es me off.

      And why do men have to always make everything thing about sex? Ice coring provides some of the most exciting and useful data we’ve had from the field. What exactly is the point in denigrating it by comparing to rape? It’s ridiculous.

      There has been a problem getting women involved in science, and for those who are involved to be recognized. We should be focusing on sorting those issues rather than things that actually won’t advance the subject.

      • Gordon
        Posted March 13, 2016 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

        One of the perks of my job is chairing Ph D orals on topics outside my discipline.

        I recently chaired one where a woman defended her thesis very successfully, the supervisor was a woman and, yes, it was about the analysis of ice cores.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted March 13, 2016 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

          And I’m sure she wasn’t attracted to the subject by the supposed sexual imagery of drilling!

          • Doug
            Posted March 13, 2016 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

            Drill, Baby, drill!

      • Diane G.
        Posted March 14, 2016 at 3:41 am | Permalink

        “As a woman, I feel a bit insulted by all this.”

        I was going to say the same thing, only without the “a bit.” More like, majorly insulted.

        Why do any women consider it helpful to portray themselves as such brainless idiots?

        • Posted March 15, 2016 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

          Because if you push everyone else down, you appear to elevate yourself.

          • Diane G.
            Posted March 16, 2016 at 5:03 am | Permalink

            Which would put pomo feminism right up there with racism, sexism, ageism and all the other isms.

            Makes perfect sense. 😀

  5. Bruce Lyon
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    One point that was not mentioned was that this NSF award was not just a regular NSF award but it appears to be a CAREER award—these are for the cream of the crop young scientists doing especially cutting edge science. So, not only was the money wasted but some other much more deserving person was denied a CAREER award because they only give out a limited number.

    • Posted March 13, 2016 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      Yes, I forgot to mention that-it’s a Super Special Award for upcoming “stars.” Shame on the NSF for supporting this kind of work. All I can say is that the grant was given by Social and Economic Sciences rather than the “harder” sciences. But the “S” in NSF still stands for “Science”, and this ain’t it!

      • GM
        Posted March 13, 2016 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        They get special-treatment awards for nonsense like this, but the “feminist perspective” is marginalized, dismissed and discriminated against… SMH…

        • Posted March 13, 2016 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

          Everyone deserves a ribbon now except for CIS masculine iceberg scum.

          • GM
            Posted March 14, 2016 at 2:54 am | Permalink

            Die cis scum!

            • Jeff
              Posted March 14, 2016 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

              Die ice-cis scum!

      • Trond Amundsen
        Posted March 14, 2016 at 6:29 am | Permalink

        I strictly can’t see why the Social and Economic Sciences should apply different standards. Economics can certainly be hard enough (game theoretical models similar to those of evolutionary biology) and there’s plenty of solid social science, both theoretical and empirical. It’s easy for those in the natural sciences to think that “standards are different in the social sciences”. I’m sure that wasn’t your intention, Jerry, but I still wanted to stress that we should expect the same standards and I’m sure many/most in the social sciences would agree. After all, there’s only one way of doing science – by developing and critically testing theories. The NSF would be expected to know that.

  6. Merilee
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Aaaaaaaarrrrrrgggghhhh

    • Draken
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      This sounds like the lived experience of a glacier and must hence be taken into the imperialist man-gendered account of glaciology.

      • Diane G.
        Posted March 14, 2016 at 3:44 am | Permalink

        Either that, or she’s calving.

  7. Posted March 13, 2016 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Of course the point of the archetypal masculinist project is to “exploit” the glaciers. Because learning = exploitation if you’re a dude.

  8. Posted March 13, 2016 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Admitting it was misunderstood is a reason it should have been written to ensure it was understood. I half think the reason for the obscure sentence constructions in this type of work is because the authors know it is bull but can’t be mature enough to own up to that.

    • ploubere
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      Exactly. Which applies to a fair amount of academic writing, unfortunately.

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 14, 2016 at 3:45 am | Permalink

      Oh, absolutely!

    • darrelle
      Posted March 14, 2016 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      I am sure that is often the case, but I think it is also common that such authors have truly convinced themselves of their own rectitude.

      Jerry mentioned several times that this paper bore many characteristics of theology. I think it is even more base than that. To me Carey sounds like a fundamentalist true believer. To him this is a moral issue and he has no doubts whatsoever that his moral perspective is the only valid one. And feelings are the most important consideration, not facts and well vetted evidence.

      Shorter, I am not convinced that Carey knows his paper is bull. I think it is just as likely that he believes every bit of it.

    • Posted March 14, 2016 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      Somewhere (I think it was Donna Haraway, who was cited in the paper, but I forget where) one of the “pomo superstars” says if people don’t understand, it is always their problem, not the author. I get the impression that this is what is going on here, now.

      (Haraway is a minor charlatan, BTW. I heard her speak at McGill after graduate school, not knowing what to take from her work that I’d read earlier. She said that because she was in Montreal, the usual complaints that she doesn’t do “analytic” philosophy wouldn’t likely be a concern, and she’d do some philosophy in the “gallic” style, like “Spinoze”. Ahem, Spinoza was of Portuguese background, spoke Spanish as a first language, and lived in what is now the Netherlands. Descartes, who folks along these lines despise, was “gallic”, if anyone.)

  9. GM
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    That’s just like theology: Carey argues that the pushback against this paper simply confirms its thesis.

    This is very common with feminist ideology.

    Criticism is dismissed a priori because by definition if you are not a feminist, then you don’t “share the same experiences”, therefore you’re a chauvinist sexist pig, etc., and you have not right to comment.

    Well, then how the hell can you claim to be a legitimate intellectual field if there is no way to criticize your positions in a rational way?

    That attitude came directly from post-modernism with its core tenets of absence of absolute truth and primacy of subjective experience.

    I have tried on many occasions to explain to SJWs that given that modern feminism is deeply rooted in postmodernism, it is also deeply anti-scientific in its foundation (and that is aside from all the stupidities about particular aspects of human biology that infest it). Therefore the only possible position for a scientist is to be anti-feminist. Unfortunately, then they apply the usual switch-of-meaning trick, and anti-feminism is presented as hatred of women rather than opposition to feminist theory and ideology (as it should be understood). And you can imagine how it goes from there.

    Postmodernism is a cancer that has to be thoroughly excised before it kills its host (academia and even society as a whole).

    The controversy over Dawkins and that famous video in January made me think about something. It is not that the feminists and the Islamists have allied because of it, but there is a disturbing parallel to be drawn here.

    People have noted how in the Middle Ages science in the Muslim world, which was thriving for a while, died because there was a theological fight within Islam that was won by the school (Al-Ghazali et al.) that glorified Allah so much that it rejected even the principle of causality (i.e. things happen not because there is a causal chain relating events, but because Allah remakes the world at each and every moment the way he wishes). Of course, once you remove causality from your thinking, there can be no science, after all science is the study of causal relationships.

    Postmodernism is obviously not the same ideology, but the effects in practice are pretty much the same — how can there be science if subjective experiences are what counts the most and there is no objective truth? All these calls for “marginalized perspectives” to be given more attention and reshape the practice of science accordingly can be expected to have very similar results to what happened in the Middle Ages in the Middle East if listened to.

    That ideology has to be actively fought against at each and every opportunity. But there is another parallel here — Al-Ghazali et al. killed science not by attacking it directly (I don’t think they even intended that) but by glorifying God to the extreme. Well, who could be against glorifying God (I mean at that time and in that society). Effectively the same tactic is applied now. Who could be against women’s rights (never mind that it is not about that)?

    • FiveGreenLeafs
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Very well said.

      I am in the process of reading Theory’s Empire, which is an anthology edited by Daphne Patai and Will Corral, and I can heartily recommend it to anyone who would (like me) want to get a better (and deeper) understanding of the What’s Whys and Whens in the rise of Theory (with a big T), of which postmodernism and modern feminism are a part off and/or built upon (as far as I understand).

      • Posted March 13, 2016 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        Not sure I agree with you with that “well said”. Feminism has changed the way we think about the world. I can’t look back at, say, the fifties as the good old days and I warmly support the idea of women getting into higher management positions, hard science and grant-awarding. The article that Jerry comments on is complete tripe, but that does not invalidate feminist thinking in toto.

        • GM
          Posted March 13, 2016 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

          You are doing exactly the same thing I pointed out in that post — equating feminism in the late 20th and early 21st century with the fight for equal rights.

          They are very much not the same thing.

          • Diane G.
            Posted March 14, 2016 at 3:52 am | Permalink

            No, I disagree. There’s a great number of traditional feminists out here who still claim the term and hope to out-live the loonies. You can help by always using “pomo feminists” to describe these idiots. They may not like it–so what? Facts are facts.

            I was happy to see Justin Trudeau recently declare that he’s a feminist.

          • Diane G.
            Posted March 14, 2016 at 4:01 am | Permalink

            Get out of the current pomo feminism in the humanities and start noticing female doctors, female politicians, female science professors, female philanthropists, soldiers, authors…

            Would you say we should do away with the term “literary criticism” because pomo fucked up lit crit irrevocably?

            And why don’t the Humanities clean up their own mess? Let these people go start their own universities; don’t besmirch academia with obvious mush-heads.

            • Robert bray
              Posted March 14, 2016 at 9:44 am | Permalink

              Apology: number 45 below was intended as a response here.

        • FiveGreenLeafs
          Posted March 13, 2016 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

          As GM stated, I think you perhaps are unaware (or fail to fully understand), the dramatic changes, in regard to philosophy and ideology (and purpose and intent), that took place within feminism from the late 1970s to early 1990s.

          Feminism anno 1995 (and today) is a very different thing, compared to feminism anno 1970.

          Just how dramatic these changes have been, can be gleaned from the fact that Daphne Patai, one of the editors of the above mentioned anthology, were one of the big leading feminists of the 1970s.

          An excellent insight into this (in regard to how feminism today manifest itself in university departments in women studies and course work) can be had from another book, written by Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge, Professing Feminism: Education and Indoctrination in Women’s Studies

          On way you could phrase it, tongue in cheek, is that, feminism, in the early 80s was seduced by “the dark side”…

          • Jerry Tarone
            Posted March 13, 2016 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

            The problem is feminism is not a monolithic thing, there is no head feminist laying out the official feminist agenda. Feminism means different things to different people.

            That universities or colleges teach particular ideas on feminism does not make those ideas official feminist doctrine because such a thing does not exist, even if they all teach the same ideas, which I’m not sure they do.

            This is similar to someone saying the left is pushing micro-aggression nonsense. Some on the left do, but not all.

            • Diane G.
              Posted March 14, 2016 at 4:03 am | Permalink

              + 1

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted March 14, 2016 at 4:21 am | Permalink

              “feminism is not a monolithic thing”

              Bit like atheism, then.

              cr

            • FiveGreenLeafs
              Posted March 14, 2016 at 9:47 am | Permalink

              If you draw out the line to its end, there probably exists as many different versions of feminism that there are feminists, and as many versions of conservatism as there are republicans and so on, ad infinitum.

              This means, that the only (practical) way you could possibly have a discussion on any aspect of feminism (or conservatism) is if you generalize, from (for the issue at hand relevant) common dominant trends or threads.

              One consequence of this is, of course, that any such generalization will create innumerable exceptions, so stating the fact that there exist exceptions, is in one word, inane.

              The true question is whether the generalization, for the question at hand, is a valid one.

              In my comment, I supported my argument by a reference to Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertges book, that extensively documents the birth and spread of these common trends within (and outside) academia.

              No one questions that there exist other conceptions of feminism (I or GM certainly don’t), but, those are (to my mind) not the types of feminism that today rule academic campuses or dominates media, local or national policy decisions. Not in the US, not in Europe, and definitely not in Sweden.

              • Diane G.
                Posted March 14, 2016 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

                A lot of traditional feminism is done, not said. Postmodernists throw the term out as much as possible, but they have nothing to do with the women and men who are working to improve the lot of women worldwide in one way or another.

                I had a look at the book you mentioned and I am glad it was written! But it largely concerns academic Women’s Studies Programs. Yes, that’s a cesspool that needs to be drained, but once again, in the worldly and historic scope of equal rights and opportunities for women, it’s a rather minor and one hopes temporary blip.

                Meanwhile the pomo lunatics remain largely in academia and on the internet. The best thing to do would be to ignore them as much as possible. Why even click in on SkepChicks?

              • GM
                Posted March 14, 2016 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

                I had a look at the book you mentioned and I am glad it was written! But it largely concerns academic Women’s Studies Programs. Yes, that’s a cesspool that needs to be drained, but once again, in the worldly and historic scope of equal rights and opportunities for women, it’s a rather minor and one hopes temporary blip.

                My naive guess is that most people posting here work in academia.

                Thus to them these are by no means irrelevant issues restricted to the ivory tower — they have to live and survive in the toxic environment feminism is creating on campus

              • Diane G.
                Posted March 14, 2016 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

                There is that.

                What if the arts & science faculty combine to combat the bullshit? Sieze on the free speech principle and denounce the idiocy.

                Yeah, I know…

              • FiveGreenLeafs
                Posted March 15, 2016 at 1:44 am | Permalink

                Diane G,
                Perhaps you missed my comment further down, at 11:05am

                I have a feeling that you perhaps have gotten stuck on the idea that this only is about academia, but it really is not. If it (and it’s consequences) were restricted to some peripheral research department in an ivory tower, I think few people would have invested so much time and energy in it as we (and Jerry) do.

                But the thing is, (which is clear from Patais and Koertges book), these ideas does not stay in these departments.

                These departments have been running extensive programs of courses for students for (now) more than 20 years in many hundreds of universities in US and Europe, and, those students have taken these ideas, concepts and ideology with them out into the wider world. This is, (so to speak) the whole idea…

                Thats why we today see these ideas in schools, in teacher training, in kindergarten, in our courts, in the media, in politics and so on.

                I took this logical extension of Patais and Koertges book, as self evident.

                If you would like to read about the effects and consequences of these ideas within specific areas, for example education, law, political policy and so on, you will have to pick up (other) separate books for this. As I noted below, I think Christina Hoff Sommers could be one good place to start.

              • Diane G.
                Posted March 15, 2016 at 4:31 am | Permalink

                “I have a feeling that you perhaps have gotten stuck on the idea that this only is about academia, but it really is not.”

                FGL, yes, I realize the post-modernism rot has been with us for some time now. I remember first reading about postmodernism, deconstruction, what-all, in an article in The Atlantic about 25 years ago. (I remember the approximate year because my friend and I were discussing/deriding it while our then approximately 5-year-old sons were having a “play-date.”) And just a couple of years ago my daughter graduated from college having been required to take way too many horrendous “gen-ed” courses including some ludicrous “feminism/gender studies” crap. (Happily her majors–she has two BAs–and minor were more realistic–Journalism, Broadcasting, and Spanish.)

                I am not arguing that this does not exist. I am making a plea for not ceding the word feminism to these current ignorant know-it-alls. Yes, they may have a history of two or more decades; true feminism goes back centuries. Please see the Table of Contents of this book:

                http://bit.ly/1S1nqPN

                …where the history begins with “from Jesus to Joan of Arc.” (And notice that what the author terms “second-wave feminism” begins in the 60’s–my era of introduction to feminism.

                (I hasten to add that I haven’t read this book; I stumbled on it while Googling, and the ToC seemed to have a nice representation of the point I’ve been trying to make here.)

                See also this nice history of feminism at Wikipedia:

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_feminism

                I’d like to think that, say, 50 years from now this psychosis in the humanities will have run its course, while the long tradition of feminism carries on.

          • Posted March 13, 2016 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

            But couldn’t you say that about any subject? There is muddled thinking everywhere, even in science: people who cannot separate their ideas from their ideology. I was born in 1965 and grew up as a teenager and saw the changes that feminism brought about as positive. I don’t want to dismiss feminism because there are some feminist thinkers who write badly or manouevre their way through a corrupt educational system. It doesn’t seem to me that feminism as a whole is guilty of the sins that are written about here. But I recognise that I have a predisposition to think this way because of the environment I grew up in for sure.

            • GM
              Posted March 13, 2016 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

              Yes, of course, you can say it abut everything.

              Which is why what matters is which strands of thought are dominant and which ones people are acting on (the latter could be a minority but very important nevertheless).

              I find it hard to understand how anyone can argue that at the moment feminism isn’t dominated by anti-scientific PoMo BS.

              • Posted March 13, 2016 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

                Haha well I am decidedly against anti-scientific PoMo BS and distinctly proud that my daughter decided not to follow her dad into Arts and took the hard route into Sciences.

              • Somer
                Posted March 14, 2016 at 1:24 am | Permalink

                Anti Scientific PoMo BS is much broader than feminism. And most feminism (especially second wave feminism) contained none of this. There are real social improvements that would not have happened without pressure from first and second wave feminists. Its just too many of the latest wave of feminists have joined the Crit Theory, POMO victimology waggon that extends to many other groups besides women. Women got the vote because of feminist activism, changing attitudes and because their labour was essential during WW1 The major reason the status of women improved so much in the 20th C after than is partly due to feminism but mostly because the advanced industrial economies realised they couldn’t maintain their lead or their standard of living without educated female labour. And of course the pill made a big difference. In the last quarter of the twentieth century women in the West became equal people and I am NOT going to criticise that.

                However, under the influence of (mostly male) critical theory and POMO founding philosophers and the fixation of these with subjectivity and not context,third wave feminism often takes no account of whats necessary to support either families or material standards of living in society as a whole. At the same time 3rd wave feminists are too often happy to accept subordination to brutally anti humanist practises in other cultures, including misogynist ones, as long as these belong to another group that fills the Crit theory/POMO priority list. White western males of course, are low on this list … unless they play the role of enforcers of CT standards

              • GM
                Posted March 14, 2016 at 2:48 am | Permalink

                Its just too many of the latest wave of feminists have joined the Crit Theory, POMO victimology waggon that extends to many other groups besides women.

                This has been the dominant form of feminism for about 40 years now. How much longer does it have to continue before we can accept that it is what defines feminism as it exists at this very moment?

                To use an analogy, if we just cherry pick the best of Jesus’ preaching, Christianity can be made to look like a very nice and beautiful thing. So why fight against? First, because it’s false, second, because over the centuries it has been redeveloped into and been defined by some really ugly practices.

                I see very little difference. Feminist theory is patently false, while the practice of it is well on its way towards the classic real-life repression over innocent people that totalitarian movements tend to descend into.

            • Larry
              Posted March 14, 2016 at 1:21 am | Permalink

              I think Jason is making a valid point. To put forth a blanket criticism of feminism without qualifying the critique is being sloppy. And younger generations may not understand there is a distinction between, say feminism from, say 1860 to 1980, and a more recent wave. (I don’t know what we call this, Feminism I and Feminism II.) No doubt conservatives love the unqualified criticism of feminism by today’s progressives. But, don’t let the conservatives win by letting them take over the term via revisionism. This is what neocons did with the term liberal, and it became a term of derision for quite some time.

              • GM
                Posted March 14, 2016 at 2:23 am | Permalink

                Nobody is taking over anything from the outside in this case.

                Feminism is what it is today entirely because of internal developments within feminism.

                And, as I said several times already, you cannot redefine the term to mean what it was 50 years ago. Because it isn’t that thing anymore, the feminism of 2016 is the feminism of 2016, not the feminism of 1966. I can use qualifiers such as “third wave” and “intersectional”, but those are to differentiate between the old and the new, they do not change the fact that feminism today is what it is, it’s very ugly, and it has to be fought against.

                Will women be affected negatively as a result? Well, yes, unfortunately, that’s kind of inevitable. There are many people, me included, whose view of women has taken a turn towards the negative as a result of the insanity of feminist propaganda. I am conscious about it, but I can’t help it. You cannot unsee what you have seen. So it is with many others. But it was the boy who cried wold who was to blame when the real wolf appeared, not the people who did not believe him. Same thing here.

              • Diane G.
                Posted March 14, 2016 at 4:06 am | Permalink

                “(I don’t know what we call this, Feminism I and Feminism II.)”

                Feminism I and Pomo Crap.

              • Diane G.
                Posted March 14, 2016 at 4:10 am | Permalink

                GM, you assert that the only feminism today is pomo feminism. Where are your data outside the academy? Several voices here are disputing you and yet you’re adamant. IMO you’re severely blinkered and dead set on not listening to any opposing argument.

              • Somer
                Posted March 14, 2016 at 4:59 am | Permalink

                Don’t agree GM. Some second wave fems unrealistic. Some third wave feminists are reasonable but overall the movement isn’t and the excesses of third wave Feminism is today because of influences from Pomo and Crit Theorists whose founders were overwhelmingly male

              • FiveGreenLeafs
                Posted March 14, 2016 at 11:05 am | Permalink

                Diane G,

                GM, you assert that the only feminism today is pomo feminism

                As far as I can understand, GM does not do this. Quite to the contrary, he implicitly and explicitly states, in comments, 5.22pm and 2.48pm, that he is talking about dominant trends.

                The major trends that (to an overwhelming degree) today rule academia, political policy decision, and the media discourse.

                I gave a reference in my comment, to Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertges book, “Professing Feminism”, that amply documents the width and depth of this shift, primarily within, but also outside academia.

                The first edition of that book was published in 1995 (I think), and one could wonder about what effect these ideas has had on the 100 000s (of primarily young women) who have passed through these courses.

                But you really don’t have to wonder that much, because if you look closely, you will today find these very same arguments, attitudes and ideology in political policy documents from municipalities to national levels, you will find them in courts, in the media, in education.

                Thats one reason young boys in kindergarten in Sweden (in many places) are no longer allowed to for example play with toy cars or play in the forest, in an attempt to create absolute gender equality and prevent dreaded patriarchal males…

                Where are your data outside the academy?

                In my own experience, books that touch upon this subject mostly deal with specific areas of interest. But to add another reference, I would direct you to Christina Hoff Sommers. She has written several books, among them, “Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women” and “The War Against Boys: How Misguided Policies are Harming Our Young Men”

              • somer
                Posted March 15, 2016 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

                Reply to FiveGreenLeafs March 15, 11.05 From what you write sounds like the teaching program for Swedish children re trying to condition boys is ridiculous I agree. I know some 2nd wave fems like this but a fringe of that movement – then became normalised in 3rd wave. Still I would always assert many aspects women rights have to always be vigilant about but this sort of thing is reverse discrimination, counter to actual biological differences (or for most men and women) and just silly – also just bad education

      • Posted March 14, 2016 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

        Patai was one of the authors of the ‘early warning’ about some of this, 1994’s _Professing Feminism: Cautionary Tales From The Strange World of Women’s Studies_.

        • GM
          Posted March 14, 2016 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

          I actually didn’t know about that book.

          I spent the night reading it, and I am quite surprised it was so bad already more than 20 years ago.

          I knew it was bad, but somehow I thought what we see today is a more drastic intensification of earlier developments, rather than the same insanity that has been brewing for a long time just finally bubbling to the surface.

          I was in schools that had very little humanities (and no gender studies programs) in them for both my undergraduate and PhD degrees though, so I guess I’ve been more sheltered from those things than most others…

    • Sastra
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      There’s “feminist ideology” … and then there’s “feminist ideology.”

      In other words, not all feminists ascribe to the postmodern idea that science is “masculine” and giving serious weight to the belief that glaciers move because they don’t like the smell of grease is “feminine.” Many of them do not — including those who include themselves among those promoting social justice issues. In fact, they’d probably argue that this sort of stuff is anti-both.

      • Grania Spingies
        Posted March 13, 2016 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

        Yes exactly. This isn’t feminism, this is gobbledygook from academic departments desperately trying to validate their existence.

        • Diane G.
          Posted March 14, 2016 at 4:11 am | Permalink

          Precisely.

        • Posted March 15, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink

          Except, unfortunately, we see how this gobbledygook eventually flow from academia into the feminist movement and become part of their jargon and their narrative, and used as political talking points.

          A ton of the “gobbledygook” concepts and ideas that we today see used left and right by the regressive leftist feminists have their origins in pomo, “critical studies”, gender/feminist/whiteness ‘science’, and similar academia – and unfortunately this political and ideologically tripe is being passed around as “science”.

          It’s just so infuriating, because it’s just not taxpayer money that’s being flushed down the drain on this stuff – the worst part is that this is really sullying the good name of science, it’s creating a situation where we have science, and then “science”…

          It’s a bit as if creationists had gotten their own departments and faculties in real, reputable universities, where they were allowed to produce their own peer reviewed creationist “science”, which media wouldn’t differentiate from real science, and which places like Wikipedia would allow as reputable sources…

          Honestly, what’s really the difference, save for which ideology that we are allowing to prance around masqueraded as “science”?

          • Diane G.
            Posted March 16, 2016 at 4:31 am | Permalink

            Yes, but it’s the humanities departments themselves, along with, perhaps, timid administrations, that have let these inmates run the asylum. If all rational faculty, from both the arts and the scientists, would call bullshit on this some sanity might return to the conversation.

            If you look at the actual science departments of universities I doubt you will find much pomo feminist infiltration. (Unless, of course, you consider disciplines like psychology “science.”)

            • Diane G.
              Posted March 16, 2016 at 4:32 am | Permalink

              *the arts and the sciences*

  10. TheDoxieTruth
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    “Other ways of knowing”
    I cannot comprehend how someone’s thinking can be so warped.
    Great post!

  11. Martin Levin
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    What’s most frightening to me is that these are the people teaching our children. Postmodernism is, au fond, self-negating. If all knowledge claims are subjective, there is no reason to credit the claim of subjectivity.

    • GBJames
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      Exactly. This is the central flaw in the whole POMO project.

      • Diane G.
        Posted March 14, 2016 at 4:14 am | Permalink

        “If all knowledge claims are subjective,” why do we need to teach students at all? Let them make up their own damn minds.

    • FiveGreenLeafs
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      This is what really terrifies me. That these ideas are rampant not only with certain humanities departments in universities, but also within basic education and teacher training.

      In Sweden, these ideas are now dominating the core and syllabus of teacher training programs (and have been for at least the past 20 years) for K-12 education, and, the real life consequences that are starting to emerge is truly appalling.

      30 years ago Sweden’s school system were where Finland is today, but today, Sweden’s school system performs worse than than US does. Even tho we have much smaller class sizes, and spend 25 pct more per pupil during the first 9 years of education than Finland.

      Approx 20 pct of all boys that leave 9th grade, do so today as functional illiterates, without the ability to read a daily newspaper. Over 30 pct of all 15 year olds today, lack the basic skills that are deemed required to function in a modern society, i.e. they can (for example) not understand such simple (everyday) problems (or challenges) that contain multiplying 1000 with 3.4.

      I think the (literally) collapse of the Swedish school system is one of the best examples that currently exists, of the practical consequences, when these ideas are implemented coherently on a national level in a core societal function.

      • Peter Lund
        Posted March 13, 2016 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

        That’s probably more to do with immigration policy than education policy.

        • FiveGreenLeafs
          Posted March 13, 2016 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

          Immigration might have increased the stress and the speed of the collapse, and made the failings of the system that much more apparent, but, it is in all probability (as far as the data seem to tell us) not the main cause.

          Results started falling way before the sharp increase in immigration, already (as data now seem to indicate) back in the late 1980s, and, results are falling across the board. The fall in results of the top performers in the latest OECDs PISA study in for example mathematics is (if I remember correctly) for example greater, than for the bottom.

          The culprit is (in all probability) instead a curriculum, teaching methods and attitudes, built upon and suffused in cultural relativism and constructivist ideas of knowledge, seasoned with postmodernist views of truth, very much in line with what is on display in this article.

  12. Somer
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    This Post modern ideology is closely related to Critical theory; suspicion of the Enlightenment and modernity or else technology generally; tendency to see Western culture and societies as worse than any others or not worth defending because they are the greatest source of oppression etc in the world and in history; tendency to see all social problems at home or around world in terms of capitalism versus anticapitalist; assumption capitalism is the same thing as globalisation altho thats been going on since some humans left Africa; suspicion of any knowledge claims that might have a snowballs of undermining this view of the world -ideology-as-science.

    Its infected the humanities to such an extent its starting to affect other areas I believe. Practically everyone going to uni will be exposed to at least a unit with these ideas. It affects careers because it can be encapsulated in an attitude and it can take slightly different forms – even conservative people can subscribe to the unwillingness to criticise religion; free trade people can be comfortable with the dissing of the idea of national borders, or excuses for certain regimes; environmentalists find something; leftists find lots of different things though not much of a program to deal with current actual problems at home in a consistent manner. It affects careers – especially outside business and as I mentioned in some forms even in business and because its a bit non specific it can serve as an effective cultural pressure in groups.

    • somer
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      Oh and one of the core ideas unifying it all in a POMO kind of way is the (Illogical assumption of) equivalence of supposed perpetual marginalisation in all circumstances of certain groups – women, gays, transgender, Non Western peoples (especially West) and non Caucasian persons (again esp if they anti West).
      Increasingly often the different marginalisations clash in which case a hierarchy of oppression is allocated!
      Because POMO and Crit Theory are in effect Grand principles like Hegelian end of history they are context free and don’t reflect actual circumstances of people, when people are being unreasonable or unrealistic

  13. Marilee Lovit
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    A bit of an aside, but a wonderful book somewhat on topic, is “After the Ice Age: The Return of Life to Glaciated North America” by E.C. Pielou, 1991.

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 14, 2016 at 4:20 am | Permalink

      E.C. Pielou. Now there is a feminist. 😀

      I heard her speak at Oregon State sometime around 1970, at a large conference about ecosystems. Sounds like a great book.

      • Diane G.
        Posted March 14, 2016 at 4:39 am | Permalink

        That only shows that he knows how to write a grant proposal with all the right bells and whistles.

        • Diane G.
          Posted March 14, 2016 at 4:42 am | Permalink

          Sigh. Which comment I’ll re-post below under the correct prior comment.

          Meanwhile, still reminiscing about that conference–other speakers included Eugene Odum and Gene Likens…somewhere downstairs I have a book of the proceedings that I must unearth!

  14. Posted March 13, 2016 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    NSF money is finite and so are professorships. What genuine science was NOT funded because more than $400,000 was wasted on this pretentious drivel? And what true scholars COULD have been employed by the history department of the University of Oregon?

    Here are two more examples of this kind of thing:

    Horse-girl assemblages: towards a post-human cartography of girls’ desire in an ex-mining valleys community: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01596306.2014.888841

    CARBON FIBRE MASCULINITY:
    disability and surfaces of homosociality
    http://www.academia.edu/10923011/Carbon_Fibre_Masculinity

    Abstract
    This article examines material economies of carbon fibre as a prosthetic form of masculinity. The paper advances three main arguments. Firstly, carbon fibre can be a site in which disability is overcome, an act of overcoming that is affected through masculinized technology. Secondly, carbon fibre can be a homosocial surface; that is, carbon fibre becomes both a surface extension of the self and a third party mediator in homosocial relationships, a surface that facilitates intimacy between men in ways that devalue femininity in both male and female bodies. Carbon fibre surfaces are material extensions of subjectivity, and carbon fibre surfaces are vectors of the cultural economies of masculine competition. Thirdly, the article gives an account of Oscar Pistorius as an example of the masculinization of carbon fibre, and the associated binding of a psychic attitude of misogyny and power to a form of violent and competitive masculine subjectivity. The paper unpacks the affects, economies and surfaces of ‘carbon fibre masculinity’ and discusses Pistorius’ use of carbon fibre, homosociality and misogyny as forms of protest masculinity through which he unconsciously attempted to recuperate his gendered identity from emasculating discourses of disability.

    • Posted March 13, 2016 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Feminist ideology seems to be recycled Freud.

      • Grania Spingies
        Posted March 13, 2016 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        Even Freud pointed out that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

        • Posted March 13, 2016 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

          Sometimes a glacier is just a glacier. I like it.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted March 13, 2016 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

          How about a train that enters a tunnel, then backs out, then enters the tunnel again and again — did Herr Doktor offer an interpretation for that?

          Asking for a friend.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted March 14, 2016 at 2:58 am | Permalink

            That would normally cause major upsets in the signalling system, for a start.

            I’m reminded of a great British Rail ad (surprisingly I can’t find it on Youtube). It went something like:

            [Still picture of tunnel entrance]
            “Now you’re 16 there are two great things you can do”
            [High Speed Train races into tunnel]
            “The other is buy a British Rail Youth Pass which gives you great discounts on fares”

            cr

    • Merilee
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      Abysmal. And the horse-girl folks can’t even get their apostrophes straight.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 14, 2016 at 4:42 am | Permalink

        ‘Horse-girl assemblages’ sounds anatomically improbable. Also probably illegal in most states.

        Here’s the abstract:

        “The paper works with queer and feminist post-human materialist scholarship to understand the way young teen valleys’ girls experienced ubiquitous feelings of fear, risk, vulnerability and violence. Longitudinal ethnographic research of girls (aged 12–15) living in an ex-mining semi-rural community suggests how girls are negotiating complex gendered and sexual mores of valleys’ life. We draw on Deleuze and Guatarri’s concept of ‘becomings’ emerging in social–material–historical ‘assemblages’ to map how the gendered and queer legacies of the community’s equine past surfaces affectively in girls’ talk about horses. Our cartography traces a range of ‘transversal flashes’ in which girls’ lives and their activities with horses resonate with a local history coloured by the harsh conditions of mining as well as liberatory moments of ‘pure desire’. We creatively explore Deleuze and Guatarri’s provocation to return desire to its polymorphous revolutionary force. Instead of viewing girls as needing to be empowered, transformed or rerouted, we emphasise the potential of what girls already do and feel and the more-than-human assemblages which enable these desires.”

        So that’s all quite clear.

        cr

        • somer
          Posted March 14, 2016 at 5:06 am | Permalink

          Im in paroxysms of …needless to say …. helpless laughter not longing

        • Jose
          Posted March 14, 2016 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

          Now that, that there, is nothing short of staggering in a pseudo-pretentious-academic-gobbleygook way.

    • Jim Smith
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      Maybe the authors of this glacier study can finally give Luce Irigaray and ilk-minded feminists a feminist perspective of fluid mechanics they have so longed for. All it would take is another grant. And grant chasing is all these clowns seem to be good for.

      To be fair and with a bit more thought, I think they looked at the makeup of the people running the academia circus and thought that this was the only way they were getting a grant.

      And they were right.

    • somer
      Posted March 14, 2016 at 12:33 am | Permalink

      How is it possible for this sort of stuff to get funding?? or for academics to not be sanctioned for producing such errr detritus.

      this is an art installation on the intersectionality of technology. Not much distance between this and this. Insanity
      http://www.groundup.org.za/article/rhodes-must-fall-exhibition-vandalised-uct-protest/

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 14, 2016 at 4:27 am | Permalink

      Just when you think you’ve heard it all.

      Unbelievable!

      Yet there it is…

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 14, 2016 at 4:50 am | Permalink

      “Pistorius’ use of carbon fibre, homosociality and misogyny as forms of protest masculinity”

      And I thought he just used ‘Black Talon’ expanding bullets.

      cr

    • Richard
      Posted March 14, 2016 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      Go on, admit it: you made the last one up using the Post-Modern Essay Generator, didn’t you?

  15. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    broader trends in Western sciences that have sought to place science at a god-like vantage from nowhere, ignoring both situated knowledges and the geography of science

    Clearly pomo promoters have problems with the objectivity of science, and pomo can never be a basis for knowledge.

    Pomo is a full bull load of deepities.

    • Draken
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      By the way, putting “knowledge” in plural deserves instant punishment by the language gods, or at the very least a red line from the proofreaders.

      • ploubere
        Posted March 13, 2016 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        If one accepts that there are “different ways of knowing”, then I guess that leads to different “knowledges”. But yeah.

  16. Sastra
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    I read the excerpts you provide and keep wondering what the practical application of this approach and knowledge is supposed to be. I like to mentally translate information into clear examples.

    “Because we can make art about glaciers, we should recognize this capacity in order to ….?” What? Motivate people to study glaciers? Appreciate them? Concern themselves with global warming?

    If the answer is “change our attitude towards women and indigenous people” then the paper doesn’t seem to be dealing with glaciers at all really. They’re only a prop, and one could presumably make the same sorts of points and arguments using trees, mountains, stars, sunsets, or fruit flies.

    • eric
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

      Yes, you notice how the paper tells us over and over again how the feminist perspective is needed, but never gives us a feminist perspective discovery?

      Unless one considers the “glacier is receding because it doesn’t like cooking grease” claim. Its not exactly something I’d hang my hat on, but then, I”m one of those evil hegemonic male science-types.

      • Posted March 14, 2016 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        A few years ago, Susan Haack wrote a paper where she discusses the result of asking whether “feminist science studies” had ever led to a concrete finding in (any) science we would have otherwise missed. What was mentioned by the interlocutor (I cannot remember if Haack is reporting someone else so I can’t get the attributions quite right here) is the finding that pregnancy and menstruation are not diseases. Haack’s response is simply. “Gosh.”

        Yes, women (and some men) face discrimination in science and other fields. Telling them that science should be changed to something supposedly more “female friendly” is exactly the wrong approach – it is infantilizing.

    • eric
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      I also agree with your second point. There is lots of good social science to be had studying biases against women and native groups in the sciences, how we can detect it, how we can fix it. And since a ‘one size fits all’ solution for all of science is unlikely, there’s probably something to be learned studying sexism or bigotry in geology or even the subfield of glacial geology. However, one doesn’t have to claim anything about other ways of knowing to study that.

  17. Posted March 13, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Mark Carey looks surprisingly normal. While I was reading this I was picturing him as some sort of flamboyant Will Ferrell character with spikey pink hair and sparkly heart-shaped purple sunglasses

    I’m surprised they don’t object to the term ‘cryosphere’ as implying some sort of feminine emotional fragility

    • Draken
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      I can’t help but wonder, with people like Carey, if they drank the full chalice of po-mo Koolaid, or if he’s a very cunning, and cynical, poser for grant money.

      A hybrid perhaps?

  18. Taz
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Not only was the money wasted, but this paper will be Exhibit A the next time right-wing politicians want to cut funding for science.

    • Draken
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      It is absolutely fuel on the bale of climate science deniers. Thank you very much, Mark Carey, for giving them a helping hand.

    • Posted March 13, 2016 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      That, alas, is a very shrewd point.

    • Craw
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      Shouldn’t that $413k have been cut?

      • Taz
        Posted March 13, 2016 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

        It certainly should have been spent on something else. Unfortunately, politicians tend to use slash and burn tactics.

        • Craw
          Posted March 13, 2016 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

          That’s what cut means. It would have been spent on fixing roads perhaps, or left to the tax payers to spend it on something they value.

          • Posted March 14, 2016 at 9:31 am | Permalink

            I think you misunderstand. That $413K could’ve been used by the NSF to finance legitimate science, not taken away from the NSF and re-allocated by conservative legislators to the military, or bailing out Wall Street, etc.

            • Posted March 14, 2016 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

              Like funding on actual glaciology – or even proper social science on what psychosocial limitations there might be to people doing glaciology.

    • somer
      Posted March 14, 2016 at 1:40 am | Permalink

      This is the big danger. The Crit theory POMO people are not only able to cut down the voices of reasonable people but by their sheer irrationality and refusal to deal with reality, validate the position of the hard right – including the religious hard right that politicians will take advantage of.

  19. Ariel Karlinsky
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Why are we even listening or reading what this white privileged non-binary man has to say about glaciers?

  20. Posted March 13, 2016 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  21. Posted March 13, 2016 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    I was warned, for instance, about firm taboos against “cooking with grease” near glaciers that are offended by such smells.…Cooked food, especially fat, might grow into a glacier overnight if improperly handled.

    It’s a testable hypothesis! Maybe this guy can land another 400-grand grant and do a randomized trial.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, at the risk of accidentally creating a glacier, it’s dinner time…

    • Draken
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      I’m pretty certain I’ve been frying meat in butter close to Hardanger Vidda. Nothing turned to ice. It rained a lot though.

    • Shwell Thanksh
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      “Cooked food, especially fat, might grow into a glacier overnight if improperly handled.’”

      (citation needed)

    • Steve Bracker
      Posted March 14, 2016 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

      A similar situation arose back when Tom Canty was pinch-hitting for King Edward VI (The Prince and the Pauper, Mark Twain, Ch. 15.) In that case it involved the pulling off of stockings leading, with some help from the devil, to a terrible storm. There were no large grants, but the attempted replication (N=1, negative results) enjoyed sort-of-royal backing when that really counted for something.

  22. Posted March 13, 2016 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    I agree that huge amounts of tax money are wasted on this crap but IDers make the same claim about funding for evolutionary research…and a significant portion of American tax payers would agree with them.
    Maybe the occasional paper on ‘feminist glaciology’ is the price we pay for free and open enquiry

    • somer
      Posted March 14, 2016 at 12:44 am | Permalink

      The difference is evolution is essential to understanding modern world.

      there need to be more alternative humanities courses which are based on facts rather than abstractions (i include realist theories about states having a system of balance where a superpower predominating forever is stability or where the whole aim is maximising power without ever giving thought to consequences of this as opposed to Pinkers more sensible (and moral) compassionate tit for tat approach.

      Improved humanities would recognise the real achievement of worldwide dramatic reduction of mortality of infants 0-5, agricultural and medical advancements, availability reliable contraception first time in history, humanitarian ideas of the enlightenment the fact that appalling inequality and violence is actually pretty much the norm in most societies across the world and actually better with technology

      Such courses need to also be in the humanities to compete with POMO and Crit theory orthodoxy to start turning the balance

      • Posted March 15, 2016 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

        As a guy who has run a site called skeptical humanities, do you have any idea how annoying this paper is? And the replies here, honestly.

        The fact remains that the vast majority of humanities courses ARE evidence based. Though I’m trying to think how a reading of the Battle of Maldon would be enhanced by recognition of “the real achievement of worldwide dramatic reduction of mortality of infants 0-5, agricultural and medical advancements, availability reliable contraception first time in history, humanitarian ideas of the enlightenment the fact that appalling inequality and violence is actually pretty much the norm in most societies across the world and actually better with technology.” A competent reading of the Battle of Maldon, however, would illustrate a familiarity with history, culture, language, geography, comparable texts, etc. This is what scholarship in the humanities usually looks like. Even when there is a subjective interpretive element, those interpretations need to be backed with evidence and facts.

        I looked at the lead author’s bio/CV. He’s done a huge amount of work. Most of it looks pretty straightforward and uncontroversial. I also notice that he has a lot of papers with multiple authors, which is weird for a historian, which suggests that he is mentoring younger scholars, and if his students retire with the record that he has, they would certainly be considered successful.

        I strongly dislike “high theory” both literary and cultural, which strike me as a posturing performance art. But the people who do it are loud–they elevate themselves by making ever bolder claims of revolution (or whatever). They are gurus, really. Compared to responsible scholars, they are more likely to get the attention of public commentators (cough cough) who then mistake the shitty loudness which is theory for “the humanities.” I think that a lot of science enthusiasts do not realize what they do not know; many have no idea what expertise in an area of the humanities looks like. And for all the pearl clutching about how science is being “denigrated” (though, let’s face it, completely unaffected) by the glacier article, the ease with which people are trampling the humanities is all the more ironic.

        Here’s a little essay I wrote about the conflict between science and theory I wrote back in the day. http://skepticalhumanities.com/2011/04/12/the-topography-of-ignorance-science-and-literary-theory/

        And hug a frickin’ English teacher, won’t you?

        • GBJames
          Posted March 16, 2016 at 7:13 am | Permalink

          Thanks for that comment, Bob. And your essay is very interesting. Voices like your’s need to be amplified, IMO.

        • Somer
          Posted March 18, 2016 at 9:49 am | Permalink

          Thanks for reference to your article it was really interesting.

          I appreciate your points and accept that I was too general and most of the humanities are excellent and use relevant evidence. I think literature and the arts are a bit different – the study has to compare and appreciate aspects of actual works that are effectively about communicating emotions, and in the case of literature, often history too, and quite often about aesthetic appreciation. However some courses even in literature show intrusion from critical theory etc, sometimes necessitating that other professors fend it off. Other institutions aren’t affected by it at all. I should have made distinctions and accept its only the minority affected by high theory and apologise if I implied a slight on the discipline – I understand the humanities are always under pressure but I wish there were funding for extra courses of the sort you do to counter out some of this high theory stuff – not just in english but in the other humanities

          Also I suspect destructive politics can happen anywhere and strange stuff occasionally surfaces in print as a result

          Because conservatives generally aren’t attracted to the humanities, these tend to be under threat whenever there’s criticism of the humanities and I don’t meant to denigrate them at all – I think they are completely essential.

          I didn’t elaborate properly re my earlier comments: namely I agree History inherently can’t be treated like science and most history courses are very good and the points I made are not relevant to those, because they don’t use high theory. However some courses are infected by high theory – the anti modern anti west critiques or stemming from the assumptions of those critiques. These critiques basically don’t see the advances of modernity as any better than say, the middle ages hence my point about for the first time in human history escaping the trap of having to have numerous children to escape high mortality of infants 1-5 years, and having no reliable or ethical birth control or the other benefits I mentioned. Or Pinkers analysis or Spierenburg etc etc that violence overall is much less than prior to industrial revolution – this is relevant as counter to grand critiques of history like Marxism or like Critical theory interpretations of history.

          These comments are most relevant in areas like sociology and politics and philosophy which have more high theory interpretations – I would love to see additional courses to give another perspective in these disciplines – and also to counter simplistic reductionism in say Realist IR theory. Maybe this is unrealistic given there is unlikely to be more funding – but Im still disturbed how utterly influential nutty french philosophies from the mid 20th Century, Gramscianism, Marxism are in everyday life beyond academia. Whilst these encourage investigation of the bad side of Western history and behaviour (which we really do need to know) I believe the common element of these is scepticism of the enlightenment, reflexive criticism of the West but never of other cultures, equation of western culture with capitalism. It seems to me this trend has intensified over time. So I don’t know what the solution is because obviously anything to encourage cuts is not good ….

          Maybe lots of online platforms with good article and debate challenging this?
          I wish there were more secular, non ideological organisations that mentor and foster this kind of thing or have some benefactor that enables contributors to be rewarded

          My other point is that high theory tends to assume the attainability of a perfect world, where we are not really constrained by our needs. It makes no effort to situate cultures within environmental and geographic and biological influences. Of course we can influence our environments and each other – but I think such an approach could be used to show up the high theory approaches that ignore the complexity of contexts and jump from the very particular to the very general all the time

  23. Posted March 13, 2016 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    I see what you mean. How embarrassing!

  24. Sastra
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    The expert ‘spoke of ground water, friction, and the laws of physics. Is it possible, I [Harris] asked, that they surge because they don’t like the smell of grease? He looked at me blankly, slowly shook his head, and retreated into his office’ (Harris, 2005: 105).

    Blind idiot. This is JUST like when they laughed at Galileo!

    And it’s also like when I used to be was bullied in Junior High, and when my parents wanted me to do something stupid and wouldn’t even listen to my reasons … and to the Holocaust and Wounded Knee. Nobody’s better than anyone else. Meanies.

  25. PD
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Yes, this seems like a crazy paper, but if you look at the abstract of the CAREER grant (pasted below) and the titles of his other publications (https://honors.uoregon.edu/faculty/mark-carey), then he does not look like a post-modernist crackpot.

    Career abstract

    This project will examine the early development and subsequent evolution of the five main aspects of glaciology: ice dynamics; ice-ocean interactions; landforms and glacial geology; ice as archive of climatic records; and ice as natural resource (water). Specific case studies will be analyzed to illuminate the ways in which science, nature, and society intersect. The resultant book will address (1) the formation of glaciology and theories of ice dynamics; (2) the role of the International Ice Patrol (1913-present) in iceberg analysis and ocean-glacier interactions; (3) the establishment of theories about catastrophic glacial lake megafloods; (4) the Cold War context for ice coring and climatology; and (5) glacier retreat and hydrology.

    The project has broad impacts because hundreds of millions of people worldwide live near glaciers, depend on glacier runoff for their water, reside in zones subjected to ongoing glacier hazards, inhabit coastal areas that could be flooded by melting ice sheets, and vacation in glaciated landscapes that hold particular cultural value such as national parks. The US Intelligence Community recognizes that the effects of glacier retreat potentially threaten US national security, and thus generating new knowledge about glaciers and glaciology contributes to policy and social well-being.

    Research results will be disseminated in conference papers, guest lectures, and the posting of data and bibliographical materials on an online database and digital library. The project also proposes five educational activities that will produce broader impacts for students, the university, and the general public: (1) creation of a Science and Society Group, the foundational step to establishing a Center for the Study of Science and Society at the University of Oregon; (2) development of an “Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program” science and society curriculum to teach undergraduates alongside prison inmates in the unique penitentiary environment; (3) construction of a new Honors College course on the history of the earth sciences; (4) employment and training of undergraduate students in specific research projects; and (5) mentoring of a postdoctoral fellow.

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 14, 2016 at 4:44 am | Permalink

      That only shows that he knows how to write a grant proposal with all the right bells and whistles.

      (Accidentally previously posted above under wrong comment.)

    • Sastra
      Posted March 14, 2016 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      Or it might show that Carey somehow got way off track. Did he fall under someone’s influence — for what seemed at the time like excellent reasons?

      If nothing else, he needs to consider the possibility that the misunderstandings and “brouhaha” exist because he’s not written the thing very well.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 14, 2016 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

        “Did he fall under someone’s influence ”

        https://scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/handle/1794/18295
        Title: Women and Glaciers: Changing Dynamics in Sport, Science and Climate Change
        Author: Rushing, Jacyln R.

        ?

        cr

        • Diane G.
          Posted March 14, 2016 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

          I’ve been wondering if perhaps that relationship is a bit more than academic.

  26. JJH
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    I read the entire article and it caused me to rethink my opinion about “trigger warnings.”

    The article reminded of the Wolfgang Pauli quote, “That is not only not right, it is not even wrong.”

    At least the authors showed their real goal early on in the article, “Through a review and synthesis of a multi-disciplinary and wide-ranging literature on human-ice relations, this paper proposes a feminist glaciology framework to analyze human-glacier dynamics, glacier narratives and discourse, and claims to credibility and authority of glaciological knowledge through the lens of feminist studies.”

    From an historical standpoint, there could be some credible research to be done there (e.g. how men and women of glacier zone cultures view them differently, how scientist have been unable to communicate their data to native cultures, etc.). But the article appears to prescribe that scientists include these perspectives in their actual research. That is not history, that is an op-ed (i.e. “not even wrong”)

  27. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    I had tried in the previous post about this to discover some sense in this paper. But this more lengthy post persuades me to conclude that any advance in the social aspects of glaciology is more than lost by its retreat into obscuritantism.

  28. Matt Jenkins
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Maybe Prof. Ceiling Cat has misunderstood Mark Carey. By packing this many buzzwords into a single text, he’s probably ticked enough governmental boxes to ensure funding for years to come.

  29. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    The authors of this paper may hold “humanities” degrees, but there isn’t a breath of humanity in what they’ve written. Indeed, it’s hard to discern in the excerpts above a living, breathing human doing anything (other than, perhaps, soaking a turntable in melt water or insulting a glacial terminus by sautéing). Hell, it’s hard to believe such turgid, cross-eyed prose were written by human beings, rather than a random-phrase generator.

    In accepting his NSF award, Carey has fucked the taxpayers, as sure as ice-core drillers fuck glaciers and glaciers fuck Pakistani mountainscapes.

    • PD
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      Look at my comment above. Most of his papers do not seem to be related to this, and his grant abstract also gives no indication of post-modernism. So I think it would be hard to reject his NSF proposal based on past work. Maybe this is a new thing for him?

      • windy
        Posted March 13, 2016 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

        An undergraduate student taught him the ways of PoMo, it seems:

        https://around.uoregon.edu/content/glaciers-melt-more-voices-research-are-needed
        “When UO historian Mark Carey hired Jaclyn Rushing, an undergraduate student in the Robert D. Clark Honors College, to explore how nongovernmental organizations were addressing melting Himalayan glaciers, he got an unexpected return.

        Her dive into the literature found that women’s voices are rarely heard in glacier-related research, a finding that triggered a larger project and led to a paper now online ahead of print by the journal Progress in Human Geography.”

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted March 13, 2016 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

          … taught him the ways of PoMo …

          Hope Ms. Rushing at least got a “Thank you, sensei” out of it.

        • Diane G.
          Posted March 14, 2016 at 4:54 am | Permalink

          “Her dive into the literature found that women’s voices are rarely heard in glacier-related research…”

          Since that would be true of the vast majority of historical literature from the hard sciences, I can foresee a veritable gold-mine of “________, gender and science: A feminist ____ology framework for global __________ change research” papers.

          • Posted March 14, 2016 at 10:22 am | Permalink

            Per Chomsky, these “scholars'” “discoveries” turn out to be truisms. Which is why their writing is full of dense, tortuous prose and why it seems to be one tangent after another. The legitimate kernel they’re trying to inflate is too small, but “you don’t get to be a respected intellectual by presenting truisms in monosyllables”.

            • Diane G.
              Posted March 14, 2016 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

              Ha, ha, very good! Too bad Noam doesn’t turn all his attention to this situation and forget foreign policy for a while.

        • Sastra
          Posted March 14, 2016 at 8:23 am | Permalink

          Ooh, hadn’t read this when I wondered above about Carey suddenly being influenced by someone else between the time he wrote the grant and published the paper. I suspect he wanted to be both encouraging and open to new perspectives. Good intentions.

          • HaggisForBrains
            Posted March 14, 2016 at 8:52 am | Permalink

            Or maybe he just fancied her.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted March 14, 2016 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

              That did, of course, instantly occur to me. But I see you got there first. 😉

              Interestingly, this paper has similarities to Rushing’s 2014 thesis

              “Women and Glaciers: Changing Dynamics in Sport, Science & Climate Change”

              https://scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/handle/1794/18295

              cr

    • Posted March 13, 2016 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      “It’s hard to believe such turgid, cross-eyed prose were written by human beings, rather than a random-phrase generator.”

      Reading it, I remembered a moment from the Soviet satirical novel “The Little Golden Calf”. In it, crook Ostap Bender finds himself with too little cash on a train together with a bunch of journalists sent to make reports about a new railway. Bender comprises a three-column set of buzzwords to be combined with prepositions into sentences and so make a decent report without any real brain activity. Then, he sells this “Set for grand occasions” to one of the reporters.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted March 13, 2016 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

        Good one, mayamarkov; sounds like a low-tech random-phrase generator.

        Also sounds like something that could’ve come from the “Serapion Brothers” writers’ group.

        • Posted March 14, 2016 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

          One which uses a Markov chain, perhaps? 😉

          • Merilee
            Posted March 14, 2016 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

            +1 for Markov chain😀

  30. Mandible
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    “When removed from that context and described to nonspecialists, the research can be misunderstood and potentially misrepresented. What is surprising about the brouhaha is the high level of misinterpretations,”

    Michel Foucault called this line of defence “obscurantisme terroriste”. This is the account John Searle gave on Foucault’s introduction of the concept as it applied to Jacques Derrida:

    “With Derrida, you can hardly misread him, because he’s so obscure. Every time you say, “He says so and so,” he always says, “You misunderstood me.” But if you try to figure out the correct interpretation, then that’s not so easy. I once said this to Michel Foucault, who was more hostile to Derrida even than I am, and Foucault said that Derrida practiced the method of obscurantisme terroriste (terrorism of obscurantism). We were speaking in French. And I said, “What the hell do you mean by that?” And he said, “He writes so obscurely you can’t tell what he’s saying. That’s the obscurantism part. And then when you criticize him, he can always say, ‘You didn’t understand me; you’re an idiot.’ That’s the terrorism part.” And I like that. So I wrote an article about Derrida. I asked Michel if it was OK if I quoted that passage, and he said yes.”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Foucault can get pretty obscure himself. Indeed, as between Derrida and Foucault on this score, not sure there’s a helluva lot of, well, différence.

      • Mandible
        Posted March 13, 2016 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        In the same conversation with Searle, Foucault explains the reason for his own obscurantism: http://www.critical-theory.com/foucault-obscurantism-they-it/

        Apparently he was very clear in spoken discussions, and Searle seems to think it is unfair to compare him to Derrida.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted March 13, 2016 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

          Glad to hear Foucault was less obscure in person.

          Heck, if he’d’ve been obscure even when sitting down to explain his obscurantist writing, that would have been, what, meta-obscurantism? Obscurantism-all-the-way-down?

          • Merilee
            Posted March 13, 2016 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

            +1

            The “eschew obfuscation” bumper sticker comes to mind.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted March 13, 2016 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

              Think that’s also one of the “fumblerules” for writers.

              • merilee
                Posted March 13, 2016 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

                I do miss Wm Safire! I dadn’t been aware of those rules. Thanks;-)

              • Diane G.
                Posted March 14, 2016 at 4:59 am | Permalink

                And reminds me just how much the NYT has gone downhill in its efforts to imitate the internet.

          • Posted March 14, 2016 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

            There’s also a very interesting debate with him and Chomsky that I saw somewhere where if I recall he is much more lucid.

            (I still worry about students getting their history from him, but that’s another story.)

        • Posted March 14, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

          Seems to me you might in fact expect even the Derridas and Lacans of the world to speak more intelligibly than they write. The process of concocting polysyllabic, multivalent camouflage for simple ideas must be, if not intellectually challenging, at least laborious.

          • Mandible
            Posted March 14, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

            From what I know, Derrida’s and Lacan’s lectures and oral discussions were as impenetrable as their written works. Look them up on youtube.

    • Sastra
      Posted March 14, 2016 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      “He writes so obscurely you can’t tell what he’s saying. That’s the obscurantism part. And then when you criticize him, he can always say, ‘You didn’t understand me; you’re an idiot.’ That’s the terrorism part.”

      Sophisticated theology in a nutshell.

  31. Posted March 13, 2016 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    As a resident of Oregon, and a graduate from a different area of study at UofO, I am ashamed. I was so repulsed by this concept that I was unable to make myself finish reading it. The whole notion of viewing physical sciences (or anything else) from the perspective of masculinity vs. femininity freaks me out. I think that all concepts should be open to discussion, particularly in universities, but some, like this one, should be laughed out of the school, and certainly not published.

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 14, 2016 at 5:01 am | Permalink

      As a graduate of OSU, I’m enjoying the hell out of this being a UO black eye.

      😀

      • Diane G.
        Posted March 15, 2016 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

        Hope you took that as intended, Rowena. I had many friends at UO. I once even biked down there from Corvallis. Many fond memories of both places…

        Just playing with the old “cow college vs. the elite” trope.

  32. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    ‘Glacier-related knowledges’ ????

    WTF????

    ‘Knowledge’ is an abstract noun. It does not take a plural. Not in any version of English I know.

    cr

    • Denise
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      Now that we have multiple ways of knowing, maybe we are going to have multiple knowledges – ? Don’t be surprised if it happens.

      (“Knowledges” is flagged as an error, so I guess it hasn’t happened yet).

    • Scote
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      Must be a PoMo thing, where different ways of knowing each have their own “Knowledge”.

    • Posted March 14, 2016 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      Pomo-speak is definitely not standard English (or French).

  33. Posted March 13, 2016 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    They decenter the natural sciences, disrupt masculinity, deconstruct embedded power structures, depart from homogenous and masculinist narratives about glaciers

    What the hell is a “masculinist narrative” about glaciers? Does this mean science, which is still male-dominated, has a lot of research by males or is there something intrinsically male about the glaciers themselves and the female glaciers are being oppressed? Maybe the long pointy glaciers are being favored over the supple round glaciers?

    Jerry, you are right, this is horrible righting and I’d go further than to say it is similar to theology; it could be mistaken for modern liberal theology that tries to break the patriarchal structure of churches. When talking about a subject without an object, it’s fine to say all views are equal. Science is supposed to be objective, if research is being rejected on the basis of the researchers being women, that’s a serious problem. But this paper seems to think the solution is to do the opposite and simply throw more diversity into the field and give a nod to authoritarianism.

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 14, 2016 at 5:06 am | Permalink

      “…or is there something intrinsically male about the glaciers…”

      Well, they are on top…

      “…this is horrible righting…”

      Indeed! So bad you could almost call it a wronging.

      • Posted March 14, 2016 at 8:45 am | Permalink

        Haha, indeed! I blame either voice to text, auto correct, or if this was a rare case, myself. I usualy haz gud speling skilz.

        • Diane G.
          Posted March 15, 2016 at 2:38 am | Permalink

          Something about posting online–typing speed?–causes me to use more damn homophones…Others have said the same thing happens to them. It’s an interesting phenomenon.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted March 15, 2016 at 5:17 am | Permalink

            That happens to me too (and I know it’s me as I don’t use autocorrect). Now that might be worth a study (in psychology or linguistics or some cognitive science field).

            cr

            • Diane G.
              Posted March 15, 2016 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

              I’m wondering if the speed of computer typing means we’re hearing the words we want to write in our brains, whereas with slower methods we have time to visualize their spelling? (Of course, electric typewriters were pretty fast, too. But we didn’t spend our time having internet conversations using them.)

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted March 16, 2016 at 2:13 am | Permalink

                Electronic keyboards are much faster. I learned to type (one-finger) on an old Olivetti office manual.

                When they got a IBM PC at work, I promptly got RSI. I was typing (one-finger still) at incredible speed, and the keys would go down with no resistance and stop with a bang at the end of their travel, hence impact damage. I had to learn to use more fingers just to save my most important finger.

                cr

              • Posted March 16, 2016 at 9:16 am | Permalink

                I gnu their had two bee a reason. Hour branes are funny things.

              • Diane G.
                Posted March 16, 2016 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

                LOL!

                4 sheer.

      • Posted March 14, 2016 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        We don’t necessarily have to be on top. Yee-haw!

        • Diane G.
          Posted March 15, 2016 at 2:40 am | Permalink

          Lol!

          My, aren’t we frisky tonight?

    • Posted March 14, 2016 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      I think it’s supposed to mean “what men have learned about glaciers”, with the implication that things women would learn about glaciers will necessarily be different.

  34. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    There’s an argument that when ‘street’ philosophy moved into academe, when street preaching moved into formalised religion, local politicians moved into party politics, you end up with an entire class of people who score career advantages by talking more and more guff about finer and finer points that have less and less to do with life as it is lived by ordinary people.

    In the end some of the most ‘successful’ postmodernists (philosophers, theologists, politicians, feminists etc) are so far around the bend that they see their own reflection, and they hate it.

  35. Posted March 13, 2016 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Another thing pointed out many times before, but always without example (now there is one). The strong tendency of these people to frame every criticism as coming from the “right wing”. In the past: quoted from Sokal & Bricmont, who discuss this at several places…

    […] the Science War [are] a second front opened up by conservatives cheered by their successes o their legions in the holy Culture Wars. Seeking explanations for their loss of standing in the public eye and the decline in funding from the public purse, conservatives in science have joined the backlash against the (new) usual suspects — pinkos, feminists, multiculturalists — Andrew Ross, Social Text (the magazine pranked by the Sokal Hoax)

    And the modern variant…

    Carolyn Gramling wrote: Last week, science historian Mark Carey of the University of Oregon in Eugene found himself thrust into the limelight as the latest target of conservative-leaning bloggers questioning federally funded research. [emphasis mine]

    It strains my sense of fairness that these people always seem to get away with their disingenious tactics.

    • Posted March 14, 2016 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Sokal’s answer was, needless to say, basically, “my political affiliation is irrelevant, and in case you really do care, I taught math and physics under the Sandinistas, thank you very much.”

    • Posted March 14, 2016 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      The characterization by the Pomo crowd of any critics as “conservative” or “right-wing” is, of course, your basic straw man tactic. The Pomo crowd thinks having right-wing opponents will automatically score them points. They try hard to equate not being a relativist (ie, thinking there is one objectively correct reality and that we can ascertain it, sometimes easily, sometimes with hard work) with being conservative.

      • Posted March 14, 2016 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

        It’s a very interesting defense mechanism, isn’t it? For quite a while the whole postmodernist ideology was elusive and hard to define even as a “thing”. The protagonists obscured it even more and claimed they weren’t postmodernists. At the same time, this stuff was touted as “the left” ideology. The other prong of the strategy was, as elaborated above, to view every criticism as (at least) non-left, thereby reinforcing the notion that this is really the only leftist position there is.

        Pretty much the same thing happens again with the Regressive Left (or Social Justice Warriors). Again, there is a name given by others and with immense resistance from them (of course the term is not exactly flattering). If you watch it in some more detail, you can see fierce Wikipedia edit wars over every sentence, delete attempts and so on.

        When you engage with them, which nobody should ever do, you are faced with a wall of denialism and likewise, every criticism is right-wing, conservative, etc. and often enough also declared to be “harassment” or even “violence”, and also in parallel, critics are misogynists etc. nowadays. It does score them points in their tribe, because they are seen “fighting the good fight” which is a way for these keyboard warriors to seemingly combat the forces of evil as represented by some unsuspecting schmuck who doesn’t believe in Critical Race Theory.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 15, 2016 at 4:53 am | Permalink

          What the heck is ‘Critical Race Theory’?

          I thought ‘race’ as a concept was a big no-no, with all sorts of nasty fascist connotations.

          The only other ‘race’ thing I know of is a ‘race condition’, which is a Very Bad Thing to have happen in a program. (‘A race condition is a special condition that may occur inside a critical section. A critical section is a section of code that is executed by multiple threads and where the sequence of execution for the threads makes a difference in the result of the concurrent execution of the critical section’).

          cr

  36. Chelsea Baker
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    I remember when my parents forced me to go to catholic school as a child my teachers would always complain about the “postmodern agenda” and speak of “truth with a capital T”. I can’t believe I’m seeing this same schlock from you Coyne. Did you convert to Catholicism recently?

    • Posted March 13, 2016 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      I’m sorry, but I think you’ve got things mixed up: the schlock is the paper. Unless you think it’s a good paper, in which case you need serious help.

      • GM
        Posted March 14, 2016 at 2:36 am | Permalink

        I think there was some misunderstanding there, but there is a larger point this reminds me of.

        The more insanity the feminists/regressive left/etc. spew out, the closer the remaining rational part of the secular community will be pushed to the Cathlolic philosophers and the likes; even if just as temporary allies. To their credit, they have generally stayed away from postmodernist woo. That’s not a happy development, but might be unavoidable at some point.

        • Diane G.
          Posted March 14, 2016 at 5:09 am | Permalink

          I’m sorry, GM, but I really don’t see why that would automatically follow.

          • Posted March 14, 2016 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

            Defense of realism makes for some strange bed-fellows. (Traditional Catholic philosophy is realist. Pomos are severe anti-realists.)

            • Diane G.
              Posted March 15, 2016 at 3:18 am | Permalink

              “…Traditional Catholic philosophy is realist. ” –Keith Douglas

              Well, except for that rather large underlying assumption…

              “The more insanity the feminists/regressive left/etc. spew out, the closer the remaining rational part of the secular community will be pushed to the Cathlolic philosophers and the likes; even if just as temporary allies.”–GM

              Why would the rational part of the secular community have to have any alliance with any sort of philosopher? Let alone the Catholic ones.

              • Posted March 15, 2016 at 11:30 am | Permalink

                “realism” basically means the language is “truth apt”. So, “God exists” is taken to be an ordinary proposition with a truth value. (And not, say, something that is synonymous with some emotive use, etc.)

              • Diane G.
                Posted March 16, 2016 at 4:22 am | Permalink

                Keith, I’m sorry, I really don’t get that at all, starting with “truth apt.” Then onto, “ordinary proposition with a truth value.” Does that mean something like, “a proposition that people believe to be true?”

                As opposed to “something that is synonymous with some emotive use…”–i.e., a proposition people only ascribe to on an emotional level?

              • Posted March 16, 2016 at 11:22 am | Permalink

                truth apt: “capable of being true or false”, as opposed to emotive, emphatic, etc. language.

                “Dammit!” has no truth value, for example.

                There are some people who think that “God exists.” is closer to “Dammit!” or some aspects of poetry done for word-sound, for example.

            • Posted March 15, 2016 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

              Ironically, this Catholic defense of realism is what let me to analyze the realism of Catholic claims.

              • Posted March 16, 2016 at 11:24 am | Permalink

                In the above sense, allows you to analyze the *truth* of the catholic claims.

                An example of a theologian of sorts who is *not* a realist is the author of _The Sciences and the Humanities_. I think this thesis insults believers, but …

    • Sastra
      Posted March 14, 2016 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      My understanding is that “Postmodernism” comes in many forms (like everything else, more or less.) Some postmodern views are perfectly reasonable and consistent with (or even incorporated in) science. Other forms go the other way and can get pretty silly.

      The confusion between secular humanism and what we might call pop-extremist pomo is a major tool of modern apologetics. “Atheists don’t believe in Truth (certain knowledge) so they reject making objective distinctions between true and false in any way! They’re all relativists!”

      Distancing ourselves from straw man caricature doesn’t mean we’ve joined the other side. It means we’re not going to allow extreme relativism to get away without criticism either.

      • Posted March 14, 2016 at 9:06 am | Permalink

        “Truth with a capital T” are simply weasel words for saying that we need to give assent to the Higher Power who holds perfect knowledge of everything. Science, held below faith, can help us get a glimpse of the Mind of God while remembering that all things will be made new again through He who sustains them.

        Now, doesn’t that above language have the same tone as PoMo nonsense? The Church may shun the “postmodern agenda” but they perfected the PoMo writing style long ago. The Church isn’t interested in objective truth; they’re interesting in stating that they have the objective truth and part of that objective truth is Truth and part of that Truth is authority over everyone on earth. Just because science says there is objective truth about the Universe doesn’t mean it is about to join forces with Catholicism. The Church is an odious institution, but they’re not wrong about everything. Saying 2 + 2 = 5 is simply not as good as saying 2 + 2 = 4, unless you have postmodernist twos that don’t conform to a denary integer narrative.

        • Sastra
          Posted March 14, 2016 at 10:13 am | Permalink

          The theists who wax eloquent over Truth with a capital T often try to defend the necessity of this by sounding suspiciously like extreme postmodern relativists. As you point out, religion perfected the postmodern style not just in the opaque way it thinks and talks about God, but in the way it portrays how “we” are forced to think and talk without God. Nothing can ever be better or truer than anything else — unless you can cite an inviolable personal Authority.

          Presuppositionalism is really just an extended case for the worst version of postmodernism followed by “neener neener I’m on Safe because I’ve got God!”

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 15, 2016 at 3:11 am | Permalink

          “2 + 2 = 5, for sufficiently large values of 2”

          – favourite tagline of mine.

          Furthermore, it works in spreadsheets – for the typical default of zero decimal places –
          add 2.3 and 2.3 and you get
          2
          2
          5

          cr

          • Posted March 15, 2016 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

            And of course, you can use a similar method to prove 2 = 3. 2.3 + 2.3 – 2 = 2.6, which is 3 when displayed with no decimals. By induction, all numbers can now be proved equal. PoMo math!

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted March 16, 2016 at 12:40 am | Permalink

              I *like* it.

              But, ‘some are more equal than others’.

              😉

              cr

      • somer
        Posted March 14, 2016 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        the whole basis of POMO is all knowledge is inherently subjective and subject to viewpoint, including scientific knowledge generally and even language. but some knowledges are more equal than others – namely that we need to focus uniquely on marginalised groups whose stories need to be foregrounded regardless of nasty objectifying context. its married to Crit Theory which holds the west is uniquely bad. Thats a simplification but it is de facto true. Recognising the faults of the west is one thing but this stuff has been steadily growing for 50 years and its become thoroughly pernicious

        • Sastra
          Posted March 14, 2016 at 10:25 am | Permalink

          Yes, that’s how one version of postmodernism goes. The most pernicious one.

          I think there is also another one however in which “all knowledge is inherently subjective and subject to viewpoint, including scientific knowledge generally and even language,” but some knowledge is less subjective than others — namely, inter-subjective ones like science. From this postmodern perspective, marginalized groups are invited into the Agora to tell their stories so the new information may be incorporated and evaluated by the group criteria, which now winnows the wheat from the chaff from a larger, stronger perspective.

          I don’t know. I’m not a philosopher. So when philosophers whom I respect agree that your simplification is indeed a bad thing but then insist that there’s more to postmodernism than that (which they often do)– I get cautious about being too sure I know what “postmodernism” always means. That’s why I prefer to call what you’re talking about ‘extremist relativistic pop postmodernism’ or something like that.

          • Somer
            Posted March 15, 2016 at 1:10 am | Permalink

            The whole critique of objectivity thing as being to manipulative and controlling of a marginalised other is de facto applied in a manipulative and marginalising way. Its inherently problematic that they say science is not trustworthy knowledge to start with. To my mind this is resolved by recognising that human behaviour and interests simply aren’t able to be theorised about with the level of certainty of the sciences – they are inherently non mathematical

            In POMO and Crit theory – this dethroning of science is a preliminary to enthroning the marginalised other is for all time just like a religion – its interests defined for us by academics and true believers – usually within a general framework of anti west – then always upheld at expense others. I recognise some POMOs are just into a kind of philosophy of being and knowing and not political. But this too is part of the problem as indicated. For the political POMO types and their Crit theory allies, Wherever there’s a contradiction between the recognised marginalised groups – theres a hierarchy of whose interest is most important – normally going by whats considered most anti west and/or anti capitalist. Completely distorted unrealistic versions of “feminism” undermine the west too and usually concede ground immediately to anti western groups as somehow being allies. Now this is not to say that we don’t need to be made aware of western iniquities but the point is the abstraction leads to this casting of grand narratives that are dangerous and distorting.

            Philosophy is philosophy – it always winds up a tree of abstraction – thats its trunk – it started as a licence to apply rational thought as well as true faith – the rational bit went off with science but the human and ethics bit tried to combine a bit of rationality with true faith (i.e. some unacknowledged underlying Grand Abstraction – or ideal that supposedly holds in All circumstances regardless of the Consequences)I regard laissez faire theories about capitalism as just as much philosophies as left philosophies but the problems the same

            I would contend that philosophy is inherently based on abstractions – it does not accept that actual physical and other constraints of a particular context limit grand ideals and so winds up being anti humanist in practise. There is so much wiggle room in the theories of philosophical thinkers that any one thinker can pretty much generate an infinity of careers for those who wish to study (usually) him.

            • Sastra
              Posted March 15, 2016 at 8:41 am | Permalink

              I would contend that philosophy is inherently based on abstractions – it does not accept that actual physical and other constraints of a particular context limit grand ideals and so winds up being anti humanist in practise.

              Is that your philosophy then?

              The problem with this humanist critique of “philosophy” is that humanism is itself a philosophy. I can see arguing against bad philosophies from a humanist standpoint. Sure, we do it when we attack pernicious and extreme forms of postmodernism which don’t “accept that actual physical and other constraints of a particular context limit grand ideals.” They end up with self-contradictions.

              But technically speaking nobody can step completely outside of philosophy to argue against the entire field. As philosopher Daniel Dennett puts it, “The philosopher’s job is to help formulate the best questions to ask – and that’s not easy.”

              • Somer
                Posted March 15, 2016 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

                I understand but believe u can frame humanism to be in synch with actual biochemical material and historical realities of the time. The concept of humanism as currently construed doesnt take this into account, because that’s just not part of the philosophical tradition – it doesnt include an extensive review across various fields and an assessment of likelihood approach.
                If our society is to thrive and be humane as opposed to simply hierarchical we need to recognise as the prime values reasonable human material provision for all humans, access to opportunities, and the primacy of freedom from exploitation and subordination (including gender subordination) and oppressive practises
                However most on the left these days assume humans have a universal morality, that this relies on principles which model themselves on ideal conditions of life. And that one must never “compromise” these “principles” to give way to what is achievable in given circumstances in the interests of what to my mind is the ultimate only human morality – improving or preserving from deterioration – human material conditions of life and freedom from oppression. Moreover, societies historically have competing moralities for their own interests, under the rubric of their religion. The reality is the interests of different groups clash – assessment has to be made as to whose interest is more humane, and/or who is effected most in humane terms, and what longer term consequences are. Human life itself is always dependent on what is possible in given circumstances. Often is its necessary to do things that some groups are opposed to – few actions are favoured by all groups. It is the broader intention and the longer term record of the individual, board, government or society, that determines whether an action or decision was selfishly opportunist or not. It is not virtuous to inflexibly assert a principle that is devoid of context. Systematic brutality in human societies is rooted in archetypal conditions of material hardship or scarcity, but cruel traditions and values may persist as stubborn cultural memories even as circumstances change due to technological possibility.
                To ignore circumstances is deeply immoral in my view, ironically analogous to extreme right wing conservatives hell bent on preserving western (as opposed to non-Western) forms of traditional, subordination oriented feudal values.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 15, 2016 at 3:14 am | Permalink

          “some are more equal than others” – I love that saying. I think Orwell coined it in Animal Farm. A meme, before memes were ‘invented’.

          cr

      • Posted March 14, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        “Atheists don’t believe in Truth (certain knowledge) so they reject making objective distinctions between true and false…”

        Which is just about completely backward. Atheists are atheists because they are *more* committed to recognizing verifiable truth.

        • Posted March 15, 2016 at 11:34 am | Permalink

          It is precisely because I believe that some propositions are (objectively) true or false (or a continuum of truth values) that I reject the idea of Truth with a capital “T”. God is the Truth is just a category mistake – whatever else a believer means, god is not a (relational?) property of propositions.

          Similarly, Kierkegaard’s deliberate provocation, “truth is subjectivity” is also simply using “truth” in a funny way at best. (And he knows this.)

        • Michael 2
          Posted March 15, 2016 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

          “Atheists are atheists because they are more committed to recognizing verifiable truth.”

          Incorrect as to the actual meaning of the word and its common use. The actual meaning of the word is “non-theist”, it says absolutely nothing about what might have taken the place of theism. In common use it often means anti-theism, which still says nothing about the person other than what he is NOT or what he OPPOSES.

          I am committed to truth. I do not grok “verifiable truth” but I suppose it means portability. Ephemeral truth is not portable. If I saw lightning last night, the fact of it is true or not, but it is not portable; I have nothing by which I can prove it to you.

          So if you limit yourself to “verifiable truth”, well, that would be one of the limitations of an atheist.

          • Posted March 15, 2016 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

            More committed to recognizing verifiable truth *than theists*.

            Theists prop up their religious beliefs with various cognitive biases, fallacious reasoning, and wishful thinking. If a person tries, as far as she is able, to stay away from those modes of thinking, ie, commit to accepting as true that which can be objectively demonstrated as true, that person is more likely to reject theistic claims.

            If you told me you saw lightning last night, but I have no way to verify it, or you have no way to demonstrate it, I think it’s eminently appropriate for me to say “well, that certainly could be, but I’m going to remain officially agnostic on the matter.”

            • Michael 2
              Posted March 16, 2016 at 11:38 am | Permalink

              musical beef writes “More committed to recognizing verifiable truth *than theists*.”

              No. What you have described is not a property of the word “atheist” nor predictably or necessarily a property of persons identifying themselves as such.

              NO reason for a person to identify as an atheist is universal. In my experience, most are really anti-theists, rebelling against their childhood indoctrination. It is an opposition phenomenon and not toward anything in particular.

              Let us consider your further words.

              “Theists prop up their religious beliefs with various cognitive biases, fallacious reasoning, and wishful thinking.”

              In what way does an atheist differ? Your assertion that atheists are automatically and necessarily gifted with being more committed to recognizing verifiable truth is “wishful thinking” and not supported by the definition nor by experience. You are clearly biased and have invoked fallacious reasoning. I see it as a limitation to only accept “verifiable truth”. Someone comes running to your village claiming that a wolf or bear is rapidly approaching and has been eating people. So while everyone else takes shelter you stand there waiting for some verifiable truth.

              In order to assert the non-existence of a god, a definition must exist — invoking the definition implicitly creates the object, at least for purposes of belief or disbelief.

              “If you told me you saw lightning last night, but I have no way to verify it, or you have no way to demonstrate it, I think it’s eminently appropriate for me to say: Well, that certainly could be, but I’m going to remain officially agnostic on the matter.”

              THAT is the correct response to theism! You can neither affirm nor deny the experience of another person (where what is being declared is that person’s experience).

              On the other hand, most theists are atheist to all religions but one and can distinguish between a claim of personal experience (hard to argue against) versus a claim of universal application (all people must wear white shirts) which would warrant some proof.

              • Posted March 16, 2016 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

                Your reply is a straw man. I did not write that atheists aren’t susceptible to cognitive biases. I wrote that if a person tries to avoid cognitive biases their perception will better map onto reality than someone who allows cognitive biases to run rampant, ie, theists.

                I would run from the reported wolf without waiting for verification if I think the reporter is of sound mind, and also because there is more to gain from taking the reporter’s word and more to lose from not taking the reporter’s word than there was in the lighting example. And what a poor example! Have you never heard the story of the boy who cried wolf? Reasonable people would indeed be hesitant to take the reporter’s word if the reporter had demonstrated himself insane or a prankster.

              • Michael 2
                Posted March 17, 2016 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

                musical beef wrote: “I did not write that atheists aren’t susceptible to cognitive biases. I wrote that if a person tries to avoid cognitive biases their perception will better map onto reality than someone who allows cognitive biases to run rampant”

                While rampant bias certainly leads to detachment from reality, I am pretty sure that overzealous compensation for imagined bias can lead to a similar result.

                The problem, IMO, is that bias operates below cognition and you never feel or sense your own bias. Therefore you cannot consciously avoid it. You can test your assumptions using the rules of logic and that works for those things for which logic is designed.

                “I would run from the reported wolf without waiting for verification if I think the reporter is of sound mind, and also because there is more to gain from taking the reporter’s word and more to lose from not taking the reporter’s word.”

                Pascal’s Wager in other words. It is prudent.

                Pascal’s Wager works when the choice is binary. In the case of many gods, some of whom reward and punish, some only punish and some only reward, or none exist, the situation is a lot more complicated.

                Logic or reason works on people for whom it works; a tautology I suppose but consider “NT” personality types (Myers-Briggs MBTI; left brain dominant). Such persons can be compelled to a belief, or disbelief, using facts and logic correctly. “NF” (right brain dominant) on the other hand cannot be so persuaded. That kind operates on what it feels; and if it feels there is no god, then there is not; and if it feels there is, then there is. With that kind you can easily “win” an argument while having no effect whatsoever.

              • Posted March 17, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

                Pascal’s Wager. Ok, sure. In a very, very limited sense, not to mention in a context that makes much more sense than the religious one. I know wolves exist and what they can do. I do not know that hell exists, and in fact o have very many reasons to doubt, nearly to the point of certainty, that theistic claims are false. If there were as many good reasons to doubt the person crying wolf as there are to doubt theists, I probably wouldn’t run. Additionally, I don’t lose nearly as much from running as I would from becoming a theist.

              • Posted March 17, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

                Oops. Make that : “…and in fact I have very many reasons to doubt, nearly to the point of certainty, that theistic claims are true.

              • Michael 2
                Posted March 17, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

                musical beef “I have very many reasons to doubt, nearly to the point of certainty, that theistic claims are true.”

                Some are, some aren’t [fill in the blank]. The claims under this broad umbrella are many. For instance, “Let there be light” as the first thing created seems to be true. Not only that, it predates the sun by three “days”. I don’t use it as a valid scientific claim (nor, for that matter, a theistic claim). It’s just a description handed down through many generations. It’s correspondence to the “big bang” I find interesting but not especially informative.

                I’m pretty sure that a benevolent, omni-everything god does not exist because that kind cannot exist, unless of course one is willing to beat the crap out of the English language and define “benevolent” and “omni” quite differently than I accept them to mean.

                But I don’t leap from that to the irrational conclusion that nothing exists outside of what my own superior brain thinks exists.

                So if there’s more than nothing, but less than omni-everything, what does that leave? Well it leaves everything between zero and infinity excluding the endpoints. That’s quite a lot of room for exploration of what is rather than arguing endlessly about what is not.

              • Posted March 17, 2016 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

                The claim in “let there be light” is that a god created light.

              • Michael 2
                Posted March 18, 2016 at 9:33 am | Permalink

                musical beef wrote “The claim in let there be light is that a god created light.”

                Maybe. It can also be an observation, an awareness that it is about to happen, maybe just a way to start a story.

                This is where your own culture creeps in. Much of my life I believed my own religion believed that god created the animals, poof, and there they were. But the bible doesn’t say that. It says the Earth brought forth all living things. Now I am not sure what exactly my religion believes and, fortunately, it also doesn’t matter much because now I know what *I* believe.

                As to whether god commanded light to exist, or observed it, I have no idea. That is really, really straining at gnats.

              • Posted March 17, 2016 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

                The problem, IMO, is that bias operates below cognition and you never feel or sense your own bias.

                I’m glad you qualified this statement by saying it is merely your opinion. There is plenty of evidence that we can detect our own biases. You are right that it is not easy to do, but science is built upon rooting out personal biases. Surely, you’ve experienced the epiphany that occurs when someone points out something you were wrong about due to bias? I know I have. To say that I remained unaware of that bias is simply absurd.

                There is ongoing research in the area of cognitive biases and even a site where you can go learn about your own: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/

              • Michael 2
                Posted March 17, 2016 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

                “when someone points out something you were wrong about due to bias?”

                Exactly my point; someone else notices it and calls it to your attention. Once you have had it pointed out, various ways exist to “objectify” your own world view, but that process still goes through the same filter that created your world view in the first place. One of those filters is language itself; some concepts cannot be conveyed accurately in English (IMO); some words are best used in their original form and might require readers to eventually “grok” the meaning of “grok”.

              • Posted March 18, 2016 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

                @Michael 2, reply to chrisbuckley80:

                One can detect and try to avoid one’s own cognitive biases. One does not always need someone else to point it out. Have you never had the experience of thinking to yourself “oh, hey, that’s not necessarily right; you’re letting your biases get the better of you”?

              • Posted March 18, 2016 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

                This is my point. Once I’m aware of my biases, I try to take them into account. Often biases are exposed by outside criticism, but once I learned from the criticism I received, the methods can be applied going forward. I think it’s an irrelevant chicken and egg question as to whether we need outside criticism to expose our own biases or learn to do it first on our own. The point is, I am aware of many of my own biases and often find that I am more critical of myself than I am of others to try to root them out.

              • Michael 2
                Posted March 21, 2016 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

                musical beef “oh, hey, that’s not necessarily right; you’re letting your biases get the better of you”?

                Almost. I am pedantic and will sometimes realize that my description is not accurate. Unfortunately my re-write, while being more accurate according to me, could be less accurate or even confusing to you or others.

                On a one-to-one conversation it is possible and reasonable to compensate for one’s bias but that produces a danger of double-compensation since your listener is also compensating your words.

                In the world of computer networking a similar phenomenon can happen when two auto-negotiating switches are connected to each other. Each tries to accomodate to the other, but in doing so changes its port settings just as the other is also changing its port settings. Sometimes it works better to let one side negotiate and the other side is firmly fixed as to speed and polarity.

                So it is with people. The listeners must accomodate the speaker since each listener can accomodate and compensate as she wishes but the speaker certainly cannot bias-correct for each of many listeners at the same time and thus ought not to compensate.

                In the privacy of your thoughts you can certainly apply the Socratic Method: Question everything! Starting with your own existence. For me, Descarte’s cogito ergo sum answers that question; it is the thing that needs no more questioning.

                Next in certainty is god; but I do not impute much in the way of properties — you will do that as my listener. You will impute many things that I have not. That’s just the nature of the beast. It is your bias that I cannot compensate for.

                The mere act of questioning is pointless if you have no source of reliable answers. It is kind of theatrical to have people going around “questioning” like that means something by itself.

  37. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    A further thought on ‘feminist glaciology’. I understand the movement of large bodies of ice is essentially fluid (a very viscous fluid, granted). Thus ice, which appears to be hard, rigid, unyielding – essentially ‘masculine’ qualities – can over time be adaptive, flowing, encompassing – essentially feminine qualities, even if it is a bit frigid. Thus glaciology will have suffered from the establishment bias against fluid mechanics. (Ref Irigaray, quoted in ‘Postmodernism Disrobed’).

    But it is worse than that. The male-female binary, which as PCC(E) says “is really a pronounced bimodality with a low-frequency continuum between the male and female peaks”, has not only been perpetuated but exacerbated by science over the centuries. Consider electricity, with its enforced division of charge into positive (denoted by a + sign) and negative (denoted by a – sign). Consider the implications of the words ‘positive’ (good) and ‘negative’ (bad). Consider further that at atomic level, the protons – firm rigid objects occupying a privileged position in the nucleus – are those with the positive charge, while the electrons – shadowy, ephemeral entities cursed with the negative charge but with no real existence – are condemned to orbit around the nucleus in a vague ‘cloud’. And there is no place in this scheme for intermediates, other than neutrons which have no charge identity at all. How sexist! We call for a new inclusive paradigm of electricity which will permit and account for intermediate states.

    But it gets worse. Digital logic (the word ‘digital’ here is telling, symbolising a hard rigid undeniably male finger intruding on its environs) is now all-pervasive, facilitated by solid-state (solid = masculine!) electronics. It is well-known that the transistor was invented by a genetic elitist. Digital logic is overwhelmingly binary, with no intermediates permitted. And it denotes values by ‘1’ (hard, rigid, upright, essentially masculine) and ‘0’ (circular, with no sharp protrusions, surrounding, essentially feminine). Unsurprisingly, a ‘1’ is worth more than a million ‘0’s. Even more tellingly, ‘TRUE’ is represented by a ‘1’ and ‘FALSE’ by a ‘0’. The feminine symbol is worth nothing. And in digital devices, the continuum of natural phenomena is brutally sliced up into minuscule chunks or ‘bits’ which are then ruthlessly assigned to one of the two binary categories ‘1’ or ‘0’, to be operated on en masse by the computing process. This is undoubtedly responsible for the divisive aspects (‘in-group’ and ‘out-group’) of modern socio-political discourse.

    We call for (no, demand!) an inclusive computing logic that will accommodate intermediate states between ‘1’ and ‘0’. From this should flow a more understanding, diversity-friendly and civilised ambience for society.

    (How’m I doing?)

    cr

    • John Taylor
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      Doesn’t quantum computing do something like that??? The world is slowly moving toward a more progressive form of computation.

    • FiveGreenleafs
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

      😀

      But now my head hurts…

    • somer
      Posted March 14, 2016 at 12:51 am | Permalink

      Hilarious! Seriously though, plainly you have an intimate familiarity with the terrain of these cis gendered topics. Have you thought of applying for a grant?

      • infinitieimprobabili
        Posted March 14, 2016 at 2:22 am | Permalink

        Intimate familiarity? I’ve read Sokal’s hoax paper, and Dawkins’ ‘Postmodernism Disrobed’, and assorted posts highlighted by Prof CC on this site. Also ‘Intellectual Impostures’ (Sokal and Bricmont) ages ago.

        The ideas about the sexism of electronics and digital logic just seemed like natural extensions of that. (Though I’m sure others must have ranted about them before now).

        It was, in fact, disconcertingly easy to write.

        cr

        • somer
          Posted March 14, 2016 at 3:05 am | Permalink

          Well good job of lampooning it … yes it lends itself to caricature. I was trying to use appropriate POMO language but Im afraid, like you a little goes a long way.

    • GM
      Posted March 14, 2016 at 2:32 am | Permalink

      Brilliant.

      P.S. Has anybody thought of repeating the Sokal experiment? It’s exactly 20 years since then. Would be a good time to celebrate the anniversary that way.

      • Diane G.
        Posted March 14, 2016 at 5:14 am | Permalink

        I’d love to see that happen!

      • chemdiary
        Posted March 14, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        Looks like they just repeated it!

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 14, 2016 at 5:13 am | Permalink

      Ha, ha, ha, bravo!

    • Sastra
      Posted March 14, 2016 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      Oooo, look at how you’re connecting ideas and other stuff together using your intuition! +1

    • Posted March 14, 2016 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      I’d bet $100 you could get this published.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 15, 2016 at 5:04 am | Permalink

        I’m not sure I’d want that to be my only official publication… 😉

        cr

    • Doug
      Posted March 15, 2016 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      Speaking of electricity, do people still refer to the ends of an extension cord as “male” and “female?” Or is that a micro-agression?

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 15, 2016 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

        So far as I know, ‘male’ and ‘female’ plugs are still the norm.

        cr

  38. Craw
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this post. A lot of work went into this. I will circulate it to many friends.

  39. Shwell Thanksh
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    I like how we get both “homogenizing global narratives of glaciers” and “hegemonizing global narratives of glaciers.”
    Can we truly be 100% convinced this isn’t a long-term Sokal?

  40. Hempenstein
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    I think the root cause of PCCE’s insomnia ia now revealed. I may lie awake thinking of $413K now, too.

    Otherwise, repeat to yourself: It’s Oregon, Jake.

  41. harrync
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    All the glaciers will be gone in a few centuries, and there will be nothing left to study, so what’s the problem?

  42. lkr
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    “In a frozen world without warfare, LeGuin imagines a place without men and women, where there are no fixed or different sexes.”

    In Ursula LeGuin’s imaginative fiction, the idea of Genly Ai as “pervert” in a world of hermaphrodites was a powerful read. But what made it fine literature was that the escape from the Gulag-like camp [no warfare? — I recall a world of nations in a Cold War, at least] was over an ice-cap where ice and snow behaved like ice and snow, in arctic weather that acted like weather!

    It’s at least 30 years since I read LHoD, should dig it out for another go-round. It does please me that [despite the occasional pomo prof] Oregon is connected to two of the best SciFi novels, LHoD and Dune..

  43. David Duncan
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    “I wrote about it on this site last week, and have since read the whole thing twice. I still haven’t recovered.”

    Perhaps this explains your recent insomnia and general malaise.

  44. SRM
    Posted March 13, 2016 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    Is post-modernism in the humanities anything other than Cargo-cultism in academia?

    Since I am never the first person to think of anything, surely someone else has recognized this similarity.

    • Kevin
      Posted March 13, 2016 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

      Sounds right, but I did not think of it before you. Though it is a paradox of sorts to consider each person is rarely the first to think of something.

  45. Robert bray
    Posted March 14, 2016 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    ‘And why don’t the Humanities clean up their own mess?’

    Because so many humanists do not regard what they do as a ‘mess’ but rather as the last redoubt against the racist, classist and masculinist majority. Thus they deny the facts of academic life, a fortiori the dominance of science, and double-down on their losing hand.

    Though now a retired professor of literature, I saw this time and again in my own and related fields. Contempt for science was built on ignorance and a hatred of the very reason they employ in an attempt to show that reason is ugly.

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 14, 2016 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for the insider’s view, Robert.

      Guess I was just hoping there’d be enough rationalists left amongst all the humanities disciplines to take alarm, join together, and raise hell. Some shining knight or knightess to gallop in and slay Derrida…

      (Yes, I know that would be redundant.)

  46. Mike
    Posted March 14, 2016 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    It has about as much Value as this.

    The Broken Sea: Textual narrative in the works of Gaiman

    Helmut Parry

    Department of English, University of California, Berkeley

    1. Gaiman and Sartreist absurdity

    “Class is fundamentally used in the service of class divisions,” says
    Lyotard. In a sense, an abundance of appropriations concerning textual
    narrative may be revealed.

    Postsemioticist nihilism states that society has objective value. However,
    Derrida uses the term ‘textual neocultural theory’ to denote a capitalist
    totality.

    A number of deconceptualisms concerning the meaninglessness, and eventually
    the absurdity, of postdeconstructive consciousness exist. Therefore, de Selby[1] holds that we have to choose between textual narrative and
    subpatriarchial cultural theory.

    Any number of discourses concerning Lyotardist narrative may be discovered.
    In a sense, the subject is interpolated into a textual neocultural theory that
    includes culture as a paradox.

    2. Textual narrative and Foucaultist power relations

    If one examines predeconstructivist objectivism, one is faced with a choice:
    either reject Foucaultist power relations or conclude that consciousness is
    used to reinforce the status quo. If Marxist class holds, we have to choose
    between textual narrative and the dialectic paradigm of consensus. However,
    Baudrillard’s critique of Foucaultist power relations implies that class,
    paradoxically, has significance.

    “Sexual identity is meaningless,” says Lacan. Bataille uses the term
    ‘substructuralist socialism’ to denote the difference between society and art.
    In a sense, Debord suggests the use of Foucaultist power relations to attack
    class divisions.

    The primary theme of the works of Gaiman is the meaninglessness of
    capitalist society. The subject is contextualised into a precultural
    construction that includes culture as a totality. But Sargeant[2] suggests that we have to choose between textual narrative
    and constructivist narrative.

    “Sexual identity is part of the collapse of art,” says Lacan. The subject is
    interpolated into a Foucaultist power relations that includes sexuality as a
    whole. In a sense, in Stardust, Gaiman analyses Lyotardist narrative; in
    Death: The Time of Your Life he denies Foucaultist power relations.

    The characteristic theme of Dietrich’s[3] essay on
    textual narrative is the common ground between class and sexual identity. An
    abundance of materialisms concerning the meaninglessness, and eventually the
    paradigm, of subsemantic class exist. Therefore, Debord uses the term
    ‘Foucaultist power relations’ to denote the bridge between society and class.

    In the works of Fellini, a predominant concept is the distinction between
    closing and opening. Conceptualist predialectic theory implies that consensus
    is created by communication, given that Sontag’s analysis of textual narrative
    is valid. However, if Foucaultist power relations holds, we have to choose
    between textual deconstruction and the subcapitalist paradigm of narrative.

    The main theme of the works of Fellini is the role of the artist as writer.
    In a sense, textual narrative suggests that culture has intrinsic meaning.

    Sargeant[4] states that we have to choose between
    neocapitalist narrative and Derridaist reading. Thus, the subject is
    contextualised into a Foucaultist power relations that includes narrativity as
    a totality.

    Sontag promotes the use of semanticist submodern theory to challenge and
    analyse sexual identity. However, the primary theme of Cameron’s[5] model of Foucaultist power relations is the economy of
    textual class.

    If textual narrative holds, we have to choose between Foucaultist power
    relations and preconceptual deappropriation. But the subject is interpolated
    into a textual narrative that includes culture as a paradox.

    Lacan uses the term ‘Lyotardist narrative’ to denote the role of the
    observer as poet. Therefore, the premise of textual narrative suggests that
    narrative is a product of the masses.

    The stasis, and therefore the genre, of Lyotardist narrative which is a
    central theme of Burroughs’s The Ticket that Exploded is also evident in
    Naked Lunch. It could be said that the characteristic theme of the works
    of Burroughs is the stasis, and subsequent collapse, of cultural sexual
    identity.

    Reicher[6] states that we have to choose between
    Foucaultist power relations and the cultural paradigm of context. Thus,
    Bataille suggests the use of Lyotardist narrative to deconstruct sexist
    perceptions of society.

    3. Consensuses of meaninglessness

    If one examines textual narrative, one is faced with a choice: either accept
    Foucaultist power relations or conclude that reality is responsible for sexism.
    Sontag’s analysis of pretextual theory implies that class, perhaps ironically,
    has significance, but only if culture is distinct from narrativity. Therefore,
    Marx promotes the use of textual narrative to read sexual identity.

    The primary theme of Cameron’s[7] essay on Lacanist
    obscurity is the role of the writer as observer. Sartre uses the term
    ‘Foucaultist power relations’ to denote a self-falsifying reality. But in
    The Last Words of Dutch Schultz, Burroughs affirms the cultural paradigm
    of discourse; in Junky, however, he deconstructs Foucaultist power
    relations.

    “Class is intrinsically used in the service of archaic, elitist perceptions
    of truth,” says Lacan. If subtextual nihilism holds, we have to choose between
    Foucaultist power relations and cultural narrative. In a sense, the
    characteristic theme of the works of Burroughs is not construction, but
    preconstruction.

    The premise of textual narrative suggests that the media is capable of
    intention. It could be said that Long[8] holds that we have
    to choose between Lyotardist narrative and posttextual deappropriation.

    If Foucaultist power relations holds, the works of Burroughs are
    modernistic. Thus, a number of discourses concerning Lyotardist narrative may
    be revealed.

    The primary theme of Sargeant’s[9] model of the
    capitalist paradigm of narrative is a precultural paradox. It could be said
    that Prinn[10] states that we have to choose between
    textual narrative and dialectic socialism.

    An abundance of materialisms concerning the common ground between sexual
    identity and class exist. Therefore, the subject is contextualised into a
    Foucaultist power relations that includes consciousness as a reality.

    Textual narrative implies that truth may be used to exploit minorities.
    Thus, Derrida uses the term ‘Foucaultist power relations’ to denote not, in
    fact, narrative, but neonarrative.

    4. Lyotardist narrative and postsemiotic discourse

    “Society is unattainable,” says Lacan; however, according to Cameron[11] , it is not so much society that is unattainable, but
    rather the defining characteristic, and hence the futility, of society. If
    postsemiotic discourse holds, we have to choose between Lyotardist narrative
    and conceptualist neotextual theory. However, the main theme of the works of
    Spelling is the failure, and subsequent paradigm, of semanticist consciousness.

    If one examines the precapitalist paradigm of expression, one is faced with
    a choice: either reject postsemiotic discourse or conclude that the
    significance of the writer is social comment. The premise of Derridaist reading
    states that society has objective value, but only if postsemiotic discourse is
    invalid; if that is not the case, narrative is created by communication. It
    could be said that the characteristic theme of Abian’s[12]
    critique of Lyotardist narrative is the difference between art and society.

    The primary theme of the works of Spelling is the role of the observer as
    participant. Many narratives concerning textual narrative may be found. But
    Bataille suggests the use of Lyotardist narrative to attack sexism.

    Sartre uses the term ‘textual narrative’ to denote not patriarchialism per
    se, but neopatriarchialism. It could be said that any number of theories
    concerning a self-fulfilling totality exist.

    Sontag’s model of postsemiotic discourse suggests that the goal of the
    observer is significant form, given that sexuality is interchangeable with
    consciousness. However, Lyotard uses the term ‘textual narrative’ to denote the
    collapse, and thus the absurdity, of subsemioticist class.

    Bataille promotes the use of cultural appropriation to modify and analyse
    sexuality. It could be said that the within/without distinction intrinsic to
    Spelling’s The Heights emerges again in Models, Inc., although in
    a more mythopoetical sense.

    The subject is interpolated into a Lyotardist narrative that includes
    culture as a paradox. Thus, Debord suggests the use of postsemiotic discourse
    to challenge hierarchy.

    ——————————————————————————–

    1. de Selby, G. Z. U. ed. (1972)
    Lyotardist narrative and textual narrative. And/Or Press

    2. Sargeant, N. (1997) Textual Theories: Textual narrative
    and Lyotardist narrative. Oxford University Press

    3. Dietrich, F. I. T. ed. (1988) Lyotardist narrative in
    the works of Fellini. Loompanics

    4. Sargeant, N. (1973) The Futility of Context: Lyotardist
    narrative and textual narrative. Panic Button Books

    5. Cameron, Y. W. ed. (1997) Lyotardist narrative in the
    works of Burroughs. And/Or Press

    6. Reicher, P. W. V. (1989) Reassessing Socialist realism:
    Lyotardist narrative, submaterialist nationalism and rationalism.
    Loompanics

    7. Cameron, J. I. ed. (1975) Lyotardist narrative in the
    works of Stone. And/Or Press

    8. Long, M. (1997) The Economy of Context: Rationalism,
    Derridaist reading and Lyotardist narrative. Schlangekraft

    9. Sargeant, L. G. H. ed. (1973) Lyotardist narrative in
    the works of Lynch. And/Or Press

    10. Prinn, E. (1998) Deconstructing Foucault: Textual
    narrative in the works of Fellini. Panic Button Books

    11. Cameron, S. J. ed. (1987) Lyotardist narrative in the
    works of Spelling. University of Oregon Press

    12. Abian, R. E. G. (1994) Reinventing Socialist realism:
    Textual narrative and Lyotardist narrative. University of California
    Press

    ——————————————————————————–

    The essay you have just seen is completely meaningless and was randomly generated by the Postmodernism Generator. To generate another essay, follow this link.
    If you liked this particular essay and would like to return to it, follow this link for a bookmarkable page.

    The Postmodernism Generator was written by Andrew C. Bulhak using the Dada Engine, a system for generating random text from recursive grammars, and modified very slightly by Josh Larios (this version, anyway. There are others out there).

    This installation of the Generator has delivered 13973795 essays since 25/Feb/2000 18:43:09 PST, when it became operational.

    More detailed technical information may be found in Monash University Department of Computer Science Technical Report 96/264: “On the Simulation of Postmodernism and Mental Debility Using Recursive Transition Networks“.

    More generated texts are linked to from the sidebar to the right.

    If you enjoy this, you might also enjoy reading about the Social Text Affair, where NYU Physics Professor Alan Sokal’s brilliant(ly meaningless) hoax article was accepted by a cultural criticism publication.

  47. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted March 14, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    I’m uncharacteristically posting a day late here, but I must say given the LeGuin’s “The Left Hand of Darkness” is one of my favorite sci-fi novels, that adds to the pain.

    It’s legit to note the impact that melting glaciers have on indigenous people as an exercise in engaged anthropology, but this paper’s gobbled-gook goes way beyond that.

  48. CJColucci
    Posted March 14, 2016 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    I am open to the idea that paying more attention to folk beliefs about glaciers and bringing a feminist perspective to what looks, superficially at least, like a fairly macho scientific enterprise, might bring different questions to the fore in the study of glaciers. Carey doesn’t show that, of course, but it could still be true, his inadequacies nothwithstanding. But I don’t see how those perspectives cast any doubt on the answers to the questions we are now asking.

  49. Hempenstein
    Posted March 14, 2016 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    One glaring omission: Ötzi! How could they miss such a glaring example of sexism in glacial knowledges.

    Surely there are countless glacier women still frozen and ignored, just so the science men can pretend glaciers are their domain alone.

  50. jeffery
    Posted March 14, 2016 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    Whenever I hear the phrase, “..other ways of knowing”, I throw up a little bit in my mouth…

    AN ASIDE: Just got “Faith v/s Fact” from my local library today (I can’t believe they stocked it; they must have not read it, or think that it supports religion- Ha!) I’m REALLY looking forward to starting in on it this evening….

  51. Caution
    Posted March 15, 2016 at 1:46 am | Permalink

    This paper also looks like bunk
    http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Pharmacology/dc-bits/holmes-deconstruction-ebhc-06.pdf
    but having no science/medical background I am cautious in dismissing it.

    Any experts here?

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 15, 2016 at 4:47 am | Permalink

      No expert here, but that looks genuine to me. Alas.

      OTOH, its language is way too understandable, which would seem to favor an imperfect hoax. 😀

      • Merilee
        Posted March 15, 2016 at 8:55 am | Permalink

        I find the heading, SCHOLARLY ARTICLE, to be somewhat pretentious. It makes me suspect that HERE BE BULLSHIT.

        • Diane G.
          Posted March 16, 2016 at 2:32 am | Permalink

          Chuckle! Good point.

  52. Posted March 15, 2016 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    As vile, ignorant, and dangerous as I find Donald Trump to be, at least he can’t be accused of obscurantism. perhaps that is part of his appeal.

    So, I hereby offer an alternate version of this paper: Donald J. Trump on glaciology. Obviously, my borroweing Alan Sokal’s name for this bit of satire is totally fictitious,. I don’t think he’ll mind. Hell, I doubt if he even has a helicopter.


    Let me tell you something, OK? I went to a glacier last month in my private jet. Totally self-funded. I didn’t take a dime from any government agency to go there and figure out what the hell is going on with the glaciers.

    I took a helicopter with my friend Alan Sokal–wonderful guy, he’s stayed in my hotels and he said, Donald, you have to let me take you out there–right to the base of this huge glacier in Alaska. It was beautiful, so beautiful. All blue and white and really, really old. Kind of like Bernie Sanders.

    So I turned to Alan and said that is one big motherf*ker. And we got out of his helicopter–I have one, too, but not in Alaska, yet–and we walked up to the glacier. I touched the ice and it was cold. Very very cold. All these Democrats are telling you that the glaciers are melting, but that glacier was huge and I didn’t see it melting. Not much. There was a little bit of water running back to where Alan’s helicopter was, but lots and lots of ice. Big beautiful chunks of ice, lots of it.

    I asked Alan if he liked ice in his whiskey and he said yes. I drink mine neat. I had this bottle of 30-year-old Scotch that I brought for Alan and we went back to the helicopter to have a drink. I grabbed a piece of ice that was stuck in the stream and told my assistant to cut it up for Alan’s whiskey.

    That was one huge glacier, very very beautiful.

    • GBJames
      Posted March 15, 2016 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      Very nice!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 15, 2016 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      Nicely put.

      One quibble, though, I can’t see Alan Sokal (who is a leftist from way back) going near the Trump.

      cr

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 16, 2016 at 5:55 am | Permalink

        Oops, I see Ed already made a disclaimer about that. My bad.

        cr

    • Merilee
      Posted March 15, 2016 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

      You nailed it, Ed! +27

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 16, 2016 at 5:17 am | Permalink

      Literally laughing out loud, Ed! 😀

  53. Posted March 15, 2016 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    How many postmodern glaciolofists glaciologists does it take to throw a virgin in a volcano ?

    It depends on the social construction of the magma chamber.</a.

    [note date of post and PoMo generator link- don't they teach Sokal in Oregon ? ]

  54. catweazle666
    Posted March 15, 2016 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Quem Deus perdere, prius dementat.

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 16, 2016 at 5:25 am | Permalink

      Do you really think God cares that much about pomo feminists? I think he’s too busy choosing the one person that’s gonna survive a plane crash and the outcome of football games. Also, they’ve (pomo fems) been mad for quite a while but I’ve yet to see any perdere-ing.

      • catweazle666
        Posted March 17, 2016 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

        Give it time.

        The wheels of God grind slow, but they grind exceeding small.

        • Diane G.
          Posted March 17, 2016 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

          God needs a better engineer.

          • Merilee
            Posted March 17, 2016 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

            Casey Jones?

  55. Paul
    Posted March 15, 2016 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    “I wrote about it on this site last week, and have since read the whole thing twice.”

    You’re a saint.

  56. Posted March 15, 2016 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    I only made it through the first few pages of the paper, and the only content I could get from it is “Science is done by people, and we’re going to talk a lot about things that PoMo academics like to talk about.” Also, they made some point which indicated an inability (or unwillingness) to distinguish between glaciers and discourse about glaciers. (One is made of ice. The other is mostly words and sometimes pictures.)

    In my home state (Missouri), we’re currently seeing large funding losses at our flagship state university, largely because of the absurdities of a university far too sympathetic to this PoMo nonsense in a state this is mostly Republican. It looks like the university will lose a decent amount of state funding, donations are not looking good, and projections for enrollment next year are way down.

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 16, 2016 at 6:10 am | Permalink

      Hopefully that will be a learning opportunity for the university. Unfortunately it will affect the careers of a great number of faculty/employees who wouldn’t begin to accept such “PoMo nonsense.”

  57. Peter
    Posted March 15, 2016 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    Wait, but Scott and Amundsen really DID go to the South Pole and LeGuin’s story was just a story. That’s got to count for something right?

    • Michael 2
      Posted March 16, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      Peter writes “Wait, but Scott and Amundsen really DID go to the South Pole and LeGuin’s story was just a story.”

      To an INFP (Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator) or any of the NF types both are stories and of equal power in motivating decisions; provided of course that the story of Scott and Amundsen is as well told as LeGuin’s story.

  58. Posted March 16, 2016 at 4:54 am | Permalink

    You are too kind in what you say about this paper.

    I thought it was gobbledygook. meaningless jargon.

    I also thought it demeaned those women who have distinguished themselves in many fields of science. The inference is that such women have capitulated to domination by men.

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 16, 2016 at 6:38 am | Permalink

      Yes, exactly!

  59. GHOST OF IRIGARAY
    Posted March 16, 2016 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    I AM VINDICATED

  60. stormculture
    Posted March 16, 2016 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    I find myself pleading to The Secret universe-jini (the one that makes our positive affirmations become reality [watch the video]) to let it come out that this paper is just another hoax…. That surely this degree of delusion is not *actually* possible in intelligent minds…. I guess because if this degree of delusion can be achieved without crippling embarrassment in the author… it really calls into question any notion that human society can ever actually accomplish tangible progress through rational, critical thought…. It seems any gains we make via our best teachers shall be easily offset by the regression caused by our most deluded teachers….

    Perhaps this blog post should come with a few weeks of Cymbalta….

  61. jre
    Posted March 17, 2016 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    “If you think I’m exaggerating, read it for yourself—it’s free.”

    As best I can tell, not through that link — which goes to Sage Journals’ paywall. There will undoubtedly be pdfs available, with or without Sage’s permission. That is as it should be for any work that is the topic of wide public debate. Whether publicly-funded academic works should be subject to copyright at all is left as an exercise for the student.

    • windy
      Posted March 17, 2016 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      It was freely accessible at least a couple of days ago, but not anymore. Attempt at damage control?

      • Posted March 17, 2016 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        Nah. Most popular article on their site. They want to charge you to see it. 🙂

  62. merilee
    Posted March 17, 2016 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    One of my (3) brothers’ additions to the “fray”:
    Flawed. No gender aspects. Should have added some unbelievable chicks with HUGE knockers in a hot tub in the middle of the ice.

    (and, of course, huge would be pronounced “UGE”!)

  63. Doubting Rich
    Posted March 22, 2016 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    “While it’s certainly true that minorities and women have been discriminated against in science, that is well known, and remedies are already being formulated.”

    That it is “well known” does not mean it is true; if it is true that women “have been discriminated against” this does not mean they are, or have been for many years.

    In the UK at least women are over-represented in studies of the biological, medical and veterinary sciences and in psychology. So it seems they are unlikely to have suffered recent discrimination in those subjects.

    It is likely that under-representation in the physical sciences (including Earth Sciences (where in my course about 35-40% were women over 20 years ago) is a matter of personal choice, rather than discrimination. This is supported by the fact that equally-qualified women are more likely to be offered PhD slots and research posts than men.

    Of course there are many schemes, as you hint, to encourage more women into the physical sciences (and into other areas such as maths and engineering which most women do not want to study). This means that, judging by personal choice, women are actually over-represented in the physical sciences.

    It is equally well-known that there are no schemes to encourage men into the areas of science with more women. Thus, as so often when we look beyond the propaganda of feminist bullies, men are the ones actually being discriminated against in the 21st century, as opposed to the 19th.


9 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Source: Postmodern Glacier professor defends his dreadful study as “misunderstood”. It wasn’t. […]

  2. […] a superb and very detailed blog post by Jerry Coyne, a geneticist at the University of Chicago, Postmodern Glacier professor defends his dreadful study as “misunderstood”. It wasn’t, criticising both the original paper and Carey’s softball interview.  He also talks briefly […]

  3. […] Author of paper on feminizing glaciers responds, still deserves mountains of ridicule. […]

  4. […] Author of paper on feminizing glaciers responds, still deserves mountains of ridicule. […]

  5. […] Read the rest of Coyne’s thoughts on the matter here. […]

  6. […] Read the rest of Coyne’s thoughts on the matter here. […]

  7. […] Author of paper on feminizing glaciers responds, still deserves mountains of ridicule. […]

  8. […] targeted (I hope they haven’t). However, I have seen some attempts at critique for example this which has been shared by the great and good on twitter. It’s quite a tedious analysis – and […]

  9. […] The Ford Foundation, which has done so much to transform academia, is profiled along with president Darren Walker [Larissa MacFarquhar, New Yorker; my critical view of Ford] Funding postmodern feminist glaciology: “Has it become the National Science and Other Ways of Knowing Foundation?” [Jerry Coyne] […]

%d bloggers like this: