BREAKING: Ludicrous dog park study gets published!


But so did that Godel book:
Warning! The study we're about to discuss was a deliberate hoax.

Still and all, the phony study got published! In a front-page report in yesterday's New York Times, Jennifer Schluesser described the contents of the faux study, which came to us, live and direct, from imaginary dog parks in a real American city:
SCHUESSLER (10/5/18): In “Human Reactions to Rape Culture and Queer Performativity at Urban Dog Parks in Portland, Ore.,"...the study purported to observe dogs having sex, and how their owners reacted, to draw conclusions about humans’ sexual attitudes.

Humans intervened 97 percent of the time when male dogs were “raping/humping” other male dogs, the paper said. But when a male dog was mating with a female, humans intervened only 32 percent of the time and actually laughed out loud 18 percent of the time.

The paper’s author cautioned: “Because of my own situatedness as a human, rather than as a dog, I recognize my limitations in being able to determine when an incidence of dog humping qualifies as rape.”
The faux author of the faux study was called "Helen Wilson." She acknowledged the fact that, because of her own situatedness as a human, she was limited in her ability to categorize incidents of dog sex.

Oof! The data in question were fake. People can judge the concepts involved in the fake study for themselves.

To some, the concepts seem absurd on their face. Still and all, the fake study got published as part of an overall hoaxer event.

At the start of yesterday's news report, Schuessler provides this overview of the hoax. She includies her first capsule account of the dog park dogmatics:
SCHUESSLER: One paper, published in a journal called Sex Roles, said that the author had conducted a two-year study involving “thematic analysis of table dialogue” to uncover the mystery of why heterosexual men like to eat at Hooters.

Another, from a journal of feminist geography, parsed “human reactions to rape culture and queer performativity” at dog parks in Portland, Ore., while a third paper, published in a journal of feminist social work and titled “Our Struggle Is My Struggle,” simply scattered some up-to-date jargon into passages lifted from Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”

Such offerings may or may not have raised eyebrows among the journals’ limited readerships. But this week, they unleashed a cascade of mockery—along with a torrent of debate about ethics of hoaxes, the state of peer review and the excesses of academia—when they were revealed to be part of an elaborate prank aimed squarely at what the authors labeled “grievance studies.”

“Something has gone wrong in the university—especially in certain fields within the humanities,” the three authors of the fake papers wrote in an article in the online journal Areo explaining what they had done.
Just for the record, why do (some) "heterosexual men like to eat at Hooters" and other such "breastaurants?" (The hoaxers actually used that term in their pseudo-study.)

We can answer that question! (Some) men like to eat at such places because they lack sexual politics—because they've never developed grown-up views concerning boys and girls.

That said, the phony studies described in that passage were part of an "elaborate prank" in which the hoaxers submitted twenty such studies to various journals over the course of nearly a year.

According to Schuessler, the hoaxers "said that four papers had been published [and] three had been accepted but not yet published" when the hoax came to light.

"Seven [more] were under review and six had been rejected." Or at least, so Schuessler was told by the hoaxers—who, it must be remembered, are hoaxers, after all.

This hoax has already been widely discussed. Different people have different ideas as to what it may mean.

Slate's Daniel Engber isn't impressed by the hoaxers' point of view and conclusions. For ourselves, we were struck by one of the comments recorded by Schuessler:
SCHUESSLER: Embarrassed journal editors quickly stamped the word “Retracted” across published papers this week, while the hoax drew appreciation from scholars who tend to be skeptical of work focusing on race, gender, sexuality and other forms of identity.

“Is there any idea so outlandish that it won’t be published in a Critical/PoMo/Identity/‘Theory’ journal?” the psychologist and author Steven Pinker tweeted.

Yascha Mounk, a political scientist at Harvard, called the hoax “hilarious and delightful” on Twitter. In an interview, he said of the authors, “What they have shown is that certain journals, and perhaps to an extent certain fields, can’t distinguish between serious scholarship and a ridiculous intellectual hoax.”
"Not so fast, Pinker!" one analyst cried. "In 2005, you approvingly blurbed Professor Goldstein's book!"

The book in question is Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Godel. The book was written by Rebecca Goldstein, the high-ranking philosophy professor and highly regarded novelist.

In his blurb, Pinker hailed Goldstein's book as "a gem—the gripping story of a momentous idea." He said Goldstein had produced "not just a lucid exposition of Godel's brainchild but a satisfying and original narrative of the ideas and people it touched."

We're not saying that's wrong. We are saying this—there's nothing in those hoax studies which is any more ludicrous than this passage from The New Yorker's review of Goldstein's well-received book:
HOLT (2/28/05): Gödel entered the University of Vienna in 1924. He had intended to study physics, but he was soon seduced by the beauties of mathematics, and especially by the notion that abstractions like numbers and circles had a perfect, timeless existence independent of the human mind. This doctrine, which is called Platonism, because it descends from Plato’s theory of ideas, has always been popular among mathematicians.
Friend, was Godel seduced by "the notion that abstractions like numbers and circles had a perfect, timeless existence independent of the human mind?" (Goldstein refers to numbers and circles as "abstract objects.")

Has this alleged doctrine "always been popular among mathematicians," including those of the 1930s? Goldstein says the same thing, and it seems to be true.

Friend, nothing which appears in those hoax studies is any more ridiculous than the (unexplained) idea that numbers and circles have a perfect, timeless existence independent of the human mind. And even though the formulation posted above was written by Jim Holt, a widely lauded science/math writer, we'd say that it's a fair account of Goldstein's own gobbledygook, which extends far and wide in all sorts of directions.

We expect to spend the next week reviewing the way the Kavanaugh nomination fight unfolded. That fight produced a series of sobering insights into the way our nation's highly non-rational public discourse works.

After that, we expect to return to the larger story we're presenting under the heading "Aristotle's error." Eventually, we'll discuss the (hard-to-read but highly instructive) work of the later Wittgenstein.

In our view, the later Wittgenstein said that most of the work of western philosophy has come to us, live and direct, from the clownish, hoaxer realm of those Portland, Oregon dog parks. And yes—in the end, this connects back to the pitiful, pre-rational way our nation's public discourse has unfolded over the past thirty years.

That jumbled, wholly incompetent discourse has left us with Trump in the White House. Over here in the liberal world, we rail about the consequences of that state of affairs without displaying the slightest ability to understand the way our own enfeebled tribe has helped put Trump where he is.

We're lazy and stupid and nobody likes us except in Oregon dog parks! Those hoax studies are intended to point in that general direction, but so will the rest of our work concerning Aristotle's error and Professor Harari's bracing alternate view.

Those hoax studies were comically awful. So is the bulk of traditional western philosophy, or so Wittgenstein clumsily said.

Professor Horwich has our backs. We suspect he's gotten it right!


  1. You need to read The Intellectual Yet Idiot by Nassim Taleb, Bob.


    It's the best piece on lib-zombie intellectuals I've seen.



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  2. Josh Marshall interprets Brett Kavanaugh's victory:

    Gee whiz, I'm dreamin' my life away.

  3. Not everything comes from Trump. Kavenaugh's emotional couunter-attack followed the model of Clarence Thomas, who called his similar persecution a "high-tech lynching."

    1. Stop making believe Trump is some sort of outlier.
      Trump is a standard issue Reagan Republican.

    2. What do you suppose Trump and Kavanaugh talked about during the day Trump spent coaching him at the White House?

    3. "Not anything good comes from Trump unless you're an elite."

      FTFY, now FO.

    4. I wouldn't give a fuck which pompous bullshitter becomes another SCOTUS judge, but the dembot and lib-zombie hysteria, panic, and outrage are priceless...

      Long Live Honorable Brett Kavanaugh!

      The Donald Forever! Kneel before Him, you lowly dembots!

    5. Obama murdered hundreds of thousands of Africans and Arabs.

    6. Was it with a slingshot or with his bare hands?

    7. 'I wouldn't give a fuck which pompous bullshitter becomes another SCOTUS "

      Well, aren't you special?
      Actually, no, you're not special. You're just another typical, piece of shit Conservative. Just like the rest of them.

    8. But you indeed are special, dear Iraq dembot.

      I enjoy your confessions, my dear, please keep them coming.

    9. Happy to dish it out, but can't take it, eh? How awfully narcissistic of you, Iraq dembot.

    10. Not who you were talking to but fuck off.

    11. No worries, you're special too, dem-spammer. And god willing, one of these days you'll be promoted into dembots...

    12. No way Kavanaugh was sworn onto the Supreme Court. That's just a story some people are paid to tell. Until i hear sworn testimony from each and everyone who was there when it happened, i am refuse to accept it as the truth.
      Also, i'm a white male, so you know my opinion is most important.

    13. "I enjoy your confessions, my dear, please keep them coming."

      There's this man who makes guillotines...

    14. Thanks, Mao. Your confession about being thrilled with Republicans putting another Establishment Elitist on the Supreme Court will be filed in the "No Fucking Kidding" drawer, if you're ever looking for it.

    15. Ask your dembot supervisor for some new one-liners to copy-paste, dear Iraq dembot. Tell him he's boring me.

    16. 7:32,
      On it, snowflake.

    17. "Tell him he's boring me."

      Also a lie.

  4. The biological differences between men and women matter to reproduction and very little else. They do not have strong cognitive impacts and do not dictate behavior. Societies have defined sex roles to differentiate men and women but this is part of culture, not biological. If there were strong biological differences, societies wouldn't have to work so hard at separating and defining the sexes (which are not biologically dichotomous but occur with variability and on a continuum). Cultures vary widely in the ways they differentiate males and females and anything you can find in one culture that is considered male, can be found in another culture assigned to females. Western culture has dominated the world for a while now, so that makes it seem like there is more uniformity than there has been geographically and over time. Sociobiologists say otherwise (contradicting anthropologists and cognitive psychologists), but they have a lot of speculation and not much evidence backing them up as they tend to confirm gender roles asserting the superiority of men.

    1. Thank you for posting my comment again. It never hurts to remind people of such facts.

    2. Donna Strickland has won a share of the Nobel prize in physics for her work on chirped pulse amplification.

    3. Just a few weeks ago, Wikipedia refused to add a page for her because they said her work wasn't important enough. Hopefully that will change now. The Nobel is for her work while a doctoral student, her dissertation research. She remains an Associate Professor (not Full Professor) because of the factors women face, that men do not, as described at the links below.

    4. Read the interview to which I linked. Donna Strickland was not promoted to full professor because she didn't bother to apply.

      Also, "A lot of women will talk about all the problems that they've had, and I just haven't had them and I can't put myself in their shoes. So, I feel like I can't really be a role model for people who have struggled that way."

      And of course there's now a Wikipedia article:

    5. Oh, she doesn't mind being treated undervalued by her field. That makes it ok then. NOT

  5. The cultural studies hoaxers, Jim Holt, Rebecca Goldstein, Gödel, mathematicians...the common thread? They produce nonsense, supposedly. The upshot? Our discourse is broken...Liberals are pathetic.

    Somerby's conclusion doesn't follow.

    Are Holt and Goldstein liberals? I have no idea. Gödel was not. The math professors I know range from moderate to conservative to libertarian. I know maybe one liberal math professor. Also, I wouldn't say that mathematicians are "intellectuals". Ability in math doesn't imply intellectual ability in other areas, nor does it imply any specific political orientation.

    Holt and Goldstein are talking about math and science in the books Somerby talks about. I happen to find the concepts they discuss fascinating, so I don't see their books as evidence of some sort of broken discourse. At the very least, they are just trying to convey the thinking of an important mathematician. Holt's book contains a large number of essays about scientists and mathematicians. I found it interesting. His essay on Gödel is just one small section. And there are plenty of books on politics and other subjects from both left and right wing perspectives that impact the discourse more than these two.

    Are cultural studies mainly a liberal thing? Do conservatives not also do cultural studies? I honestly don't know. But no academic journal has a foolproof or failsafe way of preventing incorrect articles from being published, much less deliberate hoaxes. There is a certain expectation of trust in the honesty of the contributors. Presumably, even science journals can have this problem. It would be hoped that further analysis would reveal problems with an incorrect thesis or conclusion in a published article, which would then be published as a rebuttal, and thus there is a constant self checking mechanism.

    1. "Are cultural studies mainly a liberal thing?"

      No. But anti-intellectualism is mainly a conservative thing. And it is a place where populism and conservatism intersect. All academic fields are international in scope and transcend American politics. There are politics within the fields themselves but they concern things like quantitative types arguing with qualitative researchers and vice versa, not liberal vs conservative. Conservatives in the USA characterize the liberal arts and social sciences as a liberal thing but I know many conservatives in my field, psychology. All knowledge is threatening to demagogues so conservatives attack universities as bastians of silly liberal thought, when they are places that explore a wide variety of perspectives. It is hard for people to recognize that this happens because the viewpoints are counched in academic terms and not political talking points familiar to people like Somerby on the internet.

    2. I once attended an academic discussion group (in the Philosophy Department at my university) on Dawkins recently published book, The God Delusion. Out of about 12 people, only 2 were atheists.

  6. Somerby thinks there is something unique to academia when a con artist, a fraud, deceives others into believing something that is not true. People believe others because it works best in a society to be less distrustful. But there are always a small percentage of people, sociopaths, who use that trust to enrich themselves. They always find someone who will believe them, because social communities operate on the basis of trust (not because people are gullible).

    In today's example, the con is called a "hoax" or a "prank" but it is no different than when someone steals from others or cons them out of goods and services, as Trump does. Academia is not silly for believing data was collected. The authors said it was and academia operates on trust. Made up data is submitted as outright fraud, not as a hoax, but to enhance someone's career or obtain a grant or promotion. These frauds are eventually discovered because science has self-correcting mechanisms in peer review and failure to replicate and in the dialectic of criticism. But that takes a while, longer than was allowed to happen in this instance. But the authors are not jokers, they are frauds. There is nothing funny or even enlightening about what they did. They hurt the field they intended to mock but they also hurt all science by giving know-nothings like Somerby a hook to hang a vacuous post upon.

    Pinker should know full well that there are similar studies in psychology that have been rightfully criticized, as these would have been, given time.

    Meanwhile, Somerby equates a fraud to Godel's important work. That's because Somerby is an idiot and thinks that anything he cannot understand must be a con. Somerby is what happens when someone who originally had a point loses his train of thought but doesn't stop writing.

    Back in the day, Proxmire waved one of Duncan Luce's mathematical psychology papers around, calling it junk science and a waste of money. In his ignorance, he didn't recognize one of the leading measurement theorists and thinkers of the time, someone later given a Presidential Award by Bush and appointed to the National Academy of Science. But the paper didn't make sense to Proxmire, didn't appear to be "practical", so it must not be worth the paper it was printed on. This is what little minds do to important academics in our country, where there is no respect for anyone except those with money and power (or their appearance).

    Somerby is an asshole and so is anyone who jumps on this stupid bandwagon that wasted people's time and money in order to poke fun at someone else's interests. Somerby should be ashamed, but he is too stupid to understand why.

  7. I'll bet Somerby has no idea that the editors of academic journals are all volunteers -- they don't get paid for that work, except as an additional duty of their academic appointment (which includes teaching, research, service to their university, etc.). I'll bet Somerby has no idea that the reviewers of academic papers similarly do not get paid for doing that work either. It is considered part of their jobs at their universities. I'll bet Somerby has no idea how long it takes to do a thorough review of a technical paper. Upwards of five hours -- and possibly a great deal more if you look up the references, check the math, and write a comprehensive review suggesting changes to the authors. I'll bet Somerby has no idea how hard it is for Journal editors to find enough reviewers to critique each paper submitted, how many papers are received each month, and how many reviewers are needed for each paper. I'll bet he has no idea how many requests to review are refused and how many times the editor must find someone new, eventually scraping the barrel in some subfields that are either very specialized or not of interest to many people (such as dog park society perhaps). When reviews are not part of someone's job description, what are the consequences for reviewers who do a less than conscientious job? What proportion of academics are overworked and don't have the time to be thorough? Does Somerby know whether those on the tenure track (adjuncts don't typically do reviews because they don't do research) are a large percentage of those working at universities or a shrinking percentage? Does Somerby know that someone trying to gain tenure may be so overworked he or she has no time for family or sleep, much less worrying about dog park veracity?

    But he has no hesitation about jumping onto the pile, Mark Judge style, laughing and giggling and mocking those who think everything people do has some interest. Even assholes on the internet.

  8. Wouldn't you know Somerby would find and talk about this particular bit of news. It isn't like he follows the field of cultural studies normally.

    1. Somerby probably thinks dog parks are inherently funny, without any study needed. Stand up comedians have an instinct for that.

    2. There was a study in the field of history back in the 60s that was about use of pigs to eat sewage and clean up the streets of New York. The ensuing discussion wasn't about pigs but about whether the social history of sanitation really belonged within the field of history. Ultimately it was decided that too much was being excluded by the previous emphasis on political/economic history, including much that concerned groups such as women and unempowered people, including slaves, immigrants, poor people, and so on. Their lives are not the stuff of constitutional congresses or battles, except in the casualty counts. But everyone should matter when it comes to writing history. So, on what basis is the study of dog parks ludicrous, other than whatever the fake findings were? Is the study of the role of the church in maintaining Negro literacy in the antebellum South also ludicrous? How about the rice economy in the Philippines? Is rice ludicrous? What about the rise of social dissent via comic books and graphic novels? Ludicrous?

      Somerby is limited in imagination. Good thing he didn't go on with his studies. It is hard to be successful in a field if you are too busy dismissing ideas to see the value in other people's lines of inquiry -- fraudulent or not.

  9. Where can I buy my I HATE SOMERBY t-shirt? Does it glow in the dark?

  10. Speaking of animals...

    Worth a watch. Seriousness punctuated with comedy.


  11. I've found a rational animal.

    1. I found 4 just plain animals

    2. Seen that one, but was glad to watch again.


  12. I must say may reaction to this hoax is much stronger than Somerby's. I think it indicates that several university departments are essentially academic frauds, e.g. black studies and women's studies. I am appalled by the harm done to students in these areas, such as two woman very close to me. Sadly, there's no major reaction to the frauds. That means that the sensible people have given up on fixing the problem. IMHO that's an ongoing tragedy.

    1. What harm was done to the two women?

    2. That's why when an old person is ripped off by a phone or internet scam, you should get angry with the old person and ignore the con artist. (The con artists in this case are the hoaxers). Is this the new Republican norm? Must be...looked at who they elected.

    3. Yes, David doesn't seem to understand that this was a deliberate fraud. The people who submitted the papers lied about the data they had collected, fabricated evidence, and made up citations. That is more than a con. The harm is to the disciplines involved, not simply incautious readers.

    4. You forgot the University of Chicago and George Mason University's Economic Departments. Those are complete frauds.

    5. Speaking of hoaxes, there used to be a poster here who tried to tell us Conservatives had a different ideology than Liberals, but they aren't evil. Thank dog, no one is buying that anymore.

    6. @2:42 they made career choices that did not serve them well.

      The hoax papers were complete nonsense. Bob may think Godel's proof is too abstract to be meaningful, but it's very well reasoned. A nonsensical math paper in that field would never be accepted.

    7. "I think it indicates that several university departments are essentially academic frauds, e.g. black studies and women's studies."

      Duh. What else is new? Most of so-called "social studies" is bullshit, and, of course, everything related to economics.

      The most reliable rule of thumb here is this: anything liberals touch turns to shit.

    8. Tag, you're it.

    9. Just kidding, Mao. Tagging you wouldn't turn you to shit. Your parents did that years ago.

    10. When a reviewer or editor does a poor job, it doesn't make the whole department, much less the whole field bogus. This is like saying car repair is a fraud because there are mechanics who are incompetent or who bilk their customers. You find the honest ones because car repair is essential.
      The field of research involved here was deliberately targeted because others don't appreciate its value. But there is value in all research and all knowledge, even if it isn't clear yet how that knowledge will be useful.

      My favorite example is the aplysia (sea slug) whose anatomy was studied in the 1800s, when no one appreciated why studying it was worth the time. It became useful in the 1960s when an animal model with a simple neural system visible to the naked eye was foundational to Kandel's Nobel prize winning memory studies.

      The same people who are scoffing about culture studies are getting taken for a ride on social media by those who are willing to spend the time to understand how culture works and how to manipulate it. Russia doesn't think this stuff is a fraud. They figured out ways to use it to their advantage.

      Conservatives, on the other hand, think all knowledge is useless and don't want to spend money on anything. Technology would never have made any advances if they had their way. Business would be stuck in previous decades and other countries would have bypassed us in prosperity and trade.

      The rule is actually, Mao is a worthless piece of shit who needs to find a different blog to pollute.

    11. @ 6:25 -- knowledge that false and malicious is not useful. In fact, it's worse then useless.

      Knowledge that doesn't make sense isn't useful. Wikipedia says,
      The phrase "not even wrong" describes an argument or explanation that purports to be scientific but is based on invalid reasoning or speculative premises that can neither be proven correct nor falsified. Hence, it refers to statements that cannot be discussed in a rigorous, scientific sense.[1] instance in which "a friend showed Pauli the paper of a young physicist which he suspected was not of great value but on which he wanted Pauli's views. Pauli remarked sadly, 'It is not even wrong'."[4] This is also often quoted as "That is not only not right; it is not even wrong", ...Peierls remarks that quite a few apocryphal stories of this kind have been circulated and mentions that he listed only the ones personally vouched for by him. He also quotes another example when Pauli replied to Lev Landau, "What you said was so confused that one could not tell whether it was nonsense or not."[4]

      The phrase is often used to describe pseudoscience or bad science and is considered derogatory.

      When a field of study prints supposedly learned papers that are just meaningless strings of jargon, that field is not even wrong.

    12. These university departments have become obsessed with institutionalizing inferiority complexes at the expense of the science and truth. The people who have gained power in these disciplines have intense feelings powerlessness and self- hatred and seek to justify it through pseudoscientific jibber jabber devoid of empiricism.

    13. @8:05

      "devoid of empricism"

      That's why the fraudulent papers had to be accompanied by made up demand for empiricism

    14. David, one purpose for grad school is to learn the terminology of one's field of study. You do that by reading papers, going back to the classics of the field. You do not do it by asking that everything be translated into everyday English.

      Every field has jargon. That is because the every day words don't convey the meanings that experts wish to talk about. So they create technical terms.

      Only an idiot calls such terms gibberish simply because he cannot understand them. Those strings of jargon are not meaningless to experts and you are not equipped to know whether they are meaningless or not, or "not even wrong" or not, if you haven't studied that field. This is true whether you are talking about engineering or cultural studies.

    15. @9:45 Yes, I am not equipped to know whether the papers are meaningless or not. But, the people who created the paper ARE equipped to do so. And, they intentionally created meaningless papers.

      You bring up a good point, that it's difficult for outsiders to evaluate specialized work written in jargon. But, for that very reason, it's easy to promulgate bad or worthless "knowledge" written in specialized jargon, such as Astrology.

    16. No, David. The editors and reviewers of journals are familiar with the jargon. That isn't the problem. The problem is that these authors not only lied but faked data and citations. They committed fraud.

  13. Leroy, Spanish for butterfly is mariposa, a common street name in California cities.

  14. The fact that there is such a thing as a journal of feminist geography is proof positive that moving away from the coverture model of law was a terrible mistake.

    1. This comment suggests you have no idea what geography is.

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