How false ideas become fake science

This is how falsehoods sneak into the allegedly “scientific” arena, and become standards against which reality is measured.

You’ve almost certainly heard some of the following terms: cisgender, fat-shaming, heteronormativity, intersectionality, patriarchy, rape culture and whiteness.

The reason you’ve heard them is that politically engaged academicians have been developing concepts like these for more than 30 years, and all that time they’ve been percolating. Only recently have they begun to emerge in mainstream culture. These academicians accomplish this by passing off their ideas as knowledge; that is, as if these terms describe facts about the world and social reality. And while some of these ideas may contain bits of truth, they aren’t scientific. By and large, they’re the musings of ideologues.

How did this happen? How have those worked in what’s come to be called “grievance studies” managed to extend their ideas far beyond the academy, while convincing people that their jargon adds something meaningful to public discourse? Biologist Bret Weinstein, who was run out of Evergreen State College by a leftist mob in 2017, calls the process “idea laundering.”

It’s analogous to money laundering. Here’s how it works: First, various academics have strong moral impulses about something. For example, they perceive negative attitudes about obesity in society, and they want to stop people from making the obese feel bad about their condition. In other words, they convince themselves that the clinical concept of obesity (a medical term) is merely a story we tell ourselves about fat (a descriptive term); it’s not true or false—in this particular case, it’s a story that exists within a social power dynamic that unjustly ascribes authority to medical knowledge.

Second, academics who share these sentiments start a peer-reviewed periodical such as Fat Studies—an actual academic journal … Eventually, after activist scholars petition university libraries to carry the journal, making it financially viable for a large publisher like Taylor & Francis, Fat Studies becomes established. Before long, there’s an extensive canon of academic work—ideas, prejudice, opinion and moral impulses—that has been laundered into “knowledge” … Eventually, they institutionalize their ideas in the larger academic system. This process, which has been propagating laundered ideas for at least three decades, now has enough “scholarship” behind it to have a significant cultural impact.

There’s more at the link.  Recommended reading.

The full article is essential reading to understand how so many politically correct shibboleths have come to dominate discussion in so many scientific fields (e.g. climate change, “gender studies”, illegal aliens, and so on).  Facts have been conveniently replaced by feelings, and the latter have been transmogrified into “scientific consensus” when, in reality, there’s no such thing.  That’s also how the “soft sciences” (e.g. psychology, sociology, anthropology, etc.) have been elevated to almost the same level of scientific authority as the “hard sciences (e.g. physics, chemistry, mathematics, etc.).  In reality, the hard sciences have it all over the soft sciences – but that’s not what you hear the “soft scientists” say.

There’s an old English saying that “Little things amuse little minds, little pants fit little behinds”.  That’s a pretty good summation of the soft sciences, IMHO – and of the sort of academic fraud that the article describes.

Peter

3 comments

  1. The reason CO2 became a poison gas was one of the dummies in your 9th grade General Science class who when the teacher said “Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poison gas.” figured that since Carbon Dioxide has the formula (CO2), it must be twice as deadly.

  2. “any lie can be made a truth if it is printed enough. any false fact can be made a true fact if it is printed enough. anything is possible.” A. Gobbles 1937

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