Examples of “Pathological Idiocy” in Universities, Especially in Social Sciences and Related Disciplines

It is an embarrassment to be associated with the academy when pathological idiocy of this sort is published and cited in the same manner as genuine intellectual/scientific endeavor… What the hell is wrong with us? — Jordan Peterson, Tweet with link to paper

One can follow the hyperlink to see what Peterson was specifically talking about (I didn’t quote from the paper Peterson was criticizing since it was too vulgar). But more generally, in a recording (which might already be deleted from the net), Peterson praised the RealPeerReview twitter website that highlighted some of the publications of the academics which Peterson was likely also referring to when he used the phrase “pathological idiocy.”

RealPeerReview is a watchdog group that calls out outrageous publications which help certain academics in the social sciences and related disciplines retain jobs and get promotions.

In a speech announcing his intentions to create an alternative university, Peterson cited the papers that came on the radar screen of RealPeerReview as examples of how academia has gone wrong in its mission to teach. To Peterson, academia is instead now often in the business of bilking money from people and brainwashing the next generation with “pathological idiocy.”

If one promotes the junk in the social sciences as merely creative writing, that’s OK by me. But who is to judge genius from pathological idiocy in these cases, especially if it is indirectly or directly subsidized by taxpayer money and student debt.

The content called out as junk by RealPeerReview reminds me of the students of Evergreen State University who were enraged that evolutionary biologist Brett Weinstein insisted on teaching a schedule class which students paid money to attend!

See the result of “Pathological Idiocy” inhabiting Evergreen State below — note about 1:45 into the video where Weinstein recounts students saying “scientists are particularly prone to bias” as well Weinstein’s account of the treatment of African American students supportive of him.

What happened to Bret Weinstein was so disturbing, that I will state I emphatically I support his right to teach evolutionary biology! I say that as a card carrying creationist. As much as I disagree with him, I don’t think it’s cool that he got treated this way by a mob of students incited by rival faculty and hostile administrators. That’s simply wrong and immoral.

Genius discoveries in the areas of physics and chemistry are recognized by tangible results — like the use of electromagnetism. In real disciplines like physics and chemistry, there is often a means of determining what is a right and wrong answer, or at least answers that far are closer to truth than not. But this is not the case in modern social “science” and related disciplines.

The issue about what is happening in social science and related disciplines is not freedom of thought, but as Peterson says, “this sort is published and cited in the same manner as genuine intellectual/scientific endeavor

If one wants to learn to write like that so as to become an entertainer, that’s probably tolerable too. But to represent it as some sort of truth? No way…

One of my favorite books is Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s about 10 dollars on Kindle. Gilbert didn’t have to go to university to learn to write the way she did. At least her creative writing had some semblance of rationality. It is represented as a religious writing, an entertaining read, and a personal exploration. But the stuff reported on in RealPeerReview is represented as truth arrived at methodically and systematically, and thus postures as authoritative. I find that problematic.

Most people don’t read the stuff highlighted by RealPeerReview, but University libraries pay lots of money for it, and academics use these junk papers on their resume to help them attain and retain academic positions.

One example of a professor peddling junk (not necessarily papers) is Naima Lowe who was an opponent of Bret Weinstein at Evergreen State. It’s not cool to see professors incite students to threaten and bully other professors. Lowe and the students did that. That behavior reflects the credo of some of the papers highlighted by RealPeerReview, a credo which I view as a means of grabbing power and putting down competitors in academia by bullying them on fabricated infractions.

The authors of the papers called out by RealPeerReview were enraged when they were caught having their ideas actually scrutinized. Most academic authors should like their work discussed. In contrast, the authors called out by RealPeerReview are apparently ashamed that their stuff gets noticed! 80% of the papers have ZERO citations. Contrast this with ID-friendly chemist James Tour who has 400 publications and over 77,000 citations!

Below are some examples dug up by RealPeerReview. I point this out since this makes ID sympathizers like James Tour and the Discovery Institute look so much more rational by comparison:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10. … 15.1075317
International Feminist Journal of Politics
Drone Disorientations
Killing with drones produces queer moments of disorientation. Drawing on queer phenomenology, I show how militarized masculinities function as spatiotemporal landmarks that give killing in war its “orientation” and make it morally intelligible. These bearings no longer make sense for drone warfare, which radically deviates from two of its main axes: the home–combat and distance–intimacy binaries. Through a narrative methodology, I show how descriptions of drone warfare are rife with symptoms of an unresolved disorientation, often expressed as gender anxiety over the failure of the distance–intimacy and home–combat axes to orient killing with drones. The resulting vertigo sparks a frenzy of reorientation attempts, but disorientation can lead in multiple and sometimes surprising directions – including, but not exclusively, more violent ones. With drones, the point is that none have yet been reliably secured, and I conclude by arguing that, in the midst of this confusion, it is important not to lose sight of the possibility of new paths, and the “hope of new directions.”



International Review of Qualitative Research

becoming cyborg
Activist Filmmaker, the Living Camera, Participatory Democracy, and Their Weaving

M. Francyne Huckaby

This article explores the chimeric hybridity of portable camera, sound recorder, filmmaker, and audience as research and activist cyborg weaving. Situating filmmaking in critical qualitative, ethnographic, and sociological traditions, I share my journey into becoming woman and machine—cine-eye-ear—in the struggle for continued access to public education. Throughout this article I use lowercase letters to deemphasize the importance of the individualized human in cyborg connection.

Writing imaginary emails to dead Korean Drummers is a valid method in some academic circles. I suppose it’s ok as creative writing, but not as some sort of methodical investigation:

Creating Learning: A Korean Drummer’s Lifelong Quest to be the Best

Dae Joong Kang

First Published June 11, 2010 Research Articlehttps://doi.org/10.1177/1077800410373468

In this article, the author interrogates how one famous Korean traditional drummer Mr. Myong-hwan Kim’s lifelong learning is affected by the sociocultural and historical context as it contributes to the construction of his life. This article analyzed an oral history book that contains Mr. Kim’s interview narratives since he died 20 years ago. Instead of systematic coding and theme generation, the author wrote four different notes (analysis note, research journal, transgressive data note, and additional data note) as methods of inquiry. For the research finding report, the author adopted imaginary e-mail exchanges between Mr. Kim and himself with a figuration of creating. The article illuminates how Mr. Kim’s life is interwoven with the historical evolvement of modern Korea in terms of his relentless effort to be the best drummer of his time. Imaginary e-mail exchanges opened up multiple writing spaces between the researcher and the researched, past and present, fiction and nonfiction, and facts and emotional responses.


Straight and White: Talking With My Mouth Full

W. Benjamin Myers
First Published January 1, 2008 Research Articlehttps://doi.org/10.1177/1077800407308905
Article information 


By using straight and white teeth as a metaphor for a straight and White identity, the author reflects on how this identity is performed, maintained, and often problematic. Using literature about identity performance, three different voices speak to and from straight and White identity. Using irony by blending arrogance and ignorance in the voice of the straight and White author, these voices illustrate the cracks in straight and White performance by taking the extreme positions that these performances often rest on. These voices illustrate how education, religion, and hygiene make and maintain (often) arrogant and ignorant straight and White identities. These three voices speak to each other to demonstrate how a methodology that foregrounds our bodies provides space to understand the visibility of identity performances and the politics of writing about with that visibility.

…I simply kept brushing, flossing, mouthwashing, and going to the dentist without a though about what would happen if I stopped…..Dentist visits to my school were fairly common. We got about two a year to remind us of how to maintain our whiteness.

….My straight teeth are not “natural.” Years of my life have been spent perfecting my straightness, and this process is far from over. I am not “naturally” straight.

I might add some more examples in the comment section from RealPeerReview.

58 thoughts on “Examples of “Pathological Idiocy” in Universities, Especially in Social Sciences and Related Disciplines

  1. There are physiological differences in male and female brains starting with the well known fact the male pre-frontal cortext takes longer to mature in males. This at least reasonably correlates with the impression that women mature mentally a little faster than males.

    The problem is now it’s not politically correct to highlight these differences, and that’s not good, because this may preclude medical treatments that may be adjusted due to gender, starting with what pharmaceuticals would be better optomized for patients. For example women have higher chance of developing Alzheimers, even though more men are in mental institutions than women (like by factor of say 50 to 1, or some high number).

    The Bell Curve above suggests:

    1. more women will be getting diplomas in higher education (like college). This can be seen by simple integration below each curve.

    2. there will be more men than women with low IQ, low IQ sadly correlates with lower social standing. More men are homeless, for example.

    3. the one thing that won’t be tolerated politically is the possibility that there will be far more men with genius IQs (say over 140) than women, some tally this at a ratio of 8 male geniuses to every female genius. This implies that positions of power correlated with intelligence will be dominated by males all other factors being equal.

    Whether what I said is right or wrong, the problem is that the questions are impeded from being even considered because of the possibility that some conclusions are unacceptable even if true!

    And yes, it is a sad fact some people are born with more breaks than others, and it not altogether due to social or economic issues, but simple biology. This well expressed in the Pareto principle, or the law of the vital few:


  2. Regarding psychopathy:


    y, a rather grim personality constellation that is over-represented in prison inmates (although the majority of inmates are not psychopaths and most psychopaths are not in prison). This personality make-up is also consistently documented more often in men versus women; in fact, the ratio has been as high as 20:1.

    So how does this translate into which gender is inherently more likely to make power grabs in society?

  3. stcordova: And mental institutions!!!Now why do you think that is?Is there something inherent in the biology of men vs. women.

    Of course, and differences between men and men, women and women. Young and old . And external differences on expectations and stereotypes. Economics, opportunities, resources, entitlement.

    Like most things, it is far more complicated than 1+1=2. Which ,of course, the drawback to using physics knowledge as a standard to judge other forms of intellectual endeavors.

  4. Men dominate aspects of society for a variety of reasons, some of them not wholesome, but some of them for morally neutral reasons.

    There are, as far as I know, no prominent Mafia bosses or Drug Lords that are female. This can extend to political power.

    But it is improper to suppose the dominance of men in academic and tech fields like physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering, IT, etc. is for the same reasons men dominate the crime industry. The reasons for male dominance in certain professions are more nuanced that simple claims of social injustice.

  5. Kantian Naturalist: As was previously pointed out, ScienceDirect is not the publisher, so the whole line of criticism here rests on a false belief.

    Thank you (and also DNA_Jock) for pointing out the distinction between aggregator and publisher. I was mistaken.

  6. RodW: I think you guys are talking past each other. I think Sal starts from a reasonable position and then digs himself in a hole with a poor choice of words and muddled ideas

    That is a charitable interpretation, how are we talking past each other?

    newton: (Sal said) Most physicists are men. What does feminizing these fields mean?

    True, a feminist might say, not feminizing ,but removing any bias. Then if it turns out more men gravitate to a field such as roofers, so be it , everyone is on an even playing field.

    I think you’re trying to show Sal how enlightened you are but it turns out you’re not a feminist.

    Not sure why I would care to impress a young earth , creationist ,misogynist( no offense intended ,Sal)

    And never claimed to be a feminist. From the quote:

    Alternatively, we may accept a modification of current science, a “feminized” science (defined as doing the same science differently), as consistent with the political goal for feminist scientists.

    I imagined the political goal of feminist scientists would be equal treatment, it appears you believe this is wrong, care to point out and expand where I am confused?

    You’re the worst of the worst in the oppressive patriarchy.

    I would think someone who had the actual ability and power to oppress would rank higher than someone who is rather powerless . Please, go on.

    You’ve just expressed the exact same opinion that got James Damore fired from Google and got him listed with the lowlifes of the alt-right.

    Again could you elaborate?

  7. stcordova: Men dominate aspects of society for a variety of reasons, some of them not wholesome, but some of them for morally neutral reasons.

    That is reality, the issue is determining that distribution. And that is what those unacceptable intellectual endeavors are trying to examine, what are the hidden assumptions.

    There are, as far as I know, no prominent Mafia bosses or Drug Lords that are female. This can extend to political power.

    With our present leadership ,it is tempting to view the executive branch as criminal enterprise , but in theory American political representation is , ideally , a representation of voters will.

    One might note, it has only been 100 years since universal suffrage occurred, after some considerable effort.

    But it is improper to suppose the dominance of men in academic and tech fields like physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering, IT, etc. is for the same reasons men dominate the crime industry.

    Too simplistic, crime requires networking and connections, employment also is to some extent on who you know , what school you attended.

    Expectations also is a commonality, there are questions whether gender expectations put children into differing tracks, is it nature and nurture.

    The reasons for male dominance in certain professions are more nuanced that simple claims of social injustice.

    Then the logical path is to remove the social injustices , repair any damage from those injustices and see what occurs.

  8. I heard for years about how taxpayers pay to employ these clowns ho presume to be intelligent and accomplishing researchers/scientists. In fact insight/hunch/guess/ in science happens to few who push things forward. so wrong and dumb ideas must be the majority.
    Yes the left wing right now is controlling and ruining it worse. yet even when they are defeated it still will , on a curve, be pretty bad.
    There should not be surprise.!! It could only be this way. By the way evolutionism continuing, even if only in small circles in evolutionary biology thinkers and possibly not the sharpest leaving high school, is proof os lack of thoughtfulness in subjects about iviable things.

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