Sandbox (3)

Sometimes very active discussions about peripheral issues overwhelm a thread, so this is a permanent home for those conversations.

This is also a continuation of previous Sandbox threads (1) and (2) that have fallen victim to the dreaded page bug.

1,007 thoughts on “Sandbox (3)

  1. Anyway, I was only trying to demonstrate that my cat is better looking than your cat.

  2. petrushka:
    https://twitter.com/NatureisScary/status/818655438002589697

    Just Darwin at work one day.

    Yesterday I was in the kitchen, and noticed a young gray squirrel eating something or another, just a few feet away from me, on the other side of a sliding glass door. It seemed not to notice me, and I wondered whether it did not see me, or did not care. So I said, “Yes, I am here.” That seemed to get a bit of a response. And as I said again, Yes, I…,” with the squirrel definitely looking at me, there came a gray rush from the grass, and a gray blur of a tussle on my doorstep (they hit the glass once). I see lots of squirrel squabbles. But when this one ended, there was a tabby cat facing me, with her jaws around the neck of a dying squirrel. From that point on, it was just like watching a big cat on a nature show. The tabby stood there for about a minute, letting the squirrel get good and dead (I saw signs of life for about half that time). Then she walked ever so slowly along the fence, and passed through a gap into the next yard. I suspect she has a litter somewhere.

    Of course, the bizarre aspect is that the predator was watching the squirrel and me from the very beginning, and exploited my distraction of her prey — through a plate of glass. I got the cat fed, and the squirrel dead. I can’t explain how strange the whole thing felt.

  3. The state of social “science” these days:

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/peter-boghossians-hilarious-hoax/

    Boghossian, and his sidekick James Lindsay, were able to get a paper published in a social science journal. The problem? It was all a hoax. Boghossian and Lindsay, using fake names and fake affiliations, actually published a paper that not only argues penises are social constructs, but blames climate change on them.

    Anatomical penises may exist, but as pre-operative transgendered women also have anatomical penises, the penis vis-à-vis maleness is an incoherent construct. We argue that the conceptual penis is better understood not as an anatomical organ but as a social construct isomorphic to performative toxic masculinity. Through detailed poststructuralist discursive criticism and the example of climate change, this paper will challenge the prevailing and damaging social trope that penises are best understood as the male sexual organ and reassign it a more fitting role as a type of masculine performance.

  4. Hoping to lure Reciprocating Bill back for a chat about Alien: Covenant or Bladerunner 2049.

  5. Richardthughes:
    Hoping to lure Reciprocating Bill back for a chat about Alien: Covenant or Bladerunner2049.

    Is that one title, or two?

    My son watched the Alien and the Terminator flicks quite a number of times. I decided that the two series should merge in The Alien Ate Her.

  6. Kudos to Jerry Coyne. He was brutal to the social “scientists” of today in his commentary on the Boghossian and Lindsay hoax:

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/a-new-academic-hoax-a-bogus-paper-on-the-conceptual-penis-gets-published-in-a-high-quality-peer-reviewed-social-science-journal/

    Boghossian and Lindsay:

    After completing the paper, we read it carefully to ensure it didn’t say anything meaningful, and as neither one of us could determine what it is actually about, we deemed it a success.

    and Coyne’s comments:

    That last sentence is a doozy, and is so true for the field at issue. What does it say that two reviewers were taken in by this? If the authors didn’t understand what they were saying, how could the reviewers? The reviewers didn’t even check the references, as fully a quarter of them were complete fakes: references to nonexistent journals and papers. One referee even said the references were “sound”!


    Further, it makes a point far more important than any paper in that journal: it shows that over the past 21 years since Sokal’s hoax, the social sciences remain rife with obscurantist nonsense—an academic miasma. Of course, not all people or areas in social science or the humanities are full of such nonsense, but cultural studies, including women’s studies, are particularly prone to the toxic combination of jargon and ideology that makes for such horrible “scholarship.”

  7. stcordova,

    I was considering an OP on this issue, as I’ve been following the story very closely.

    Coyne has completely misread the situation, perhaps due to his own confirmation bias. Here’s what actually happened.

    Boghossian and Lindsay attempt a Sokal-style hoax on gender studies. So they write a nonsense paper and send it to a low-ranking journal called NORMA. NORMA has been around since 2005 and has an extremely high acceptance rate. (None of my friends who work in gender studies had even heard of it.) NORMA is not even on this ranking of 115 gender studies journals and it has an impact rating of zero.

    And NORMA rejected it.

    When NORMA rejected it, Taylor and Francis (the publisher) automatically sent Boghossian and Lindsay an email inviting them to submit to Cogent Social Science. But here’s the catch: CSS is a pay to publish journal. They will literally publish anything if they are paid it. It’s a total fraud. (And of the many disciplines that CSS claims to publish, gender studies is not even one of them!)

    So: Boghossian and Lindsay write a bogus paper, end up having to pay to have it published in a journal that’s completely fraudulent, and then claim that this shows us something about the intellectual vacuity of gender studies. It shows no such thing. And it does not reflect well on Coyne that he took their word for it rather than being a bit more . . . skeptical.

    The real story here is the firewall between legitimate peer-reviewed journals and vanity (pay-to-publish) journals isn’t as strict as one might otherwise want to believe.

    For more:

    The Hoax That Failed, or Skeptics Who Aren’t Very Skeptical.

    Why the ‘Conceptual Penis’ Hoax is Just a Big Cock Up

    No, ‘The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct’ Hoax Doesn’t Prove Gender Studies Is Garbage

  8. That’s interesting KN. But what about the referees’ comments? I take it those must have been from the legit journal. Saying that made up sources are “sound” is still pretty bad–though I guess that reflects on the individual referee rather than the journal.

  9. KN,

    Hey, thanks for the other perspective! I’m glad you commented, and really I hope you will say something at TSZ. What else are we going to talk about these days.

    I’m unilaterally avoiding posting new topics at TSZ for the time being, so I hope you take the issue up.

    That said, I think Coyne and Boghossian are generally right in their assessment of cultural studies or gender studies or whatever. I think these “studies” are a drag on the intellect.

    Sal

    FWIW, there is a pay to publish at CELL PRESS too, but their articles seem better. The only reason I know this is that Steve Matheson is now the editor in chief, which amazes me because he got kicked out of Calvin College for a personal matter between him and a female undergraduate who complained to the administration. I’ve been wondering if the ID community could publish in pay-to-publish venues like CELL PRESS (although with Matheson as editor, I don’t think so for CELL PRESS, but only a similar outfit).

  10. walto: That’s interesting KN. But what about the referees’ comments? I take it those must have been from the legit journal. Saying that made up sources are “sound” is still pretty bad–though I guess that reflects on the individual referee rather than the journal.

    The referees comments were from Cogent Social Science, not from NORMA (which I wouldn’t treat as a legit journal to begin with). I don’t know what CSS’s editorial practices are, but for all I know, they just outsource “peer review” to a guy in Delhi who runs through a checklist.

    stcordova: That said, I think Coyne and Boghossian are generally right in their assessment of cultural studies or gender studies or whatever. I think they are a drag on intellect.

    That might be, but this non-hoax is not evidence either way.

    Here’s the thing: Sokal played his hoax on Social Text, which at the time was one of the leading journals in postmodernist cultural criticism. Boghossian and Lindsay sent their paper to the one of the worst journals in gender studies and still had it rejected. If it weren’t for pay-to-publish journals this entire incident would never have taken place.

    By the way, Boghossian is Peter Boghossian, no relation to the well-known philosopher Paul Boghossian. Peter Boghossian is technically an assistant professor of philosophy (at Portland State University), but he does not have a PhD in philosophy. He has a MA from University of New Mexico (of the “here’s your MA, we’re kicking you out of the doctoral program, don’t let the door slam behind you on your way out” variety) and an EdD from Portland State University. All of his publications are in education. Lindsay has a PhD in mathematics. The two of them are big hits on the New Atheist lecture circuit, which is probably why Coyne took up their side of the issue without critical scrutiny.

    Which is to say that Boghossian and Lindsay simply don’t have the training necessary to have an informed opinion about gender studies. Is there some degree of bullshit in gender studies? Almost certainly — there is in every field! Does this non-hoax show that the entirety of gender studies is bullshit? Obviously not.

  11. Aha. I figured the pay-to-publish journal would just forgo the “referee” biz.

    Which reminds me, the quality of the comments I’ve received on submissions recently has been incredibly varied. One journal (that has asked me to revise and resubmit twice), has sent me such detailed and thoughtful comments that I’ve been killing myself with rewrites. I can tell the reviewer is both smarter and more familiar with the subject matter than I am, so the whole experience will have been quite valuable for me–whatever they decide.

    But another journal (that is also supposedly “double-blind”) recently sent me a letter from their editor saying that they’ve really got a ton of submissions right now so that he (the editor) is sending out to referees only those papers he thinks are likely to be accepted eventually. So, I write back. I don’t complain about this violation of their stated policy (I mean would he have done that to Putnam?) but simply ask for some indication of what brought him to the conclusion that the manuscript would likely not pass muster. After all, I said, knowing this might help me to determine what changes I ought to make or where else might be a better vehicle for it.

    So this guy (who teaches at ODU, incidently–no blindness here!) writes back that they get a lot of papers on similar topics and, roughly, that after all, my paper *IS* is both shallow and wrong.

    Aha. Good to know!

    W

  12. KN,

    In light of your comments, I have to say I was to hasty in my endorsements of Boghossian, Lindsay and Coyne. Thanks for response and corrections. Unless I hear something else, I think you have given a more accurate picture of the Hoax affair.

    I obviously have such a low opinion of the gender and cultural studies disciplines, I was willing to believe they were that gullible because personally they strike me as totally incoherent intellectually.

  13. stcordova: I obviously have such a low opinion of the gender and cultural studies disciplines, I was willing to believe they were that gullible because personally they strike me as totally incoherent intellectually.

    No one is immune to confirmation bias.

    I don’t think I’ll bother with an OP on this, but I am considering one on Mercier and Sperber’s The Enigma of Reason. One nice point they make is that what’s called “confirmation bias” is better called “myside bias”: we’re prone to overlook flaws in our own arguments but tend to be perfectly scrupulous in assessing the arguments presented by others.

    Mercier and Sperber suggest that this makes good evolutionary sense: if the function of reasoning is to facilitate social coordination, then why invest energy in scrutinizing one’s own arguments for flaws, when the people you’re trying to convince will do it for you?

    More generally, Mercier and Sperber argue against the psychological research which suggests that humans are poor reasoners. They argue that we are actually quite excellent at reasoning — as long as we are reasoning together, in groups, and not engaged in solitary reasoning.

  14. stcordova: I obviously have such a low opinion of the gender and cultural studies disciplines, I was willing to believe they were that gullible because personally they strike me as totally incoherent intellectually.

    Thus saith a creationist.

  15. Kantian Naturalist: When NORMA rejected it, Taylor and Francis (the publisher) automatically sent Boghossian and Lindsay an email inviting them to submit to Cogent Social Science. But here’s the catch: CSS is a pay to publish journal. They will literally publish anything if they are paid it. It’s a total fraud. (And of the many disciplines that CSS claims to publish, gender studies is not even one of them!)

    Do you have evidence for this claim? Cogent is actually a subsidiary of Taylor & Francis, which publishes NORMA as well as a number of highly reputable journals in various fields. Page charges are not unusual in academics, and that isn’t what “pay to publish” means. Just because there are page charges doesn’t mean they will publish anything.

  16. John Harshman: Do you have evidence for this claim? Cogent is actually a subsidiary of Taylor & Francis, which publishes NORMA as well as a number of highly reputable journals in various fields. Page charges are not unusual in academics, and that isn’t what “pay to publish” means. Just because there are page charges doesn’t mean they will publish anything.

    Generally speaking, that is true. But the Cogent journals are egregious in their non-existent standards. And it’s not just Cogent Social Science.

    For more, see here.

  17. walto: That’s interesting KN. But what about the referees’ comments?I take it those must have been from the legit journal. Saying that made up sources are “sound” is still pretty bad–though I guess that reflects on the individual referee rather than the journal.

    Journals often have standard instructions to reviewers. This seems to me the response of a reviewer who has been instructed to comment on the adequacy of the references, and responded by making shit up.

    I’ve occasionally seen what other reviewers have said about submissions that I have reviewed. There have been cases of strong concordance. There have been cases in which “reviewers” obviously had not read the papers.

    The easiest thing to do, having agreed to review a paper, and not having gotten around to reviewing it, is to give it a pass. You can easily pretend to have read the paper if you recommend it for publication. You cannot easily criticize a paper you have not read.

    There’s been an explosion in the numbers of conferences and journals. I think that’s a big part of the problem. Indeed, some academic departments are now requiring as many journal publications per year as used to be required for tenure (over a five-year probationary period). There’s weird (and perverse) feedback in the system. Editors and reviewers (busy with papers of their own) are not, I believe, taking the review process as seriously as they once did.

    It may be as simple as this: publication has become cheap, and the publications have been cheapened.

    Perhaps review should be in two stages. First, traditional review, and preliminary acceptance. Second, preliminary publication online, and review by all comers.

  18. John Harshman: Page charges are not unusual in academics, and that isn’t what “pay to publish” means. Just because there are page charges doesn’t mean they will publish anything.

    Is this really just page charges? (Some — most? — journals waive the page charges for authors who are not affiliated with institutions that will pay.)

  19. Kantian Naturalist,

    I’m saying that there are severe problems in computing and electrical engineering. The most recent publication of Ewert, Dembski, and Marks in an IEEE journal was not slightly objectionable. It was rife with errors. Deplorable. Here in the Zone, keiths (no great pal of mine, but very sharp) tore into the paper. Most of his comments were about the same as notes that I’d already attached to my PDF copy of the paper. Mind you, none of the errors had anything to do with ID in particular. Two technically competent reviewers, working independently of one another, saw scads of glaring errors in the paper. I’ve been a member of the IEEE since 1986 (senior member since 2004), and I’m considerably more upset to see the errors get through review than to see an ID paper get into print. The review system has gone terribly wrong.

  20. Kantian Naturalist: But the Cogent journals are egregious in their non-existent standards. And it’s not just Cogent Social Science.

    For more, see here.

    I didn’t find anything about the Cogent journals other than repetitions of the same claim. Since Cogent belongs to Taylor and Francis, a reputable publisher, I would expect at least some argument for why Cogent should be considered a predatory publisher.

    Impact factors seem useless as a comparison between fields, because they aren’t standardized by the number of articles published in the field.

  21. Tom English: Some — most? — journals waive the page charges for authors who are not affiliated with institutions that will pay.

    Sure. Or on grants that will pay. What evidence do you have that the Cogent journals don’t do that?

  22. Tom English: You cannot easily criticize a paper you have not read.

    Based on some of the reviews I’ve received, it isn’t as hard as you suppose.

  23. Tom English,

    Well worth reading. I was moved, earlier today, by the first few images in this slideshow at Reuters. I genuinely believe that the best defense against Muslim extremists is to treat Muslims well. One of the things that annoy me most about conservative Christians in America is that they object to a response so obviously Christian.

    Not just there. We have an organisation, ‘Britain First’ which is a direct descendant of the old far-right National Front. Its Facebook page has 1.8 million ‘likes’ (shot up since last time I looked). Including, it grieves me to note, 3 of my friends. It claims to be based upon Christian values – when they march, they carry crosses, though not aflame yet.

    Their feed yesterday included 2 videos labelled ‘muslims running amok’. On clicking, the vid showed some people shuffling along, on what might have been some kind of equivalent of a Saint’s day parade. Another showed ‘Islamic slave trading’ – a street tableau enacted by muslim actors to demonise ISIS. The comments though – you can almost see their lips curling. Calls to kill the lot, final solution, yadda yadda.

    Manchester Arena is a venue I visit a lot – I’ve taken my kids to shows there. People tell me ‘I’d think differently if my kids were torn to shreds’. But I wouldn’t. I know fucking well I wouldn’t.

  24. Tom English: Is this really just page charges? (Some — most? — journals waive the page charges for authors who are not affiliated with institutions that will pay.)

    John Harshman: Sure. Or on grants that will pay. What evidence do you have that the Cogent journals don’t do that?

    None. It was just a quick side-remark. What prompted it was the thought that page charges are not just an alternative form of “pay to publish.”

  25. Well, Marie Le Pen is not a Conservative Christian. Donald Trump is certainly not. Neither is Nigel Farage and none of them have a fucking clue how to deal with treating all people with respect.

    Obama is more religious than any of them, and he understood it.

  26. phoodoo,

    Agreed. Amid all the calls to tell ‘da Muslims’ what they should do, I’d like to see us tackle our own white extremists. Trouble is, the extremists are in power. Farage never won an election (other than ironically to the European parliament) but the Conservative party have effectively adopted UKIP policy.

    Many people are too dumb to see how their demonisation of an entire faith is what the radicalisers actually want. Prejudice and oppression are a gift to ISIS.

  27. phoodoo: I think its why Patrick left.

    This place didn’t leave enough time to work on his weapon collection, I think. Like some of my wife’s relatives in Little Rock, I’m guessing the NRA had convinced him that Hillary would take away his guns.

  28. walto: This place didn’t leave enough time to work on his weapon collection, I think.Like some of my wife’s relatives in Little Rock, I’m guessing the NRA had convinced him that Hillary would take away his guns.

    Don’t most dealers now have a glut of guns since Hillary didn’t get elected?

  29. Allan Miller,

    Cenk Uygur often talks about how we have tried the strategy of blowing people up to eradicate them, or to make them want to be who we want them to be. We have tried it for a lot of years, and it turns out it doesn’t work-ever.

    People aren’t born wanting to be terrorists, they are taught it through years of disrespect and bad policies, and seeing their brothers and sisters innocently slaughtered, by people who claim to be teaching them good. How many politicians today are working with the Muslim world by saying, hey, what can we do to help you? It would cost a heck of lot less than what we spend now trying to destroy them.

  30. phoodoo: People aren’t born wanting to be terrorists, they are taught it through years of disrespect and bad policies, and seeing their brothers and sisters innocently slaughtered, by people who claim to be teaching them good. How many politicians today are working with the Muslim world by saying, hey, what can we do to help you? It would cost a heck of lot less than what we spend now trying to destroy them.

    I’m convinced!

  31. phoodoo: Well, Marie Le Pen is not a Conservative Christian. Donald Trump is certainly not. Neither is Nigel Farage and none of them have a fucking clue how to deal with treating all people with respect.

    Obama is more religious than any of them, and he understood it.

    Let’s be clear that I do not paint with a broad brush. I changed my mind about you when you took the time to post some extended comments. I’ve wondered since whether you understand that it’s impossible to tell, from the brief jabs and jibes you ordinarily post, that you’re articulate and intelligent?

  32. phoodoo: It would cost a heck of lot less than what we spend now trying to destroy them.

    You’ve just applied my favorite principle. There are so many ways that we could save money by spending money. Education is cheap in comparison to incarceration. The government is actually quite good at providing insurance of kinds that all people need (pooled risk, very low overhead). A number of seemingly liberal policies are in fact economically rational from the viewpoint of the populace at large (those who profit from inefficiencies in the economy obviously do not agree).

  33. Tom English,

    Pierre Omidyar is funding a project to give poor Kenyans free money for the next twelve years. The people then use that money to invest in their lives the best way they see fit, no strings attached.

    Now what the right (basically the 37% selfish sect of the US population) wants you to believe is that anytime you give poor people money, they will just use it to get drunk and high and play video games. But it turns out, that the 3% of the population that just wants to get high and play video games are going to do that whether they have money or not, but the rest of the people want to find a way to have a successful life, as hard as that can be sometimes on this planet.

    Someone else estimated that for what we spend on the Afghanistan war (one of the poorest countries in the world) in one year, we could lift the entire nations population out of poverty, every single person.

    And America can’t have universal healthcare, because its just not fair giving poor people things for free you know. We would much rather they sell crack cocaine then have them get anything they haven’t earned the same way Donald Trump earned his money when his father died and gave it to him.

  34. phoodoo: …anytime you give poor people money, they will just use it to get drunk and high and play video games.

    That’s what I’d do with it.

  35. Healthcare. Anyone can get treatment here, without having to hesitate or worry. It’s one of the trumphs of our age here in the UK IMO. I don’t understand why anyone would not consider that a reasonable goal of a civilised state. We pay for it, sure. Meantime our Right seems to wish to move towards an American system.

  36. walto,

    Hahaha. Make Great Britain Great Again!

    You’re psychic! My original draft had this:

    “Meantime our Right, all the while chanting ‘Make Britain Great Again’, seems to wish to move towards an American system.”

    I kid you not.

  37. phoodoo: Pierre Omidyar is funding a project to give poor Kenyans free money for the next twelve years. The people then use that money to invest in their lives the best way they see fit, no strings attached.

    A bit of a tangent, but worth thinking about here, is how poverty is created in the first place.

    According to this article, Africa’s poverty is a result of billions of dollars (pounds) leaving African each year than are ever spent there in “aid”. (And that “aid” often has strings attached in the form of “austerity measures”.)

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