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"Academic Drivel Report"

26.02.16

Six years ago I submitted a paper for a panel, “On the Absence of Absences” that was to be part of an academic conference later that year—in August 2010. Then, and now, I had no idea what the phrase “absence of absences” meant. The description provided by the panel organizers, printed below, did not help. The summary, or abstract of the proposed paper—was pure gibberish, as you can see below. I tried, as best I could within the limits of my own vocabulary, to write something that had many big words but which made no sense whatsoever. I not only wanted to see if I could fool the panel organizers and get my paper accepted, I also wanted to pull the curtain on the absurd pretentions of some segments of academic life. To my astonishment, the two panel organizers—both American sociologists—accepted my proposal and invited me to join them at the annual international conference of the Society for Social Studies of Science to be held that year in Tokyo.

I am not the first academic to engage in this kind of hoax. In 1996, in a well-known incident, NYU physicist Alan Sokal pulled the wool over the eyes of the editors of Social Text, a postmodern cultural studies journal. He submitted an article filled with gobbledygook to see if they would, in his words, “publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if it (a) sounded good and (b) flattered the editors' ideological preconceptions.” His article, “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity” (published in the Spring/Summer 1996 issue), shorn of its intentionally outrageous jargon, essentially made the claim that gravity was in the mind of the beholder. Sokal’s intent was not simply to pull a fast-one on the editors, but to challenge the increasingly popular “post-modern” view that there are no real facts, just points-of-view. His paper made the bogus case that gravity, too, was a “social construction.” As soon as it was published, Sokal fessed up in another journal (Lingua Franca, May 1996), revealing that his article was a sham, describing it as “a pastiche of Left-wing cant, fawning references, grandiose quotations, and outright nonsense … structured around the silliest quotations [by postmodernist academics] he could find about mathematics and physics.”

(...)

Professor Bauchspies soon sent me another email listing the other papers that had been accepted for the panel. They had the following titles:

·      “Agnotology and Privatives: Parsing Kinds of Ignorances and Absences in Systems of Knowledge Production.”

·      “Science, Ignorance, and Secrecy: Making Absences Productive”

·      “Alter-Ontologies: Justice and the Living World”

·      “The Motility of the Ethical in Bioscience: The Case of Care in Anti-ageing
Science”

·      “Mapping Environmental Knowledge Gaps in Post-Katrina New Orleans: A Study of the Social Production of Ignorance”

·      “The Absence of Science and Technology Equals Development?”

 

 

 

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1 comentário

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De marcos a 28.02.2016 às 21:32

“The Absence of Science and Technology Equals Development?”

... so fucking true!
tenho assistido a conferências académicas - aquela cena do Punk e tal, e assisti cada treta...
já cá não vinha há muito tempo, o nível está sempre em alta!
hahahaha
M

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