So this document (…) is causing a bit of a fuss. The first pic is the controversial claims they make about research methodology, and the next three pics are the remedies they propose for their issues. My thoughts thereon in a thread...
... I'm struck by three things here. First, the objections to objectivity and rigour just elide the difference between taken-for and actual objectivity/rigour. So it is a bit hard to tell which is being objected to, and how plausible the claims are depends a lot on that...
... To illustrate, the claim that objective inquiry can never challenge established belief systems is just *intensely* implausible if by that it is meant any moderately disinterested researcher using intersubjectively checkable methods will always affirm majority belief...
...majorities believe wacky stuff that wouldn't be verified by such methods all the time! People tend to believe all sorts of national myths and share local prejudices, these are exactly the sort of things that get undermined by objective inquiry. So, yeah, imprecision matters...
Second, it's arguable that the first three of their proposed remedies are quite uncontroversial (I think it's indisputable that the first two are - surely we all agree it's good to be aware of and counteract biases, and know the impact of your own research)...
... I think kinda radical language combined with basically quite mild proposals is common in things which cause culture war flashpoints. Both the people who put forward things like this, and the people who react super negatively to them, aren't thinking about actual changes...
... the battle is all at this level of symbolism, more about framing and narrative. Tbh I can imagine finding a research culture steeped in this vocab and sensibility kinda tiresomely pious and self-absorbed so I get it, but worth keeping the actual stakes more firmly in mind....
... Third, the proposal they make that would be a big change in research practice is call for more participatory research involving actually deferring decision making power to communities studied. I actually support this, I think the most radical part is also the most plausible.
Ok therein lies my considered opinions. Tagging @CathyYoung63, @mattyglesias, @jessesingal @wesyang as the sort of anti-woke Opinion Formers I have seen react to this piece (well the subset who might actually care what I think lol).

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More from @lastpositivist

21 Sep
This from @jehsmith was very interesting! I don't agree with him re where we should be going, but I do think he's responding honestly to something that most humanists wont squarely face up to. We don't have a clear purpose if not as elite taste makers...…
...I do share Smith's worries about purportedly left-liberal intelligentsia credulously rallying around massive expansions of state surveillance. I agree it seems to be thoughtless extension of habitual culture war stances. I wrote a bit about it here...…
... But, despite some Herderian sympathies myself, I don't really share the kinda romantic sensibility he evinces. I've something of the gradgrind within me too, if I am honest with myself. But it's not like I am optimistic about my own style either! ...…
Read 4 tweets
27 Aug
Ok so I now have the following picture of how race came to be: the European intelligentsia of the 15th-16th centuries were absorbed in a series of distinct but overlapping debates: how the hell are there people in the Americas and does this mean there were multiple creations?…
…Why is it that, in general, people differ in custom and appearance in various parts of the world? Are the people of the new world all Aristotlean natural slaves? If not them, how about Africans? Where are the boundaries of the human, how different are great apes from us?…
…Piety dictated there can have been no separate creation since we’re all children of Adam and Eve, humanity is sharply distinguished by presence of a rational soul with physiological differences irrelevant, and everyone must be converted and Christians should not be slaves…
Read 10 tweets
7 Jun
I've genuinely worked hard today, I deserve a reward. Gonna break out the big guns, time to watch James Lindsay discuss Kant and Hegel.
So what's up with the alchemy thing?
Just had Lindsay saying Hegel's dialectical engine is Thesis-Anthesis-Synthesis (which Hegel nerds will deny but he's right about) and O'Fallon draws out the conclusion from this that our ethnicities prevent us from learning absolute truth. Lindsay corrects him tho!
Read 9 tweets
29 Apr
Hannah Rubin with fascinating new paper on how the structure of professional networks can cause citation gaps (e.g. women's work less cited than men's). She also shows how a runaway Matthew effect could be worsened by abolishing peer review. Check it out!…
@CT_Bergstrom and @KevinZollman and @Helenreflects may be interesting to yinz.
For the record I agree with Hannah completely. @RemcoHeesen and I said runaway Matthew effect was speculative but if borne out compensatory institutional mechanisms should be designed. Hannah agrees on both fronts, and her contribution is proposing a mechanism. It's great stuff!
Read 4 tweets
17 Apr
I guess the reason I find moderate centrism irritating is I think a fair look at the evidence suggests the status quo is a wasteful death cult with all industry and culture serving at the behest of a tiny global elite whose status basically requires callous indifference from them
Of course it's far from obvious what to do next, and maybe even the best we can do is working-from-within incremental reforms away from here. I don't think the latter is true and I have opinions on the former. But I find the Sensible Set disdainful sneer at radicals infuriating.
Given the scale of the problems and the potential for improvement, the sheer amount of misery we could alleviate through better organisation, sneering at radicals just strikes me as what one does if one is either thoughtless or a base propagandist with no integrity whatsoever.
Read 4 tweets
17 Apr
I think the Voyager episode "One Small Step" is an excellent piece of Star Trek world building. It's basically about humanity's first encounter with a negative space wedgie, and also Seven of Nine coming to appreciate the too-science-to-live ethos of the Federation...
... (where science is always understood on the, like, Doc Brown mad scientist model, it basically consists of approaching negative space wedgies and poking them to see what happens) ....
... in Star Trek canon, but not irl, these are genuinely significant features of the universe and the human spirit respectively, and so it feels like an episode fleshing out its own world for its own sake, not just using the setting as a means of exploring real world issues...
Read 4 tweets

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