Author: Quillette Magazine

The Grievance Studies Scandal: Five Academics Respond

Editor’s note: For the past year scholars James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose, and Peter Boghossian have sent fake papers to various academic journals which they describe as specialising in activism or “grievance studies.” Their stated mission has been to expose how easy it is to get “absurdities and morally fashionable political ideas published as legitimate academic research.”  To date, their project has been successful: seven papers have passed through peer review and have been published, including a 3000 word excerpt of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, rewritten in the language of Intersectionality theory and published in the Gender Studies journal Affilia. Below is a response to the scandal from five academics who are currently researching, publishing and teaching in the fields of Philosophy, English Studies, Behavioral Genetics and Economics. From Foolish Talk to Evil Madness — Nathan Cofnas (Philosophy) Nathan Cofnas is reading for a DPhil in philosophy at the University of Oxford. His work focuses on the philosophy of biology, broadly construed. He has published on such topics as innateness, the ethical implications of individual differences in intelligence, and Jewish …

Who We Are

Bo Winegard – Contributing Writer I’m an assistant professor at Marietta College in Ohio. I was born in a small Midwestern town and owe my career to Jim Morrison, the late singer for The Doors. From the mercurial and mysterious singer, I learned of Nietzsche. I didn’t understand him at first, but admired his scintillating prose and insightful observations. After many years of study, I decided upon a career in psychology, a discipline that allows for eclectic and synthetic thinking. Intellectual diversity is crucial to obtaining the truth about human nature, about social policy, about society in general, because such topics are incredibly broad and difficult and because it is so easy to allow one’s desires to distort one’s thinking. People want human nature to be one way or another, so they find the science to confirm their preferred views. Without diversity, this understandable human propensity can create a cocoon of sacred errors, protected from criticism not by rational argument but by insults and accusations, snipes and slanders. We need to prevent our media and …

Wrongspeak

Wrongspeak is an all-new podcast featuring two Toronto-based political commentators committed to telling stories about “the things we believe to be true but cannot say.” Its mission is to push listeners past received wisdom, follow the evidence, and open up a fearless but constructive dialogue on important issues. Jonathan Kay is the Canadian editor of Quillette, is a former engineer and lawyer, a best-selling New York Times-reviewed book author, and a political commentator whose work appears regularly in Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, CNN.com, and Canada’s National Post. Dr. Debra Soh is a former academic researcher with a PhD in sexual neuroscience who contributes to Quillette, Canada’s Globe & Mail and Playboy. Wrongspeak is available on iTunes and other podcast platforms. Follow on Twitter/Facebook: @Wrongspeak. For more information: wrongspeak@gmail.com 

Steven Pinker: Counter-Enlightenment Convictions are ‘Surprisingly Resilient’

Steven Pinker is a cognitive scientist and is the author of several books including Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress published by Viking Press earlier this year. Editors at Quillette contacted Professor Pinker for a Q&A: what follows is a transcript of our Q&A, conducted via email. On Psychology Quillette: What are some of the classic experiments in psychology that you think an educated person should know about? Steven Pinker: Where to begin? I’d cite studies of illusions and biases, to remind people of the fallibility of our perceptual and cognitive faculties. These would include experiments on visual attention by the late Anne Treisman and others showing that people are unaware of visual material they don’t attend to, together with any experiment on memory showing how un-photographic our recollections are (for example, Elizabeth Loftus’s studies on the unreliability of eyewitness testimony, or even the low-tech study in which people are asked to draw a penny, an object they have seen thousands of times). Let’s add Slovic, Tversky, and Kahneman’s demonstrations of illusions in reasoning about …

Books to Read in 2018

Enlightenment Now, Steven Pinker “Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases…” Read more at Amazon.     The Coddling of the American Mind, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt “The generation now coming of age has been taught three Great Untruths: their feelings are always right; they should avoid pain and discomfort; and they should look for faults in others and not themselves.” Read more at Amazon.     Female Bodies and Sexuality in Iran and the Search for Defiance, Nafiseh Sharifi “This book uses storytelling as an analytical tool for following wider social attitude changes towards sex and female sexuality in Iran.” Read more at Amazon.   On Kings, David Graeber and Marshall Sahlins “[K]ings are symbols for more than just sovereignty: indeed, the study of kingship offers a unique window into fundamental dilemmas concerning the very nature of power, meaning, and the human condition.” Read more at Amazon.   The People Versus Democracy, Yascha Mounk “Liberalism and democracy, historically twinned, are splitting …

Best of the Web, 18 December 2017

In Memoriam: Remembering Christopher Hitchens Douglas Murray, The Spectator European Anti-Semitism: The Uncomfortable Truth About Swedish Anti-Semitism Paulina Neuding, New York Times U. S. Politics: Inside Trump’s Hour-by-Hour Battle For Self-Preservation Maggie Haberman, Glenn Thrush, Peter Baker, New York Times  #MeToo: Why the #MeToo Movement Should Be Ready For a Backlash Emily Yoffe, Politico Education: Bonfire of the Academies Heather Heyling and Bret Weinstein, Washington Examiner Science: Gender, Trans Kids, and the Effects on My Personal Life Dr. Debra Soh, YouTube

“Problematic and In Poor Taste”

On Wednesday 6 December, a German graduate student named Yannick Brandenburg sent out a call for papers to all members of the Liverpool Classics e-mail list. The list is public, so Brandenburg’s message can be read here in full. In short, his e-mail informed the list’s subscribers that a conference would be held at the University of Wuppertal in Germany next autumn, entitled “(un)documented – Was bleibt vom Dokument in der Edition?” and that it would address such questions as “What significance do particular disciplines attribute to a document/documents?” and “What effect does the conceptualization of the document have upon editorial practice?” Brandenburg invited interested researchers to submit “an abstract of no more than 500 words, together with a short CV and contact details.” The discussion that followed (which can also be found in the list’s public archives) is transcribed below, unaltered: Andrew Feldherr Professor and Chair, Department of Classics, Princeton University Thu, 7 Dec 2017 13:10:58 Given the political situation in my country at the moment and the real tragedies that are being visited daily upon …

Best of the Web, 9 December 2017

Education: Elite colleges are making it easy for conservatives to dislike them Jack Goldsmith and Adrian Vermeule, Washington Post Free Speech, Personified Peter Salovey, New York Times  Race and Racism: The world is relying on a flawed psychological test to fight racism Olivia Goldhill, Quartz Maybe We Should Just Shut Up? Noah Rothman, Commentary A Police Killing Without a Hint of Racism Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic Women in Tech: The Empress Has No Clothes: The Dark Underbelly of Women Who Code and Google Women Techmakers Marlene Jaeckel, Medium Sexual Harassment: The Warlock Hunt Claire Berlinski, The American Interest  Is Office Romance Still Allowed? Cathy Young, Wall Street Journal  [Paywall] Science: Is Psychology a Self-Correcting Science? Lee Jussim, Psychology Today Cooperation and the evolution of hunter-gatherer storytelling Daniel Smith et al, Nature Communications Politics 100 Years. 100 Lives. Think Twice. Laura M. Nicolae, The Harvard Crimson

Best of the Web, 26 November 2017

Education – Lindsay Shepherd and Wilfrid Laurier University, Heal Thyself Editorial, Globe and Mail Lindsay Shepherd and the Potential for Heterodoxy at Wilfrid Laurier University Raffi Grinberg, Heterodox Academy The Radical Left’s Apologia for Evil The Charles Manson Fallacy Paul Berman, Tablet The West’s Leftist Male ‘Intellectuals’ Who Traffic in Genocide Denial, From Srebrenica to Syria Oz Katerji, Ha’aretz Genocide-Denying Charlatans Have Poisoned the Left Oliver Kamm, CapX Sexual Assault Crisis #MeToo and the Criminalisation of Sexual Passion Josie Appleton, Notes on Freedom

Are Women Really Victims? Four Women Weigh In

Helen Pluckrose Helen Pluckrose is a writer for Areo Magazine and has research interests in late medieval/early modern religious writing for and about women. Her writing is often critical of postmodernism and cultural constructivism which she sees as currently dominating the humanities. Women can be victims. In this world, there are violent, exploitative people willing to use and abuse their fellow human beings. Sometimes those human beings are women and sometimes they are abused and sexually exploited by powerful men because they are women. But women are not a class of victims. We cannot be victimised by actions and words that men can simply shrug off – an unwanted sexual advance, a strong criticism, an unkind comment, a tasteless joke, a call, a whistle, a wink. We are competent adults, fully equipped to deal with difficult, unpleasant, annoying or simply gauche behaviour. We are possessed of humour, empathy, reason, perspective and charity by which we can evaluate the behaviour of the men around us without developing a siege mentality or constructing a war zone. When …