Snark, sarcasm, and disdain aren’t always helpful¶
No. But they really are quite a natural response to the frustration of parsing the nonsensical academic sewer, and in many cases, the contempt is well-deserved. Satire and parody take an absolutely essential role in exposing its absurdity.
Language evolves and the meaning of words changes¶
It’s entirely reasonable a word or phrase might have taken on a new meaning, or hold multiple meanings. Like “stereotype”, it may well have morphed from its original definition. The question is whether the process has been a socially-negotiated organic one, or a deliberate, forced perversion for political ends.
It’s not about political Left vs Right¶
The political ends of the spectrum have their own characteristic sins, but both sides have an important balance of tradition vs. reform to maintain. Academia being predominantly politically Left has been no secret for decades, although it was not always so at all. The political Right have plenty to account and atone for (for example, exaggerating the effect of the Frankfurt School or asinine theories such as “The Great Replacement”). The issue is the political radicalisation of academia and the concept of objective truth.
Criticism of the academic Left does not make you politically Right¶
Opposition to the behaviour of adherents of one belief system does not automatically enroll you for membership in its opposite: that implies the substance of the matter (i.e. the criticism) is subjective. Criticism, as far as it is possible, should be from an objective perspective.
It’s not about the Science vs the Humanities¶
Although it it is true the bulk of the charlatanism and insanity is to be found outside the sciences, there are plenty of examples of dreadful work within it. The issues are of corruption and deceit; willful attempts to negate, obscure, and mangle objective truth for political ends; and the deliberate laundering of disingenuous radicalism, which has the effect of deranging our sense of truth and meaning.
Be sensible of over- and under- attribution¶
One telltale giveaway of ideologues and extremists, if and when they are pretending to be the objective “moderate” ground, is they tend to over-attribute guilt and culpability to their enemies, and little to their own perceived “side”. This often ends up being “The Jews”, who are apparently either nationalistic ethno-fascists for “oppressing” Palestinians, or a secretive global cabal responsible for moral and financial chaos.
Fictions are not bad in and of themselves¶
We use fictions in multiple productive ways, for example, when we draw molecules in chemistry. The Law itself, or a limited company, again, are fictions, technically-speaking. However, these fictions are not Harry Potter; they are testable representations having some manifestation in objective material reality.
Opinions are not bad in and of themselves¶
Everyone has one. They are not evidence of anything; nor are they eyewitness testimony; nor the basis of any theory; nor a form of objective truth; and they do not belong in academic literature.
Truth appears in pieces¶
In many shards of scholarship material there are half-truths or glimpses of reality which indicate a need for further study; fictions may in themselves serve as a useful conceptualisation or starting point. The notion of a journal publishing a re-worded version of “Mein Kampf” as feminist literature tells us much about radicalisation, qualification, and the weaknesses of peer review.
Beware of inferring or attaching individual motive¶
Most people don’t get out of bed thinking of ways to destroy Western civilisation or how to ruin the world around them for everyone else. Stupidity, laziness, envy, resentment, insecurity, or ignorance are much more likely causes of radicalism or bad scholarship.
Bad scholarship != bad person¶
There are some extremely clear examples of intellectual bad actors whose stated goal is to destroy and subvert: the postmodern crime gang of Derrida, Foucault, Lacan, Serano, Butler et al, are of particular note. However, being deceived does not make one a deceiver; advocating or defending a sincerely held belief does not make one an author; nor does being inaccurate, fallacious, uninformed, misguided, or plain wrong, make one a fraud. It often takes some someone extraordinarily intelligent or educated to be an absolute fool.
Keep the road back open¶
People change. Engaging in these practices or submitting poor work does not have to mean lifelong condemnation, banishment from academia, or intellectual stigma. It does, however, require a repentance of sorts, which shouldn’t be arbitrarily denied based on who we were before.