Ever wonder where that fashionable nonsense crazypeople preach all over the media and internet comes from? Where that bizarrely-Orwellian academic phrasing originated? Confused about internalized hegemonic patriarchy-centric-discourse over heterobinaries? Who came up with all this crap?
A lot of imposters trying to pass themselves off as academics. With too much time and government funding on their hands.
100 Years After The Original¶
In 1906, journalist Ambrose Bierce first assembled his “Cynic’s Word Book” of satirical mis-definitions. Five years later in 1911, it was re-published as “The Devil’s Dictionary”. 60 years on, it was named as one of “The 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature” by the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration. His work was in response to his times: a broadside to the moral posturing and the sanctimonious hypocrisy of observance to Victorian-style etiquette.
Bierce’s fierce wit is evidenced in his definitions which are still relevant today:
DISCRIMINATE, v.i. To note the particulars in which one person or thing is, if possible, more objectionable than another.
RADICAL, n. A miscreant who would forestall the future by discrediting the past and abolishing the present.
SELF-ESTEEM, n. An erroneous appraisement.
This glossary is an attempt at a homage to Bierce’s work, for our own times; one hundred years later. It’s tone might be somewhat more contemptuous. The word “Devils” has been pluralised as the crimes against language and philosophy are one of collective multi-disciplinary guilt.
What Is Idea Laundering?¶
Money laundering is the process of legitimising funds which are illegitimate in three distinct phases: placement (smuggling, disguising, or misrepresentation), layering (obscuring to avoid detection), and integration (mixing it into normal systems).
Idea laundering is its intellectual analogue: using “front groups” and academic institutions to give legitimacy to invalid, ideological, or illegitimate notions, so they can be smuggled and integrated into our wider sense-making systems, such as journalism, arts, politics, and popular culture. In most incidences, as with banks, journal editors are not only complicit, but instigators.
At the lighter end of the scale, it may be simply for reasons of academic ego; in darker portraits, it is a deliberate process conducted for nakedly political aims; in some circumstances, authors even state in their “literature” pernicious goals of sedition and derangement.
This glossary attempts to shine an antiseptic daylight on the origins of these neologisms and axioms-apparent whose adherents are desperate to embed in our culture as “accepted truths”, when they are anything else but such things.
Where Is This Coming From?¶
Our bookshelves have always suffered an ever-expanding litany of nonsense, particularly in sections like Eastern philosophy, “self-help”, “mind/body/spirit” and the “New Age”. Flights of fancy are nothing new in literature.
For at least 30 years, one area of the Academy which has been largely ignored for its transparent illegitimacy appears to be the “engine” of the staggeringly poor scholarly material, which appears at astonishing speed and volume from authors who are clearly ideological and keen to disguise the true origins of their memes : the neo-humanities and social sciences. Its force-multiplication is due to one factor: social media and the Internet.
These “disciplines” include the “ologies” (psychology, sociology, “sexology” etc) the grievance-based “studies” (women’s studies, gender studies, etc), and education itself. Their “journals” have published a corpus of such stunning, incomprehensible, and subjective idiocy and radicalism it is barely conceivable.
Once a bad idea has been published as scholarly work, the next paper references the previous one as an authoritative primary source; a false epistemology is constructed for gullible blogger-journalists and activists to reference axiomatically as “truth”. It is astounding how many sources of information on the Internet have been deliberately “edited” to give the impression these “ideas” are older or more credible than they are.
Their contents are indistinguishable from fiction.
The majority of these papers and theories are the intellectual equivalent of the manuscript for “Harry Potter” or a Guide To Astrology. They are disingenuously proselytised to ordinary people as the basis of a “correct” worldview.
The result is a corruption and derangement of our mechanisms for making sense of the world and the demoralisation of our own soul as it copes with having to say and believe what we know not to be true objectively, or from our own experience.
This glossary aims to illustrate where these ideas were corruptly laundered into our everyday lives, so we can extract them out again.