↑ comment by Viliam ·
2016-03-12T22:33:41.646Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
It reminds me of a scene in The Twelve Chairs where Ostap Bender, a con man, pretends to be a chess grand master and gives a lecture about chess, for money, despite actually being quite a bad chess player:
“Comrades!” he said in a marvelous voice. “Comrades and
brothers in chess, the subject of my lecture today will be the
same thing I spoke about—and, I have to admit, not without
success—in Nizhny Novgorod a week ago. The subject of my
lecture is an idea for a fruitful opening move. What exactly is
an opening move, comrades, and what exactly, comrades, is an
idea? An opening move, comrades, is ‘Quasi una fantasia.’ And what exactly does ‘idea’ mean, comrades? An idea, comrades,
is human thought clothed in the logical form of chess. (...)”
The idea is: pretend to be an expert on X despite not being an expert on X. After saying a few introductory words about X, move to a meta level where you already have an experience in bullshitting. Many people will not notice the trick, because they will automatically assume that you moved to the meta level because you are such an expert on X that everything object-level is already beneath your status and now you are using your vast wisdom to generalize. While in fact you are merely talking high-status sounding platitudes.
Ostap pretends to be an expert on chess, then he switches the topic to an idea of chess, and then he presumably makes the whole lecture about ideas in general. The feminist glaciology researchers pretend to be experts on glaciology, then they switch the topic to patriarchal oppression in glaciology, and then they write an article about patriarchal oppression in general, sprinkled with some glaciology trivia.
To illustrate what I mean, I will now give you an outline of an article about feminist zymurgy that you could write in an afternoon. I actually don't know what "zymurgy" means, I just noticed it twenty years ago as the last word in my English dictionary and it somehow stuck in my memory; all I remember is that it is some kind of science. Doesn't matter; I can still write an article about feminist zymurgy! Here is the outline:
Zymurgy as a science is very important for our society. For example (use google or wikipedia to find some examples of practical application of zymurgy). But despite all its successes, the field suffers from a few serious problems, such as gender bias.
Scientific literature about zymurgy usually mentions (use google or wikipedia to find ten most important male researches in zymurgy) as the most important names in zymurgy. Most people won't even notice that all these scientists are male. This is how widespread is the idea that zymurgy is mostly a male field. However, there are also many important female scientists in zymurgy, such as (use google or wikipedia to find five or ten most important female researches in zymurgy). These important female contributors are often not known enough. For example (use google or wikipedia to find some trivia about the life of these female scientists, even if the trivia is completely unrelated to zymurgy).
Women are not the only minority ignored by the white imperialistic Western science. Indigenous people are similarly erased from the official science, despite providing alternative points of view. For example (use google or wikipedia to find some native beliefs related to the field of zymurgy, however absurd). By not giving these alternative points of view the same respect as to the white patriachal science, our democracy is endangered. Further research is needed.
If there is some wannabe Sokal reading this comment, feel free to use this template, and please tell me the results.
Replies from: Good_Burning_Plastic