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At Mind Matters News: Jonathan Bartlett: Will the Sokal hoaxes worsen the academic echo chamber?

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Yes, of course they could. Frightened babblers of academic orthodoxy could decide to just stop considering new ideas. Jonathan Bartlett explains:

Academics has long had a problem of being insular. Many papers are published on the basis of your status in academics, not the quality of the paper itself. This is not to say that the papers didn’t legitimately pass peer review (though that is questionable in some cases), but rather that the editor decides which papers are “worthy” of peer review based on the editor’s knowledge of that person’s prior work.

Here’s the deal: Journals live and die by their reputation, and no editor wants their journal to be Sokal’d. What does this mean? It likely means that journals will simply increase their desk-rejection (prior to peer review) of papers by newer researchers, especially of solo authorship. The effect of this will be to restrict ideas to only those which are currently fashionable and held by existing, well-known academics. If your paper has to be co-authored by someone already well-known for an editor to take you seriously, then that means that your ideas are probably really well-aligned with the mainstream.

There’s nothing wrong per se with mainstream thinking — it probably became mainstream for good reasons. However, when only mainstream thinking is allowed, this leads to insularity and an echo chamber mentality.

Jonathan Bartlett, “Will the Sokal hoaxes worsen the academic echo chamber?” at Mind Matters News (December 13, 2021)

Echo chambers are not a recipe for progress.

Takehome: When only mainstream thinking is allowed, insularity and echo chambers are the result. In order to protect against Sokal hoaxes, journal editors may choose to pass on newer researchers, narrowing the diversity of opinions in their journals

In case you missed it:

Are Sokal Hoaxes Really Helping Reform Science? The evidence is mixed. The current prank on Higher Education Quarterly prompts some questions. Serious problems exist in today’s journals but the hoaxers seem so certain of their view that they don’t approach demonstrating it in a scientific way. (Jonathan Bartlett)

Be On the Lookout for More Sokal Hoaxes. If you spot a Sokal hoax, let us know by tagging @cnaintelligence on Twitter. One of the anonymous hoaxers said, “We plan to reveal the full extent of this hoax later. For now we recommend readers look for other fake papers.” (Jonathan Bartlett)

6 Replies to “At Mind Matters News: Jonathan Bartlett: Will the Sokal hoaxes worsen the academic echo chamber?

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Nah. No new ideas have ever come from academia. New ideas start in business and military organizations. True for 5000 years.

    The current violent orthodoxy might be a good thing in the long term if it drives even more sane humans OUT of academia.

  2. 2
    Bob O'H says:

    Here’s the deal: Journals live and die by their reputation, and no editor wants their journal to be Sokal’d. What does this mean? It likely means that journals will simply increase their desk-rejection (prior to peer review) of papers by newer researchers, especially of solo authorship

    As a journal editor, I can quite happily say that this is rubbish. Yes, we don’t want to be Sokal’d, but we want to publish the best papers, so we’re not going to reject ones just because we don’t know the names of the authors. I’m certain this will be true of almost all journals: the exceptions will be ones that cover a specialist area where there are only a few groups working in it (and even then, they might look favourably on new blood).

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    At 2 Bob O’H states, “As a journal editor, I can quite happily say that this is rubbish.”

    HUH?

    But Bob O’H, you yourself falsely believe that some form of unguided Darwinian evolution is true for how all life on earth diversified.

    Yet, as Robert Marks and company have now demonstrated, unguided Darwinian evolution does not even qualify as a hard and testable science in the first place,

    Top Ten Questions and Objections to ‘Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics’ – Robert J. Marks II – June 12, 2017
    Excerpt: “There exists no model successfully describing undirected Darwinian evolution. Hard sciences are built on foundations of mathematics or definitive simulations. Examples include electromagnetics, Newtonian mechanics, geophysics, relativity, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, optics, and many areas in biology. Those hoping to establish Darwinian evolution as a hard science with a model have either failed or inadvertently cheated. These models contain guidance mechanisms to land the airplane squarely on the target runway despite stochastic wind gusts. Not only can the guiding assistance be specifically identified in each proposed evolution model, its contribution to the success can be measured, in bits, as active information.,,,”,,, “there exists no model successfully describing undirected Darwinian evolution. According to our current understanding, there never will be.,,,”
    https://evolutionnews.org/2017/06/top-ten-questions-and-objections-to-introduction-to-evolutionary-informatics/

    Moreover, the Sokal Hoax was originally devised to test a journal’s ‘intellectual rigor’,,,

    Sokal affair
    Excerpt: The submission was an experiment to test the journal’s intellectual rigor,,,
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair

    Thus Bob O’H, since unguided evolution does not even qualify as a hard and testable science in the first place, then that pretty much means, by definition, that every paper you publish for unguided Darwinian evolution in your journal is, in one form or the other, a ‘Sokal Hoax’ in that the paper is misleading and it demonstrates a lack of ‘intellectual rigor’ on your part and on the part of the other editor’s at your journal.

    As Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini observed “Much of the vast neo-Darwinian literature is distressingly uncritical. The possibility that anything is seriously amiss with Darwin’s account of evolution is hardly considered. … The methodological skepticism that characterizes most areas of scientific discourse seems strikingly absent when Darwinism is the topic.”

    It’s Time for Second Thoughts about Our Faith in Peer-Reviewed Research – Kirk Durston – July 30, 2015
    Excerpt: “Much of the vast neo-Darwinian literature is distressingly uncritical. The possibility that anything is seriously amiss with Darwin’s account of evolution is hardly considered. … The methodological skepticism that characterizes most areas of scientific discourse seems strikingly absent when Darwinism is the topic.”
    – Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini
    https://evolutionnews.org/2015/07/second_thoughts/

    Shoot Bob, you yourself have, (supposedly humorously, but none-the-less inadvertently honestly), admitted in the past that you “torture data until it confesses.”

    Bob O’Hara
    “I torture data until it confesses. Sometimes I have to resort to Bayesianism” – 2016
    “I tortured data, mainly in ecology and evolutionary biology.” – 2009
    https://de.linkedin.com/in/bob-o-hara-93b0a210

    Of course the problem with Bob O’Hara, (inadvertently honestly), admitting that he statistically ‘tortures data until it confesses’ is that data, like people, will confess to anything you want if you torture it/them long enough.

    “If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything.”
    – Ronald Harry Coase (29 December 1910 – 2 September 2013) was a British economist. Coase believed economists should study real markets and not theoretical ones,

    Perhaps Bob O’Hara, and evolutionists like him, should have the ‘intellectual rigor’ to let the data speak for itself and not ‘torture it’ until it says what they want it to say beforehand?

    But then again, when you let the data speak for itself, then it tells a very different story than the one that Darwinian Atheists want to be told beforehand.

    New Paper by Winston Ewert Demonstrates Superiority of Design Model – Cornelius Hunter – July 20, 2018
    Excerpt: for the actual, real species data, the dependency graph model is astronomically superior compared to the common descent model.
    Where It Counts
    Let me repeat that in case the point did not sink in. Where it counted, common descent failed compared to the dependency graph model. The other data types served as useful checks, but for the data that mattered — the actual, real, biological species data — the results were unambiguous.
    Ewert amassed a total of nine massive genetic databases. In every single one, without exception, the dependency graph model surpassed common descent.
    Darwin could never have even dreamt of a test on such a massive scale. Darwin also could never have dreamt of the sheer magnitude of the failure of his theory. Because you see, Ewert’s results do not reveal two competitive models with one model edging out the other.
    We are not talking about a few decimal points difference. For one of the data sets (HomoloGene), the dependency graph model was superior to common descent by a factor of 10,064. The comparison of the two models yielded a preference for the dependency graph model of greater than ten thousand.
    Ten thousand is a big number. But it gets worse, much worse.
    Ewert used Bayesian model selection which compares the probability of the data set given the hypothetical models. In other words, given the model (dependency graph or common descent), what is the probability of this particular data set? Bayesian model selection compares the two models by dividing these two conditional probabilities. The so-called Bayes factor is the quotient yielded by this division.
    The problem is that the common descent model is so incredibly inferior to the dependency graph model that the Bayes factor cannot be typed out. In other words, the probability of the data set, given the dependency graph model, is so much greater than the probability of the data set given the common descent model, that we cannot type the quotient of their division.
    Instead, Ewert reports the logarithm of the number. Remember logarithms? Remember how 2 really means 100, 3 means 1,000, and so forth?
    Unbelievably, the 10,064 value is the logarithm (base value of 2) of the quotient! In other words, the probability of the data on the dependency graph model is so much greater than that given the common descent model, we need logarithms even to type it out. If you tried to type out the plain number, you would have to type a 1 followed by more than 3,000 zeros. That’s the ratio of how probable the data are on these two models!
    https://evolutionnews.org/2018/07/new-paper-by-winston-ewert-demonstrates-superiority-of-design-model/

    To clearly demonstrate that the peer-reviewed papers purporting to support unguided Darwinian evolution are, (in one form or the other), all perpetuating ‘Sokal Hoaxes’, it turns out that it is the ‘language of evolution’ itself that is a ‘narrative gloss’ that is superfluously added on top of the actual experimental data.

    As the late Philip Skell pointed out, “In the peer-reviewed literature, the word “evolution” often occurs as a sort of coda to academic papers in experimental biology. Is the term integral or superfluous to the substance of these papers? To find out, I substituted for “evolution” some other word – “Buddhism,” “Aztec cosmology,” or even “creationism.” I found that the substitution never touched the paper’s core.”

    “In the peer-reviewed literature, the word “evolution” often occurs as a sort of coda to academic papers in experimental biology. Is the term integral or superfluous to the substance of these papers? To find out, I substituted for “evolution” some other word – “Buddhism,” “Aztec cosmology,” or even “creationism.” I found that the substitution never touched the paper’s core. This did not surprise me. From my conversations with leading researchers it had became clear that modern experimental biology gains its strength from the availability of new instruments and methodologies, not from an immersion in historical biology.,,,
    Darwinian evolution – whatever its other virtues – does not provide a fruitful heuristic in experimental biology.”
    – Philip S. Skell – (the late) Emeritus Evan Pugh Professor at Pennsylvania State University, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. – Why Do We Invoke Darwin? – 2005

    And as Evolutionary biologist Robert Reid stated, “Indeed the language of neo-Darwinism is so careless that the words ‘divine plan’ can be substituted for ‘selection pressure’ in any popular work in the biological literature without the slightest disruption in the logical flow of argument.”

    Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection Has Left a Legacy of Confusion over Biological Adaptation
    Brian Miller – September 20, 2021
    Excerpt: Evolutionary biologist Robert Reid stated:
    “Indeed the language of neo-Darwinism is so careless that the words ‘divine plan’ can be substituted for ‘selection pressure’ in any popular work in the biological literature without the slightest disruption in the logical flow of argument.”
    Robert Reid, Biological Emergences: Evolution by Natural Experiment, PP. 37-38 (2009)
    To fully comprehend the critique, one simply needs to imagine attempting to craft an evolutionary barometer that measures the selection pressure driving one organism to transform into something different (e.g., fish into an amphibian). The fact that no such instrument could be constructed highlights the fictitious nature of such mystical forces.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2021/09/darwins-theory-of-natural-selection-has-left-a-legacy-of-confusion-over-biological-adaptation/

    And as Ann Gauger noted, “the icing (evolutionary language) sits atop and separate from the cake (the actual experimental data)”

    Rewriting Biology Without Spin By Ann Gauger – Jan. 12, 2014
    Excerpt: It’s a funny thing—scientific papers often have evolutionary language layered on top of the data like icing on a cake. In most papers, the icing (evolutionary language) sits atop and separate from the cake (the actual experimental data). Even in papers where the evolutionary language is mixed in with the data like chocolate and vanilla in a marble cake, I can still tell one from the other.
    I have noticed that this dichotomy creates a kind of double vision. I know what the data underlying evolutionary arguments are. By setting aside the premise that evolution is true, I can read what’s on the page and at the same time see how that paper would read if neutral, fact-based language were substituted for evolutionary language.
    Let me give you an example.,,,
    http://www.biologicinstitute.o.....thout-spin

    To more clearly demonstrate that the peer-reviewed papers purporting to support unguided Darwinian evolution are, (in one form or the other), all perpetuating ‘Sokal Hoaxes’, it turns out that it is the ‘language of evolution’ itself that can be somewhat easily excised from, and/or replaced in, these peer-reviewed research papers without negatively effecting the actual scientific research of the papers.

    In fact, when removing ‘the language of evolution’ from peer-reviewed papers, it was found that “the science not only survived, but proved healthier and more useful.”

    No Harm, No Foul — What If Darwinism Were Excised from Biology? – December 4, 2019
    Excerpt: If Darwinism is as essential to biology as Richard Dawkins or Jerry Coyne argues, then removing evolutionary words and concepts, (“Darwin-ectomy”), should make research incomprehensible. If, on the other hand, Darwinism is more of a “narrative gloss” applied to the conclusions after the scientific work is done, as the late Philip Skell observed, then biology would survive the operation just fine. It might even be healthier, slimmed down after disposing of unnecessary philosophical baggage.,,,
    So, here are three papers in America’s premier science journal that appear at first glance to need Darwinism, use Darwinism, support Darwinism, and thereby impart useful scientific knowledge. After subjecting them to Darwin-ectomies, though, the science not only survived, but proved healthier and more useful.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2019/12/no-harm-no-foul-what-if-darwinism-were-excised-from-biology/

    To repeat Philip Skell’s observation, Darwinian evolution “does not provide a fruitful heuristic in experimental biology.”

    Contrary to the oft-repeated false claims of Darwinian Atheists, advances in biological science owe absolutely nothing to their presupposition of unguided Darwinian evolution

    “In fact, over the last 100 years, almost all of biology has proceeded independent of evolution, except evolutionary biology itself. Molecular biology, biochemistry, and physiology, have not taken evolution into account at all.”
    – Marc Kirschner, founding chair of the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School, Boston Globe, Oct. 23, 2005

    “While the great majority of biologists would probably agree with Theodosius Dobzhansky’s dictum that “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”, most can conduct their work quite happily without particular reference to evolutionary ideas. Evolution would appear to be the indispensable unifying idea and, at the same time, a highly superfluous one.”
    – Adam S. Wilkins, editor of the journal BioEssays, Introduction to “Evolutionary Processes” – (2000)

    Even Jerry Coyne himself honestly admitted as much and stated, as far as biological science is concerned, “Truth be told, evolution hasn’t yielded many practical or commercial benefits.”

    “Truth be told, evolution hasn’t yielded many practical or commercial benefits. Yes, bacteria evolve drug resistance, and yes, we must take countermeasures, but beyond that there is not much to say. Evolution cannot help us predict what new vaccines to manufacture because microbes evolve unpredictably. But hasn’t evolution helped guide animal and plant breeding? Not very much. Most improvement in crop plants and animals occurred long before we knew anything about evolution, and came about by people following the genetic principle of ‘like begets like’. Even now, as its practitioners admit, the field of quantitative genetics has been of little value in helping improve varieties. Future advances will almost certainly come from transgenics, which is not based on evolution at all.”
    (Jerry Coyne, “Selling Darwin: Does it matter whether evolution has any commercial applications?,” reviewing The Evolving World: Evolution in Everyday Life by David P. Mindell, in Nature, 442:983-984 (August 31, 2006).)

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Moreover, (although the ‘narrative gloss’ of unguided Darwinian evolution’ can be, somewhat easily, removed from the peer-reviewed literature without negatively effecting the actual scientific research of the papers), it is interesting to note what type of language cannot be removed from these peer-reviewed papers without negatively effecting the actual scientific research of the papers.

    Specifically, teleological language cannot be sacrificed from these peer-reviewed research papers, (that purport to support unguided Darwinian evolution), without negatively effecting the actual scientific research of the papers.

    teleological – adjective
    exhibiting or relating to design or purpose especially in nature
    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/teleological

    The renowned J.B.S. Haldane himself admitted as much, “Teleology is like a mistress to the biologist; he dare not be seen with her in public but cannot live without her.”

    “Teleology is like a mistress to the biologist; he dare not be seen with her in public but cannot live without her.”
    J. B. S. Haldane

    As Denis Noble, Emeritus Professor of the University of Oxford, states, “it is virtually impossible to speak of living beings for any length of time without using teleological and normative language”.

    “the most striking thing about living things, in comparison with non-living systems, is their teleological organization—meaning the way in which all of the local physical and chemical interactions cohere in such a way as to maintain the overall system in existence.
    Moreover, it is virtually impossible to speak of living beings for any length of time without using teleological and normative language—words like “goal,” “purpose,” “meaning,” “correct/incorrect,” “success/failure,” etc.”
    – Denis Noble – Emeritus Professor of Cardiovascular Physiology in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy, and Genetics of the Medical Sciences Division of the University of Oxford.
    http://www.thebestschools.org/.....interview/

    In the following article, Stephen Talbott challenges Darwinists to, “pose a single topic for biological research, doing so in language that avoids all implication of agency, cognition, and purposiveness(i.e. teleology)”

    The ‘Mental Cell’: Let’s Loosen Up Biological Thinking! – Stephen L. Talbott – September 9, 2014
    Excerpt: Many biologists are content to dismiss the problem with hand-waving: “When we wield the language of agency, we are speaking metaphorically, and we could just as well, if less conveniently, abandon the metaphors”.
    Yet no scientist or philosopher has shown how this shift of language could be effected. And the fact of the matter is just obvious: the biologist who is not investigating how the organism achieves something in a well-directed way is not yet doing biology, as opposed to physics or chemistry. Is this in turn just hand-waving? Let the reader inclined to think so take up a challenge: pose a single topic for biological research, doing so in language that avoids all implication of agency, cognition, and purposiveness 1.
    One reason this cannot be done is clear enough: molecular biology — the discipline that was finally going to reduce life unreservedly to mindless mechanism — is now posing its own severe challenges. In this era of Big Data, the message from every side concerns previously unimagined complexity, incessant cross-talk and intertwining pathways, wildly unexpected genomic performances, dynamic conformational changes involving proteins and their cooperative or antagonistic binding partners, pervasive multifunctionality, intricately directed behavior somehow arising from the interaction of countless players in interpenetrating networks, and opposite effects by the same molecules in slightly different contexts. The picture at the molecular level begins to look as lively and organic — and thoughtful — as life itself.
    http://natureinstitute.org/txt.....ell_23.htm

    This working biologist agrees with Noble and Talbott’s assessment and states, “in our work, we biologists use words that imply intentionality, functionality, strategy, and design in biology–we simply cannot avoid them.”

    Life, Purpose, Mind: Where the Machine Metaphor Fails – Ann Gauger – June 2011
    Excerpt: I’m a working biologist, on bacterial regulation (transcription and translation and protein stability) through signalling molecules, ,,, I can confirm the following points as realities: we lack adequate conceptual categories for what we are seeing in the biological world; with many additional genomes sequenced annually, we have much more data than we know what to do with (and making sense of it has become the current challenge); cells are staggeringly chock full of sophisticated technologies, which are exquisitely integrated; life is not dominated by a single technology, but rather a composite of many; and yet life is more than the sum of its parts; in our work, we biologists use words that imply intentionality, functionality, strategy, and design in biology–we simply cannot avoid them.
    Furthermore, I suggest that to maintain that all of biology is solely a product of selection and genetic decay and time requires a metaphysical conviction that isn’t troubled by the evidence. Alternatively, it could be the view of someone who is unfamiliar with the evidence, for one reason or another. But for those who will consider the evidence that is so obvious throughout biology, I suggest it’s high time we moved on.
    – Matthew
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....nt-8858161

    And as the following 2020 article pointed out, “teleological concepts cannot be abstracted away from biological explanations without loss of meaning and explanatory power, life is inherently teleological.”

    Metaphor and Meaning in the Teleological Language of Biology Annie L. Crawford – August 2020
    Abstract:
    Excerpt: However, most discussions regarding the legitimacy of teleological language in biology fail to consider the nature of language itself. Since conceptual language is intrinsically metaphorical, teleological language can be dismissed as decorative if and only if it can be replaced with alternative metaphors without loss of essential meaning. I conclude that, since teleological concepts cannot be abstracted away from biological explanations without loss of meaning and explanatory power, life is inherently teleological.
    https://uncommondescent.com/philosophy/biologists-cant-stop-using-purpose-driven-language-because-life-really-is-designed/

    Thus in conclusion, teleological, i.e. designed based, language is found to be absolutely essential for doing biological research, whereas ‘evolutionary language’ is found to be a superficial ‘narrative gloss’ that can be somewhat easily stripped away from the research papers without negatively effecting the actual science in the papers.

    In summary, the very words that Biologists themselves are forced to use when they are doing, and/or describing, their actual biological research falsifies Darwinian evolution and proves that all the peer-reviewed papers that purport to support unguided Darwinian evolution are, for all intents and purposes, ‘Sokal Hoaxes’ in their own right in that they are inherently misleading.

    Matthew 12:37
    for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

    Of supplemental note to the fact that the very words that Darwinists are forced to use when they are doing their biological research falsifies Darwinian evolution, it is also (very) interesting to note that, according to atheist professor of philosophy Alex Rosenberg (Duke University), if atheistic naturalism were actually true, then “no sentence has any meaning.”

    2.) The argument from meaning
    1. If naturalism is true, no sentence has any meaning.
    2. Premise (1) has meaning.
    3. Therefore naturalism is not true.
    – Is Metaphysical Naturalism Viable? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzS_CQnmoLQ
    i.e. Dr. Craig’s succinct, and devastating, refutation of atheist Professor Alex Rosenberg’s (Duke University) book “The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life without Illusions”

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    And right on time, we have this,

    Materialist Science as Paternalistic Propaganda – Neil Thomas – December 14, 2021
    https://evolutionnews.org/2021/12/materialist-science-as-paternalistic-propaganda/

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    Circling the wagons, under siege . . .

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