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The sleep of reason brings forth monsters

Any scholarship that proceeds from radically skeptical assumptions about objective truth by definition does not and cannot find objective truth. Instead it promotes prejudices and opinions and calls them “truths.” For radical constructivists, these opinions are specifically rooted a political agenda of “Social Justice” (which we have intentionally made into a proper noun to distinguish it from the type of real social progress falling under the same name). Because of critical constructivism, which sees knowledge as a product of unjust power balances, and because of this brand of radical skepticism, which rejects objective truth, these scholars are like snake-oil salespeople who diagnose our society as being riddled with a disease only they can cure. That disease, as they see it, is endemic to any society that forwards the agency of the individual and the existence of objective (or scientifically knowable) truths.

Having spent a year doing this work ourselves, we understand why this fatally flawed research is attractive, how it is factually wrong in its foundations, and how it is conducive to being used for ethically dubious overreach. We’ve seen, studied, and participated in its culture through which it “proves” certain problems exist and then advocates often divisive, demeaning, and hurtful treatments we’d all do better without.

From the publication Aero. The authors deserve praise for exposing the intellectual disaster zone that so much “grievance studies”, and their denial of the existence of objective truth, amount to. The authors are left-liberals who use the word “social justice” without, I wonder, being aware of FA Hayek’s demolition job on the use of the word “social”. Even so, bravo to them: they obviously have stirred up a hornet’s nest. Further, they highlight how peer review in some higher ed. fields is a shambles.

The more I read, the more urgent it is for parents to really consider whether sending their offspring to these places is a form of harm.

11 comments to The sleep of reason brings forth monsters

  • CaptDMO

    But…but…personal truth!!!!!
    5 blind men and the elephant.

  • James Hargrave

    I have remarked, possibly here, that a dose of tertiary syphilis is more stimulating to the brain than a dose of tertiary education.

  • Zerren Yeoville

    Ah, yes, the sainted ‘peer review’ process. A cynic might translate it as ‘I’ve run it past a few of my colleagues who broadly share the same outlook and the same sources of funding as me, and they’ve all agreed what jolly good stuff it is so we can all apply for even more funding.’

    Incidentally, where does most of that precious funding for these academic descendants of Swift’s Laputan cucumber-botherers come from? Governments or their sock-puppet quangos. What do governments want? More power, more tax revenues and more control over the lives of the populace. What do government-funded researchers invariably recommend? Why, what else but more government power, more tax revenues and more control over the lives of the populace.

  • Greg

    Zerren, would you include “STEM” research? And for me the “S” in that acronym should be limited to physics and chemistry, maybe biology, but only the biologists doing science, not the ones weaving stories about how bugs behave.

    My government funded research results in new analytical chemistry methods (mass spectrometers), new capability to detect and measure ever smaller amounts of stuff (isotopes, chemicals, etc). Not clear how this leads to more power or control…except over research like mine! Full disclosure: I work for a government research lab. I wish that private organizations had interest in such research, but to my knowledge they mostly don’t.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes the moderate left are fighting the extreme left – but I suspect the extreme left will win.

    For as insane as they are – for (as J.P. reminds us) once one accepts the principles of Social Justice (and writing that in lower case as social justice, does NOT help) then the extreme left is the logical place to end up. Accept insane premises, such as those of Social Justice, and you get insane conclusions.

  • pete

    Snake-oil salesmen, sorry – salespeople, have the skill of making people buy their useless products voluntarily, and they earn income by doing so.

    These ‘scholars’ peddling their daft ideas simply demand obedience and ostracise those who dare to disagree, and their income is guaranteed by the taxpayer.

    So they aren’t that alike.

  • bobby b

    “The biggest difference between us and the scholarship we are studying by emulation is that we know we made things up.”

    Part II, Methods, Aero.

    This line from the article makes me wonder. Do the crap-authors of critical constructivism KNOW that their methodology is bad? Do they actually see the logical binds and dead-ends and “scientific” failures that they make central to their works?

    I suspect that they do. I suspect that only the dimmer minds in the area build up a faith-based belief in the correctness of the approach, but the brighter ones know that they are not serving science or logic or truth.

    I suspect that they don’t care, because they’re serving something that is, in their minds, more important than mere science. They are able to prostitute science because their ends justify their means. It is more important to them that they bring social thought into compliance with their specialties’ goals than it is for them to be true to science. In their minds, Science is a tool, not an end, and so if they need to sacrifice Science to attain their sought social order, so be it.

    So, back to that statement in the paper cited: “The biggest difference between us and the scholarship we are studying by emulation is that we know we made things up.” I think that’s wrong. The biggest difference is that the Critical Constructivists don’t care that they’re making things up.

  • Runcie Balspune

    I think it is less of the redefinition of “truth” than the redefinition of “social” and “society”.

    The typical leftist narrative is to consider “society” to be separate from the people that comprise it, to exist above them and is overarching. Once the deification of the concept of society is complete then any narrative that calls for “the good of society” is now separate from the needs of the people within it, and allows you to incriminate, abuse and murder people for what are considered godly reasons.

    Social Justice (capitals) is essentially the framework of this, the “social” part no longer refers to people but a glorification of an omnipotent ideal, that is basically devoid of, and apart from, people, administered by the high priests of the political parties that espouse it.

    The real crime here is teaching people about the false god of “society”, and any attempt to deny it amounts to blasphemy (and the association with religious fascism in this tract is deliberate because that’s exactly what it is).

  • […] epic, god-level trolling has occurred. A group of left-wing academics (about whom Jonathan wrote below) became concerned that *extreme* left wing politics was getting in the way of certain kinds […]

  • Slartibartfarst

    DrHurd.com posted an apposite Ayn Rand quote about irrationality on 2018-09-29:
    When Thinking Falls, Civilizations Fall

    To think is an act of choice. The key to what you so recklessly call “human nature,” the open secret you live with, yet dread to name, is the fact that man is a being of volitional consciousness. Reason does not work automatically; thinking is not a mechanical process; the connections of logic are not made by instinct. The function of your stomach, lungs or heart is automatic; the function of your mind is not. In any hour and issue of your life, you are free to think or to evade that effort. But you are not free to escape from your nature, from the fact that reason is your means of survival—so that for you, who are a human being, the question “to be or not to be” is the question “to think or not to think.”.
    — Ayn Rand

    I don’t necessarily accept/agree with everything that Ayn Rand wrote/said, but maybe Dr Hurd’s caption was prescient. Maybe we are witnessing the closing acts of a drama – the early stages of an incremental collapse of civilization as we know it. The legacy of the Renaissance may be expiring due to its beneficiaries’ lack of oxygen/thought. The Americans could seem to be in the vanguard here.
    Islam is waiting in the wings.

  • Itellyounothing

    One of the clever things about modern civilisation is that someone gets to go first. Maybe the EU will lead us into the abyss and the rest get a chance to chance course. Maybe it’s Canada. Or maybe Britain, Australia or New Zealand.

    Currently the failure of the one, need not end the rest.

    If the last 300 years have gifted us (free thing folk) anyhting, its the knowledge, we don’t have to be the last free nation.

    Social Justice will doubtlessly take a lot of innocent (ignorant) people with it…….