Culture Buff

Cynical Theories

12 September 2020

9:00 AM

12 September 2020

9:00 AM

They are possibly the most politically incorrect authors in the world.  And they have universities squarely in their sights.  Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay really rocked the boat in 2017-18 with a marvellous hoax known as the Grievance Studies Affair.

The hoax sought to achieve the publication of bogus academic papers in order to expose poor science in the fields of gender, race, feminism, sexuality, cultural studies and sociology.  They, and a third author, Peter Boghossian, wrote under the collective pseudonym of ‘Helen Wilson’.  They submitted 20 articles that promoted deliberately, even grotesquely, absurd ideas or morally questionable acts to various peer-reviewed journals.  They had real success before their cover was blown; 4 papers were published, 3 accepted but not yet published and 7 under review.  Unsurprisingly, the hoax wasn’t welcomed in academic circles.

This week, Pluckrose and Lindsay have published Cynical Theories:  How Universities Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity – and Why This Harms Everybody (Allen&Unwin).  The authors demolish assertions such as ‘language is violence’ or that ‘science is sexist’.  Or that ‘obesity is healthy’ or that ‘there is no such thing as biological sex’, or that ‘only white people are racist’.  They trace the evolution and dogma behind these outrageous ideas and the harm such activist ‘scholarship’ does to those marginalised communities it claims to champion.

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