Christina Hoff Summers tweeted out this quote from gender theorist Judith Butler:
Would that this were an anomaly, but it isn’t. Alleged intellectuals and scholars practice such authentic frontier gibberish (AFG) to make dubious theories impossible to rebut, to intimidate opponents into thinking undecipherable speech is evidence of intellect, and indoctrinate students into parroting radical cant that supports extreme ideologies. Theories that can’t be articulated clearly aren’t theories but constructs built on foundations of cheese. No responsible institution of learning should employ scholars who speak or write, much less think, like that, but in truth all universities do, and not just a few of such scholars, either. This is where radical feminist theory came from; this is where much of Progressive Crazy Town get its delusions., this what spawned “intersectionality.”
How long will it take for American society to conclude, as I did long ago, that charging students beggering levels of tuition to be taught by people like this is a scam supreme, and that voluntarily going into debt to pay such tuition is madness?
Pointer: Amy Alkon
31 thoughts on “Authentic Frontier Gibberish, And Why Academia Shouldn’t Be Trusted”
Well, I can’t speak for society, but whenever I say I may not send my two year old to college (why not just buy him a house?), everyone seems SHOCKED.
It’s sad, really.
I read through that five or six times and I have no idea what “she” meant. Forgive my saying so but I think authentic frontier gibberish is being kind, I think it’s nucking futs.
I’ve got a serious question: gender theorist, that’s a real thing?
I’m absolutely flabbergasted that someone that claims to be a “gender theorist” would write such nonsense; oh wait, better hold that thought.
It’s people just like Judith Butler that abuse and bastardize the english language and then use their status to infect the minds of vulnerable youth and stupid people with absolute garbage, like Judith Butler’s nonsense above, and call it education. I theorize that Judith Butler has some serious gender conflicts and is a theorist and likely an author of some kind because her brain is wandering off into cosmic puzzle la la land and she can’t hold down a real world job.
I agree with you, Zoltar.
It is not AFG. It is deliberate confusion and obfuscation. This is George Orwell at his finest. If you can control the language, you control thought.
Oh c’mon now it means simply men and capitalism – bad, women and socialism – good. Now that the temporary patriarchal power model has been neutered our utopian vision will be achieved.
I was worried for a second before I checked the twitter. CHS was offering it as a contender for worst sentence ever. At least academia produces some intelligent individuals.
You don’t get it, do you? True brilliance is predicated on 100+ word sentences loaded with polysyllabic words and dependent clauses. There is no other definition.
I’d add that press releases centering on corporate earnings are written by attorneys who figured this out a long time ago.
Total garbage. That would have drawn an F in my university’s business writing class, (anything non-fiction) required for science majors. We had to write clearly and concisely, whatever the topic, limiting the jargon… especially for general audiences. It’dbe bounced if it required translatioin for any college-level reader. (And rationally, so donors get excited and want to give)
Then again, we were a hick teaching college at heart, so we were odd ducks. If you don’t intend to communicate some observation or idea, why bother write it down? Interdisciplinary classes and frameworks should be the sprinkles, not the cake. Give her an incomplete, until she does a rewrite.
Ever read Einstein’s On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies, his groundbreaking paper where he lays out Special Relativity? It’s actually quite striking in its accessibility. It takes him only a couple dozen pages to lay out, with mathematical precision, how classical notions of space and time are wrong, the origins of the Lorentz Force, the equivalence of mass and energy, all with mathematical precision. I think about that paper every time I see some academic throwing around impenetrable gobbledygook to say nothing of import.
Thanks for the reminder, DaveL. That was the article given out the first day of a basic physics course by a wonderful teacher (whose name has escaped out yet another bolt-hole in my brain). The first assignment was to choose any one sentence over 25 words, and rewrite it in “better words” by altering or finding substitutes for any three words without changing its meaning. Most of us chose sentences that had familiar “big” words and broke them down into stilted kindergarten language; others just went to the Roget’s. The teacher gathered up the work in his briefcase and went on with the day’s lesson. The end of the week, he distributed a single page with all our efforts and no names, the Einstein sentence first, the reworked sentence underneath. As homework, we were assigned to choose the top three efforts and say why they were superior to the original. Everyone did the assignment as instructed. After a few more classes, we forgot about the sentences, thinking that he was just interested in finding out how comfortable we were with the subject.
Nothing more was said about it. Come the end of the semester, final exams were handed out. If you got to the end in the allotted time, you would see the two-part Extra Credit question which read something like: “How many people in this room had a better sentence than Einstein’s?” and “How many of them do you think could write one now?”
I had finished just at the end of the test and didn’t get a chance to see the “extra”. People who were curious about it after class got no answer. I didn’t connect the dots until I was looking over my college papers some years later and saw that most of the Physics’ teacher’s green ink notations were bracketing sentences or paragraphs, asking me to “rewrite” and “rewrite” and a last demand to “make me understand.” And I rewrote and rewrote and handed it back until he marked it “satisfactory.” There were a little over 20 people in that class, whose paper assignment concerning that week’s focus was handed in on Friday and came back Monday (holiday or not), so that the rewrites and the new assignments often doubled or even tripled up in the beginning, then began to come back with tiny tweaks regarding content and no demands for further clarification.
They were some of the best stuff I’ve ever written about anything at all, and I still remember more of the physics than I do of many other courses 63 years on. I could earn that Extra Credit now.
Calvin on physics:
15 Times Calvin And Hobbes Summed Up Life As A College Student
I loved that comic strip. I have to believe Bart Simpson is derived from Calvin.
Agreed. Calvin and Hobbes is wonderful.
It’s close, but you could be right. Bart was born in 1987; Calvin in 1985.
Calvin was fun. Bart annoys me
Early Bart had a sincere layer that got buried after a while, and his whole schtick inevitably got old. I think if he’d skateboarded into the horizon around the same time Calvin sledded off for the last time, we might all have a very different impression.
(Formerly The Wednesday Woman)
So now you’re identifying as The Small Stuff?
Don’t sweat it, Jack
Hey, it’s called *rebranding*.
And yes, given that I mainly comment on theater, The Simpsons, and minor first world social issues, it seemed like the way to go.
Butler injects symbols into a symboled construct symbollically devoid of symbolism.
From Calvin and Hobbes:
Calvin and Hobbes discuss the purpose of writing | What Is A Book …
This reminds me of a (science!) professor I had as an undergrad who informed us that we should try to make our papers contain as dense a thicket of interlacing chains of references so that anyone who wanted to refute our points would have difficulty exactly pinning down what our sources were and exactly what they said. She was not popular with science students.
Maybe that’s why climate change models are so impenetrable.
My how times can change. I sent the above Calvin and Hobbes comic strip https://goo.gl/images/Yf4A9N to my good friend and favorite college English professor. He taped it up next to his department chairman office door.
His comment ten or more years ago about the college I graduated from forty-five years ago and he’d then been retired from for ten or fifteen years was, “The college is like going into a store these days. The packaging and brands all look the same but the products and goods are of a completely different and inferior quality.” My lefty fellow graduate just dismissed this by saying the prof was “bitter.”
Wow, that is the opposite of what I teach. I also would destroy such a paper on review.
Judith Butler is as compromised in her ethics as she is in her writing – https://qz.com/1302717/judith-butler-and-slavoj-zizek-wrote-a-letter-saying-avital-ronells-title-ix-investigation-is-unfair/
I think it is an overreach to say that academia can’t be trusted. There definitely are areas of academia that can’t be trusted and those areas are trying to infect all other areas by political means. The problem is that the areas that aren’t trustworthy get all the press (cue criticism of the current state of the press).
You need to understand that there is a class divide in academia by area. This exists because of the stigma associated with manual labor (literally work done with your hands). Any field that involves manual labor is considered of lesser status (would President Obama be happy if his daughters decided to become plumbers?). For this reason, the United States had to create a new type of university to teach ‘Agriculture and the Mechanical Arts’ (A&M schools) and promote them through the land grant program. Such fields of study did not fit into the traditional subjects and were not considered worthy of being a university subject. Remember, Robert E. Lee had to join the military because being an engineer any other way was considered beneath his status as a Southern Gentleman.
Why is this class divide important? Well, it is necessary to explain how we got to this point in academia. We have the traditional areas of knowledge that I will call ‘the humanities’ and the new areas of knowledge I will call ‘math and science’. The humanities views the math and science faculty as lesser faculty. If you look at the backgrounds, you will see a definite divide between the two groups. The humanities faculty definitely tend to come from wealthier backgrounds, while many of the math and science faculty come from middle (real middle class, less than 6 figure household income) or even lower class backgrounds. The root of this divide comes from the stigma against manual labor and the fact that manual labor is more in demand than intellectual activity (poor people study areas that will get them a job, rich people care more about social status).
This class divide was merely a curiosity and object of some social friction until the 1950’s. At that time, major government funding went into science and math. The science and math faculty and research groups became major sources of money for the universities and the successful research faculty members were now the stars of the university. This didn’t exactly sit well with their social betters in the humanities departments. You can see this type of reaction in the way Donald Trump has always been treated by the more ‘sophisticated’ wealthy people in the Northeast. So, how were these humanities people going to get back into the spotlight?
The big problem was that the humanities had stopped creating. English faculty don’t get famous for writing great books, they get famous for commenting on great books. Historians get famous for commenting on histories. What could they do that is new? Creating is difficult, but destroying is easy. They choose the destructive route. The humanities role was to ‘criticize” (destroy) all that came before, every book, the family, every cultural norm in society. That became the role of the humanities. This also fit in well with the Communist leanings of much of the humanities faculty.
These destructive humanities faculty are the ones normally put in charge of important faculty committees. Much of the reason for this is that their teaching and research loads are much lighter that science and math faculty. Most science and math faculty don’t have a lot of time for such work, so humanities faculty dominate such committees by default. Such committees determine student and faculty recruiting guidelines, curriculum agendas, etc. This results in pushes to minimize traditional mathematics, to eliminate ‘competitive science’ and replace it with ‘cooperative science’, and to demand enrollment quotas for all kinds of people in hiring and student enrollments in all departments (including math and science). How do you push such agendas on people who don’t want them? Well, you need to make the agendas immune to criticism by making them immune to logic and facts. You need to label each criticism, no matter how well documented, as motivated by racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and islamophobia (even if their facts are correct, you can’t allow an argument motivated by hate). If your positive arguments are nonsensical, so they must be wrapped in as much incomprehensible jargon as possible, preventing people from deciphering any meaning in it and allowing you to disparage them as unsophisticated rubes (cue mainstream media discussing Trump voters). It also helps if you fight to make ‘facts’ and even the concept of ‘truth’ unacceptable because they are based on Western Society (which is true).
So, how do you fight this? First of all, we need to get rid of our current federal student loan and grant program. These programs allow people to study anything they want. The US taxpayers should demand that such programs should only apply to people developing the skills the US economy and US society need. We have a great need for people with relevant manufacturing skills and the skilled trades right now, so we should ONLY be funding that. The current programs encourage people to study in areas where there is no real need. The areas of great need are areas that also have absolute standards and that have stigmas against their study. These areas tend to require more work and award lower grades. Scholarships with GPA requirements push some of the best students out of these areas (at UNC the hard sciences average grade reported was a 2.5, in education it was 3.9). For the same reason, affirmative action programs work the same way. Students who come in with lower preparation are going to be pressured into easier areas to keep their GPA’s up. What is easier, an area with absolute standards and a lot of math or an area that seems to have no standards beyond incomprehensibility? When such students graduate with their degree and find no gainful employment, they will then more firmly believe the victim narrative they were fed in their humanities classes, go to graduate school, and become the next generation of professors, more extreme than the last. We need to stop this cycle by cutting off the source of student funding for it (taxpayer dollars).
So, what did the class divide have to do with this? The humanities faculty have felt that they were the true intellectual leaders of the university. They were angered by the attention and money that many of the ‘lesser’ areas get and wanted to reclaim their position in the university and gain an exalted place in society. To do this, they engaged in scholarship destructive to society. They indoctrinated their students with the notion that all of western society is irredeemably evil (in fact, the most evil and unfair society in all of human history), the notion that they are victims of that society, the idea that all other civilizations in history are superior to liberal western civilization, the idea that they (the faculty and the students) are the most intelligent group of people in the world, a resistance to logical thought and reason, and no noticeable skills of use. This fully indoctrinated group of useless people, angry at a world that does not value their ‘genius’ or share in their ‘correct’ values, positive that they are being held back by ‘society’ or ‘capitalism’ or ‘the patriarchy’, and on a mission to ‘free the oppressed’ from western civilization are the current humanities faculty we have now. The previous generation of ‘scholars’ knew their arguments were garbage, but their students do not. The Dunning-Kruger effect is in full force now with these faculty. The less they actually know, the more convinced they are right.
Thank you for that. Solid COTD material right there.