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What is wrong with the whole barrel of hoopla that is identity politics.  Love the Marx reference to weaving flowers/chains reference.

In case you were unfamiliar. :)

   I’ve written more than my fair share of five paragraph essays.  Graded a few in my time as well.  It would be nice if we could spend the time and teach people different ways of grappling with thoughts and ideas in their writing.  The online Aeon Magazine has some surprisingly good and thoughtful articles, this one by Sam Dresser is a fine example:

 

“Carrying out this kind of teaching calls for concentrating effort at two levels. One is teaching students how to make meaning at the sentence level, using syntax to organise words to say what you want them to say. Books on writing at the sentence level – my favourites are Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace (1981) by Joseph Bizup and Joseph M Williams, now in its 11th edition; and Fish’s How to Write a Sentence – lay out a series of useful rules of thumb: be clear, be concise, be direct, focus on actors and actions, play with language, listen for the music. The other is teaching students how to make meaning across an entire text, using rhetorical moves that help them structure a compelling argument from beginning to end. My favourite book in this genre is Graff and Birkenstein’s They Say, I Say. I use all three in a graduate class I teach on academic writing.

I’ve also developed my own set of questions that writers need to answer when constructing an analytical text:

1. What’s the point? This is the analysis issue: what is your angle?
2. Who says? This is the validity issue: on what (data, literature) are you basing your claims?
3. What’s new? This is the value-added issue: what do you contribute that we don’t already know?
4. Who cares? This is the significance issue, the most important issue of all, the one that subsumes all the others. Is this work worth doing? Is the text worth reading?But, you ask, aren’t these just alternative sets of rules, much like the Rule of Five? I say no. One difference is that these are clearly labelled not as rules but rules of thumb. They are things to keep in mind as you write (and especially as you edit your writing), many of which might be in tension with each other, and which you must draw upon or ignore as needed. Another difference is that they resist the temptation to provide a rigid structure for a text of the kind that I have been discussing here. Deal with issues in the literature where it helps to frame and support your argument rather than confining it to the lit-review ghetto. And don’t make the reader wait until the conclusion to find out what gives the text significance; most people would stop long before this point.

Rules of thumb call for the writer to exercise judgment rather than follow the format. Of course, it takes more time and effort to develop writerly judgment than it does to follow the shortcut of the five-paragraph essay. Form is harder than formalism. But the result is a text that does more than just look like a piece of writing; it makes meaning.”

I like his guidelines and suggestions for writing, although I’m not sure I’m quite ready to give up my 5 paragraphs quite yet.

I’m glad youtube exists for videos like this one.  It allows me to make more reasonable calls to my plumber because stuff like “pipe make bad noise” just seems silly. :)

 

Amazing what goes on and more importantly get accepted and published in the field of gender studies these days.  Let’s take a peek at the abstract.

The text reads:

Abstract:
Anatomical penises may exist, but as pre-operative transgendered women also have anatomical penises, the penisvis-à-vismaleness is an incoherent construct. We argue that the conceptual penis is better understood not as an anatomical organ but as a social construct isomorphic to performative toxic masculinity.  Through detailed poststructuralist discursive criticism and the example of climate change, this paper will challenge the prevailing and damaging social trope that penises are best understood as the male sexual organ and reassign it a more fitting role as a type of masculine performance.
Subjects: Gender Studies – Soc Sci; Postmodernism of Cultural Theory; Feminism
Keywords: penis; feminism; machismo braggadocio; masculinity; climate change
   This from the authors of the hoax paper:

“As we stated, absolutely no academic journal should have published our paper. One did. The one that did is not a vanity journal (see above). It qualifies for faculty reimbursement at many university libraries, and it possessed at least one specialist reviewer whose knowledge of the field of gender studies evidently exceeds ours. This reviewer employed relevant academic terminology with obvious confidence (“capturs [sic] the issue of hypermasculinity through a multi-dimensional and nonlinear process”) and read the paper carefully enough to remark on absence of a tool of analysis (poststructuralist discourse analysis is mentioned in the abstract but it is used nowhere in the manuscript, which the reviewer caught). On these facts alone, it reaches too far to suggest that nothing can be inferred about gender studies from the success of our satire.

At the same time, the “Conceptual Penis” paper is a parody whose target is easily recognizable and unmistakable. The paper is ridiculous, certainly, but it is also immediately identifiable with the field it lampoons. The power of satirical parody lies entirely in its being recognizable for what it mocks. This lends credibility to our abiding suspicion that there is a problem in gender studies and, by extension, other fields of postmodernist studies, and with the moral architecture on the academic Left that enables them.”

Wow. The roast continues…

“It is only possible to entertain this criticism with any seriousness by ignoring the surrounding mountains of evidence that postmodernist vanity studies fields have built up over decades, which they term “scholarship.” Within the corpus of literature in those fields, there is a voluminous, extant catalog of academically vapid papers that employ certain moral lenses and are written in impenetrable pseudo-analytical prose. That body of literature preceded and motivated our hoax while providing a basis for its style. For those who got the joke, our paper is funny because it’s accurate. That is, it is not so very different from many real papers that are published in gender studies and related fields.

This is the real evidence justifying our initial suspicion about gender studies, and it is bolstered by the current fashionable madness taking over many college campuses. This collective insanity virtually always emanates from ideological complaints rooted in identity politics, aspects of postmodernism, and uses or abuses of “critical theory”. This has been used to indoctrinate a generation of students and faculty who are now taking illiberal, authoritarian actions.”

The moral of the story?  One should be quite skeptical of any field that has its head this far up its own ass.

[Source: Skeptic]

Consider the Hollywood actor giving the classic “follow your dreams and never give up” line is bad advice and is pure survivorship bias at work.  Well what is surviorship bias?  Let’s take a look friends and learn. :)

 

“Survivorship bias, or survival bias, is the logical error of concentrating on the people or things that “survived” some process and inadvertently overlooking those that did not because of their lack of visibility. This can lead to false conclusions in several different ways. The survivors may be actual people, as in a medical study, or could be companies or research subjects or applicants for a job, or anything that must make it past some selection process to be considered further.

Survivorship bias can lead to overly optimistic beliefs because failures are ignored, such as when companies that no longer exist are excluded from analyses of financial performance. It can also lead to the false belief that the successes in a group have some special property, rather than just coincidence (Correlation proves Causation). For example, if three of the five students with the best college grades went to the same high school, that can lead one to believe that the high school must offer an excellent education. This could be true, but the question cannot be answered without looking at the grades of all the other students from that high school, not just the ones who “survived” the top-five selection process.

Survivorship bias is a type of selection bias.”

 

“During World War II, the statistician Abraham Wald took survivorship bias into his calculations when considering how to minimize bomber losses to enemy fire. Researchers from the Center for Naval Analyses had conducted a study of the damage done to aircraft that had returned from missions, and had recommended that armor be added to the areas that showed the most damage. Wald noted that the study only considered the aircraft that had survived their missions—the bombers that had been shot down were not present for the damage assessment. The holes in the returning aircraft, then, represented areas where a bomber could take damage and still return home safely. Wald proposed that the Navy instead reinforce the areas where the returning aircraft were unscathed, since those were the areas that, if hit, would cause the plane to be lost.[8][9]”

 

 

So, they said: the red dots are where bombers are most likely to be hit, so put some more armor on those parts to make the bombers more resilient. That looked like a logical conclusion, until Abraham Wald – a mathematician – started asking questions:

– how did you obtain that data?
– well, we looked at every bomber returning from a raid, marked the damages on the airframe on a sheet and collected the sheets from all allied air bases over months. What you see is the result of hundreds of those sheets.
– and your conclusion?
– well, the red dots are where the bombers were hit. So let’s enforce those parts because they are most exposed to enemy fire.
– no. the red dots are where a bomber can take a hit and return. The bombers that took a hit to the ailerons, the engines or the cockpit never made it home. That’s why they are absent in your data. The blank spots are exactly where you have to enforce the airframe, so those bombers can return.

This is survivorship bias. You only see a subset of the outcomes. The ones that made it far enough to be visible. Look out for absence of data. Sometimes they tell a story of their own.

BTW: You can see the result of this research today. This is the exact reason the A-10 has the pilot sitting in a titanium armor bathtub and has it’s engines placed high and shielded.

 

If you want to think scientifically, ALWAYS ask what data was included in a conclusion. And ALWAYS ask what data was EXCLUDED when making a conclusion.

[Source:dieselpunksnotdead]

   This is a meaty read folks, and much better when put in context of the original article that you should read here.  It will need a second and third reading, IMHO.

 

   “Identity politics flows logically from this broader censure of universalism. It is derived from the postmodern condition of fragmentation and decentring, according to postmodernists. At the level of description, this basic argument does have some force. Capitalism drives towards totalisation (as some postmodernists might put it) in its pursuit of unlimited capital growth, markets and resources. It unifies different societies and spheres of human endeavour by subsuming them under capital’s rule. Yet, it is quite clear that the major fluctuations of late capitalism—unemployment, the roller-coaster ride of global markets—are experienced by their victims as fragmenting and decentring. The destabilising effects of capitalism result from its central contradictions, and yet these contradictions impact on everyday lives in ways that seem incoherent. This appearance is most visible in the OECD countries where, not by coincidence, postmodernism has flourished. It is in the most developed zones of world capitalism that the penetration of all spheres of human life by capitalist social relations is at its greatest. However, fragmentation is not due to the dominance of the text, discourse or the Hyper-reality of postmodern life. There are other causes. While there is some validity in the description of contemporary life as seemingly volatile and disconnected, this condition should not be taken for granted. The underlying and complex reasons for it, and not just its surface effects, must be pursued.

However, identity politics is much more than just the experience of late capitalism’s instability. It is also a personal assertion of identity based on a condition of marginality. The assertion of identity is no longer part of political activity; it can constitute the entire arena of activity. Politics becomes a matter of “style” and a contest of competing and proliferating identities. This risks political impotence, if the sole emphasis is on difference at the expense of any principle of equality. Under those circumstances, identity politics becomes hostile to any idea of a universal basis for social justice and a revolutionary transformation of society. But not all identities are treated equally. The more traditional identity of class is disavowed. It has always been interpreted as a foundation for solidarity, rather than fragmentation. The “new” identities have emerged in such a way that they displace this traditional category, according to the postmodernists.23

The Marxist notion of class rests ultimately on a theory of exploitation that assumes that the social formation has an underlying logic or coherence. In contrast, identity politics assumes multiple bases of power that generate multiple forms of oppression. These are seen as the sites in which power is contested, but rarely in forms of alliance or with reference to a broader political vision. As the category of class is discarded, so also are forms of political organisation and the connections between struggles that it implies. Indeed, even many of the grassroots campaigns of social movements that combated marginality in the 1970s and 1980s become suspect for the broad fronts that they entered.

The institutional basis of marginalisation (racism, sexism, heterosexism) is neglected in this style of politics. Postmodern concerns with body, identity and difference displace the focus of theory, analysis and action from the institutional sites of power, such as the family, the state, work and school. All that remains, as a political orientation, is the mobilisation of identity in an ironic stance towards the institutions of power. The use of irony and a certain attitude to life is pitched as a gesture in itself towards power, one that avoids forming a counter-power. If this view has any value at all, some political judgment as to why one ironic posture is more potent or effective than any other would have to be exercised. But, it is not clear how postmodernists might do this, when the possible foundations of judgment debated by philosophers are themselves held in contempt.

The political corollary of postulating all identities as unstable and fragmented is dissipation of opposition to capitalism as a whole:

In a fragmented world composed of “decentred subjects”, where totalizing knowledges are impossible and undesirable …[w]hat better escape, in theory, from a confrontation with capitalism, the most totalizing system the world has ever known, than a rejection of totalizing knowledge? What greater obstacle, in practice, to anything more than the most local and particularistic resistances to the global, totalizing power of capitalism than the decentred and fragmented subject? What better excuse for submitting to the force majeure of capitalism than the conviction that its power, while pervasive, has no systemic origin, no unified logic, no identifiable social roots?24″

-Jeremy Smith

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