I’m Convinced: Pineapple Does Not Belong On Pizza. Also? Feminism is better than its defenders argue.


Although what led me to that first conclusion wasn’t Hitler’s Pineapple Pizza rant.

HJ over at Reprobate Spreadsheet has been discussing – in quite helpful details – a number of aspects of the recent Boghossian, Linday & Pluckrose*1 hoax.

But I’ve read a bit about this hoax at quite a number of outlets – not just here at FtB – and one of the things I’ve found to be glaringly omitted amongst the accounts of this hoax is the possibility that the hoax does more to disprove the claims of BLP than it does to support them.

The central claim of B, L & P is that feminists will accept any assertion that claims to be feminist and pays a certain lip service to feminist dogmas (real or imagined). To prove this, BLP borrowed some words, phrases & structures from a certain segment of Mein Kampf and used them to dress up some vague bullshit about how solidarity and single-mindedness win political victories generally, so solidarity and single-mindedness would probably have defeated sexism by now had feminists embraced those two qualities earlier and more universally.

But here’s the thing: I fucking am a feminist, and as a trans* woman who tries very hard to balance harm reduction with eradication, I’m constantly finding feminist opposition to my identity, my views, or both. Seriously, at the extreme margins feminists have disagreed whether it is even possible to do more to dismantle sexism during a lifetime than participating in heterosexual marriages promotes it, and thus whether or not it’s possible for any woman to have a net-positive effect on the feminist cause if ever once that woman gets married to a man. There is “dogma” in feminism, but really only by definition: if you love sexism and want to support it, by definition you can’t be a feminist. Also by definition, to be actually feminist one must believe that sexism deserves opposition. This inevitably leads to certain broad sharing of opinions, but this is a consequence of defining a group of people in ways that they must oppose sexism to be included in the group.

So what about this conclusion: feminists are willing to entertain a wide variety of ideas, even vague, daffy or ill-conceived ones, for long enough to be sure that they’re being rejected for their vagueness, daffiness, or poor conception*2.

Let’s consider for a moment what it would mean if the BLP paper had actually been published but feminists reading the paper wrote new papers opposing the ideas presented, showing (or attempting to show) that reflexive solidarity and true single-mindedness do not lead toward the feminist society most feminists want. In that case, the BLP paper would have played a role in the debate by sparking thought and making a new articulation against a rigid feminist movement once again relevant. It would not have made english-speaking feminist movements more fascist (or fascist at all).

It is not shocking that such bad thinkers as BLP wrote a paper advocating that feminism embrace movement-totalitarianism, a concept that has been rejected in feminism over and over again. It is also not shocking that BLP thought that feminists being willing to publish an idea that has been rejected time and again by movement feminism signals a feminism that is dogmatic.

What is shocking, however, is that no one seems to be pointing out that publishing ideas with which the majority of feminists disagree actually constitutes evidence consistent with the opposite of BLP’s hypothesis.

I strongly suspect, not being a reviewer of this journal article, that the reviewers may very well have thought something like “the benefits of single-mindedness haven’t ever convinced a majority of feminists, and since the general topic has been well covered it might seem appropriate to reject this, but if current feminists are deriving an argument for single-mindedness from important feminist writings, then those current feminists should have their ideas distributed and critiqued so that either they learn better or the current feminist movement has a chance to consider rejected strategies in light of new scholarship.”

Thinking like that, which is entirely consistent with acceptance of the Mein Kampf rework, is antithetical to the BLP hypothesis.

So what did BLP do to enable them to consider and reject that interpretation? Well… nothing.

So the antithesis position can’t yet be said to be proven by BLP’s own study, but the failure of BLP to even consider this explanation of their hoax’s success in getting a few papers published further demonstrates that BLP cannot collectively think themselves out of a paper bag.

I wish that more of the persons writing about BLP’s hoax in the immediate aftermath of their original article (especially but not only the higher-profile articles included in well-funded media outlets) had challenged BLP on this specific point.


*1: Lest anyone think otherwise, I put these in alphabetical order, not knowing whether any of them are more responsible for the approach and/or content of the hoax then others. Partitioning of credit and blame is neither implied nor should it be inferred from this order.

*2: As the right often fails to appreciate, feminists fully support good conception.

Comments

  1. Hj Hornbeck says

    So what about this conclusion: feminists are willing to entertain a wide variety of ideas, even vague, daffy or ill-conceived ones, for long enough to be sure that they’re being rejected for their vagueness, daffiness, or poor conception …

    What is shocking, however, is that no one seems to be pointing out that publishing ideas with which the majority of feminists disagree actually constitutes evidence consistent with the opposite of BLP’s hypothesis.

    Well, shit, I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe feminists tolerate more dissent because they’re aware of how many times they’ve screwed up in the past, and show a greater epistemic humility as a result. When you’re tackling a complex multi-headed Hydra like “sexism” any solution is likely to be multi-faceted and out of left field, so you’d need a permissive dialogue to ensure you’ve got every angle covered. But being more permissive is not equivalent to allowing everything through, and BLP proved that through their “extensive research;” if everything really was permissible, they wouldn’t have needed to spend months learning the dogma or digging up citations. They’d have just submitted a list of words for peer review and been done with it.

    Lest anyone think otherwise, I put these in alphabetical order, not knowing whether any of them are more responsible for the approach and/or content of the hoax then others. Partitioning of credit and blame is neither implied nor should it be inferred from this order.

    Hmm, good point. I’ve been assuming Boghossian is the main driver, since he’s been on this beat the longest and their obsession with constructivism matches his own. But I haven’t done my homework into either Lindsay or Pluckrose to properly rule them out. As a point in the contrary column, their write-up was published in Aero magazine, which is edited by Pluckrose.

    I’m Convinced: Pineapple Does Not Belong On Pizza.

    Ok, like, WOW! I picked that example because thought it was outrageous to reject pineapple as a topping, ergo if I associated the acceptance of pineapple with Hitler people would recognize the obvious doesn’t become false merely because Hitler agreed. Apparently I badly miscalculated, there actually are a few people out there why deny the plain truth!

  2. says

    Crip Dyke, this is on point.

    In general, BLP have been sending mixed signals about what their hoax is supposed to prove. On the one hand, they say that the problem with the papers is not the conclusions that they draw, but the poor arguments they make in favor of the conclusions. On the other hand, when they describe the papers, they don’t explain what any of the “outrageous” arguments are, and instead highlight the “outrageous” conclusions of the paper. And when they quote the reviewers, they don’t quote the parts where reviewers complain about the poor arguments, they only quote the parts where reviewers express interest in the general research program.

    What does it prove? That academics in gender studies and related fields are willing to entertain unusual ideas, especially those backed by empirical observations? I’m sooo scandalized.


    Good point about the order of BLP I’ve been saying “BL&P” or “Boghossian et al.”, but Pluckrose is actually listed first in the Areo magazine article, so it would probably make more sense to say PL&B.

  3. rq says

    You people disgust me. The only right and proper place of pineapple is ON TOP OF PIZZA! I can’t wait for you to ban me for using my FREE SPEECH.

  4. Hj Hornbeck says

    Crip Dyke, your hatred of Hawaii is duly noted.

    But more seriously, I think Pluckrose got first billing there because it’s her magazine; over on Fox News, Boghossian gets primary credit. To make things even more confusing, Lindsay goes by “James” in their methodology.

    My vote is to respect James’ choice, then, and call the collective “PB&J.”

  5. Marissa van Eck says

    Pineapple on pizza is love. Especially with anchovies, extra cheese, and black olives. Let the hatred commence!

  6. jrkrideau says

    @ 9 Crip Dyke

    Possibly the only taste combination worse than pineapple on pizza is PB&J.

    Hmmm, perhaps Hj Hornbeck @ 7 is correct.

  7. Hj Hornbeck says

    Meanwhile, James Lindsay makes a strong case for being the primary author.

    This was a full-time job for Lindsay: He secured funding from a group of donors whose names he would not reveal to spend, in his words, “90 hours a week” on this project.

    … I get the feeling PB&J are stretching the truth a weeeee bit.

  8. Curt Sampson says

    Surely at some point this will all fall by the wayside when the scandal about squid and mayonnaise pizza, or seaweed and shiso pizza erupts. (Or even just mayonnaise on pizza in general.)

    But I have been waiting years for this and it still has not received the public attention it so clearly deserves.

    (For the record, I’m not a huge fan of squid on pizza, but mayonnaise works great for me, and I used to regularly order various pizzas including mayonnaise back when I still ordered pizza regularly.)

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