It’s too bad that it’s a mess, because it’s by Melissa Chen, one of those anti-SJW phonies who was featured at the Mythcon event. It is a source of some unintentional comedy, though.
The conference, organized by Sovereign Nations and titled ‘Speaking Truth to Social Justice,’ featured the masterminds behind the so-called ‘Sokal Squared’ scandal: Helen Pluckrose, Peter Boghossian, and James A. Lindsay. … Last year, the three current and former academics, who are prominent speakers in atheist and humanist circles, published bogus research papers in several academic disciplines — gender studies, queer theory, critical race theory, intersectional feminism, fat studies and postcolonial theory — to highlight the charlatanism and obscurantism that stand in for scholarship, the lack of academic rigor and flaws in the publishing protocols of these fields.
First off, none of those three are particularly prominent — they are all self-promoting hucksters who inflate their importance. Most people who have heard of them at all have heard about them because of their self-aggrandizing attention-seeking, nothing more. But I do like the irony of the three publishing bogus papers to highlight charlatanism. They succeeded. They are charlatans.
The other half of this conference team-up is a conservative Catholic weirdo who is footing the bill.
They found in Michael O’Fallon, the evangelical Christian founder and editor-in-chief of Sovereign Nations, an ally who is likewise deeply concerned about our postmodern era in which ‘grand narratives that have guided our discourse are collapsing.’ What he fears is the encroachment of the secular theoretical perspectives that undergird social justice upon the gospel and the church, weaponizing identity to upend the Christian interpretation of doctrine.
And so an unholy alliance between a bunch of atheists and evangelical Christians was born.
It’s really strange. These people are finding common cause in opposing a boogeyman they don’t even comprehend, postmodernism, so they sat around in a posh library to tell each other scary stories about it. They’ve convinced themselves that this thing they don’t understand is so threatening that they’ll set aside fundamental differences in belief to unite in despising it, and work to generate more “obscurantism that stand in for scholarship”. Because that’s what this is, jaws flappin’ to render a lot of words in support of their incoherent position.
According to Boghossian, the fault lines in Culture War 2.0 center around the correspondence theory of truth and the role that intersectionality ought to play into our worldview. The correspondence theory of truth states that that there is a ‘truth’ and that our beliefs correspond to a stable, knowable world. Intersectionality is the idea that there are intersecting identities that comprise one’s identity (e.g., lesbian, white, disabled, etc.) that contribute to a framework of power dynamics and moral hierarchy. Much of social justice ideology and activism is predicated on intersectionality and standpoint epistemology, which in contrast to the correspondence theory states that it is one’s position in a system that determines what’s true. A liberal atheist, Boghossian says that ‘if the conservative Christians at the conference believe Jesus walked on water (that either is or is not true for everyone regardless of one’s race or gender) and they value discourse and adhere to basic rules of engagement, then they are closer to my worldview than an atheist who’s adopted intersectionality and does not adhere to the rules of engagement.’
Somehow, they’ve twisted around a belief in a knowable world into an appreciation of a simplistic, black-and-white universe where what’s valued is a willingness to close one’s eyes and engage in mutual dialogue with whatever nonsense the other side is espousing, as long as they let you talk (and pay the airfare and hotel bill). And they claim liberals are wishy-washy!
If you ask me (they didn’t, I wouldn’t expect them to), the virtue of intersectionality within a scientific context is that it recognizes that the world is extremely complex, that no one perspective, especially not an unthinkingly dogmatic one, can encompass its breadth, and that we ought to recognize that every individual is equally valuable and their perspectives an essential part of the whole. I can believe that there is a ‘truth’ while simultaneously recognizing that I don’t own it, and that my identity shapes how I perceive it. I can also disavow the kind of perspective that Boghossian and O’Fallon share, that they do believe they possess an absolute truth, and that that is the real reason they hate this poorly grasped intersectionality/postmodernism stuff — by its very nature, it challenges their claim to authority, because it breaks apart the notion of any authority at all.
But it’s nice that a group of epistemological despots can get along and pat each other on the back, just as real despots like Trump & Putin & Erdogan can agree to disagree, as long as they’re allowed to shoot the peons in the back. One must focus on the important stuff, you know, and in this case it’s about maintaining platforms of discourse that will profit them.
By the way, if they honestly valued discourse, where were the SJWs at this conference to present their position?