Saturday, July 21, 2007

Group Profile: The Latin Americanists

[The latest installation of a (usually) Friday series profiling Group of 88 members, which has included posts on Wahneema Lubiano, Grant Farred, Sally Deutsch, Joseph Harris, and Kathy Rudy. The posts examine the scholarship and teaching of Group members, trying to delve into the mindset of professors who last spring abandoned both the tenets of Duke’s Faculty Handbook and the academy’s traditional fidelity to due process. An item to keep in mind: in higher education, professors control the hiring process. The people profiled in this series will craft future job descriptions for Duke professors; and then, for positions assigned to their departments, select new hires.]

Duke’s History Department features three professors who study the history of Hispanic Latin America (Mexico, Central America, and South America outside of Brazil). Pete Sigal, Irene Silverblatt,* and Jocelyn Olcott are all members of the Group of 88. Each also signed the statement of the “clarifying” faculty.

Pete Sigal has a B.A. from Bucknell and a Ph.D. from UCLA. This coming fall, he’ll be teaching courses in colonial Latin American history and a junior seminar entitled “Sexual History around the Globe.” That course asks,

“What does it mean to sexualize history?” We will ask how we can sexuality not just as a topic of study, but as a reading practice. What happens when we focus a feminist and queer analysis on history? How does the historical narrative change as we use sexuality as our reading practice? What happens to the sign of history when confronted with the sign of sexuality? As we read historical narratives that focus on a wide variety of topics, we will discuss those topics by developing sexuality as our reading practice. Thus, when we read a military history, we will ask not just about sexuality as a topic with the military (did soldiers have sex with other soldiers? did soldiers impregnate prostitutes?), but also about sexuality as a reading process (what happens when we center our entire analysis of the military by sexualizing the bodies of the soldiers? what happens when we read the military as a sexualized institution?) Similarly, all other topics will be sexualized in our reading practice. We will read primary and secondary literature from various time periods and locations: hence will perform sexual histories around the globe.

Sigal has published one book (From Moon Goddesses to Virgins: The Colonization of Yucatecan Maya Sexual Desire); edited another (Infamous Desire: Male Homosexuality in Colonial Latin America); and written several journal articles. He has condemned the “Eurocentric biases” of studies of homosexuality (in effect, criticizing gay and lesbian studies from the left, not an easy thing to do), and has suggested that his own scholarship sheds light not just on history “but also on current academic and political controversies regarding the cultural and social constructions of sexual identity.”

To give a sense of the themes prevalent in Sigal’s work, here are some chapter and subchapter titles from his 2002 book, which examines colonial Maya society:

  • “Transsexuality and the Floating Phallus”;
  • “Fornicating with Priests, Communicating with Gods”;
  • “Pedagogy, Pederasty, and Political Power”;
  • “Having Sex in a Church”;
  • “Blood, Semen, and Ritual”;
  • “Gendered Blood and Transsexual Bodies”;
  • “Ritualized Bisexuality”;
  • “The Phallus without a Body.”

In From Moon Goddesses to Virgins, Sigal argued, “The gendering of blood signified the transsexuality of fantasy and desire . . . the Maya fantasy world showed that the people would allow the phallus to play a central role in creation.” This development, however, was “mitigated by the importance of the vagina.” In the end, “the phallus certainly was vital, showing a male dominance, but its vitality was most important when it was attached to nobody.”

In a 2002 article, the Group of 88’er maintained that colonial Maya social structure was based on a “phallic signifying economy” that “stratifies the political system based on gender and age.” Maya stories, contended Sigal, showed the “bieroticism of desire as they primarily discuss sexual acts between men and women as they present the male body in an erotic manner, attaining the pederastic relationship.”

In the end, Mayans recognized that “it is the desire for the phallus that will allow access to political power.”

Maya society, it seems, was a hotbed of sexual radicalism. But when Sigal explained how he reached his conclusions about “the central location of homosexual desire” in colonial Latin American history, his arguments sounded a bit more dubious.

The Group of 88’er conceded that much of his evidence was not readily apparent in the texts—even that other scholars had examined the very same documents he used and not detected his “previously unrecognized pederastic political rituals.”

How, then, did Sigal achieve this historical coup? He combined insights from “poststructuralist gender studies and queer theory influences” with use of philology and postcolonial theory to “understand the texts that I read as literary devices which I decode in order to represent the cultural matrix.”

In a 1998 article, Sigal wrote that historians needed to avoid the “traps of reading the evidence too literally.” (Facts, indeed, can be inconvenient things.) Spanish sources, for instance, claim “that the Incas despised sodomy”—but “we cannot take them at their word.” Sigal appears to have gone to the opposite extreme and assumed that any text of whose message he disapproved could be ignored or creatively re-interpreted.

The net result of such theorizing? A discovery that “Maya writing ostensibly was about politics, religion, ritual, and warfare but subtextually was about gender and sexual desire.” And in these texts—as redefined through Sigal’s “matrix”—“homoeroticism is presented as a universal and positive sexual desire, which maintains and enhances the survival of Mayan society.”

Some people might call Sigal’s “matrix” little more than a rationalization intended to produce an outcome that fits the historian’s preconceived political and social agenda. Regardless, creatively interpreting the texts to suggest that the West imposed anti-gay attitudes on a more sexually tolerant Maya society uses history to promote Sigal’s beliefs about current “political controversies regarding the cultural and social constructions of sexual identity.”

Irene Silverblatt has a B.A. from Swarthmore and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. In more than 25 years as a professor, she has published two books: a study of the Inquisition in colonial Peru; and Moon, Sun, and Witches: Gender Ideologies and Class in Inca and Colonial Peru. Silverblatt has described her work as part of “research into the origins of women’s oppression—both symbolic and institutional”; she suggested that her first book contributed to debates over “the transculturality of women’s subordination.”

Silverblatt has urged gender historians to recognize that “the interplay between sexual assault, resistance, patriarchal control, and political dominance is intricate.” To take some examples: “What of indigenous women who did not resist forcible rape? Should their lives and actions be deemed any less heroic or any less virtuous? And what, on the other hand, of those who used their sex to open what were often only the most meager opportunities for themselves or their families? Are they any less virtuous for surviving?” Her essay did not explain the reasons for her apparent assumption that historians should view “indigenous women” as “heroic.”

Her general approach? In a vaguely Maoist line from a 1988 article, Silverblatt gushed about the “exciting literature of self-criticism and reflection,” a development that she deemed critical to understanding the origins of women’s oppression.

The third in the trio of Group of 88 Latin Americanists, Jocelyn Olcott, rejoiced at having “started college at a moment when Latin American Studies distinguished itself for its insistence on simultaneous engagement with both scholarship and politics.” She attracted some attention shortly before the lacrosse case emerged, when she joined her future Group colleague, Diane Nelson, in attempting to shout down David Horowitz during his address at Duke.

Olcott describes her research interests as the “feminist history of modern Mexico”; her book “shows women activists challenging prevailing beliefs about the masculine foundations of citizenship” by examining “how women inhabited the conventionally manly role of citizen by weaving together its quotidian and formal traditions, drawing strategies from local political struggles and competing gender ideologies.” In her acknowledgments, she expresses appreciation for intellectual guidance from fellow Group of 88 members Wahneema Lubiano, Sally Deutsch, Laura Edwards, Esther Gabara, Diane Nelson, and Priscilla Wald.

Last spring, Olcott co-taught a class with Lubiano (Introduction to Critical U.S. Studies), which attracted seven students (for 40 slots). The jargon-laden description gives a sense of why: “The course,” Lubiano and Olcott wrote, “will ask us to think about what it means to be an ‘American.’ Thinking about that concept demands considering the critical production in the United States from different disciplinary perspectives. We will take what we learn about ‘making’ the U.S. and apply what we learn to problems closer to ‘home.’”

What course will this self-described specialist in Mexican feminism, whose most recent journal article is entitled “Miracle Workers: Gender and State Mediation among Textile and Garment Workers in Mexico’s Transition to Industrial Development,” teach in fall 2007? “Regime Change and U.S. Interventions,” which

will examine episodes of U.S. interventions abroad that resulted in the overthrow of democratically elected regimes. While we will focus on Latin America as the primary region of study, we will also consider comparative cases. Readings and research will consider cultural, social, and economic tools of intervention as well as military and diplomatic methods. Students will divide into four research teams and, using documents provided by the instructor as well as those that student find on their own, will research and write histories of U.S. interventions in Guatemala, Chile, Iran, and Congo.

The ideal of a research university is based on the belief that professors will use their research to bring new knowledge into the classroom. In this instance, for $43,000 in tuition and fees, parents are sending their children to be taught about U.S. foreign policy toward Iran and the Congo by a professor whose research has come in . . . Mexican feminism. But Olcott is a Group of 88 member, which apparently is all the qualification needed in some quarters of the Duke faculty.

With their research and teaching interests, is it any wonder that Sigal, Silverblatt, and Olcott all rushed to judgment in spring 2006; and then refused to apologize for their actions last January?


In the end, Duke students who want to study the history of Mexico, Central America, and South America (other than Brazil) can choose between taking classes from:
  • a specialist in Mexican gender history;
  • a specialist in Maya gender history;
  • a specialist in Peruvian gender history.

That’s intellectual diversity, Group of 88-style.

*--Silverblatt has a joint appointment with the Department of Cultural Anthropology.


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Anonymous said...

these are "gut courses" where liberal get A to boost their averages...these teachers are apparently driven by sexual hidden agendas...they are prooff positive that the ACLU is winning the war on undermining the american culture

Anonymous said...

Great expose. There's a cancer infecting American higher education.

Anonymous said...

these faculty are members of the "cover up innocence project" where they used their influence to cause harmful guilt to be the rule of the mob of students they incited

Anonymous said...

Anyone know where Cedarford is? I enjoy his arrogant rantings.

Anonymous said...

These folks are literally beyond parody. One could not make up anything so stereotypically inane and lacking in meaning or value. More's the pity.

Anonymous said...

Duke must be deeply ashamed to employ these professors. The civil lawsuits should be interesting.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Pete Sigal on "Sex and Norms".



Anonymous said...

Good night, Irene.



Anonymous said...

You've got to scroll down for Jocelyn.....a shy dame from the Gritty Gang of 88.



Anonymous said...

Jocelyn Olcott was a natural choice this week.

Harry Potter mania!


AMac said...

A forthcoming 2007 paper by Pete Sigal can be read online, Sexuality in Maya and Nahuatl Sources.

Here is part of a discussion of a source document, used to analyze the sexuality of post-Conquest Mayan society (bottom of page 3).

... indigenous cabildos had a good idea of what charges the [Spanish] Inquisition would take seriously. In one example, leaders of several indigenous communities in Yucatan accuse their priest, Andrés Mejía, of unwarranted violence and the seduction of Maya women who had come to him to confess. These charges later were recanted. Rather than attesting to the reality of Mejía’s violations, the petition signifies what elsewhere I have termed a strategic inversion of power.

Yet Sigal signed the Listening Statement.

Ah, the insight that comes from years of study of False Charges, and how they may be Used to Accomplish Strategic Inversions of Power.

Ah, irony.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Debrah, why is Prof. Olcott passive aggressive?

Anonymous said...

What these people call scholarship and revolution have always been linked in Latin America. During the period of President Porfirio Diaz..a native american there was an unprecendented 38 year period of peace and prosperity. Advances in infrastruture, law, business development and Indian rights all occured. But the intelligencia thought it was time for a revolution and Mexico had one...2 million people died. Many fled to US and it was hailed an enormous success; Ever since I studied all this in college I kept wondering exactly what was it about Diaz that the intellectuals didn't like? I think it was that he allowed british and us companies in. Imagine that.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I found Professor Sigal's research interests especially amusing. Is it research or is he living a pre-Columbian homoerotic fantasy? I wonder if the Maya also had a deep-seated hatrid for heterosexual, genetically successful males.

Anonymous said...

This is what passes for scholarship at modern American universities?


Anonymous said...

How to be a Dook "intellectual" in three easy steps:
(1) Cook up some goofy theory involving women, queers, and/or some minority group; (2) research the facts regarding said group(s)' history; (3) claim that all the facts you researched support your goofy theory (even when they actually contradict it).


Anonymous said...

Marxists! Trinity College might as well be named Karl Marx Institute. I say renamed them the Red Devils!

Anonymous said...

Is Pete Seeger a communist/

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

One theory about why Duke can get away with so many crappy profs like the group of 88:

Take a look at this week's US News and World report. The issue ranks a number of medical specialties: Duke is consistently in the top tier in most areas.

Medicine (and the sciences in general) generally does not allow the type of sloppy thinking the group of 88 exhibits(at least if you are going to be very successful).

It would be interesting to know if the Duke Med School was hurt at all (even a little bit) in recruiting over the past year. Personally I doubt the lacrosse thing had much effect.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jul 21, 2007 2:02:00 AM

Thats kind of vicious, dont ya think?!

Anonymous said...
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M. Simon said...

...considering the critical production in the United States from different disciplinary perspectives.

I wonder if they are fans of "production for use" otherwise referred to as the Earle Williams fan club.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

According to the Duke professoriate, only queers and queers come from South America. Oh, and they had floating penises, or such.

DUKE STUDENT: [into phone] "Hey, Mom! You won't guess what I learned in class today!"

DUKE MOM: "That Mayan culture, when viewed through the filter of queer theory, reveals the significance of the detachable penis in the political struggles of that era?"

DUKE STUDENT: "How did you know?"

DUKE MOM: "Lucky guess."


MR. LOGIC says: Having students stand in the middle of a busy highway learning different ways to read vegetable can labels would teach them more about life.


"'The Book of Johnson' and parts of three others were written about him and his travels in the Holy Land, but he only authored one himself: 'The Book of Love'." King James VI of Scotland, at Intr. (Tired-Fingered Monks Press, 1611)

Anonymous said...

"The people profiled in this series will craft future job descriptions for Duke professors; and then, for positions assigned to their departments, select new hires."

How the Dark Ages began. The pursuit of knowledge suborned by zealots.

Anonymous said...

"How, then, did Sigal achieve this historical coup? He combined insights from 'poststructuralist gender studies and queer theory influences' with use of philology and postcolonial theory to “understand the texts that I read as literary devices which I decode in order to represent the cultural matrix.”

Sigal's research technique is simple and understandable. He makes it up as he goes along. OMFJ. This guy makes "philology" and "postcolonial" sound like kinky sex acts. OMFG

Anonymous said...

If you'll notice, all of the 88 clowns use sex as the basis for everything. It's as if they found a way to be perverts and get paid for it.
Really, these people are polluting our universities. Sigal and his "phallus" was about all any normal person could take. Is he worried about his own phallus?
Get rid of these fools!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2:18
re: Duke Medical School and hard sciences.

Certainly Duke is a world leader in in cardiovascular research. Guys like Victor Dzau and Rob Califf are just excellent. The med complex pretty much stands alone with their own governance. I doubt that the lacrosse case had much effect on the work they do or the students and house staff that they train. I bet they are all pretty embarrassed though.

Anonymous said...

Nice! Just when I thought the blog was out of material you craft this one.

overtaxed people should have this information readily available before agreeing to tuition, housing, books etc that total almost $60,000 a year.

Students should too: what liberal arts student in their right mind would chose Duke (or a slew of other colleges with this dry rot in the faculty lounge)knowing in advance about this nonsense? What alumni would contribute $ to colleges hiring and tenuring people like this?

Perhaps a second book?

Anonymous said...

A metanarrative (usually derived from the analytical race-class-gender triad) plus mastery of the jargon of the metanarrative applied to a field of knowledge equals original research at most universities these days.

Conclusions are drawn before the research is done. It's all cookie-cutter thinking dressed up in high-sounding sociological and literary terms. These scholars discover or uncover nothing new; they simply push their own agendas.

Pity, because real knowledge is lost as pseudo-scholars become more plentiful and prominent.

Anonymous said...

Irene Silverblatt is rather more than a gender specialist. I suggest reading the list of publications of this ethnohistorian before ranting. Unless you are willing to let someone else--KC--do your thinking for you. I'd say that's a bad choice.

Anonymous said...

Haskall at 3:28, One assumes you aren't expecting J. Olcott to have a second monograph already, are you? Unlike Americanists, who also don't work at particularly higher speed than Olcott, Latin Americanists actually have to read foreign languages and work in foreign archives. It takes time. Even if you don't like her work (have you read it or are you judging the book by its cover), she seems to be prolific and not someone to criticize.

I suspect KC went after these three as a group because there wasn't enough to fill a column when criticizing them individually.

FWIW, The implication that they all do "gender only" is incorrect.

Anonymous said...

With Listening and Clarifying statements signer Sally Deutsch, formerly Chair of the History Department and now Dean of Social Students, these three Latin American historians and co-signers of the statements, should be looked upon with favor for merit raises and promotions within their departments. Politics counts more than scholarship.

Anonymous said...

Anyone here question the ability of Americanist KC to judge competently the work of Latin Americanists?

Anonymous said...


After plodding through this post, I feel as if I have atoned for my confessed sins! It was such a penance in just reading it! I can't imagine taking a whole semeester course of this torture!

Anonymous said...

In case the readers of this blog don't know it, there is another member of Duke's Latin American history caucus (I'm not counting the adjunct and emeritus facutly): John French, a famous Brazilianist. He doesn't fit into the gender teaching profile, so was perhaps, thus left out, in terms of what students could learn about Latin American history at Duke.

Anonymous said...

Duh floatin' penis having floated stikes again . . . but the subliminal fear of detachment into a floating state . . . is fearfully . . . is this castration or metaphorical pot-banging or is banging a word transfer for sexual intercourse . . . interesting because the floating penis having power in the sense of being useful in the creation process created a horrible situation of simultaneous floating and imagined copulation that never occurred while levitating . . . this floatin' penis . . . do it belong to the Shadow . . . er, what? I must re-read Orwell . . . Horowitz is right . . . no one could make this up . . . . floatin' penis my ass . . . whoops . . . . no, stop, no don't, don't, stop . . . don't stop . . . aghaaaaaaaaa . . . I want to go to Duke.. . just joking . . . like you are . . . yeah, right.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 5:35

I'm not sure anyone is competent to judge the work of the Duke Latin Amricanists -- Oh, by the way, doesn't the emperor just look dashing today? Especially his codpiece.

Anonymous said...

Is that you, Eddie? Eddie Haskell? Still as slimey as evah!

wayne fontes said...

To Anons 4:16 and 4:21

Try reading Pete Sigal's proposal for a spring 2007 conference on Ethnopornography . I'd love to read your take on the importance of the connection between colonialism and pornography. I'm sure it's a topic that will shape the lives of today's college students throughout their productive years.

Anonymous said...

For further readng on the effect of the Post Modern school's effect you may want to read
some of Australian historian Keith Windschuttle's work.

Anonymous said...

" The things they pass for knowledge I can't understand "
Steely Dan ?

Anonymous said...

Wayne F:

And your problem with this proposal is? Are you arguing that one should not study pornography at all or against it in an ethnic context or against the proposal?

mac said...



Consider the following courses:

English Composition 101(Grant Farred,
guest instructor Tara Levicy):
"Infatuative Monologues and X:
a Survey of Dueling Sexualities in Modern Amerika)
Course studies literature, both penile and vaginal:
Professor Grant "Prowess Envy" Farred compares and contrasts the
relative sexual prowess of the male/female student athlete, while
Levicy instructs from her book:
"It's Never About Pleasure."

Castration Themes (Silverblatt): Mexican Warrior Princess Zima pickles the Polyphemus
and we know it today as...Tequila! Symbolic worm

Sexual Assault Themes (Sigal) Includes dissection of theme song:
"It's a Gay's World," revised from the heteronormative/heterodominative
"It's a Man's World."
Explores why homosexual rape is a legitimate form of self-expression,
since rape isn't rape if it's a Portugese mano a mano.
(No text utilized, only the Professor's opinions.)

Silverblatt: The Indigenous Homogenous: how native-born cows
were mated with foreign-born bulls.
Some emphasis upon the survivability of interspecies sex

Siverblatt: "The Curse and Its Relationship to the Red Tent."

Olcott: "They All Look Alike to Me."
A curse/course in the hegemony of representational
governments: the utilization of power to subvert and dominate corrupt,
non-representative dictatorships.
Hankies and Kleenex required.

Anonymous said...

Are those of you who post so critically here of liberal arts professors in particular and university education in general all professors yourself? And you're applying your expert knowledge to help improve the American education system? Are are you merely interested, but not necessarily, knowledgeable, commentators?

You know, the kind of relative everyone has who tells you how to do your job?

Anonymous said...

If this crap is what "college education" is all about, I thank God I only made it through high school!

Anonymous said...

"I combined insights from poststructuralist gender studies and queer theory influences with use of philology and postcolonial theory to understand the texts that I read as literary devices which I decode in order to represent the cultural matrix.”


"Yeah, I have a response.
Um, WHAT?"

Anonymous said...

I think those of you who comment so bellicosely on topics about which you know little or nothing are merely demonstrating your illiteracy.

mac said...

Just shut up and teach, if that's what you do.

There was nothing wrong with the liberal arts professors I studied
under; they would be embarrased to be associated with the Silverblatts,
Olcotts and Sigals, and Farred wouldn't have gotten a job
where I went to school.
I'm certain that many Duke profs
are mortified at what passes for

(These folks - (re.KC's post) -
are just plain creepy.

Anonymous said...

How can Duke even be accredited as a degree-granting university with garbage like this? Graduate programs that receive application from Duke graduates--certainly those in the liberal arts--from this point forward will assuredly look at Duke transcripts with far, far more rigor and skepticism.

Anonymous said...

Mackie baby, could you just shut up? You don't add anything to this or any other conversation and you're a bore.

Anonymous said...

By what standards is 8:23 referring to "this" as garbage? Her/his own?

mac said...

Yeah, you're probably right:
doubtful if the engineering and medical studies are being hurt
by these pseudointellectuals.

Paglia's comment about the truly gifted creative minds
avoiding university naval-gazing
is unfortunate - because it's true to some extent.

Who would willingly subject themselves to such stuff?

Apparently, not a lot. Look at the numbers.

mac said...

Thank you! I got under your skin!

Triple 7s! Jackpot!

mac said...


8:09, 8:20, 8:23 and 8:25 are one-and-the-same.

Fruity Pebbles can't stand satire, when they're the target. (OK if it's someone else.)

Anonymous said...
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mac said...

Funny thing about satire:
Gore-ites and other leftists
shrieked when Southpark aimed its
barbs at them! They couldn't handle it,
thinking satire only serves one master: them.

Their humor (which is, as Southpark reminds us) is limited to
"dumb Bush jokes") reminds me of a bass boat in the desert
with a low-power Evinrude, trolling for trout.

Imagine a future course in satire,
and the stuff currently being presented on the blogs is used
as the text for the course!

(Hey, Gregory: ramp it up a bit,

mac said...

Does it matter?
Please don't apply any sexual images to these folks!

Talk about putting lipstick on a pig!

Anonymous said...

Duke's "Latin Americanists" seem to be safely ensconsed in Duke even though the Berlin Wall was taken down and the Soviet Union collapsed.

The devil is in the details, and the details in "The Latin Americanists" should greatly embarrass both the hired and the political correctness extremists who hired them, but all of them may be beyond embarrassment.

Regardless, they should be exposed, because they fool the gullible, like Mike Nifong did.

I know a bit about Latin America. My wife is Guatemalan. At least one of her ancestors was part of that tiny minority that conquered the place and the bulk of her family is still based in Guatemala.

Michael J. Gaynor

kcjohnson9 said...

To the 6.33:

This series is entitled "Group profiles"--it consists of profiles of Group of 88 members. John French was not a member of the Group of 88.

The post, by the way, pointed out that it discussed the options for "Duke students who want to study the history of Mexico, Central America, and South America (other than Brazil)."

Anonymous said...


South Park is 2 words--FYI

Anonymous said...


Yes, medical and engineering are being hurt by the Angry Studies crowd. That's a subject for another post. Eg, at Harvard Medical School, they had to dumb down the research aspect to accommodate the dimwitted affirmative-action contingent. Their stupid race/class/sex triumverate is infecting math and the hard sciences.

mac said...

Thank you.
I will try to spell better...
I will try to spell better...
I will try to spell better...

"Chaucer" is one word (less'n you include his'n first name.)
He would've had his way with the self-absorbed hypocrites of this age, eh? The 88 et al?

On a Chaucerian note:
Are there 88 spaces between the spokes of the wagon wheel?

Anonymous said...

anonymous 8:20

Ignorant = don't know the facts
Illiterate = can't read or write

I can be ignorant but literate. I am ignorant of many things. I am illiterate in Chinese and Spanish.

But I do recognize that large words used almost correctly are the mark of a pseudo-intellectual.

And I don't believe I am being warlike in pointing out obvious fallacies (with Sigal, phallacies?) in the research and learned (2 syllables) works of these poseurs.

Anonymous said...
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mac said...

Cartman is an "88?"
Shoulda known!

Anonymous said...

Polanski, you stole my riff: I too see the "gender/race/class lens" in the context of a camera, but IMHO the primary function of a lens is to distort reality, whether by magnification, etc.; in this case it seems more in line with a Funhouse mirror effect. Seems like a perfect metaphor for the Angry Studies Ghetto crowd's view of reality.

No wonder the CCI recommended that students should be required to take Angry Studies courses - they can't get a significant number to enroll any other way. And that fact gives me some hope for the future, at least outside of academia. Inside it is clear that the inmates are running the asylum.

And K.C., I still think you should title this series "Point and Laugh."

Anonymous said...

I think 9th.street is missing out. How bout "Know the Enemy" playing cards, or air brushed dart boards with the group of 88 picture on them. Bucknell is up river from 3 Mile Island so it was not the water. What rock did Sigal crawl out from under? what a joke.

Anonymous said...

If you read the actions of the 88 through the sexualized lens of Queer Theory you find that is was in fact the 88 who fanticized about the Lacrosse Players. False accusations, about rape, sexual assault, hooliganism and dominance on campus were a form of rape by which the group of 88 might possess the bodies and sexuality of the athletes. The denied desire of the gang of 88, their cultural impotence and personal failure overflowed in rage as they seized their chance to finally have these young men through false accusation, slander and hatred. The potential of sending these young men to real prison where they faced real danger was icing on the cake of their concupiscence.
The right reading of the gang of 88 is that did indeed become the rapists. The signs they carried for "castrate" and "equal measure" in fact were directed at themselves as predators, dominating students for power and pleasure.

Anonymous said...


The post was quite correct to deem you illiterate. Thm word has multiple definitions. Try the second and third meaning...I guess the rush to judgement--the desire to attack--got in the way of thinking things through, eh? You may well be both ignorant and illiterate. And certainly not an intellectual!

Anonymous said...

This is all well and good - the dismay, outrage over the heavily homosexual, homo erotic, homo nearly everything of much of the AAAS curricula, the flimsy academic credentials of the Gang of 88, the scam Duke seems to be pulling off at the expense of it's target audience - the affluent, white professionals of the Middle Atlantic region. But, remember, despite this glimpse into the heretofore unseen world of radical academia provided by Professor Johnson, there is not a damn thing anyone here can do about it!

Anonymous said...

Yes, in terms of theory, Professor Johnson is the classic voyeur, seeking to examine a world to which he can not belong...

Anonymous said...

Bob--Embarrassment can do wonderful things to change the course of frauds. Continue to spotlight them.

Anonymous said...

How many of the outraged posters here are men who are frightened of homoerotica and the like? Not Polanski, but the rest of you??????????

Anonymous said...


I have no problem admitting that I am ignorant, illiterate, and (thank goodness) not an intellectual. I am also sorry as hell about what went on with the lacrosse case. Serious mistakes were made. I hope those involved will accept responsibility for their actions, or be held accountable for those actions. We should all try to do better in the future, and work to achieve genuine fairness, sensitivity and inclusiveness.

Uh .... your turn.

Anonymous said...

What unbelievable crap to teach at a university. I thought Duke was a good school. These people (I won't call them professors) are an embarassment to higher education in general.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9;54

I would not characterize myself as an outraged poster, I leave that to the G88 and their ilk. Frightened of homoerotica?? Bored, maybe, indifferent for sure. I really don't waste my time thinking about it.

Anonymous said...

It has come to the point at Duke, and other institutions of higher learning, where a professor can pass off his/her sexual fetishes or hang-ups as scholarship, and even teach a course about them.

Anonymous said...

An embarrassment to higher education ? ! Wake up - they ARE higher education.

Michael said...

Crystal was raped by a floating p****?

Condolences to KC for having to read all of the stuff to write today's post.

AMac said...

The anonymous defenders of the 88's scholarly work point out that nearly all of D-i-W's readers are not qualified to evaluate the arcane and obscure analysis that makes up cutting-edge research in a field like the sociology and ethnography of post-Conquest Mayan society.

That's a fair point to bring into the discussion.

Along those lines, it's worth considering the career of America's most noted physicist, and the standards that he set for himself in teaching arcane and obscure topics in his field of specialization.

From Wikipedia:

--begin excerpt--

[Richard] Feynman has been called the "Great Explainer"; he gained a reputation for taking great care when giving explanations to his students, and for assigning himself a moral duty to make the topic accessible. His principle was that if a topic could not be explained in a freshman lecture, it was not yet fully understood. Feynman gained great pleasure from coming up with such a "freshman level" explanation of the connection between spin and statistics... He opposed rote learning and other teaching methods that emphasized form over function, everywhere from a conference on education in Brazil to a state commission on school textbook selection. Clear thinking and clear presentation were fundamental prerequisites for his attention.

--end excerpt--

How many of the scholars being examined hold themselves to Feynman's standard? Should they be judged on that basis? (Maybe it's not appropriate, as gender studies are more rigorous than physics.)


--begin excerpt--

In 1974 Feynman [discussed] "cargo cult science," which has the semblance of science but is only pseudoscience due to a lack of "a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty" on the part of the scientist. [He said,] "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you've not fooled yourself, it's easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that."

--end excerpt--

Certain islands of quasi-scholarship are mercilessly mocked by outsiders; prominent examples are Creation Science, Holocaust Denial, and Alien Civilizations ("Chariots of the Gods").

There are legions of other areas of specialization that are clearly important, but obscure to generalists: ever try looking at computer code to distinguish an elegant programming solution from a clumsy one? I can't.

One would think that the applicable standard for an institution like Duke would be, "All of our faculty demonstrate excellence in research and teaching." Today's profilees might demonstrate that point. But they might not.

Given their decisions to cast their lots on the side of extreme political correctness, it's fair to ask whether p.c. rather than excellence (or, perhaps, 'along with excellence'?) has been the driver of their scholarship.

Anonymous said...

9:50am, what world are you talking about? What world does KC need to belong?
Like most normal functioning men in society, he has a set and has no reason to need to belong to such a perverted and slimey and also senseless group of phonies!
You give a lot of credit to perverts.

wayne fontes said...

To Anon 8:01

I've got a hundred bucks that says every bit of scholarship produced by the conference will rigidly adhere to the race-class-gender orthodoxy. Do you want the other end of that bet?

If the out come of research can be predicted before it's done I'd assert it is either dishonest or not necessary.

Sometimes Yellow Fever really is a mosquito borne disease and not caucasian males secret desire for slim, submissive Asian females. Just as sometimes a hooker is just a hooker and not a symbol of oppressed women every where

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

bob h

I share your frustration. It seems to me that there are a couple of things that might be done. Donate a copy of KC's book to the College Admission counselors at your high school. Tell them that you have concerns about Liberal Arts education at Duke.

If you are a Duke student, take a look at the Jawa Report [] listing of the group of 88. Check your professors for this coming year. If you like what they teach, fine. If you are concerned about an individual, request a course change. You (or your folks) are paying big bucks to attend Duke. It is your money. Assert your right to a decent education.

For those of you who may be applying to college, take a very careful look at course offerings. During your campus visit, ask the students about their take on the local PC climate.

For Duke alumni(ae), express your concerns in writing to the alumni office and to your classmates. If you know a member of the Board of Trustees, a phone call or note would be helpful.

Anonymous said...

i am left speechless.

duke is better than "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" but not necessarily for laughs

i have to run out and rent "PCU--politically correct university" just to overcome reading this garbage.

Anonymous said...

Duke must be deeply ashamed to employ these professors. The civil lawsuits should be interesting.

Jul 21, 2007 12:12:00 AM

Actually, Duke is proud of this nonsense. This is considered to be "cutting edge" in modern academe.

By the way, if you want to get a sense of the world that would await us if the G88 had power, read this account of China under Mao, a place still worshiped by the G88s of academe and politics:

Truly evil. But that is the face of modern elite higher education.

Steven Horwitz said...


Brilliant! I think the G88's actions could use a sexualized reading such as the one you offer. Use their tools right back on them.

Anonymous said...

This is why the Gang of 88, many in the Administration, and the abettors are dangerous. Students,please write a paper comparing and contrasting the pap you're parents are paying $60,000.00 per year for and Patton's 3rd Army speech.(Actual transcript and not the film re-write - please excuse the lenght, but it's worth it.)For bonus points please compare and contrast the leadership stypes of Richard Brodhead and George S. Patton.

“Men, this stuff that some sources sling around about America wanting out of this war, not wanting to fight, is a crock of bullshit. Americans love to fight, traditionally. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle. You are here today for three reasons. First, because you are here to defend your homes and your loved ones. Second, you are here for your own self respect, because you would not want to be anywhere else. Third, you are here because you are real men and all real men like to fight. When you, here, everyone of you, were kids, you all admired the champion marble player, the fastest runner, the toughest boxer, the big league ball players, and the All-American football players. Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win all of the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American."

"You are not all going to die, only two percent of you right here today would die in a major battle. Death must not be feared. Death, in time, comes to all men. Yes, every man is scared in his first battle. If he says he's not, he's a liar. Some men are cowards but they fight the same as the brave men or they get the hell slammed out of them watching men fight who are just as scared as they are. The real hero is the man who fights even though he is scared. Some men get over their fright in a minute under fire. For some, it takes an hour. For some, it takes days. But a real man will never let his fear of death overpower his honor, his sense of duty to his country, and his innate manhood. Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best and it removes all that is base.

Americans pride themselves on being He Men and they ARE He Men. Remember that the enemy is just as frightened as you are, and probably more so. They are not supermen."

"All through your Army careers, you men have bitched about what you call "chicken shit drilling". That, like everything else in this Army, has a definite purpose. That purpose is alertness. Alertness must be bred into every soldier. I don't give a fuck for a man who's not always on his toes. You men are veterans or you wouldn't be here. You are ready for what's to come. A man must be alert at all times if he expects to stay alive. If you're not alert, sometime, a German son-of-an-asshole-bitch is going to sneak up behind you and beat you to death with a sockful of shit!"

"There are four hundred neatly marked graves somewhere in Sicily, all because one man went to sleep on the job. But they are German graves, because we caught the bastard asleep before they did. An Army is a team. It lives, sleeps, eats, and fights as a team. This individual heroic stuff is pure horse shit. The bilious bastards who write that kind of stuff for the Saturday Evening Post don't know any more about real fighting under fire than they know about fucking!"

"We have the finest food, the finest equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world. Why, by God, I actually pity those poor sons-of-bitches we're going up against. By God, I do".

"My men don't surrender, I don't want to hear of any soldier under my command being captured unless he has been hit. Even if you are hit, you can still fight back. That's not just bull shit either. The kind of man that I want in my command is just like the lieutenant in Libya, who, with a Luger against his chest, jerked off his helmet, swept the gun aside with one hand, and busted the hell out of the Kraut with his helmet. Then he jumped on the gun and went out and killed another German before they knew what the hell was coming off. And, all of that time, this man had a bullet through a lung. There was a real man!"

"All of the real heroes are not storybook combat fighters, either. Every single man in this Army plays a vital role. Don't ever let up. Don't ever think that your job is unimportant. Every man has a job to do and he must do it. Every man is a vital link in the great chain. What if every truck driver suddenly decided that he didn't like the whine of those shells overhead, turned yellow, and jumped headlong into a ditch? The cowardly bastard could say, "Hell, they won't miss me, just one man in thousands". But, what if every man thought that way? Where in the hell would we be now? What would our country, our loved ones, our homes, even the world, be like? No, Goddamnit, Americans don't think like that. Every man does his job. Every man serves the whole. Every department, every unit, is important in the vast scheme of this war. The ordnance men are needed to supply the guns and machinery of war to keep us rolling. The Quartermaster is needed to bring up food and clothes because where we are going there isn't a hell of a lot to steal. Every last man on K.P. has a job to do, even the one who heats our water to keep us from getting the 'G.I. Shits'."

"Each man must not think only of himself, but also of his buddy fighting beside him. We don't want yellow cowards in this Army. They should be killed off like rats. If not, they will go home after this war and breed more cowards. The brave men will breed more brave men. Kill off the Goddamned cowards and we will have a nation of brave men. One of the bravest men that I ever saw was a fellow on top of a telegraph pole in the midst of a furious fire fight in Tunisia. I stopped and asked what the hell he was doing up there at a time like that. He answered, "Fixing the wire, Sir". I asked, "Isn't that a little unhealthy right about now?" He answered, "Yes Sir, but the Goddamned wire has to be fixed". I asked, "Don't those planes strafing the road bother you?" And he answered, "No, Sir, but you sure as hell do!" Now, there was a real man. A real soldier. There was a man who devoted all he had to his duty, no matter how seemingly insignificant his duty might appear at the time, no matter how great the odds. And you should have seen those trucks on the rode to Tunisia. Those drivers were magnificent. All day and all night they rolled over those son-of-a-bitching roads, never stopping, never faltering from their course, with shells bursting all around them all of the time. We got through on good old American guts. Many of those men drove for over forty consecutive hours. These men weren't combat men, but they were soldiers with a job to do. They did it, and in one hell of a way they did it. They were part of a team. Without team effort, without them, the fight would have been lost. All of the links in the chain pulled together and the chain became unbreakable."
"Don't forget, you men don't know that I'm here. No mention of that fact is to be made in any letters. The world is not supposed to know what the hell happened to me. I'm not supposed to be commanding this Army. I'm not even supposed to be here in England. Let the first bastards to find out be the Goddamned Germans. Some day I want to see them raise up on their piss-soaked hind legs and howl, 'Jesus Christ, it's the Goddamned Third Army again and that son-of-a-fucking-bitch Patton'."

"We want to get the hell over there, the quicker we clean up this Goddamned mess, the quicker we can take a little jaunt against the purple pissing Japs and clean out their nest, too. Before the Goddamned Marines get all of the credit."

"Sure, we want to go home. We want this war over with. The quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards who started it. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we can go home. The shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo. And when we get to Berlin, I am personally going to shoot that paper hanging son-of-a-bitch Hitler. Just like I'd shoot a snake!"

"When a man is lying in a shell hole, if he just stays there all day, a German will get to him eventually. The hell with that idea. The hell with taking it. My men don't dig foxholes. I don't want them to. Foxholes only slow up an offensive. Keep moving. And don't give the enemy time to dig one either. We'll win this war, but we'll win it only by fighting and by showing the Germans that we've got more guts than they have; or ever will have. We're not going to just shoot the sons-of-bitches, we're going to rip out their living Goddamned guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We're going to murder those lousy Hun cocksuckers by the bushel-fucking-basket. War is a bloody, killing business. You've got to spill their blood, or they will spill yours. Rip them up the belly. Shoot them in the guts. When shells are hitting all around you and you wipe the dirt off your face and realize that instead of dirt it's the blood and guts of what once was your best friend beside you, you'll know what to do!"

"I don't want to get any messages saying, "I am holding my position." We are not holding a Goddamned thing. Let the Germans do that. We are advancing constantly and we are not interested in holding onto anything, except the enemy's balls. We are going to twist his balls and kick the living shit out of him all of the time. Our basic plan of operation is to advance and to keep on advancing regardless of whether we have to go over, under, or through the enemy. We are going to go through him like crap through a goose; like shit through a tin horn!"
"From time to time there will be some complaints that we are pushing our people too hard. I don't give a good Goddamn about such complaints. I believe in the old and sound rule that an ounce of sweat will save a gallon of blood. The harder WE push, the more Germans we will kill. The more Germans we kill, the fewer of our men will be killed. Pushing means fewer casualties. I want you all to remember that."

"There is one great thing that you men will all be able to say after this war is over and you are home once again. You may be thankful that twenty years from now when you are sitting by the fireplace with your grandson on your knee and he asks you what you did in the great World War II, you WON'T have to cough, shift him to the other knee and say, "Well, your Granddaddy shoveled shit in Louisiana." No, Sir, you can look him straight in the eye and say, "Son, your Granddaddy rode with the Great Third Army and a Son-of-a-Goddamned-Bitch named Georgie Patton!"

Anonymous said...

"But a real man will never let his fear ...overpower his honor, his sense of duty to his country, and his innate manhood. Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best and it removes all that is base. "

We are indeed engaged in a battle with these frauds.

Anonymous said...

Its quite curious to me that KC has today deleted several rather innocuous comments but has let the following comments stand in the "Hochberg and the "Raucous" Party thread.

Anonymous said...

Blacks on average are not very intelligent people. A small percentage are. But not a high percentage. This comment will be erased because it is the truth and a truth that everyone has tried to cover up for centuries.
Do intelligent people think the way the NCCU students do? Those young people seem to be so dumb even though we must pretend that they are "university students". They can hardly speak English, but they are our future. No one has the strength to fight against blacks because most do not behave like normal people. No matter how much money they have, they act like animals . Anyone see the news about Vick?
Jul 19, 2007 11:51:00 PM

Anonymous said...


Not true. The average African IQ is extremely low.

Jul 20, 2007 12:14:00 PM

inman said...

Have yaw'll seen Panties' picture. Good-god-a-mickey-mighty, I do declare, I remember a picture of Seligmann at the "party" in which he looked part nauseous and part "i gotta get outta here." Rightfully so. His picture showed that he was disgusted, as frankly any self-respecting white, privileged male athlete --- or any self-respecting black privileged male athlete --- or any self-respecting asian privileged male athlete.... fact, I don't even think that "athlete" isrequired, ...or even race for that matter, ... much less privileged.

That woman was a gutter snipe. A tragic but all too real manifestation of the benevolence of the Great Society.

Given what I've seen, about the only people who'd think that Panties / Samples / Precious /"Louvre of DNA" was at all appealing would have to be her mother... and then only of the mother was marginally less intelligent than the lower primates.

I get nauseous thinking about it.

...And unfortunately there's much more in the same thread where that sampling was taken.

kcjohnson9 said...

To the 11.01:

I didn't see those comments, but will definitely delete them.

The Hochberg post is quite a few down, and I often don't see posts made way down in the thread. So, as always, I ask people to email me if there are objectionable comments, and I will delete them.

Anonymous said...

laugh or cry...can't decide

Thanks for shining the light painful as it is to see how far DU academics have degraded

Anonymous said...

Further, KC has announced that he will be blogging for the Obama campaign. It would be naive to think that opposition research types wouldn't attempt to do a "Marcotte" on him. Screen capture programs are probably working overtime to record every word written on this 'blog.

Anonymous said...


I think the Group of 88 acted before finding out facts. This was really stupid. The lesson: NEVER, but NEVER sign your name to anything unless you're sure it's correct. So, I agree with you there.

I don't know if you're ignorant, illiterate, or whatever, and I frankly don't care. :-) What I do care about, however, is some of the incredible nastiness that appears on this blog. (I am not saying you are part of that.)

And, I care about what I consider the anti-intellectualism some of the posters display. (Again, this is not aimed at you.)

Anonymous said...

What is absolutely awesome about the drip, drip, drip exposing these frauds each week, is that they are subjected to the uncertainly of who is next in a similar fashion to the lacrosse men waiting to see who would be indicted.

Or course the big diference is the Gang of 88 are frauds, and the young men are completely innocent. Another big difference is that the consequence for the men was going to prison for thirty years and the Gang of 88 will secure appointments to key committees and be given affirmative action promotions.

Anonymous said...

9:43 Inre: "Intellectuals"

“…intellectuals are no wiser as mentors, or worthier exemplars than the witch doctors ...of old…A dozen people picked at random on the street are at least as likely to offer sensible views on oral and political matters as a cross-section of the intelligentsia…

One of the principal lessons of our tragic century, which has seen so many millions of innocent lives sacrificed in schemes to improve the lot of humanity, is –beware intellectuals. Not merely should they be kept well away from the levers of power, they should also be objects unparticular suspicion when they seek to offer collective advice. Beware committees, conferences and leagues of intellectuals. Distrust public statements issued from their serried rank. Discount their verdict on political leaders and important events. For intellectuals, far from being highly individualistic and non-conformist people, follow certain regular patterns of behavior. Taken as a group, they are often ultra-conformist within the circle formed by those whose approval they seek and value. That is what makes them, en masse, so dangerous, for it enables them to create climates of opinion and prevailing orthodoxies, which themselves often generate irrational and destructive curse of action. About all, we must at all times remember what intellectual habitually forget; that people matter more than concepts and must come first. The worst of all despotisms is the heartless tyranny of ideas.” – Intellectuals, Paul Johnson

Anonymous said...


I'm a woman and I post often. I'm not frightened by homoerotica, I'm simply not very interested. But, your post made me wonder how many of the critics that are posting today are men (or women) who are aroused by homoerotica.

As a parent who has invested a small fortune in the education of my children (undergraduate, graduate and professional) I would not have been happy to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $1000/credit hour for my son or daughter to "study" homoerotica.

Anonymous said...


I'm a woman as well & I don't think I'd mind if my child took a course in homoerotica. (Major in it? Maybe not!) I'd be curious about the syllabus!

Anonymous said...

It's understandable that many like you want to try and deflect attention away from the real problem in this case.
You can appeal to KC 'til the cows come home. He's not responsible for all comments and I don't even think most should be deleted.
Those NCCU students have said so much worse about white people in general and the lacrosse players specifically. Yet I don't see people like you making that your core issue. This type of double standard is slowing coming to an end in this country. Thank the lord.
And don't try to get into KC's personal ideology and political leanings as a way to nudge him into sterilizing this blog. Some of these posters are rightly enraged at the viciousness of these unintelligent and ill-equipped black "activists" on campus or anywhere else.
If these people don't want opinions uttered about them then they should stop trying to do harm to people simply because they are white. THEY ARE THE REAL RACISTS.
Although, I will not agree with some of the above statements that you so kindly brought over from another post, I will say that much of the same is uttered behind closed doors from both sides of the aisle. Don't blame those who are just commenting on this squalor from black America.
Your self-righteous tone is pathetic. What a clueless one you are.

Anonymous said...

Who are you; Polanski, Inman or Robert Byrd?
You actually show great facility in typing with white sheets covering your hand.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, bull crap artist. That no longer works. Most people are concentrating on the places where real racism flows. You can recall all the sordid histories you want, but no one is going to look away from the kinds of racists being produced in black America in the twenty first century and also the squalor and the crime.
I can tell that you do this kind of thing all the time. You're like the scum in Durham. You are old. It doesn't work anymore to blow snot out your nose. No one is going to put up with it anymore.

Anonymous said...

So is it true that you flip your matress but you never change your sheets?

Anonymous said...

It's obvious that the poster who brought those comments on this thread is trying to hurt KC. I didn't even see them until they were brought here.
What a creep and flamer.

Anonymous said...

Hey buddy, besides a bad speller you have shown us what you are. Come here and complain to KC about those posts that many of us haven't even read and look at you!
You are a mad dog racist pig. Your continued remarks show us what your full intent is in bringing those comments here.
Live with it. Blacks have enormous problems. Others races of people in this world aren't even close to being one of them.
If you're a black troublemaker who wants to get a rise today, I hope you feel better, but maybe you understand by now that those comments above about black are mostly true from many people's experiences.
We've all seen it from the Duke lacrosse case and we continue to see it.

Anonymous said...

9:41 AM

This here ritin' is insiteful as hit can be and organized as hit is in the language of dem fools dat teaches at Duke too. Dat is why dey calls hit wonderland cause everything was turned on its head. The Duke Group88 were the rapists for whatever reason and dem written reasons are soundin' good and ritten in da language of the left of the world culture too. By the way, there was little of the behavior of these scholars that wasn't just stupid and unwarranted. Hat tip and thanks.

Anonymous said...


"The anonymous defenders of the 88's scholarly work point out that nearly all of D-i-W's readers are not qualified to evaluate the arcane and obscure analysis that makes up cutting-edge research in a field like the sociology and ethnography of post-Conquest Mayan society.

That's a fair point to bring into the discussion."

Not really. The social sciences and the humanities deal with human beings. Any human being of normal intelligence is capable of understanding other human beings. Our evolution has honed our social understanding to a very fine point.

There are two possibilities when someone in the humanities or social sciences cannot be understood: they have failed to write clearly, or they have failed to think clearly.

It is of course possible for someone to discover something new and interesting about humans and then fail to make that discovery comprehensible to others. As Quintillian said (if I remember correctly,) the good writer writes so that his reader must understand, rather than that they may understand. Rather than blame himself, however, the bad writer blames his reader.

Nothing human need remain alien to my understanding or to yours or to that of most on this site (except of course Polanski.) The brilliance of, to pick just a few examples, Malinowski on the Trobrianders or Evans-Pritchard on the Nuer or Marc Bloch on feudal France is that they make comprehensible to us other ways of being human. They can do that because they have something comprensible to say and then say it comprehensibly. The suggestion that we are simply too ignorant, too illiterate, or too stupid to participate in the epiphany of the "floating phallus" is simply the smug self-satisfaction of the tenured incompetent.


Anonymous said...

I went over and checked the thread the troublemaker was talking about and it appears that someone was attacking Inman.
I'd say that the same person who came over here whining to KC was the instigator over there. Coming here now with their own agenda. That's how racists behave folks! They do worse than the people they complain about.
We see yet again the dumbed down version of what passes in the black community as "grievances". Now just look at what the perosn posted to us above.
Very stupid and tired. But hey--how's crime today in the ghetto? How's the illegitimacy rate today? How's the SAT scores? How's the graduation rate?
There's certainly enough money thrown out for these problems. Yet the troublemaker above wants to deflect attention away to some worn out but mostly true anonymous comments from days ago.
That's really gettin' it done!

Steven Horwitz said...

I think there's an important distinction to be made about *audience* when we judge the scholarly contributions of G88 members or any other scholar.

I'm an economist and the sort of things I write for professional journals may well be very difficult for the average person to follow completely (even though I'm writing about human beings) because there IS specialized language and concepts that all scholars deploy. This is true in any discipline, human-centered or not. Much of the scholarship that KC linked to was of this sort.

That said, the comparisons to Feynman and others are appropriate in that scholars who teach undergraduates, especially at the first-year and sophomore level, or who wish to be public intellectuals, *must* be able to translate their scholarly work into language and ideas that non-specialists can understand and find sensible. If you cannot do that, you have no business imagining yourself as an undergraduate teacher or believing your scholarship has any relevance for public debate.

I've seen plenty of economists whose politics are hardly those of the G88 who cannot make such translations and I've seen a good number of "G88 types" who are very effective teachers and public intellectuals because they can take their high theory and make it relevant to undergraduates, especially as a form of critical thinking, or show its connection to current issues in ways that don't require knowledge of the specialized discourse to understand.

Defending the notion that non-specialists face high barriers to judging the scholarship of specialists in the social sciences and humanities should not be any more controversial than saying the same of physics or chemistry. All disciplines involve specialized discourses, whether they study human social interaction or molecules. The real question is whether the specialist can make it work in the classroom or the public arena in a way that is comprehensible, relevant, and non-dogmatic.

Anonymous said...

I finally understand. These women (in particular) that were part of the 88 sympathize with Crystal because if it weren't for liberal "academe" like Duke, they'd be making a living the same way Crystal is--hooking.

Anonymous said...

I guess the reason I didn’t get my last promotion was that I know little about “Transsexuality and the Floating Phallus,” my education is lacking.

In all seriousness college should teach people how to think. If you graduate without this knowledge you are in trouble both in the job market and trying to function as a human being and a member of a democracy. I suppose everyone can take one or two silly courses without any harm but the people that major in this stuff are going to be at a disadvantage in a competitive situation unless of course they wave the sexist racist flag.

Anonymous said...

I'm developing a new-found respect for college drop-outs.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 1:05

lol that was funny!

Anonymous said...

"I finally understand. These women (in particular) that were part of the 88 sympathize with Crystal because if it weren't for liberal "academe" like Duke, they'd be making a living the same way Crystal is--hooking."

And if it weren’t for the medical school and engineering colleges and the other units that bring in money to the university through grants and sponsored research (sometimes the schools skim off as much as 50% of the total research costs to pay for lights and lawsuit settlements), these worthless studies profs wouldn’t have a Duke posting.

Better still, if it weren’t for big bad western patriarchial, imperialist, logical, and science/engineering driven civilization, industrialization, capitalism and all that other bad stuff they always complain about, they’d either be barefoot & pregnant or wel… hooking.

The West, like everyone else in the world has its faults, but talk about biting the hands that feed you! These Worthless Studiese profs take the cake.

Anonymous said...

The problem is endemic...

Dallas Morning News, 7/21/07

"Monitors came, TAKS (Texas standardized advancement test) plummeted...

...despite highly suspicious test scores, a February report by the Texas Education Agency declared the Houston School (Forest Brook High School) cheating free...

...the Dallas Morning News statistical analysis found that Forest Brook had one of the worst cheating problems in Texas. Looking at tow years of score, the analysis found more than 350 TAKS answer sheets had answer patterns that were suspiciously similar - in some cases identical - to those of at lest on classmate...

This spring, the state required outside monitors to oversee TAKS testing at Forest Brook...

The result?

On the 11th-grade test - the one students must pass to graduate -Forest Brook's math passing rate dropped from 80 percent in 2006 to 44 percent this year.

In science, the tumble was from 89 to 39 percent.

And in social studies - traditionally the easiest of the TAKS tests - Forest Brook dropped from a perfect 100 percent to 72 percent."

By the way, the TEA cleared the school of wrongdoing, in the earlier Feb. report.

One wonders if a CCI initiative or study of floating Mayan units will help.

Anonymous said...

And they could be teaching professional writing, grammar and spelling! Hey, if they don't have to take responsibility for themselves, neither should I!

Steven Horwitz said...

There is no doubt that one of the great sins of the contemporary left is that they want all the cultural diversity and luxuries that capitalism/markets produce while still despising the very set of institutions that makes them, and the lives they lead, possible.

Some kind of reverse Marxian false consciousness or something.

Anonymous said...

Lighten up Wonderland smurfs.

I have just received a copy of Petey Sigal's phallus study. Quite compelling. According to Petey, it hangs the moon!

Oh Petey, you're so clever!



Anonymous said...

I'm bringing this here simply because it's the current thread. This will be an item of interest as the Committee investigation proceeds.

The chain of command for the case, bottom to top, ran from Himan to Gottlieb, Ripberger, District 2 Capt. Jeff Lamb, Uniform Patrol Bureau Maj. Beverly Council, Deputy Chief Ron Hodge and Chalmers. Chalmers reports directly to City Manager Patrick Baker.

This is the chain the Committee will follow to probe DPD conduct......from a report in the H-S.


Anonymous said...

A couple of interesting items in Jay Nordlinger's most recent effort in the NRO.

They eat their own:

"...One more quick point — or rather, a story. I have a friend who serves on the faculty of a northeastern university. In the lunchroom (or wherever) recently, they were sitting around, talking about whom to support in 2008. It was simply assumed that the choice was: Hillary or Obama. Not even other Democrats were considered. And it never occurred to anyone that someone in the group might consider a Republican.

A woman said, “You know, I really think we should have a black president — that would be so great. It’s so important. But, as a woman, I have to think about Hillary, too.” I suggested to my friend that he should have said, “Why not go for Condi Rice, and have it both ways?” My friend said that, had he uttered such a quip, there would have been astonished silence — then, possibly, a lynching."


Does it sometimes seem that there is no good news at all? Well, here’s a little, after a fashion:


"President Mugabe of Zimbabwe has become the first international figure to be stripped of an honorary degree by a British university.

The Edinburgh University Senate decided at a special meeting yesterday to withdraw the degree it awarded to Mr Mugabe in 1984 for services to education in Africa. A letter will be written to him, asking that the degree be returned.

...It’s bad news that Mugabe is terrorizing and immiserating Zimbabwe. It’s good news that someone is awake to that fact."

Anonymous said...

KC Good work, you managed to give me a headache reading about Segal, et. al. To bad these folks in the "studies" world can't step back and look at how ridiculous and out of touch they have become. I feel I'm as educated as most anyone, yet I would prefer to pick up garbage (no offense to sanitary engineers) then to teach or associate with that group of 88 knaves.

Anonymous said...

1:18 Debrah, that is some kind of funny...made my day.

Anonymous said...

SH 1:18

It's called parasitism

Anonymous said...



One can imagine the course work under these nuts is similar to flash cards.



Anonymous said...

I wonder what Mr. Sigal (et al.) says to his family when he joins them for get-togethers and his parents, brothers, sisters ask him what he is doing?
I recall when my mother would ask me what I did. While I was not doing anything as exotic as Mr. Sigal, it was still a difficult thing to explain. I don't think my parents were stupid. If anyone was stupid it was probably me for thinking some of the elevated silliness I dealt with at work somehow was relevant to life or had importance beyond the tiny world in which I worked.
I think they excused me since I was no longer dependent on them and somehow - however foggy my explanation may have been - I was making enough money to support my own family.
I' ve come to the conclusion if I can't explain or am too embarassed to explain what I do to a parent or any other normal person, then maybe I need to reconsider what I am doing.
Cheers, JL,Jr.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...


To the moon...hahahahahahahahaha!!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

make that intelligence ans sensuousness

Anonymous said...

I must follow the teachings of the Gang of 88 and be inclusive.

We have the Phallus hanging the it's of utmost importance to bring in some Dancing Vaginas to balance out this very important discipline.



Anonymous said...

When you watch the Dancing Vaginas, be sure to read some of the comments about the performance below the video.



Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

At 5:35 AM on July 21, an anonymous commenter wrote:

"Anyone here question the ability of Americanist KC to judge competently the work of Latin Americanists?"

I don't suppose you question the ability of Harry Reid to declare Operation Phantom Thunder a failure two days before it began.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

TO 1101AM--

From your gratuitous gyrations on this thread, posting what you did, and then calling on KC to somehow account for it...... senses tell me that you are one of a few John-Boy Edwards supporters who shows up here occasionally to create a little friction.

KC supports Barack Obama and Obama is leading John-Boy and will continue to do question about it.

You are trying to discredit this place, hoping that any negativity might extend to those who are supporting a challenger of Edwards.

Like Mr. and Mrs. Edwards political ambitions, your puerile, nasty, and petty tactics will fail.

I knew immediately that you were a superfluous flamer with a hidden agenda.

John-Boy will continue to sink.


Steven Horwitz said...

Polanski asks:

do you agree with the proposition that a lot of the jargon emanating from the soft sciences is nothing more than BS whose sole purpose is to confuse and impress?

Nope. Economics has plenty of jargon and it is a social/human science. I think some of it is about "confusing and impressing" but not most of it, and that's surely not its "sole purpose."

Same in the other areas. I don't buy most of the post-modern theoretical approaches, but their jargon is only worse in degree not kind than the frameworks I do find useful. And I wouldn't agree that its "sole purpose" is to confuse and impress, though it can be used those ways.

Anonymous said...

@ Steven Horwitz at 12:38

"I think there's an important distinction to be made about *audience* when we judge the scholarly contributions of G88 members or any other scholar.

I'm an economist and the sort of things I write for professional journals may well be very difficult for the average person to follow completely (even though I'm writing about human beings) because there IS specialized language and concepts that all scholars deploy. This is true in any discipline, human-centered or not."

I am not sure whether your comment was disputing mine of 12:21 or not.

I stand by my argument: any human being of normal intelligence is capable of understanding human behavior. The fact that scholars may need specialized tools to PROVE conclusions about human behavior under specified conditions and may elect to use specialized language to state those proofs and conclusions succinctly does not mean that only academics can comprehend those conclusions or judge the relevance and plausibility of those conclusions to human life. I suggest that the great economists, e.g., Smith, Marshall, Menger, or Keynes, were perfectly capable of expressing both their conclusions and their arguments in language comprehensible to any normally intelligent person who was willing to do a little intellectual work.

I am totally incapable of saying what a quark is likely to do under some set of conditions. I suspect I am every bit as qualified as any academic to say what a human being is likely to do under any set of conditions that I am familiar with. Like everyone else, I have been studying human beings for my entire life.

Do I understand measureless atom spaces? No, I candidly admit that I do not. Are human beings atoms floating in a measureless atom space? No, they are not.

Now if all you meant is that the current standards of academic writing discourage or prevent the presentation of results and arguments being expressed in the common tongue, then you and I agree. Where we may disagree is that I suspect those standards disguise a great deal of very weak intellectual work. Unfortunately, those same standards also obscure good work.

I think it was Marshall who recommended throwing all the mathematics away after the argument had been constructed. He did not actually go that far; he banished the math to his appendices. But, except for the relatively simple math in those appendices, Marshall is perfectly comprehensible to anyone able to read standard English.


Anonymous said...
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wayne fontes said...

Here is yet another discussion of academic jargon. There is at least one defender making the best case possible in favor of specialized language.

Steven Horwitz said...

JeffM says:

I suggest that the great economists, e.g., Smith, Marshall, Menger, or Keynes, were perfectly capable of expressing both their conclusions and their arguments in language comprehensible to any normally intelligent person who was willing to do a little intellectual work.

I agree completely. I also think that much of the work you are criticizing is also comprehensible to any normally intelligent person who is willing to a little intellectual homework.

A few weeks back in a thread about Professor Hart, I made the comment that I found *Empire* extremely rough going precisely because of the jargony language. But I did a little intellectual homework, read carefully, and was able mostly make sense of it. I think it was all wrong, but I got most of the argument.

That's just my point. The homework needed to follow arguments in the various Studies might be a little greater in degree but it is no different in kind than that needed for any intelligent person to follow the arguments of specialists.

Of course, once you follow the argument you may think it's all wrong, but to say the jargon is somehow designed to obfuscate is off base. I also don't think it's necessarily a crutch for the intellectually weak. It *can* be but need not.

In the end, how is Menger's use of "higher order goods" fundamentally different than the G88 use of "phallocentricism"? The former might be a good explanation of a social phenomenon and the latter a bad one, but both are comprehensible with a little work.

Anonymous said...

Re the 6:33

Do you mean to tell me that if I want to learn Brazilian history at Duke I have to take it from a non-activist heterocentric male whose published scholarship ignores the need for sexualizing history and who lacks demonstrated expertise in such essential topics as patriarchal oppression, pornography and the floating phallus in Brazil? Where's the fairness and balance there? It's an outrage.

Anonymous said...

To KC Johnson @ 11:11 and anon @ 11:01 and the other anon defenders of the 88

KC, as usual I admire your poise.

Since you don't say it, though, I will. I doubt very much that the anon @ 11:01 poster truly cared about the undeleted posts in question. I rather think that, like many of your anonymous critics on this and other threads, the whole and only point of their posts is to cast suspicion on your motives and competence with innuendo.

Apparently, the defenders of the 88 cannot explain in clear terms why this scolarship is relevant and meets high standards. I am willing to concede for the sake of argument that these scholars ask legitimate questions. I am not willing to concede that the work is good only because of my presumed lack of qualifications in criticizing it.

These posters do nothing to help us understand what they claim they want to help us understand -- the value of this specific field of academic scholarship and the quality of the work of this particular group of scholars. Any reasonable person would be baffled reading the prose of these scholars (I am) -- possibly just because it is unfamiliar to them. The response: "you don't understand it because you can't or don't want to" leads nowehere.

I am an academic myself and have published much in my own specialized field. Not a day goes by without my having to explain to non-specialists what I do, why I do it, how I do it, and why it is important to society that I do it. It would never occurr to me to insulate my field from public inquiry by claiming that the public has no right, competence, or proper motive. And this regardless of whether my research is funded with public money.

The question is relevance. Do we want our work to be relevant to society? If so, accusing others -- either explicitly or through innuendo -- of ignorance, incompetence or lack of intellectual ability and proper motive, when questioned about what we do, is the wrong response. It only makes the field look worse and leads to the conclusion that the scholarship is in fact bad.

I will welcome your point of view once you provide it. The difference between KC and you is that he provides it -- with argument and evidence, as much as he can. Rise to the challenge, if your goal is to provide insight to the discussion. If your goal, instead, is simply to discredit his work through innuendo, you are wasting time and effort. I cannot imagine readers of this blog falling for that kind of silliness.

Of course, your objective could just be to disrupt the discussion -- I believe the term used here to refer to this activity is "trolling." Again, it's a waste of time. If I am any indication, it actually backfires. I think worse of the 88 and their scholarship after reading your posts than I did before.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Dancing vaginias . . . floating phallas . . . I must be in Durham . . . got to be more careful. . . .

Anonymous said...

Not to worry. Although 6:33 tells us that the "famous Brazilianist" John French "doesn't fit into the gender teaching profile," and French isn't an 88er, French's Duke CV dutifully lists 'Gender,' 'Women' and 'African Diaspora' among his academic specialties.

Steven Horwitz said...

3:56 -

Does anyone who teaches about gender issues automatically fall into the "gender teaching profile?"

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

@ SH

Actually, I do not think that the specific work I mentioned was work I was disparaging. I believe I used the word "brilliant" for Malinowski, Evans-Pritchard, and Bloch. Nor was I disparaging Smith, Menger, Marshall, or even Keynes (though I must admit I believe Keynes was often quite wrong.)

I do not have a copy of Menger in my personal library. But my recollection is that Menger rather carefully, even tediously, explains each of his terms. If I remember correctly, he starts with "goods," then proceeds to "economic goods," etc. Moreover, I can quickly explain the concept of goods of a higher order to most six year olds: a screwdriver does not satisfy any human want directly, but it can be used with other things to satisfy human wants.

I am not against specialized terms. I recognize that some jargon is almost inevitable in any field. I am against silly arguments that hide behind an inflated jargon, and I think a lot of poor academic work gets by because unnecessary jargon is tolerated, perhaps encouraged.

@ Polanski

I seldom do regression analysis anymore, and I have to review the use of the F-statistic each time it comes up, which is very rarely. Nor do I remember when to use Fisher's exact test and am probably being inexact a distressing number of times a day.

Weeks ago, this site got lost in a discussion of The Bell Curve, and KC asked us to desist if I remember correctly. In any case, my point was that people of normal intelligence understand human behavior in their own culture and times very well indeed and can understand human behaviors in other cultures and at other times if explained clear language. Explicating comprehensibly other times and other places was what historians and anthropologists used to do.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

This is for Inman and OT:

The French established a chapter of the Cinncinati Society in 1784, in honor of the American Revolution? It is commemorated in Paris.

Steven Horwitz said...


I do have Menger handy. And yes, he does explain his terms. But that's because he was introducing them. Perhaps my analogy wasn't the right one in that sense.

Economists who work in the Mengerian tradition, as I do, use that term all the time without necessarily explaining it in just the same way many G88 types do with their jargon. And that's because they're talking to each other and they can take that terminology for granted. When those from outside that intellectual conversation want to enter it, it requires some work to figure out the language.

The result is sometimes people talking past each other and other times accusing each other of using obfuscating jargon. As you say, a little work by the reader is often necessary.

I think we just disagree on the degree to which obfuscating jargon is created intentionally and rewarded by the scholarly institutional structure in the humanities and social sciences. That's an empirical question, as far as I'm concerned.

Anonymous said...

DUh & double duh 3:56, Of course, John French has "African Diasphora" as a teaching speciality--ditto gender--he's a LABOR History...!!!!!

Anonymous said...


That was a cogent and quite reasonable analysis of the dynamics of this blog. I especially appreciate the articulate implied definition of "relevance". That is: If a community of scholars cannot parse the language and, hence the scholarship, of another group of scholars (even after devoted study with a sincere intent to understand), then ... well I think the metaphor would be the tree that falls in the forest. If noone hears it, did it in fact make a sound?

Now in the langauage of the economist, has anyone done a substantial cost/benefit analysis of the very "soft" sciences (and please...that was not a plug for Viagra)?

I can understand the benefit to all mankind of studying biology ---> medicine. I can understand the benefit to all mankind of studying mathematics, or engineering or physics ---> technology. I can understand the benefit to all mankind of studying history ---> law, or english ---> communication, etc.

But I must be dense. How does the AA or gender or diversity studies relate to anything other than advancing the agenda of those specific groups. Please, I am quite interested.

Steven Horwitz said...


I agree (ugh, I hate agreeing with Polanski) that there's good work on gender out there that isn't "genderist" in the sense you mean.

I teach a course on the economics of gender and the family and would like to think it's not "genderist" but around here, it often seems like anyone who suggests that gender is a useful category is automatically a crappy scholar and a hater of white, heterosexual, lacrosse players.

Anonymous said...

oh and 3:46

my questions in the prior post are addressed to the general audience and not specifically you. Sorry for any confusion.

Anonymous said...

anon @ 4:41

That must have been done to honor and commemorate Lafayette and the French Navy that blockaded Yorktown, ... and appropriately so.

I was not aware of that fact and appreciate your comment.

Thank you. But a small correction: "Presently, all thirteen original State Societies are functional, as well as the French Society, which was reconstituted and accepted as the fourteenth Constituent Society in 1925." not 1784. But clearly a predecessor society was established prior to 1925.


Anonymous said...

Hiya, Inman,

The sign on the building at 40 Cherche midi (in the 6th Arron.) has a date, year: 1784 (I have a picture). True. More I couldn't tell you...

Anonymous said...

2:02 am Thank you for your diligence! A thoughtful and important inquiry.

Anonymous said...

Good afternoon all of you,

I actually teach and do some research/writing on gender (I have other fields, too). The course attracts students from across the university, some of whom expect the course really easy. They are wrong, but many stay. The reading is varied and some of it is quite difficult, but the students seem to like it. They very seldom agree with one another and at least some of them take other classes that I teach.

Anonymous said...


Well, so the French had issues even then, huh?

HAHA --- But thank you for the Continental European French perspective on history. It only took 141 years for the US society to process their application.

But, a tip of the hat to your proof!

Anonymous said...


I agree that it is an empirical question, and that I am using very casual empiricism to answer it. So I may well be wrong about how frequently complicated jargon is used among modern academics to hide a lack of thought.

The issue is a little different in economics. People like Deirdre McCloskey have argued that economics has become bogged down in an overly mathematical method. Now I intensely disagree with von Mises that mathematics has no place in economics. I lean more toward Jevons' idea that a study that deals with quantities and ratios has to make use of mathematics to avoid error. But I also agree with Marshall that mathematics is scaffolding that needs to be removed once the economic argument is complete.

Finally, if an academic field wants to claim authority among the general educated populace, it must use that populace's language to the maximum extent possible. I accept your point that a conversation among the cognoscenti can use a private code, but no one else is under any obligation to learn that code or to give any credence to what is expressed in code. If people have something important to say, then it is worth their time to say it intelligibly.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone want to share a ride to Linwood Wilson's concert tomorrow evening?

KC, are you attending?

Anonymous said...

@ 5:02

Sounds like a good course. The best proof is that you have students who come back for more of your courses.


Steven Horwitz said...


I think we're close enough to agreed to leave it there. I would just note that von Mises nowhere said there is "no" role for mathematics in economics. He was very skeptical, but in the doing of economic history, statistics are essential, and mathematical reasoning can clarify theoretical thinking. What he rejected emphatically was the substitution of mathematics for a sophisticated understanding of real human action in a world of fragmented and uncertain knowledge and real historical time.

The model is not the real world, and that is the vice that both Mises and McCloskey object to.

Anonymous said...


Could you please elaborate on the reasons you believe that is an important inquiry? Not that I agree or disagree.

And for the record and I am not particularly proud of this, but, in the early 1970's, my frat brothers and I would sit on our bench on the main quad holding diving "flash cards" in our hands. Imagine a group of fairly diverse, athletic and reasonably attractive (by perhaps shallow standards) young men sitting on the first multi-deck bench on West Campus. (yes, THE first).

A young lady walked by the bench. The diving flash cards were displayed. A 'brother' sitting in the quad read the numbers: "8.5", "8.0", "7.0", "7.5", etc. Then everyone hooted with laughter. Childish. Yes. Boorish. Yes. A result of peer pressure. Well, yes. For those girls/women who received high scores, this was probably both an embarassment and a relief at the same time.

This happened again and again.

Later, a young lady walked by who was clearly not attractive by any historical or modern definition of the word attractive. George Santayana could have used her to define the nature of beauty in the negative.

That's when one of my fraternity brothers coined the term "mercy zero." If I remember correctly, it was a guy named Alan S. -- and an example of the stereotypical northern Jew. (Those who were there at the time will know to whom I refer.) He was also the owner of the flash cards, again, if I remember correctly.

Yes. The young woman was not attractive. But did she deserve the unsolicited cat-calls and denigrating comments. I now know how wrong this was. And in retrospect, I did not have the courage to confront this singularly hateful display. But I still think about it. And I remember it well.

And I still remember other hateful comments, as well.

So, in defense of the "soft" sciences: If the intent is to promote mutual respect, then okay, I can live with that. But, I still don't get how the current curriculum gets there.

Anonymous said...


Yes, I think that we are pretty close to agreement and that you and I have nothing really substantial to argue about. "In the doing of economic history, statistics are essential, and mathematical reasoning can clarify theoretical thinking" is a statement that I can subscribe to. Furthermore, I agree that mathematics is not likely to get us too far in fully comprehending "real human action in a world of fragmented and uncertain knowledge and real historical time." In fact I like that one so much I may steal it.

I think we could, however, argue quite a while about von Mises, whose statements about mathematics were quite a bit more extreme than what you have expressed. Moreover, I point out that he repudiated the relevance of history to economics, a gross overreaction to von Schmoller. I think von Mises has given Austrian economics generally an undeserved bad name. Of course, I am not an economist.


Anonymous said...


"statistics," like "mathematics," takes a singular verb. Watch out for those false plurals.

Samuel Steele
Author, "The Polymorphously Perverse Sphincter: Women with Muscles that Terrify Men"

Hey, Horwitz, you don't like to agree with Polanski? You don't like his neologisms--eg, "genderist"?

Either do I. He's a vulgarian and perhaps mentally ill.

Anonymous said...

To inman from anon@3:46

Thanks. I cannot help much with your question as I don't work in the field and could only offer an outsider's perspective. I guess one of the points of my post is to encourage the specialists to help us with that.

I don't particularly care for the anti-intellectuallism displayed by some posters, but in a free and open society one cannot use that as an excuse for avoiding the question. There are several other posters here who are clearly educated, intelligent and interested in hearing a cogent argument. None has been offered so far.

In his exchange with JeffM, Steve Horwitz is doing a better job in "defense" of the 88 and their scholarship than the anon defenders who showed up recently! The reason is that he is addressing the substance of JeffM's criticism of these scholars' use of language.

To that exchange, I'd like to add this consideration. The main difference between hard sciences, soft sciences and humanities is data. I think, for example, that Polanski sees economics as harder than sociology and the humanities because of its reliance on data (Polanski, please correct me if I am wrong). So, from my perspective the exchange between JeffM and Steve Horwitz is a bit off the mark. The question is not wheteher specialized language is used in both areas because it reflects the tools used to prove theoretical statements about reality. The question is how those statements are validated empirically.

My take is that outsiders are having a hard time understanding the empirical methodology of these studies. Fending them off on the ground that they are incompetent, intellectally uncapable or have devious motives does not help.

I concede, for example, that whether pre-colombian societies in South Asmerica tolerated and/or practiced homosexuality is a legitimate question -- regardless of any agenda-driven implication one wishes to derive from the answer. The problem is that, hard as I try, I cannot get through the language to get at the emprical validation of the claim that they did.

The cornerstone of the scientific method is measurement. I thus contend that there is a difference in kind across fields. The hard sciences are built on solid foundations in measurement. After its birth as an offsrping of moral philosophy economics has rapidly moved in that direction. More recently, political science and sociology have made a lot of progress toward becoming empirical discplines. Granted, the social sciences are at a disadvantage because they are not -- some would add yet -- experimental sciences. My question is, where do the humanities stand?

History has long ago moved away from written texts as the only source of evidence and has started rewarding data collection. In several fields, historians collect data that is amenable to quantitative analysis. Archeologists and paleontologists have long ago akcnowledged the difficulty of working with parse data and reward field work -- data collection, i.e., measurement -- and eagerly use whatever technological aid becomes available.

The question germane to this thread, in my example above, then is: What evidence is there that pre-colombian societies tolerated/practiced homosexuality? I don't care about why Segal asks the question or about the inference he draws from the answer -- those issues are moot until I know empirically that they did or did not. Thus, I first want to know HOW he knows that they did. If I am convinced that his method is sound, THEN I have a basis for discussing the other issues. What baffles me is the response: "You don't believe they did because you can't -- you're too stupid to get it -- or you won't -- your belief system prevents you from accepting it." How could any scholar delude himself that that response would fly is beyond me.

As far as I know, no one denies that the ancient greeks practiced homosexuality BECAUSE there is solid, uncontroversial evidence that they did -- evidence that is not limited to esoteric jargon-laden interpretations of texts. Can the scholars whose work is being discussed here produce similar evidence? The attitude "I don't tell you because I don't have to and besides you wouldn't get it because you can't or you won't" only makes me suspicious that in fact they cannot.

Anonymous said...

Question for 6:00 or perhaps Samuel Steele:

Why would a sphincter terrify a man?

"A sphincter is a structure, usually a circular muscle, that normally maintains constriction of a natural body passage or orifice and which relaxes as required by normal physiological functioning. There are over 40 different sphincters in the human body; some of these sphincters are microscopic in size."

And are you a psychiatrist? or a psychologist? For otherwise you may have made a libelous statement. And you should be advised that internet paths are easily traced.

Just curious.

Anonymous said...

8:03 AM

I have never read "Zima Warrier Princess Zima Pickles the Polyphemus" in its entirety. Talk about the one-eyed snake . . . was Polyphemus blind at the time . . . language is so indederminate . . . er, misconscrewed . . . difficult . . . but Polyhemus was . . . well, er . . . had only one eye . . . right? Princess had to help him out. Why not, it's all good . . . right, but 30 years in the cave with Polyphemus would be impossible . . . you know if you can think and rationalize this bullshit the concept of a trial before establishing guilt would seem quite easy. Is it too much of an Anglo-Saxon concept?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...


Well spoken We need evidence. Otherwise what the "soft" sciences ( and as Polanski -- perhaps appropriately -- refers to as the "Angry Studies") are no more than equivalent to the Greek and Roman myths.

And that begs the question: How can the resources a a major, influential research university be allocated toward producing myths?

Beyond my understanding.

Anonymous said...


thanks, I stand corrected!


Anonymous said...



Sorry the "you" in the above is the academic group at Dook who . . . well . . . er . . . think this stuff up . . . even though it must be considered Polyphemus did live alone with sheep . . . .

Anonymous said...

Does anyone who teaches about gender issues automatically fall into the "gender teaching profile?"
I suppose not, but someone who lists gender issues as an academic specialty is more likely to, I'd imagine. It just seems very peculiar that, in the group designated to cover the history of Latin America, all the teachers specialize or subspecialize in gender and/or sexuality issues, as if those issues were the crux of the subject. I'd expect more specialists in, say, the military, political and economic aspects of Latin American history; or agriculture or religion or literature or archeology or demographic changes or a million other things (or a brazillion other things.) And less in pornography and the floating phallus.

Anonymous said...

to inman from 6:07

One implication of my argument is that blanket criticisms targeted at the questions asked by these scholars is off the mark. Not because it is illegitimate or devious to question the validity of the questions driving their research, but because it deflects attention from the crucial issue: Facts are not opinions. Or, as someone smarter than me once said: We are entitled to our own opinions but not to our own facts.

I would think that this is the biggest lesson of the Lacrosse case: Justice, fairness and real scholarship cannot thrive if myth supersedes fact.

Anonymous said...

Since we are talking about folks who specialize in Central & South America --- I have a question for the students and scholars of Guatemala and Honduras?

How can one justify the practice of managing access to electricty as a means to reward "friends" and to "control" the masses? And the related practice of "rolling blackouts"?

Very much curious!

Anonymous said...


Actually, on second thought I DO NOT stand corrected. Cristoforo Colombo was italian. Pre-Colombian it is then! ;D


Anonymous said...

4:27 Jeff M, think I understand your meaning...

"...a screwdriver does not satisfy any human want directly, but it can be used with other things to satisfy human wants."

So the Gang of 88 and soft science frauds are similar to screwdrivers. The student use them sparingly in order to fulfil a higher order desire. That is, the desire, to escape Wonderland and Duke with a degree.

That must be one of those Army screwdrivers. You know the ones that cost $60,000.00 per year.

Making more sense.

Anonymous said...


First, invent a moniker so we can read your comments and know their helps to understand comments in the context of previous statements....perhaps "GladtoTeach" or "ConcernedProf" --- you get the idea.....

Now...You have hit the nail on the head. We are not entitled to invent the facts. That is surely the single most important "fact" in the potential prosecution of various perpetrators and enablers of the Duke Lacrosse Burning.

Our justice system depends on that simple, but elusive, notion.

DPD actually could use that as a statement of policy: "Do not, under any circumstances, invent facts."

Anonymous said...

6:07 Well done. I would add that self-criticism of one's own work is critical and allowing one's work to undergo criticism within and beyone one's peers are also important.

Those tendencies are not at all apparent among the Gang of 88 and others in the soft sciences. There is a lack of transaparency.

Why? They are frauds and cannot not substantiate all of their theories.

Inre: to Steve H's fine discoure with Jeff M. regarding parsing of language. That all may be accurate, but it begs the real question which is why some of this pap is being studied at an elite University costing $60k per year. These topics understood or not could be debated from a wooden box on the town square.

I am also reminded that the duty of the message is with the sender. Pretty simple concept really.

An interesting set of posts, thats for certain.

Anonymous said...

@ 6:07

You and I could disagree in a friendly way about specific aspects of your post for a long time. For example, I disagree about economics being a hard science reliant on objective, measurable data. There has never been a single empirical study showing the real-world existence of a continuous demand or supply curve. (The work done on that in the 1930's used quantities and prices gathered at different times, did not demonstrate continuity, and presumed unjustifiably on the assumption of ceteris paribus, which was clearly counter-factual.) But I do not think such disputes are really germane to this thread.

On what is germane, I think our difference is slight. I suspect a fair amount of work in certain academic fields is silly because it is couched in a language that is UNNECESSARILY obscure. (I admit I have not proved that claim; it is an impression that others can fairly dismiss as having not been rigorously supported.) You say that you "cannot get through the language to get at the empirical validation." I think that is my point in other words. If someone has empirical support, he or she will present it clearly.

I point out that there is a lot of data on acceptance of homosexuality in various cultures. (See for example the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample.) An obvious piece of evidence to look at is what are current attitudes about homosexuality among the Maya. Furthermore, the Spanish recorded a great deal of information about the native inhabitants of America. The Spanish had a vested interest in justifying their virtual enslavement of the natives by attacking their "sinfulness." So, if the Spanish did NOT complain of widespread acceptance of homosexuality among the Maya, then that is pretty good evidence that it was not widely accepted. (Given their self-interest, the Spaniard's testimony cannot be accorded much weight if they used acceptance of homosexuality as a justification of Spanish dominion.) See it can all be explained in nice straight-forward English.


Steven Horwitz said...

Just a few quick responses:

1. Sorry Jeff, but I disagree about Mises. I don't think he's as extreme as you claim, for one thing. There would be no contemporary Austrian school without him, and the Austrians have ended up influencing the mainstream (and policy) more than I ever thought they (I should say "we") would when I was in grad school 20 years ago. Granted that influence is not big, but it's far from zero. Mises was a Weberian economist. If you think Weber was extreme, then you are welcome to think the same of Mises.

2. 6:07's post is very good. I totally agree that one major problem with the "studies" is that they lack empiricism. I would just note two things.

First, empirical evidence need not be statistics. Archival work as well as other forms of real "getting your fingers" dirty are valid as well. Good empirical work in the social sciences and humanities makes use of statistical data and textual/archival evidence.

Second, the problem with much of the "studies" is that they approach whatever empirical material they find with bad theories. There is, of course, no such thing as theory-less historical work. We always bring a framework to organize and classify what we find. The G88 types usually make use of some form of Marxism/ post-modernism/post-structuralism. That is, suffice it to say, crap. And with a crappy, often implicit, theory, the odds of either finding or interpreting well the relevant empirical evidence is much lower.

One cannot hold the humanities and the social sciences to the empirical standards of the natural sciences, but one certainly can demand empirical evidence and a cogent narrative that places that evidence within the reality-based community.

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of irrelevant crap. Women seem to struggle with their identies and gender. They seem to finally give in to their various levels of estrogen and two XX chromosomes. Men of this generation have learned to change diapers, cook and insure their partners reach orgasm inspite of their XY and major levels of testosterone.

Who cares what the Mayans did or for that matter what these goofy professors think

Anonymous said...


I think of George Selgin and his use of historical information and then remember von Mises saying that history "does not by itself provide any knowledge and skill which could be used for handling concrete tasks." (Human Action, page 30.) That seems to me a pretty extreme dismissal of the relevance of historical information, and one that attacks an interesting member of the modern Austrian school.

As for mathematics, the view of Mises is that "the equations formulated by mathematical economics remain a useless piece of mental gymnastics." (Human Action, p. 354.) Again, I view that as extreme and hardly consistent with your view about the utility of mathematics in clarifying and checking theoretical concepts in economics.

Of course I have already admitted that I am no economist.


Anonymous said...

5:35 am

One only has to read the pamphlet re: the floating Mayan peckers to ass-ertain its scholarly relevance to world history...

Steven Horwitz said...

My books are in my office so I can't judge the context of those two quotes Jeff. It's important, though, that Mises says "history by itself". He's not saying history provides nothing valuable, just that not by itself. Mises was very knowledgeable about economic history and used it frequently to illustrate points, esp. in Theory of Money and Credit. So if the suggestion is that he thought history was useless, it's wrong. Even in the battles with the historicists, the Austrians never denied the relevance of history, just that you couldn't DO history without theory - the precise point I made above.

I'm also a former student of George's!

Anonymous said...

inman, NJNP, steve horwitz, and JeffM:

Thanks. I have posted here before and like the anonimity. Let's agree I am Soc.Sc.Prof.

I like reading comments on this blog because I learn about outsiders' views of the academy. I chipped in because I thought that the thread was being highjacked -- a clumsy attempt at stifling discourse, really.

NJNP, transparency is the key. Reasonable people naturally interpret obscure language as... obfuscation. Which leads them to question the motivation and honesty of the message, let alone the messenger. Again, it baffles me that these scholars and their defenders don't seem to get it.

JeffM, I don't think we disagree on anything :). I'll let Steven Horwitz debate whether economics is a hard science, if he's so inclined. I don't think it is; I think it is hardER (or less soft, as Polanski said) than other social sciences and the humanities. I agree 100% with your last paragraph.

Prof. Horwitz, I agree totally with your first observation. I mentioned history precisely because the field has always strived to be empirical -- establish facts first, interpret them later -- and it started where the information was, archives etc. As knowledge progressed, it has placed more and more emphasis on data collected and organized as statistics amenable to quantitative analysis.

I agree to some degree with your second observation -- I don't know enough about these individuals to say whether you are 100% correct or only partially correct. But what you offer is an explanation of WHY their work is sloppy. Explanation of the fact usually comes after establishment of the fact. Granted, one typically starts from some loose theorizing to formulate hypotheses that lead one to look for specific data. However, after this initial stage of loose theory-data interaction, one MUST move to the stage where data validates the facts on which one bases the theory. I don't interact enouch with scholars in these fields to agree or disagree with your theory of why theit work is sloppy. I see enough of their work and their defense of it to convince myself that some of it is sloppy indeed. I remain open to be proven wrong.

Thanks to all for rising the level of the discussion. IMHO, this is the proper response to the dishonest innuendo that prompted my first post today. I'd like very much to see the defenders of the 88 rise to this level. Who knows, by doing so they might convince me that Prof. Johnson's criticism is not fully warranted. Sticking to innuendo is only going to reinforce my agreement with him.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your penetrating and accurate observation "The question germane to this thread, in my example above, then is: What evidence is there that pre-colombian societies tolerated/practiced homosexuality? I don't care about why Segal asks the question or about the inference he draws from the answer -- those issues are moot until I know empirically that they did or did not. Thus, I first want to know HOW he knows that they did. If I am convinced that his method is sound, THEN I have a basis for discussing the other issues. What baffles me is the response: "You don't believe they did because you can't -- you're too stupid to get it -- or you won't -- your belief system prevents you from accepting it." How could any scholar delude himself that that response would fly is beyond me."

The logic is inescapable:

Let us assume that there are a group of white men. These men go to a gathering where minority (and, as we well know, minorities are often victimized) women are present. Let us assume that most men are heterosexual and are consequently driven to exhibit their sexuality and display their dominance.

Now, let us take, say, 88 known-to-be-reliable faculty members, and ask them to rate, on a 1-10 scale, the likelihood that "something happened" at that gathering. The data that they collect would surely indicate that something did happen. Their data can be mathematically shown to be correct. These data can be statistically analyzed. Statistical analysis shows that something happened, beyond a shadow of a doubt, using this proven methodoloy.

Anonymous at 7:18 asks, what does it matter what these goofy professors think? I don't give a damn what they think, but I do NOT want them teaching my kid.

Anonymous said...

The level of discourse has risen...substantially and I, for one, appreciate the effort being expended to present argument and theory.

I do however on occassion note a non sequiter. To wit:

JeffM @ 7:21 states:

"So, if the Spanish did NOT complain of widespread acceptance of homosexuality among the Maya, then that is pretty good evidence that it was not widely accepted."

What if the Spanish were either indifferent to homosexuality or were, in fact, advocates of homosexuality (at least in part). Then your conclusion is not supported. there any evidence of the attitudes and morals of the Spanish with respect to homosexuality?

Anonymous said...


It is my wife's birthday and I am going out so I shall leave you with the last word.

George has been very kind to me on a few of occasions.

I could provide many quotes from Money and Credit to show that Mises was a very careless writer as well as an extremely intemperate one.

I do believe that Mises has harmed the Austrians with mainstream economists. Even some of Mises's real theoretical contributions, for example his discussion of the course of speculative attacks on governmental attempts to peg currencies or his regression theorem, which is after all an historical theorem, get lost in all the unnecessary baggage he elected to cart around.

As for Max Weber, I am not a great fan, but I have no problem with Ideal Types as a sometimes very useful heuristic device.

I do not think I ever said that I believe that anyone can do history without theory. We have no argument there.


Anonymous said...


You are correct that I left out a step. But I believe there is a great deal of evidence that homosexuality was greatly disapproved of in Catholic Europe during the 16th century (though that is not a particular topic I bothered with when I was studying Iberian history.) And I know there is evidence that most of the Spanish, obviously not Las Casas, painted Native Americans in as bad a light as they could.


Anonymous said...

Another non sequiter:

Haskell @ 8:11
"Let us assume that most men are heterosexual and are consequently driven to exhibit their sexuality and display their dominance."

I don't think that it necessarily follows that, because men are heterosexual, that they "...are driven to exhibit their sexuality and display their dominance."

What is the emirical evidence for that statement?

If there is evidence to support this, then a substantial amount of legislation over the last half century is in error.

Anonymous said...

Addendum to my 8:09 post.

The posts at 3:46, 6:07, 6:19, 6:30, 6:35 are by me.


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