Breaking the Spell of Grievance Studies

Several years ago I had the unfortunate experience of being required by the scope of my university studies to take a gender studies course. The specific class that I took was on the issue of gender in media and it was…enlightening. I never realized that a course that had the expressed purpose of allegedly giving a student the tools to analyze media in order to address issues of racism and sexism would actually be a tool for entrenching it.

Gender studies, which is largely the vehicle of the “social justice movement”, something I’ve touched on here in response to Keith Giles. Moreover, I shared a conference from earlier this year where it was demonstrated just how corrosive the underlying concepts of intersectionality are to both the Gospel itself and to fellowship within the church.

See also: What Makes Something Heresy?

Then, late in 2018, a story broke that shook academia and what had become known colloquially as “grievance studies” when an experiment was exposed prematurely. The experiment in question essentially a repeat of an experiment from 1996 that sought to test the the intellectual and academic rigor in postmodern studies, a system of thought that underlies grievance studies. This one was undertaken by Peter Boghossian, James A. Lindsay, and Helen Pluckrose.

They note in their discussion of their work,

Something has gone wrong in the university—especially in certain fields within the humanities. Scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established, if not fully dominant, within these fields, and their scholars increasingly bully students, administrators, and other departments into adhering to their worldview. This worldview is not scientific, and it is not rigorous. For many, this problem has been growing increasingly obvious, but strong evidence has been lacking. For this reason, the three of us just spent a year working inside the scholarship we see as an intrinsic part of this problem.

I agree wholeheartedly with their sentiments, especially having had to take a class where I had to learn to, at least, mime the language.

Recently Lindsay and Boghossian sat down with Michael O’Fallon of Sovereign Nations to begin a five-part series of discussions on their experiment, wherein they,

“…discuss the current tools of societal and institutional deconstruction being introduced throughout civilization under the banner of “Social Justice.” These, they discuss, are presented in a manner not unlike the legendary Trojan Horse.

It continues,

The result of their inquiry has created a crisis of confidence around all academic disciplines that fall under the umbrella of cultural studies, particularly those within the “theoretical humanities.” This crisis arises because not only were the methods and ethics applied in their bogus papers intentionally insufficient, but also the methodology they used for them was consistent. It always began with a conclusion or approach that they believed would flatter the political biases of the reviewers and editors evaluating their submissions and then bent the existing literature to reach those conclusions. This is, in a word, sophistry, and it cannot be trusted. 

Here’s the first episode:

The YouTube playlist can be found here.

Boghossian and Lindsay on the Joe Rogan Experience (viewer discretion advised).