Do we need a Journal of Controversial Ideas?

That is the topic of my latest column for Bloomberg, here is one excerpt:

Now enter a newly announced project, called the Journal of Controversial Ideas. It will publish one issue per year, devoted to ideas that otherwise may not receive a fair hearing, and it will allow for anonymous or pseudonymous publication. Princeton philosopher Peter Singer is one of the names associated with the journal, which does not yet have an agreement with a publisher.

I am skeptical though not hostile toward this enterprise. It is sad that such a journal is seen as necessary. But I would suggest instead putting forth your ideas on a blog, on Twitter or on YouTube. Many politically incorrect figures have done just that. A Jordan Peterson YouTube lecture might range from the Bible to Jung to a critique of contemporary feminism, none of it refereed, but he has attracted millions of viewers. At the end of it all you get the Jordan Peterson worldview, which I suspect has more resonance than any particular empirical claim Peterson might make along the way.

In an internet-centered intellectual world, what persuades people is reading or hearing a charismatic personality, year in year out, promoting a particular view of the world. A lot of controversial ideas will have to ride that roller coaster, for better or worse.

The Journal of Controversial Ideas is intended to be open access, though without a publishing contract we can’t know if it will have an open online comments section. It would be odd if not (would we have to create a companion Journal of Controversial Comments?), but with open comments you have to wonder whether a prestige publisher will take on the associated libel and reputational risks, and how high status the journal actually will be. It would not be practical to referee the comments, but that may mean the truly open internet, with its free-for-all atmosphere, will remain the dominant source for controversial ideas. “Controversial for me but not for thee” hardly seems like a winning slogan for such a revisionist enterprise.

Overall, I think controversial ideas will do best on the non-refereed internet, but I am not opposed to giving this venture a try.  Refereeing is supposed to boost status, but will anyone put a publication here on their tenure vita?  And:

To make a controversial idea stick through the academic process, maybe you do have conquer the biases and beat the odds against you, as Harvey MansfieldRobert P. George and Oded Galor have done (to name just three). You also might pursue a “Straussian” approach, embedding subversive messages in your paper and covering them up with flowery rhetoric, hoping that some but not too many people notice what you are really saying.

Do read the whole thing.


A journal would have a sense of credibility that Youtube videos or a blog would not, which is particularly important if one's concern is primarily on academic publishing homogeneity/censorship.

Agreed. Furthermore, the journal's audience is academia, whose currency is peer-reviewed publications. There are plenty of recent examples of extant journals ex ante being hostile to ideas that are controversial among academics and ex post being harassed for publishing them.

Further, you can be censored on Youtube very easily. In fact some of my inflammatory trolls, not involving Jews, threats of violence, or anything too inflammatory, were removed. Usenet really is the last refuge for scoundrels, possibly 4Chan or somesuch a second place, but nobody reads those places anymore.

Yeah... I think Tyler doesn't seem to understand the point of a journal of controversial ideas. The problem trying to be solved is within academia itself. Of course you can talk about controversial ideas on the internet. That might be the most statement Tyler has ever made. But you want to also be able to talk about controversial topics in respectable company (i.e. not 4chan or Breitbart). I'll tell you a good strategy for being an unsuccessful academic (on average): talk about controversial ideas at some point. That shit will surely be remembered by your tenure committee and college administration.

Not just that, either. Jordan Peterson's youtube videos might get millions of views and "resonance," but he also gets hounded by an army of zombies when he shows up to speak different places. Some people might like to put forth an idea or two for discussion and not have to hire a private security detail, Tyler.

'which does not yet have an agreement with a publisher'

Who needs an agreement with a publisher in an age where POD is simple, assuming that one is still motivated by ROI?

'which I suspect has more resonance than any particular empirical claim Peterson might make along the way'

Possibly. Has there been a recent climb in beefs sales due to health reasons?

'what persuades people is reading or hearing a charismatic personality'

Demonstrably not true.

'hoping that some but not too many people notice what you are really saying'

Or at least hoping that plausible deniability will prevent any career road bumps. Who knew that dog whistling has become an academic field too?

"In an internet-centered intellectual world, what persuades people is reading or hearing a charismatic personality"

ABSOLUTELY demonstrably not true.

In the internet age, what persuades people is almost instantaneous access to unfiltered, uncontrolled, and uncensored information. They used to be able to say "don't believe your lying eyes" but they can't anymore, not when Jim Acosta is pushing interns in a room filled with cameras and 150 people.

Oddly enough, after seeing things with his own eyes, a judge does not find any evidence of any White House intern being pushed while temporarily restoring Acosta's access to the White House. Admittedly, that judge is a Trump appointee, so he is undoubtedly not being influenced by any fake news,

As I understood it from the news, the judge's reasoning was that the press pass was revoked without "due process", which leads me to imply that he's not saying Acosta is innocent or that he didn't deserve to lose the pass, just that there was no process in place to revoke it.

This in my opinion opens up a gigantic can of worms. The White House is indeed public/govt. property, albeit with very special and unique rules. What is 1st amendment is 1st amendment for all, and what can be issued in support of free speech can be issued for all. Acosta is not special, CNN is not special, etc. If this is saying that the White House can issue passes but not deny them, then having a pass in the first place becomes a giant morass of worm-filled-equal-opportunity goodness. A "pass" by default is an "allowance" for something the govt. can't put a restriction on.

Trump should reverse course entirely and channel his inner Oprah. You get a pass! You get a pass! EVERYBODY GETS A PASS!

Judges say "don't believe your lying eyes" all the time, but in this case, as EE points out, the judge didn't address what Acosta had or hadn't done.

For EE, the trouble with "unfiltered, uncontrolled...information" is that it's frequently incomplete as well, and the internet in general suffers from severe denominator neglect and variants thereof anyway, though maybe not that much more than "respectable" news sources. I wish there was a way to fix this. Perhaps a journal of controversial ideas will help, though I fear (OK, I know) that a lot of ideas academics consider controversial aren't controversial at all to the general public. And vice versa.

Good thoughts.

I also think the internet should give rise to new methods of peer review. The concept of peer review is important, but in practice the traditional method via journals is clunky and often ineffective. We should be able to do better with technology.

Sites like StackOverflow (a forum for answering software development questions) allow content to be rated by users and users to gain reputation based on the quality of content they produce. While the system is not without problems, it produces excellent results within its domain. Something equivalent for peer review of scientific content really ought to exist.

Software can be evaluated - does it do the job effectively? A majority of the products of academia cannot be tested and most of the output (outside of math, science and engineering) is useless.

“Controversial “ is an epithet used to disallow discussion and dismiss an idea out of hand. Such ideas have to prove themselves by aggressive assaults on conventional thinking. They cannot be domesticated in a journal.

The current higher education regime needs to be dismantled and replaced with a real search for knowledge.

"You also might pursue a “Straussian” approach, embedding subversive messages in your paper and covering them up with flowery rhetoric, hoping that some but not too many people notice what you are really saying.", that's my approach.

The fact that Tyler describes the next best option as hiding your views, on airing them as an apparent commentary on someone else, and covering your tracks by actually shooting them down pretty much proves that the state of public dialogue is a national shame and disaster

I was reading a book of behavioral economics a few years ago and I noticed that every so often the economists would launch into 500 words on themes alike The Nazis Were Bad just before they'd unveil a politically incorrect experimental finding like, say, black car salesmen are more prejudiced than white car salesmen against gay-acting customers.

'they'd unveil a politically incorrect experimental finding'

I'm guessing that watching black comedians over the last generation is not politically correct? Or is that many of the people who talk about being PC actually have no real connection to a broader world?

To be honest, I thought the un-PC thing to write is that African Americans are less homophobic than white people, since anybody with even the most shallow contact with African Americans over the past 3 decades would be fully aware of that reality.

In NYC we don't say "white people," we say "Italian", "Irish", "Hasidic", "Polish", "Albanian", "Park Slope", "Upper West/East Side", "HIpster"; then of course there are the ubiquitous Chinese, and as the spectrum darkens, we say "Arab", "South Asian", then "Puerto Rican", "Dominican", "Mexican" (which includes Central Americans), then "West Indian", "Nigerian", "Senegalese", indeterminate "African", and "Black".

I ride subways and buses many times a week and work out at a gym among many Blacks, Arabs, South Asians, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, as well as Italians and Park Slopers. I "teach" working class young people from all NYC groups. I am not "fully aware" of the "reality" of which you speak. In fact, I don't see any "homophobia" at all. Nobody says anything obnoxious to or even appears to notice the occasional effeminate man.

'I am not "fully aware" of the "reality" of which you speak'

Well, Northern Virginia, and Virginia in general, is not NYC. As a matter of fact, many Virginians do not consider Northern Virginia to be part of Virginia either. A belief shared by basically everyone in Alabama, apparently, as reported by someone who moved to Alabama a year and a half ago - but then, it isn't as if Alabama really counts when talking about what people think, right?

But always interesting to hear how NYC is the center of the universe, and the measure of all things. That certainly hasn't changed over the last 30 years.

The point is that I have very frequent, large-scale "contact" (also not at all "shallow," by the way, for I "teach" large quantities of them every year) with "African Americans" as well as all sorts of other people and don't see any greater or lesser degree of "homophobia" anywhere -- which contradicts your claim. I don't regard NYC as "the center of the world" -- I don't like NYC at all, although apparently it's a less violent place than pretty much any other city in the world is today.

Adjunct-Filth appears to be saying that "African-American" is not a very useful or meaningful category. That might be true in NYC (I live here too), where a high percentage of the black people are immigrants, but (i) it doesn't necessarily apply in the rest of the country, and (ii) it is politically incorrect, as it denies the commonality of the experience of a subaltern group. Good thing s/he is using a pseudonym.

'although apparently it's a less violent place than pretty much any other city in the world is today'

No, it isn't. But undoubtedly, with your wide experience of NYC, you would know better than any of the rest of us. In that subject as in others, it appears.

No, we need a less squeamish and risk averse academia willing to publish sound science in appropriate mainstream journals regardless of how pc the finding.

As someone who has edited a journal known for being "heterodox but respected," I agree that a lot of journals are too timid, with much of this involving editors being weak and kowtowing to referees.

Regarding this journal, it will be hard for somebody who published anonymously to put it on their vita, but if they publish under their own name and the paper gets a lot of citations, that will probably be just fine. After all, in the longer run it is citations that count in academia, not publications.

As for Mansfield, George, and Galor, none of them strike me as being all that far out there in their ideas, if at least not sitting right on some boring norm. But then, as an old editor of heterodox journals, I have different standards than most about what is odd.

By top 5 journal standards, Galor is certainly "out there." And he certainly has to make a lot of throat clearing excuses in his papers and presentations when presenting straightforward but unpopular findings. He may or may not be right but the fact that he has taken quite a lot of flack is relevant. And as you probably know, a dozen papers in heterodox journals doesn't help you as much in the top two dozen schools as one AER.

Galor has had not problems publishing in top 5 journals, and these others he mentions do not seem to have had all that much trouble getting into their top journals either. That is my point: none of these three are all that heterodox or far out, not very convincing examples for this. Sure, they do not need this journal, but that proves basically nothing.

Heck, I know an economist who has never published in the top 5 but has not only published in more than half the sub-disciplines in economics, but also in journals in math, physics, computer science, biology, philosophy psychology, sociology, geography, management, finance, as well as various multi-disciplinary journals involving several other disciplines. But for all the weirdness of much of his work, I know that economist would not publish anything anonymously in any journal.

Nathan Hale also stood up for his beliefs. Why can't you?

Peterson is a very, very, very unique example. For every Peterson, there are 1,000 others whose lives and careers have been ruined for saying things that they may not have even realized was controversial.

Academics don't actually read junk journals.

The idea of genetically-endowed superiority of whites over black Africans etc. is more controversial among educated people, for some reason perhaps linked to their preference of knowledge over prejudgement.

All academic journals are junk journals that exist in order to provide people with the publishing-credentials they need for tenure and status, just as all academic institutions are junk institutions that exist in order to provide people with the pseudo-educational credentials they need if they're to get junk "jobs."

(Response to Millian just above)

Yes. Had Jordan Peterson been starting his YouTube videos today, without tenure, he would be ousted from being a professor by the PC mob.

We need far more honesty about the secret discrimination against Republicans and pro-life Christians in universities.

It's getting worse, and will continue to get worse before it gets better; likely not in the next 20 years.

'It's getting worse, and will continue to get worse before it gets better'

It is probably all Darwin's fault, actually.

It's Darwinian evolution's fault, not Darwin's, perhaps -- a new, disgusting sort of human being, or rather several hive-bug-like caste-differentiated sorts, is rapidly emerging in adaptation to the post-industrial horrorscape.

Prior has his good points, too, I'm sure.


It depends on the meaning of "subversive". Tim Wu planted a subversive message in the NYT last week and Cowen did not approve: it was subversive to Cowen's world view so Cowen went all politically correct on us, politically correct in accordance with Cowen's world view. Just like Krugman's column today in the NYT is subversive. As for Jordan Peterson, I find his lectures insufferable. I have been watching Steven Pinker and Michael Shermer instead. I was drawn to Shermer after watching him interview Bart Ehrman. Pinker and Shermer are dedicated to an evidence-based approach to questions, to the distinction between knowledge, on the one hand, and belief, on the other (confirmation bias being the bane of human thought). Their lectures have a circular quality to them, but at least they aren't insufferable. As for this new journal of controversial ideas. My question: controversial to whom?

Here are Pinker and Shermer together:

Pinker and Shermer are dedicated to an evidence-based approach to questions, to the d

To anyone who has read a half dozen issues of The Skeptical Inquirer, that's laugh out loud funny.

"As for this new journal of controversial ideas. My question: controversial to whom?"

The most important question yet asked. I suspect even a 'controversial' journal would be in very deep trouble if it published papers that really attack any sacred cows - especially those of the politically-correct crowd. There's a reason other journals have been cowed into allowing very narrow ranges of thought - their own survival.

The ideas that people tend to be chicken, I mean Straussian, about tend to be pretty negative energy don't they?

Is that the common theme, or can someone name a positive message which faces social pressure?

(It might even be that for some the draw of the taboo is strong even when an idea is both bad and wrong.)

This is a question-begging argument.

The reason there is social pressure resisting certain ideas is that most people (or at least a large group of influential people) have a negative response to them. But that doesn't mean the ideas are bad per se, unless you have an absolutely majoritarian worldview (in which case, of course, a journal of unpopular ideas makes no sense).

I did beg an answer. :-)

Whether you are starting from a Buddhist respect for all life, or a Christian brotherhood, or Bill and Ted's injunction to be excellent to one another .. does any of that run afoul of political correctness?

Or do you have to want to be a little bit bad?

I can, readily. My husband works for a major national environmental organization, a "venerable" one. Its longstanding commitment to species diversity, wildlife, and land protection - indeed, its mission statement and sole reason for existing - is now the "controversial" view within the (management ranks of) the group, and thus the rank-and-file pursue that work damn near furtively, and always with pushback, never encouragement. No actual conservationist would ever be promoted now, certainly.

This is because it became taboo to make nature the center of one's interest, and not people; and naturally once up-with-people became the focus, the group deteriorated into the sort of wokeness struggles that are perhaps an excellent use of time and resources for all other entities - I leave that to others to decide - but can only destroy the environmental movement.

Perhaps you will suggest that environmentalism was only ever negative, and did not posit anything. But I don't think you're stupid, nor do you seem cynical.

Reply meant for little a anonymous.

That sounds bad, but more like an institutional dysfunction than any disappearance of straight up environmentalism.

Of course it has always been true that inclusiveness is a "sell" in environmentalism, as in this Wilderness Society blurb:

We are committed to the ideal that wilderness and all public lands can bring people and communities together and that everyone should share equitably in their benefits.

No, it has certainly not always been true, insofar as its parseable (the wilderness "bring communities together?") and obviously the idea that one would conserve nature mainly for the "equitable benefit" of people is what opens the door to environmentalism being written off as a niche interest of the elite unless it's to do with air quality. (Even that isn't safe with people like our host in charge.) And of course there are plenty of people on the "right" (the fraudulent right, of course, in my view) only too eager to seize on this lunacy of the left, co-opt it as they did with the immigration issue, and roll back environmental protections. In the city where I live, the urbanists (whose views in every particular would resonate with you, I expect) well exemplify this: they look around at the open space protections achieved with great effort by an earlier generation, and openly deride that generation's motivations; and look forward to the day they can somehow undo this - maybe by overturning the ESA? certainly by getting species de-listed in hopes that somehow those species will no longer be needing the habitat that has already been set aside for them (?) - and return this public land to the market so as to provide more housing for the ever-coming immigrants whose arrival they anticipate with a weird joy, while hating on the people who live here now. If they could turn us into, I dunno, Taipei or Lagos with a wave of the wand, they would do it.

And never! - for a moment - having an inkling of awareness that the open space, the environmental leanings, of this city are to some degree the goose that laid the golden egg, and ultimately the reason the masses from other countries are coming here, drawn to the wealth of those who were drawn to the hills, the springs, the easygoing pace of life here.

OK, so I can see that within the good there could be battles for "more good" and a form of political correctness that way. As for instance the many uses of a great park:

(They tried to make everyone happy with that one.)

Obviously, the ideas that no one wants to talk about are the ones where the literature is so depressing, like IQ.

You must be keeping up on the science of depression and IQ!

Being smart is a double-edged sword. Intelligent people appear to live longer, but many of the genes behind brilliance can also lead to autism, anxiety, and depression, according to two new massive genetic studies. The work also is one of the first to identify the specific cell types and genetic pathways tied to intelligence and mental health, potentially paving the way for new ways to improve education, or therapies to treat neurotic behavior.

So do you want to be smart or do you want to be happy ..

You point to a third option: glib yet irrelevant.

WTF man, that is the latest science on genes and intelligence. 2018/06 and fresh off the press.

That's not what you wanted?

Why do you waste your time trying to argue about whether Africans are less intelligent than white men when there are things like comparative advantage and just basic shit like why the minimum wage is a bad idea in desperate need of defenders? We've got bills in Congress advancing single payer health care, and half of the libertarian community is off twiddling their thumbs over IQ distributions which will have no effect on national policy.

I have never wasted my time in the manner you describe, and your interpretation of my comment reveals nothing about me and a great deal about you, as well as underscoring the general point about how certain topics simply can't be raised.

If you're not interested in raising the topic then why are you complaining that it can't be raised?

I pointed at an issue, and you immediately drove it off a cliff in the direction of your choosing.

I inferred something which is not unreasonable to infer. Usually when someone say "How come I can't talk about X?" it mean that X is a thing they would like to discuss.

If I were to venture a guess, most people would need never discuss it, if it weren't - or rather its inverse or denial weren't - so intimately connected to the huge education bureaucracy that seems to be sucking the life out of this country.

I mean, I can't imagine the subject ever coming up in day-to-day life. Certainly that would be far from polite, as well as absurd.

Thus, one can't help but observe that forces other than the intrinsic interest of the subject, are forcing it into public discussion. I concur with you that it would have been preferable had it not needed to be subjected to this harsh light; policymakers absolutely have much to answer for in this regard.

That's fine Hazel. Perhaps you might have taken a clue from my use of the word "depresssing" in describing the literature before flying off the handle with shitty and wrong inferences.

Yes, yes. You think the latest research on genes, IQ and mental health is glib and irrelevant, and we should correctly guess what you *do* mean.

Well, if it isn't the bad penny...

Friend, I'm the one who said:

"Whether you are starting from a Buddhist respect for all life, or a Christian brotherhood, or Bill and Ted's injunction to be excellent to one another .. does any of that run afoul of political correctness?"

You seem to be passively aggressively opposing that, without saying exactly what you mean.

I think Bill and Ted, and maybe even the Dalai Lama, would get my little joke about the conflicts of intelligence and happiness. It certainly wasn't directed at you, more the human experience.

Yes. If you're going to be vague, don't get offended if people don't understand what you mean.

I'm not offended, just smdh. Is my original comment vague? Does your reaction not vindicate my point?

I'm done here.

"I'm done here."

Good. Your comments usually suck.

can someone name a positive message which faces social pressure?

Free markets? the idea that individuals are better off when free to pursue their own interests? Hello?

I can't think of any other idea which is more mocked are denigrated in popular culture, which is nevertheless also true, and positive, and inspiring when understood.

I do completely agree that there are lots of controversial ideas which are controversial for good reasons (i.e. black people are genetically less intelligent), but it's not hard to find examples of ideas that are extremely unpopular for bad, stupid reasons. Libertarianism is founded on several of them.

Even the idea that all men are created equal was controversial once.
Even freedom of conscience was a controversial idea once.

I'll add comparative advantage to the list.
Unpopular - but really, what's negative about "we're generally better off when people can trade freely between nations" ?

If we were actually running from free markets I'd agree, but I think that overall the world has accepted them.

Broad legalization of marijuana has to be considered a libertarian and market victory.

(They didn't approve socialized marijuana ;-)

We're backsliding on the free trade front after years of painful gradual progress. And we never got that far in the first place. Just look at the Jones Act. Nevermind agriculture, which is a clusterfuck of market interventions. Nobody even bothers to talk about the plethora of decrepit ag programs dating back to the 1930s anymore, which used to be a hot topic in libertarian circles. Or environmental takings.
What happened to Richard Epstein?

I agree with you on trade, but to say tariffs are now politically correct is inverting things a bit ;-)

But more generally yes, there is an ongoing tension in a democratic society over what should be regulated, taxed, or subsidized. That's the way it should be.

It's not that Tariffs are PC it's more that free trade has always been unpopular because economic nationalism tends to tickle people's social instincts in the right way. It's controversial to say that "Buy American" is not the most socially optimal shopping policy.


This is a fun game. What about the idea of the melting pot? Whatever its failures of prediction, it was surely once the uncontroversial and optimistic opinion of the selfsame class of people that now find it embarrassing and offensive.

Or what about the recent tumbling down of cenotaphs in the North, commemorating long-slumbering Confederate boys who drew a short straw, ending their war after succumbing to disease or starvation rations in POW camps? Time was a community erected such a monument (too grand a word, really, sometimes just a plaque) or maybe permitted it to be erected by Southerners - out of a feeling of shared mourning for what were little more than boys. I mean, that's just basic decency in operation, right? To defy this impulse, with its modest little nod to peace as well, would be like hating on the kids of both sides who died on Iwo Jima, right? It would in fact be akin to evil.

Oh wait. This game isn't fun. All Thrace is lost.

Considering that everyone who ever knew any of those boys is long dead by now, I can hardly see why it matters now what statues are taken down. Nevermind that many of them were erected in the 1960s, when only the descendants of the survivors were around to care. Again, I have to wonder why libertarians waste breathe on such issues. What on earth do public monuments have to do with libertarianism? Why would libertarians spend time and energy objecting to them being removed?

I don't know why "libertarians" would waste breath on such a thing, not being one myself, nor even particularly capable of defining what libertarianism is. But I rather doubt that they do... ? I think your conscience may be clear in this matter, in associating with libertarians.

I don't buy the "historical distance from The Dead" argument. We just passed the 100th anniversary of WWI. That's only 50 more years distant to the US civil war. Can you imagine obliterating German memorials to WWI in the next 50 year? No?

Removal of Southern Monuments is entirely about modern virtue signalling by a certain class. And it's resisted for much the same reason too. Monuments are increasingly who we want to see ourselves to be, not so much about "remembering"....

Says the guy posting anonymously.

With great power comes great responsibility.

My advice to you is to continue posting anonymously.

This strikes me as more of a symptom of the problem than a solution. The journal will simply be captured by a particular clique of 'contrarians' and become another insulated outlet.

That's a very fair point. The journal will have to work very hard at not becoming precisely what you've predicted.

A while ago there was that Institute/Journal of Historical Review. I actually think the general premise of such a journal, bringing a critical view to so-called settled history, could be really good. But in practice it was almost exclusively focused on Holocaust revisionism and was entirely one-sided.

I think it's also a mistake to have a journal with such a lack of focus. "Controversial" could be a good "tone" for a publication, but it's not sufficient as the overarching theme.

Agreed. This is too little, too late. Academia has lost it's culture making status. Ideas spread faster with greater saturation at a scale that self checks in new landscapes. Academia has been blindsided and overtaken by a tech enhanced self organized Federation of Republics of Ideas. It is very fractured but that is only a problem in the psychological sense for those who are overly attached to this idea of a monolithic 'Us".

I watched youtube videos last night about dry fasting and was graciously invited to an initiation to the folk who practice it. "Oh, wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in it!" They call what they are doing science and it is.

The internet is great for commentary and analysis on stuff that's out there, but it's not good about getting actual resource-intensive research done. Quite a lot of research still requires institutional support; in particular, many things require funding, coordination, and access to non-public data. So there is a real and substantial cost of having a corrupt academy.

I think I'm actually okay with a division of labor where the academics do all the right research and publicize the data but feign obtuseness when it comes to analysis, leaving the internet to fill in the gaps. Seems like that's what's happening with genetics.

Research happens outside academia all over the place in tons of fields. RAND Corp, Parc & Bell labs, Google, Space X, shit-most industrial companies actually, monestaries (Mendel & his peas), Red Bull (dropped a dude from the atmosphere!), Wichita Falls Athletic Club (forerunners to these dry fasters), etc.

All of Pareto's work was based on extensive research in weird areas he did because he was curious and driven and able because someone in his family left him money.

The government shares non public data with foundations, think tanks, contractors, and companies that just do pure research. All the effing time.

Academia has made the mistaken assumption that it is unique and that it can dictate culture unilaterally. This means it is open to the heckler's veto, structurally. Not just about PC shit. Anything that doesn't have consensus is not canonical and therefor explicitly rejected, when it comes to light. It is going to run out of ideas that way.

"feign obtuseness when it comes to analysis". . . ? Do you mean letting others synthesize new input into their worldviews in their own idiosyncratic personal way? That's just basic respect for the other as autonomous. What is the 'right research'? What if, in 5 years, we actually do cure cancer as a matter of course, with a protocol of prolonged dry fasting? Because a few space monkeys showed it works, repeatedly? Heavier than air flight was once impossible and stupid. The four minute mile was once impossible.

Academia has become sclerotic and does not fill its purported role.


I applaud you for a gutsy and bracing opening paragraph. The irony is how, just be writing this, you skirt the Rim of Deplorability.

And yes, the free for all is the best we can hope for, at least for now. One thing you did not note about podcasts and YouTube is the "long form" and "spoken word" aspects. This is a New Thing, and a good one. Online antidote to "we got 140 characters".

Thinking about this. Is this a Journal of ideas that make academics feel good simply by expressing them, rather than by convincing anyone of their truth?

I think the statement that "Refereeing is supposed to boost status" is more of a reflection of reality in academia than the theoretical value of refereeing. In theory, refereeing is supposed to improve credibility by providing a quality review in addition to that of the journal's editor(s). That the impact on status is the primary concern rather than the impact on quality control is a sad truth for academia, but not news by any standard.

Yes, this is true. "Refereeing is supposed to boost status" only holds if the referee is viewed as legitimate, fair, and trustworthy; nobody trusts a referee who calls the slightest contact by one team against the dribbler as a personal foul, then lets the players on the other team hand-check left and right and walk to the net.

How else is Peterson's Jungian pragmatism dismissed as pseudoscience (which it is, not suprising since he's more of a philosopher-clinician than a researcher), but Judith Butler's free-form lit-crit-style speculation and Ta-Nehisi Coates's "fit the facts to the narrative" critical race theory regarded as serious award-winning research and/or academic inquiry?

I wonder what their threshold of maximum controversy is going to be.
I can't imagine them publishing a holocaust denial paper.

Ahhh, and is the very first issue to be dedicated to the work of Paul Feyerabend's philosophy of science or to the uncontested advent of intellectual cowardice and thought police on post-secondary campuses?

Editor(s) will solicit controversial contributions from post-secondary and grad school academics ALONE, correct? (The demise of the independent scholar could be addressed in some late subsequent issue, perhaps possibly maybe.)

Ads soliciting contributions will be placed in the Journal of Post-Secondary Training (aka the Chronicle of Higher Education)?

A bit seriously: an annual academic journal dedicated to "controversial ideas" that publishes only one issue annually will get lost within the first three years, if not the first two (if not earlier): with no more content that can fill one large issue a year, perhaps we face a great stagnation in controversial ideas. Unless the journal is offered as a quarterly, its Risibility Quotient will be much higher than any genius contributor of controversial content might otherwise be able to guess.

By the by: nothing is amiss with the content of MR posts that an "EDIT" feature would not help.

In the final paragraph in my prior post: do strike the fifth word "annual", as someone had the foresight to complete the thought with a similar construction but without enough coffee ingested to perform meaningful editorial correction to the earlier construction.

Check out as well as the books of John Brockman.

This post reminds me of the sanctimonious pieces of nonsense one often reads by liberal columnists explaining what the Republican party really ought to do. I'm never sure whether people like Paul Krugman think that Republicans are so stupid that they would take advice from someone who hates them (they aren't), or whether they think that this sort advice-from-your-enemy argument is rhetorically effective (it isn't).

In the present instance, Prof. Cowen has been a major advocate of many of the ideas subsumed under the heading of "political correctness," so I don't know why he thinks that people who oppose the suffocating dominance of the ideas he espouses would take his advice or find him persuasive.

Some places on the internet do a good job of maintaining classically liberal freedom to express controversial opinions. For example Slate Star Codex's Adversarial Collaboration series:
Two authors who hold opposing views on a controversial opinion collaborate to write a longform article on the issue. This allows the best arguments from both sides to come forth. Some of the ideas are pretty spicy from a PC perspective such as "Are Islam And Liberal Democracy Compatible?"

Easy: Wikileaks, The Intercept, Al Jazeera, TeleSur, RT.

Anything deemed hostile by the US Govt and from objective sources such as CNN.

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