0451: "Impostor"

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Sonic#
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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby Sonic# » Fri Jul 18, 2008 2:41 pm UTC

toasted-lemming wrote:I agree that most intelligent people could write a decent paper, but whether they could write a decent, original paper which makes links to the most relevant texts to the argument being made is open to question, and surely this is what English is about - learning what's been said, learning what approaches can and have been taken, and developing your own approaches and a wide enough background of contexts to make a secure argument?


Yes, yes, yes!

As a former English major, I have often been astounded by the way many people write papers. I've seen the freshmen in their comp classes, fresh out of high school where BS would get them an A, and they couldn't write a decent paper. Some of it was their lack of research standards (I would be glad if some of them used Wikipedia without plagiarizing from it), some of it was their repeated logical fallacies, and the rest was poor grammar, formatting, or reliance on spell checks. Oh, and the BS, glisteningly fresh and ripe on the page.

Sometimes English majors can make it through their course requirements even though they have fuzzy thesis statements and a predilection toward bullshit, but those students most often don't become graduate students due to a combination of their grades (usually a consistent B average), their recommendations (professors do generally distinguish between the great student, the good student, and the ones that, well, passed), and their writing sample (they get to witness their efforts firsthand).

I've read humanities papers from my friends in math. They write decent papers, but there's a stiffness; I can generally tell they don't write many papers, and certainly not many in that field. They're formulaic without being formal, orgulous without being organic, and though the ideas are fine, they aren't finely made. They haven't learned those things toasted lemming talks about, as well as the persnickety prescriptions each field has, the ones professors always have to explain for people before they write. Which is fine, because it's not their field.

To those who claim bullshit works, with some people it does. Sometimes, you might bullshit and unknowingly stumble on a correct interpretation. But I'm willing to bet that most people see through it, and the reason they don't call it out is because, in high school in particular, they're happy if you can write and argue at all, and leave the intellectual honesty and seriousness to you, a trust that you betray for such finicky reasons as "Anyone can do it.Why try?" That's funny though, because you are not doing it.

(Edit: Oh, and my area of study is a particularly tough cookie for a lot of students. Middle English, anyone? Or how about Old English? It takes lots of patience and rigor to read and translate that writing correctly. Lots of students don't even have the patience to read through Paradise Lost or Pride and Prejudice, so how do they react to an untranslated Le Morte Darthur or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight?)
"Stars, I have seen them fall,
But when they drop and die
No star is lost at all
From all the star-sown sky.
The toil of all that be
Helps not the primal fault;
It rains into the sea
And still the sea is salt."
~A.E. Housman

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby toasted-lemming » Fri Jul 18, 2008 2:52 pm UTC

Sonic# wrote:(Edit: Oh, and my area of study is a particularly tough cookie for a lot of students. Middle English, anyone? Or how about Old English? It takes lots of patience and rigor to read and translate that writing correctly. Lots of students don't even have the patience to read through Paradise Lost or Pride and Prejudice, so how do they react to an untranslated Le Morte Darthur or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight?)


I ADORE Old and Middle English. But to carry on with your difficulty argument, how about Spenser's Faerie Queene? That's (nominally) in Modern English, and yet the lack of standard orthography causes huge problems for the casual reader.

Oh, and commentary paper on Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde anyone? I'd LOVE to see you do that...

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby space_raptor » Fri Jul 18, 2008 2:58 pm UTC

I love how the English major type people are defending their field with posts consisting of like half a dozen overly wordy paragraphs.
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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby jorendorff » Fri Jul 18, 2008 2:59 pm UTC

[quote=toasted_lemming]why should a field necessarily have real world application?[/quote]

You missed the point of the comic, which was that BS and experiment correlate inversely.

Anyway--if xkcd thinks linguistics is a harder science than sociology he should read some books on linguistics. A lot of effort goes into semantics and silly-looking models of what linguists think is going on in the brain.

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby toasted-lemming » Fri Jul 18, 2008 3:00 pm UTC

space_raptor wrote:I love how the English major type people are defending their field with posts consisting of like half a dozen overly wordy paragraphs.


I love how the non-English major type people can't be bothered to read 500 words :P

EDIT: And I think that the poster above me inferred a corrolation with experiment as a result of his own preconceptions. There was nothing intrinsic to the comic suggesting experiment, and as far as I know it's easier to conduct experiments in sociology then linguistics (although this is just from my own thinking, my knowledge of linguistics isn't that thorough).
Last edited by toasted-lemming on Fri Jul 18, 2008 3:03 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Books and Cats

Postby larsh » Fri Jul 18, 2008 3:01 pm UTC

canadrian wrote:This reminds me of an email signature I wrote and have been using ever since I deleted my English minor and went strictly into History:

"Dissecting literature is a lot like dissecting a cat; it's a grisly, meticulous, and above all, tedious operation, at the conclusion of which one is left with a repulsive mess where once there was an unadulterated and altogether much more desirable whole."
Reminds me of the following passage:
'Then do you not see how the giant has deceived you?'
'Not quite clearly.'
'He showed you by a trick what our inwards would look like if they were visible. That is, he showed you something that is not, but something that would be if the world were made all other than it is. But in the real world our inwards are invisible. They are not colored shapes at all, they are feelings. The warmth in your limbs at this moment, the sweetness of your breath as you draw it in, the comfort in your belly because we breakfasted well, and your hunger for the next meal -- these are the reality: all the sponges and tubes [i.e. internal organs made visible] that you saw in the dungeon are the lie.'
'But if I cut a man open I should see them in him.'
'A man cut open is, so far, not a man: and if you did not sew him up speedily you would be seeing not organs, but death. I am not denying that death is ugly: but the giant made you believe that life is ugly.'

(CS Lewis, Pilgrim's Regress)
http://books.google.com/books?id=pQPjwrPK0OgC&pg=PA62&lpg=PA62&dq=lewis+pilgrim%27s+regress+organs&source=web&ots=4f0sK1PWWY&sig=fT0IaqzUHoT1x2hN9XFJBSzgDbM&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=3&ct=result#PPA61,M1

In a similar vein:
Lewis felt that the modern culture of his day used a similar logic that viewed things as only what they were composed of, missing the deeper realization of what they really are. A nature reduced to just organic molecules could not explain the joy and deeper essence he perceived in it. An exchange between a star named Ramandu and a human boy, Eustace In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third book in the Narnia series aptly summarizes Lewis' position: "'In our world,' said Eustace, 'a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.' 'Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of,'" the star replies.

Lewis used the same argument against reductionism wherever he found it, including in the increasingly influential psychoanalytic theory of Freud, which reduced human behavior and religion to sexual motivation: "Why should that be the right way of looking at it? If he can say that It is sublimated sex, why is it not open to me to say that sex is undeveloped It?" By seeing through everything that holds faith or enchantment, one sees nothing at all and is thus trapped in a prison of his own mind.

http://dartreview.com/archives/2006/01/09/narnian_tales_the_life_of_cs_lewis.php

Not to say that we should leave literary criticism alone and not examine it -- far from it. Rather, we should not make the mistake of thinking that dissecting a work -- figuring out what it is made of -- will give us the true picture of what it is. Like the OP said.

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby PhilSandifer » Fri Jul 18, 2008 3:07 pm UTC

space_raptor wrote:I love how the English major type people are defending their field with posts consisting of like half a dozen overly wordy paragraphs.


I'm sorry that your fields of choice are sufficiently simplistic that they require less than six paragraphs to even make a rudimentary defense and explanation of. They must be very boring.

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby The Coincidence » Fri Jul 18, 2008 3:27 pm UTC

My most fond memory of literary criticism is from back in 8th grade, when we read A Midsummer Night's Dream. The teacher asked us to make a poster about the deeper meaning of the play, as a hint he told us to look at the title. My group had no idea, and so about 5 minutes before the thing was due we came up with something about how our dreams affect what we strive for in reality. When we presented it to the class, the teacher praised us excessively and said that we "got it". My reaction was pretty much "wat."

Of course, later I had the same teacher for Drama class. He said that he felt terrible trying to somehow "teach" us a comedy in 8th grade that basically revolved around sex jokes.

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby michael24easilybored » Fri Jul 18, 2008 3:30 pm UTC

GodShapedBullet wrote:I think the key to impersonating grad students of another discipline is not knowing the subject material. Rather, it is knowing the jokes about the subject material. Because most grad students don't sit around all day discussing their thesis.


that's basically about 25% of why I read XKCD, it means I can freak my techno-geek friends out by making references to stuff in the pub that even they don't always understand

the other 75% is because it's generally quite funny even if you did read politics at university

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby Sagard » Fri Jul 18, 2008 3:30 pm UTC

As an English major and XKCD fan, I'd like to point out something simple: this comic was hilarious.

Please, let's keep this as the foremost thing in our minds.

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby toasted-lemming » Fri Jul 18, 2008 3:36 pm UTC

Sagard wrote:As an English major and XKCD fan, I'd like to point out something simple: this comic was hilarious.

Please, let's keep this as the foremost thing in our minds.


This is true. Have you read Frederick Crews' 'The Postmodern Pooh', about a fictional seminar on Winnie the Pooh? It's great, perfect satires on all the major critical schools :)

The comic just reminded me of too many conversations with scientists and mathematicians at various social events I've attended who made the same argument, only to be proved wrong when it was pointed out to them that serious academic work in English is neither the same as that which is done in school, nor the watered down misreadings of Derrida et al which are the public perception of the field.

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby radtea » Fri Jul 18, 2008 3:52 pm UTC

Someone claimed: "Deconstruction as a philosophical concept is a horrifically complex thing..." and then goes on to say that they themselves couldn't write a coherent encyclopedia entry on it, as if that is evidence of the field's legitimacy.

The difference between "deconstructionism" and, say, quantum field theory, is that despite quantum field theory being horrifically complex it isn't ambiguous or incapable of definition, which is exactly what deconstructionists all say when faced with normally-brained people who want to know what it's all about.

"It's too complex to define" doesn't carry much weight for those of us who deal with fields that have genuine complexity--including touching on the unknowable, and being expressed in the ontologically ambiguous language of wave functions--that are still capable of crisp and coherent definition within the bounds of ordinary human thought.

Nor does the existence of a couple of fraudulent Frenchmen on the outer periphery of the field suggest that "physics is bullshit too", because with deconstruction we are talking (or should that be writing?) about the core of a particular approach to the discipline of literary criticism, not the speculative boundary.

Incoherence is complex. Complexity does not have to be incoherent. Deconstructionism is, by the admission of its own proponents, incoherent. Complexity is no excuse for this incoherence, given the coherence of other horribly complex fields. Ergo, it is not unreasonable for us to assume that deconstructionism is simply incoherent, and its proponents are at best deluded, at worst venal.
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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby space_raptor » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:02 pm UTC

toasted-lemming wrote:
space_raptor wrote:I love how the English major type people are defending their field with posts consisting of like half a dozen overly wordy paragraphs.


I love how the non-English major type people can't be bothered to read 500 words :P

Touche.

Jokes aside, and to contribute a legitimate point: I think that people who study literature typically do have a greater command of the English language, and they are not afraid to use it. This can lead to them writing unnecessarily complicated 'grafs that effectively obfuscate their ideas to outside readers. As an engineer who is an avid reader and who did just fine in English class, TYVM, I have grown to appreciate writers who demonstrate efficiency of language. Ten dollar words don't impress me, and I often feel that those who overuse them are just wasting my time.

I think the point of the comic is not that literary criticism is not a valuable subject, but that it's scholars can talk for a long time without saying much of consequence, just because they can. I suppose that could be applied to a lot of places though.

PhilSandifer wrote:I'm sorry that your fields of choice are sufficiently simplistic that they require less than six paragraphs to even make a rudimentary defense and explanation of. They must be very boring.

Yeah, you got me, overly defensive internet man. Sheesh.
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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby Sprocket » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:04 pm UTC

toasted-lemming wrote:I also think that calling bullshit on an idea before you know what that idea is could be classed as premature - how do you know it's bullshit if you don't even know what is being said?

I'm sorry, I should have said "To question something they don't think makes sense."

toasted-lemming wrote:Also, I agree that the field is not as difficult to get by in (it's fairly easy to get a second, and not horribly hard to get a decent 2.1), but it IS difficult to excel at (I speak purely in the context of the university I attend, of course it's not the same everywhere). You are right when you say that it is not a science, but to therefore say that it's somehow FUNDAMENTALLY easier is flawed - the disciplines are not particularly easy to compare, as their methodologies are so different.
Yeah, this is where the notion of exagerating comes in. Naturally. But I do think it's fundamentally easier - for someone who has not specifcally taken classes in it - to look like they have, than it would be for someone who had not studied sceince to a certain level.

I do not by any stretch of the imagination actually think that Randall could actually convince a quality English grad student (I maintain, there are many bad ones) that he was an EXPERT in the field...AT ALL, BUT I do think it would be relatively easy to have a reasoably in-depth conversation invovling literary crticism such that an English grad student would think you at least knew what you were talking about.
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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby PhilSandifer » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:06 pm UTC

radtea wrote:Someone claimed: "Deconstruction as a philosophical concept is a horrifically complex thing..." and then goes on to say that they themselves couldn't write a coherent encyclopedia entry on it, as if that is evidence of the field's legitimacy.

The difference between "deconstructionism" and, say, quantum field theory, is that despite quantum field theory being horrifically complex it isn't ambiguous or incapable of definition, which is exactly what deconstructionists all say when faced with normally-brained people who want to know what it's all about.

"It's too complex to define" doesn't carry much weight for those of us who deal with fields that have genuine complexity--including touching on the unknowable, and being expressed in the ontologically ambiguous language of wave functions--that are still capable of crisp and coherent definition within the bounds of ordinary human thought.


That wasn't what I said. I said I couldn't write a generalist's article on Deconstruction that thoroughly dealt with it. There are a number of reasons for this, my not being a deconstructionist having a significant role. If you want some terms out of Lacanian psychoanalysis summarized succinctly, I'm happy to provide. Deconstruction, eh, you can do better. I might be able to come up with a halfway decent "for dummies" summary. In fact, later in the thread, I did, and then someone else came up with an even better one.

But I never said that the concept defied definition, or was ambiguous, or anything like that. It's not. The concept has meaning. It's just a meaning that I, as someone who is only peripherally involved in deconstruction specifically, can't spell out in a forum thread. I suspect that there are plenty of physics concepts that are a bit outside your specialty that you'd be pretty hard pressed to bang a summary out on as well.

Nor does the existence of a couple of fraudulent Frenchmen on the outer periphery of the field suggest that "physics is bullshit too", because with deconstruction we are talking (or should that be writing?) about the core of a particular approach to the discipline of literary criticism, not the speculative boundary.


That's fine - I never made that comparison. I compared the Bogdanovs to Sokal - a common comparison, and said that the Bogdanovs represented a more significant failure than Sokal. Nor would I say they prove that physics is bullshit - that's a complete straw man.

Incoherence is complex. Complexity does not have to be incoherent. Deconstructionism is, by the admission of its own proponents, incoherent. Complexity is no excuse for this incoherence, given the coherence of other horribly complex fields. Ergo, it is not unreasonable for us to assume that deconstructionism is simply incoherent, and its proponents are at best deluded, at worst venal.


No. Deconstructionism is not, by the admission of its own proponents, incoherent. I mean, this is just a lie. Or, more likely, considering the egregious distortions that you made out of what I said, a very, very bad twisting of something that some deconstructionist who you're not even bothering to cite said.

Deconstruction is not incoherent. Period.

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby Sprocket » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:11 pm UTC

PhilSandifer wrote:
Sprocket wrote:I mean, yeah there are words you need to use properly and such, but words aren't hard to pick up on. Any reasonably inteligent human being who reads a work and thinks about, and compares it to other things they have read and thought about could write a decent critical paper.
I've got several semesters full of students who prove you wrong on this one.
I said "COULD" write a decent paper, not "will."
PhilSandifer wrote:Well, sure, if you wanted to make literary criticism into literary history then you could make it that easy.
Actually I feel history is the part where people who didn't really study literature would have MORE dificulty with than they would with criticism. Criticism is the natural human ability for comparison and seeing threads and thinking. History takes a separate study.
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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby PhilSandifer » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:13 pm UTC

space_raptor wrote:
toasted-lemming wrote:
space_raptor wrote:I love how the English major type people are defending their field with posts consisting of like half a dozen overly wordy paragraphs.


I love how the non-English major type people can't be bothered to read 500 words :P

Touche.

Jokes aside, and to contribute a legitimate point: I think that people who study literature typically do have a greater command of the English language, and they are not afraid to use it. This can lead to them writing unnecessarily complicated 'grafs that effectively obfuscate their ideas to outside readers. As an engineer who is an avid reader and who did just fine in English class, TYVM, I have grown to appreciate writers who demonstrate efficiency of language. Ten dollar words don't impress me, and I often feel that those who overuse them are just wasting my time.


I promise, as someone steeped in the field, that the vast majority of us try to be as clear as we can while maintaining precision. The thing is, literary criticism is a specialized field, and specialized fields create jargon. Not for obfuscation, but for precision. When I, to take a phrase out of a paper I've published, say that "The strip works by beginning to constitute an Imaginary present and then suddenly trumping that Imaginary present with a hyper-present that erases both itself and the Imaginary present, disrupting the Imaginary momentscape and clearing the slate for the process to begin again, which it must because, as Zizek suggests, the register of the Real is fundamentally monstrous, necessitating an endless cycle of erasures," I am not being wordy for the sake of it. I'm trying to precisely nail down a particular construct and argument.

PhilSandifer wrote:I'm sorry that your fields of choice are sufficiently simplistic that they require less than six paragraphs to even make a rudimentary defense and explanation of. They must be very boring.

Yeah, you got me, overly defensive internet man. Sheesh.


Sorry. The arrogant denunciations of my field from people who don't actually understand it can get a bit wearing sometimes, and seeing it in what's usually one of my favorite comic strips has me in a less than happy mood.

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby PhilSandifer » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:16 pm UTC

Sprocket wrote:
PhilSandifer wrote:
Sprocket wrote:I mean, yeah there are words you need to use properly and such, but words aren't hard to pick up on. Any reasonably inteligent human being who reads a work and thinks about, and compares it to other things they have read and thought about could write a decent critical paper.
I've got several semesters full of students who prove you wrong on this one.
I said "COULD" write a decent paper, not "will."


I am skeptical of "could."

PhilSandifer wrote:Well, sure, if you wanted to make literary criticism into literary history then you could make it that easy.
Actually I feel history is the part where people who didn't really study literature would have MORE dificulty with than they would with criticism. Criticism is natural comparison and seeing threads and thinking. History takes a separate study.


As I said, yeah - anybody can construct obvious literary criticism. Anybody can come up with obvious conclusions about Newtonian physics as well. Neither physics nor literary studies are doing that on the graduate level, though.

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby coyote_gospel » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:21 pm UTC

I just came here to say that this is EXACTLY the reason why I've switched from Literature to Linguistics over year ago and have never looked back since.
A stick figure just validated my life choices.
I am content.

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby Sprocket » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:24 pm UTC

coyote_gospel wrote:I just came here to say that this is EXACTLY the reason why I've switched from Literature to Linguistics over year ago and have never looked back since.
A stick figure just validated my life choices.
I am content.
And now I will give you cake...really.
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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby NThisStyle-10-6 » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:32 pm UTC

So, as neither an English nor a Science major, I sit at my computer mildly amused by the back and forth in the rest of this forum. I intended to post this before I headed to class this morning, but I was running late and didn't have time. Unfortunately, this gave the rest of you time to write two more pages of forum that I had no choice but to read before posting just in case someone else had already expounded upon my idea.

The thing to which this comic and the first 10 or 15 forum posts took me is not the idea that English/Lit. Crit. is an inexact science and that Science/Engineering is an exact science (a thing against which one has difficulty arguing, no matter what the capacity), but is the idea that perhaps one is easier to imitate, making the other one better. Because if you can imitate something for long enough, people respect you as if you are that thing. See Frank Abagnale and Catch Me If You Can (please read the book instead of watching the movie).

Does this make being an English/Lit. Crit. major inferior? Does it mean that because something is easier to do, it is not as good? Is it trying to, much in the way that Purity did a few weeks ago, categorize fields of work/play/study in a "bad to good" type of bestthing.info kind of way? Because in that case, modern language majors are better than theatre majors are better than english majors because of the difficulty in imitation. A theatre major can be anyone, but not anyone could be an actor. Not everyone could be a physicist. I certainly believe that I'm intelligent enough to, but I can't imagine a world in which that would entertain me.

I feel like this is a mildly ambiguous psychology experiment. "I'm better than you because you can't keep me convinced that you work in my field" or something bizarre like that. Who knows. It's probable that all of my thoughts aren't well organized; I did mention that I'm not an English major.

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby Sprocket » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:36 pm UTC

NThisStyle-10-6 wrote:I feel like this is a mildly ambiguous psychology experiment. "I'm better than you because you can't keep me convinced that you work in my field" or something bizarre like that. Who knows. It's probable that all of my thoughts aren't well organized; I did mention that I'm not an English major.
Oh I totally agree, it's another "pure form" argument, with a teeny twist, and it is pretty ludicrous. I've always been generally pissed off by the entire "Things that are purely provable are more nobel pursuits than other things" argument. And then there's part of me that thinks it's true...it's loud and sounds like my dad.
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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby Quixotess » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:40 pm UTC

PhilSandifer wrote:Sorry. The arrogant denunciations of my field from people who don't actually understand it can get a bit wearing sometimes, and seeing it in what's usually one of my favorite comic strips has me in a less than happy mood.

No no no. It's like Belial said: the joke is on grad students, not their field.

And I hate it when people confuse "big paragraphs" with "obscure writing." Everything you've written so far (with the exception of the excerpt from your paper) I've found very easy to read and clear in concept. Probably all that writing practice.
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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby PirateNinja365 » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:42 pm UTC

Ok I am about to go insane. I went to wikipedia and searched deconstruction and I have no idea how to convey this but to copy and paste it:

(All in white on a black background the side bar is invisible)
This is the Zodiac speaking. You people seem so smart, yet I get away with so much. Here is a letter for you smart people:

↙€☻¥€∀⊙⌂⊙☻♂ﷲ⊙⅛⊙▓々¥⊙€⊙♫♫㉿㌘†☻⊙∆⊙♫㌘†☻☻々 ↔∆╨€☻⅛⊙∀∀⊙☻♂▓々㉿▓∀々㉿↔╨€↙⊙☻♂♫々ⅨД々ґ€†♫々ﷲ╨々☻☼㉿†⅛⊙∀∀▓々㉿▓∀々☼㉿†㉿☻∀☼¥々♫∆↔㉿☼∆╨々 ⊙↔Д㉿¥☼♫Д†∆ﷲ╨々☻☼㉿†↙€☻¥€∀⊙⌂々∆╨⊙♫ﷲ々Д♫⊙∆々☼㉿†⅛⊙∀∀∆╨々♫㉿†∀㉿㌘∆╨々▓㉿㉿↔$†々々↔▓⊙♂♫∀€↙ 々♫∆╨€∆¥々↙㉿∆々∆╨々⊙↔∀⊙↙々♫∆㉿∆╨々々¾Д€↔⅛¾々☻∆∆╨€∆⊙€¾☻㉿ﷲ¥々♫∆↔㉿☼⊙☻♂ﷲ⊙∆╨¾☼㉿ﷲ☻Д€↔々 ╨€☻¥♫

(picture of circle with cross in middle when clicked it links to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Celt ... circle.svg)

(Now the main article starts in black letters still on a black background)
. Heidegger's central concern was the deconstru...(continues with the rest of article)

I've left the window up in a tab and tried to replicate getting back to the page in a new tab, but nothing seems to get me to it. Please somebody help me! Say you saw it if only to keep me sane.

Edit: Translated the first part into a usable font (below) and tried to use an online cryptogram solver but it doesn't like the no spaces.
ABCDCEFGFCHIFJFKLDFBFMMNOPCFQFMOPMML

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby space_raptor » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:45 pm UTC

PhilSandifer wrote:Sorry. The arrogant denunciations of my field from people who don't actually understand it can get a bit wearing sometimes, and seeing it in what's usually one of my favorite comic strips has me in a less than happy mood.

I see. So what most of us call a "joke", you see as an "arrogant denunciation". Perhaps the inherent subjectivity in interpreting language is coming back to haunt you. See Sagard's post for an example of an English major with a different interpretation of the comic.

"The strip works by beginning to constitute an Imaginary present and then suddenly trumping that Imaginary present with a hyper-present that erases both itself and the Imaginary present, disrupting the Imaginary momentscape and clearing the slate for the process to begin again, which it must because, as Zizek suggests, the register of the Real is fundamentally monstrous, necessitating an endless cycle of erasures,"

Yikes. If you'll forgive me for saying so, what a monstrosity. It seems ironic that on one hand we have authors writing these beautifully written works of literature, and then on the other we have literary critics discussing them with such dry and tedious analysis, precisely constructed though it may be.
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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby felltir » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:49 pm UTC

PirateNinja365 wrote:Ok I am about to go insane. I went to wikipedia and searched deconstruction and I have no idea how to convey this but to copy and paste it:

(All in white on a black background the side bar is invisible)
This is the Zodiac speaking. You people seem so smart, yet I get away with so much. Here is a letter for you smart people:

↙€☻¥€∀⊙⌂⊙☻♂ﷲ⊙⅛⊙▓々¥⊙€⊙♫♫㉿㌘†☻⊙∆⊙♫㌘†☻☻々 ↔∆╨€☻⅛⊙∀∀⊙☻♂▓々㉿▓∀々㉿↔╨€↙⊙☻♂♫々ⅨД々ґ€†♫々ﷲ╨々☻☼㉿†⅛⊙∀∀▓々㉿▓∀々☼㉿†㉿☻∀☼¥々♫∆↔㉿☼∆╨々 ⊙↔Д㉿¥☼♫Д†∆ﷲ╨々☻☼㉿†↙€☻¥€∀⊙⌂々∆╨⊙♫ﷲ々Д♫⊙∆々☼㉿†⅛⊙∀∀∆╨々♫㉿†∀㉿㌘∆╨々▓㉿㉿↔$†々々↔▓⊙♂♫∀€↙ 々♫∆╨€∆¥々↙㉿∆々∆╨々⊙↔∀⊙↙々♫∆㉿∆╨々々¾Д€↔⅛¾々☻∆∆╨€∆⊙€¾☻㉿ﷲ¥々♫∆↔㉿☼⊙☻♂ﷲ⊙∆╨¾☼㉿ﷲ☻Д€↔々 ╨€☻¥♫

(picture of circle with cross in middle when clicked it links to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Celt ... circle.svg)

(Now the main article starts in black letters still on a black background)
. Heidegger's central concern was the deconstru...(continues with the rest of article)

I've left the window up in a tab and tried to replicate getting back to the page in a new tab, but nothing seems to get me to it. Please somebody help me! Say you saw it if only to keep me sane.

Edit: Translated the first part into a usable font (below) and tried to use an online cryptogram solver but it doesn't like the no spaces.
ABCDCEFGFCHIFJFKLDFBFMMNOPCFQFMOPMML


viewtopic.php?f=2&t=25275
Spoiler:
RoadieRich wrote:He's a super flexible furry martial artist from London. She is a Rabbit breeding mad scientist from Michigan. They fight crime!
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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby robotkid » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:51 pm UTC

There are two trains of thought going on here that I don't think are equivalent.

1) How long can you fool someone that you're in their field when you're not. This is funny.
2) Some correlation of 1) with whether or not that means the entire field (and all it's practitioners by implication) is BS. Not so much funny, degenerates into name calling.

I'm not a lit expert, but quoting those who have more right of an opinion in the matter than me:

Our tendency to try and take everyone's views equally seriously does certainly make us plump and ripe for this kind of impostering


Too true. We'd probably just assume, at least at first, that we just differed in our take on the work. It would take a bit to realize that the other person wasn't doing it right, and then we'd just assume they were doing it badly, not faking...


It would seem, for better or worse, that giving off-the-wall interpretations a benefit of the doubt is a defining characteristic of the field and they have to live with it as such.

And it's not as if the so-called "hard sciences" are without their crackpots, in fact quite the opposite. Anyone whose been to an unvetted APS poster session knows what I'm talking about. And while most practitioners in the field find it comforting that it relatively easy to distinguish a crackpot from the real thing, the really scary thing is that the same is not true at all for the public in general, something that everyone should find deeply disturbing.

In the field of biomedicine, these sort of crackpots are already doing real harm and actually profiting from it, what with faux scientific backing of various unproven (sometimes even toxic) unregulated nutritional supplements and other quack remedies. . .

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby Sprocket » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:53 pm UTC

Quixotess wrote:No no no. It's like Belial said: the joke is on grad students, not their field.
I think it's a litle of both, but yes. The fact that they are grad students is definitely important. Which is why I emphasize it's not that he could convince them he's an EXPERT maybe, but that he knows what he's talking about, sure."
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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby PirateNinja365 » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:55 pm UTC

Oh thank you very much felltir

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby baf » Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:58 pm UTC

"'In our world,' said Eustace, 'a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.' 'Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of,'" the star replies.


Yes! That's exactly it! This expresses perfectly the reason why midichlorians never bothered me the way they seem to bother everyone else.

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby felltir » Fri Jul 18, 2008 5:00 pm UTC

PirateNinja365 wrote:Oh thank you very much felltir


No problem.
Spoiler:
RoadieRich wrote:He's a super flexible furry martial artist from London. She is a Rabbit breeding mad scientist from Michigan. They fight crime!
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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby Random832 » Fri Jul 18, 2008 5:00 pm UTC

edanite wrote:Deconstruction semi-protected for reason: xkcd.

I agree that Wikipedia will eventually have an admin. read xkcd and just protect any page mentioned.


How do you think they [we, actually] know so quickly where it's coming from? (well, yeah, the people doing it usually also link the xkcd strip)

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby ABCD » Fri Jul 18, 2008 5:02 pm UTC

PirateNinja365 wrote:I've left the window up in a tab and tried to replicate getting back to the page in a new tab, but nothing seems to get me to it. Please somebody help me! Say you saw it if only to keep me sane.

Edit: Translated the first part into a usable font (below) and tried to use an online cryptogram solver but it doesn't like the no spaces.
ABCDCEFGFCHIFJFKLDFBFMMNOPCFQFMOPMML


That appears to have been a vandalized template on the page, which has been fixed.

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby Lode » Fri Jul 18, 2008 5:03 pm UTC

Yay, I always loved the "My Hobby" comics of xkcd and this one is no exception!

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby Meraki » Fri Jul 18, 2008 5:16 pm UTC

jorendorff wrote:Anyway--if xkcd thinks linguistics is a harder science than sociology he should read some books on linguistics. A lot of effort goes into semantics and silly-looking models of what linguists think is going on in the brain.


1) Of course lots of effort goes into semantics - it's the study of meaning;
2) Sounds like you've had some bad experiences with psycho- or computational linguistics. Please read some books on historical or sociolinguistics before you casually judge the whole field;
3) I think xkcd's point had less to do with the vague "hardness" of each science than it does with the ability of each to look past the field-specific jargon. Asking if the Finno-Ugric language family includes Klingon is like asking a biologist how closely unicorns are related to horses. Once you know what deconstruction is, what the stick figure is saying in panel four is really just about as bad.

Excellent comic, would read again.

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby baf » Fri Jul 18, 2008 5:47 pm UTC

robotkid wrote:And it's not as if the so-called "hard sciences" are without their crackpots, in fact quite the opposite. Anyone whose been to an unvetted APS poster session knows what I'm talking about. And while most practitioners in the field find it comforting that it relatively easy to distinguish a crackpot from the real thing, the really scary thing is that the same is not true at all for the public in general, something that everyone should find deeply disturbing.


Agreed. A former boss of mine once loaned me a book that he claimed was brilliant and revolutionary. It had two parts, one on chemistry and one on mathematics. I know very little about chemistry, and so most of that half of the book was meaningless to me: I could not mount an argument against the claims it made to save my life. Nonetheless, the way it was presented just reeked of crackpot: repeated claims of genius and complaints about the academic establishment sprinkled thoughout. Reading the math section confirmed that he was as much of a crackpot as he sounded -- I think the nadir was an offhand mention of "the prime number 25".

The lessons here: Crackpots have an unmistakable style. But people like my former boss are unfamiliar with this style, and don't recognize it.

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby _bud_ » Fri Jul 18, 2008 5:48 pm UTC

This is -by far- my favourite comic yet! :D

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby tonsofpcs » Fri Jul 18, 2008 5:52 pm UTC

Hey! You're impersonating a comic author! (How long has this one gone on for? :lol: )

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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby Belial » Fri Jul 18, 2008 5:53 pm UTC

Quixotess wrote:
PhilSandifer wrote:Sorry. The arrogant denunciations of my field from people who don't actually understand it can get a bit wearing sometimes, and seeing it in what's usually one of my favorite comic strips has me in a less than happy mood.

No no no. It's like Belial said: the joke is on grad students, not their field


Umm. That's what the joke is to me, because it's the only way I find it funny. I have no idea what Randy was thinking. And, as we can see, the math and science types will be taking it as a condemnation of the field, regardless.

Needless to say, like Phil, I am also frustrated.
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Re: "Impostor" Discussion

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Jul 18, 2008 5:57 pm UTC

Hey anyone, can you guess which field Randall is probably more involved in?

Just as the literature folk are vehemently defending their poked at field, Randall is just showing he's got more in common with them.

You can certainly reverse the joke
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