Keith Windschuttle, editor of Australian Right magazine Quadrant, and prominent culture warrior, has been hoaxed — publishing an article arguing essentially that genetic scientists should be allowed to do anything they want without the scrutiny of the public or media, because scientists know best.
The hoaxer outed themselves to another online magaine, Crikey, and has chronicled their misdeed in the blog ‘Diary of a Hoax.’ This is delicious. Windschuttle was something of an ‘official historian’ for Australia’s previous Howard Government, presenting their preferred version of Aboriginal history (that there was no stolen generation, that reports of massacres were overblown) by picking at the footnotes of academic historians such as Henry Reynolds, of the University of Tasmania.
Windschuttle positioned himself as the voice of reason against the tyranny of postmodernism in history research. That’s what makes this so sweet. As Crikey’s Margaret Simons writes:
The Gould hoax is designed to be a companion and a counter to the famous Sokal hoax, in which the physicist Alan Sokal submitted a paper to a postmodern cultural studies journal to show that post modernists would “publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions.”
Windschuttle’s positioning of himself on the side of realism, and his opponents on the side of sophistry, is undone by this hoax — which, as distinct from the Sokal hoax, was not even perpetrated by a known and respected scientist (which at least had lent a certain credence to Sokal’s article in the minds of Social Text‘s editors).
Anyway, enough Schadenfreude. I do think it’s interesting, though, to ponder what it is that a hoax demonstrates, especially when performed across the science/humanities border: in order to destabilise ideeology. Any thoughts, anyone?