Is this the most bizarre paper ever published in a peer reviewed journal?
A paper titled "Welcome to My Brain" has been published in the journal Qualitative Inquiry by Sage which is so unintelligible that it is baffling beyond belief. Unfortunately, the paper is behind a pay-wall, but some of the highlights are below.
"This article is therefore about developing recursive intrinsic self-reflexive as de- and/or resubjective always evolving living research designs. Inquiry perhaps full stop—me: An auto-brain—biography and/or a brain theorizing itself; me theorizing my brain. It is thus about theorizing bodily here brain and transcorporeal materialities, in ways that neither push us back into any traps of biological determinism or cultural essentialism, nor make us leave bodily matter and biologies behind. It is an attempt of seeing the real as/through/in its material-discursive coconstitutive complexity and produce research from within an ontology and epistemology where ‘matter and meaning are mutually articulated’ (Barad 2007, p. 152). It is about learning and memory cognition and experiment poetic and/or creative pedagogical science; learning ultimately pedagogy as movements in/through space."
As in the case of the paragraph above, bizarrely, much of the paper is taken up by explaining what the paper "is about", without actually really telling us what the paper is about, or telling us anything for that matter:
"It is broad and multifaceted and with open-ended references to any kind of sense-making procedure, a domain of uncharted dimensions my auto- brain- biography - ethnomethodology attempt."
The author dips in and out of the third and first person...
"I told you this was chaotic and noisy and my own moving sensations of sound touch taste and smell."
..and repeatedly for some reason that remains unclear, mentions a character named John:
"I call him—me . . . John. You?"
"Taxonomies, knowledges, and research that must die to be resurrected as will in me . . . John."
There are repeated references to the concept of the Möbius strip, knitting, and of course, John:
"Knitting John, John knitting. Knitting John Möbius. Möbius knitting John. Giant Möbius Strips have been used as conveyor belts (to make them last longer, since “each side” gets the same amount of wear) and as continuous-loop recording tapes (to double the playing time). In the 1960’s Möbius Strips were used in the design of versatile electronic resistors. Freestyle skiers have named one of their acrobatic stunts the Möbius Flip. The wear and tear of my efforts. My stunts, enthusiasm knitting. My brain and doubling and John."
I'm grateful it's not just me that's baffled, I did for a moment wonder if I was myself losing it, but after tweeting my shock, I received dozens of replies from befuddled scientists, one retweeting the article asking his followers if he'd had a stroke. Many more replied asking if the paper was a joke along the lines of the Sokal affair. I decided to contact the author to inquire whether this was the case and to request a concise explanation in layman's terms, this is the author's reply:
My paper is an attempt to show that pedagogy (education) is a complex science. It is an attempt to show the complexity and multiplicity of teaching and learning and what inclusiveness thus differences might ultimately mean. It is an attempt to create a picture of the very important but often underestimated hard theoretical/practical work teachers do with their students. It is an attempt to write against reductionism and instrumentalism. It is a paper about enthusiasm, desire, joy and love in schools and in research on schools. Do you know what they are?
To my mind this paper demonstrates only that unwarranted complexity in communication can get in the way of science to the point of obscuring it completely (and that there is no bottom limit to what the journal Qualitative Inquiry will publish. As for Sage, it's not the first time they've published a journal that a little more than just touches the sublime).
There has recently been a resurgence in the good old "is psychology a science debate". As far as I'm concerned psychology certainly is science, but it's obfuscating work like this that gives the discipline a bad name. Work like this is a pertinent reminder that just because something is published in a peer reviewed journal doesn't mean it is good science or intelligible and just because someone uses big words doesn't make their ideas more meaningful, but it can make them less so. If anyone can enlighten me further, please do so in the comments.
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.
- It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
- Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Eight-dimensional octonions may hold the clues to solve fundamental mysteries.
- Physicists discover complex numbers called octonions that work in 8 dimensions.
- The numbers have been found linked to fundamental forces of reality.
- Understanding octonions can lead to a new model of physics.
Upload your mind? Here's a reality check on the Singularity.
- Though computer engineers claim to know what human consciousness is, many neuroscientists say that we're nowhere close to understanding what it is, or its source.
- Scientists are currently trying to upload human minds to silicon chips, or re-create consciousness with algorithms, but this may be hubristic because we still know so little about what it means to be human.
- Is transhumanism a journey forward or an escape from reality?
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.