According to Smithsonian Magazine, "It’s a move that’s sending 'shivers down academic spines' worldwide.'
Most higher education institutions offer a wide range of topics, from engineering and science to literature, history and sociology have long been a backbone of. But, as Alex Dean reports for The Guardian, that is changing in Japan as over 50 universities reduce or eliminate their humanities and social sciences departments entirely.
The education minister wants to convert them “to serve areas that better meet society’s needs,” such as training for jobs.
Historian Erin Blakemore notes that the move has “horrified some academics,” including some in the sciences.
It would be interesting to know if all the recent scandals in social sciences have played a role in minimizing their apparent value.
A critical problem is that the overwhelming progressive bias of the field makes it easy to perpetrate frauds and hoaxes by playing to unquestioned core beliefs.
As noted earlier, the clickbait articles from social psych, seized on by pop science writers, too often turn out to be fraudulent (um, yeah, right?). Many exhibit one or more features of this "flyover country is racist" theme.
A significant number of retracted studies allegedly demonstrate these types of beliefs as facts, conveniently packaged to soothe the public as “counterintuitive.”
What rubbish. The “flyover country is racist” (etc.) theme is not counterintuitive to the people who go into social psychology, as claimed after a string of scandals.
It is one of their core beliefs.
Yet, “Whether this bias in what people find interesting is reasonable is a topic for another day,” we are told. Actually, it is probably the only fact of long term public importance.
As for accommodation of the field’s general philosophy, sorry, the ship has sailed. The controversies around peer reviewed fraud testify to the heart of the problem.
There was no way of distinguishing this Sokal hoax from the real thing, apparently.
("Sokal hoax"? Deliberately getting rubbish published in peer-reviewed humanities journals, in order to demonstrate the vacuity of the field. The phrase commemorates physicist Alan Sokal, a successful perpetrator, but by no means the only one...)
While many seek to correct the problems, we are cautioned at Scientific American not to think that adding conservative voices would help; they want to subtract out bias instead.
That’s laughable, of course. If they won’t ensure a variety of voices, it is simply impossible to have balance, and the scandals will continue.
Maybe the Japanese don’t have time, money, or attention for what often seems like a giant Sokal hoax.
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