April 1. A new anthropology paper looks at the Academic Ape and the way it guards its territory and resources, not surprisingly rejecting unpaid contributions from outside academia as a threat to their perceived status and income. The hypothesis predicts that the more qualified and erudite the outsider is, the more vicious the response will be, especially if the highly qualified outsider gives their labor freely.
Published on Amazon in Kindle version.
Two areas of territorial aggression are offered as examples — archaeology and climate (you couldn’t see that coming). This new paper looks at how the academic boundary enforcement compares to things like union disputes, and patterns of ape behaviour (See Table 1). An interesting paper.
The climate debate is so hostile people don’t even speak English – “denier”
There is no accurate definition of “denier” in English in a climate science debate, yet professors use it, and importantly other professors in virtually every other field don’t seem to mind. A survey of 5,000 skeptics shows almost all agree with most mainstream statements used in the climate debate — i.e. that CO2 is increasing, that it is a greenhouse gas, and the climate is warming.
“Denier” is obviously just a way to badger people into submitting to an idea that can’t be justified with rational discussion. It’s common use shows how far from scientific the academic world of “climate science” is.
Vitriolic attacks are like “union demarcation disputes”:
… issues such as climate, where outsiders have suffered vitriolic attacks from academics (e.g. Lewandowsky, Gleick, Mann, etc.) and where these attacks have been widely supported from academia, may have very little to do with the actual subject material or the relative state of knowledge or experience of the parties. Instead it is suggested that they can be likened to union “demarcation disputes” between the “academic union” on the one side and the outsider who is treated as “blacklegs” or “scabs”.
There are three conditions that generate aggressive boundary disputes:
This threat response appears to be heightened when three conditions exists. First against altruistic outsiders who give their labour freely and so not only threaten the academics perceived territory, but also undermine the economic value of academia. Second, outsiders who have a high level of qualification and wider experience than academia are seen as more of a potential threat. And thirdly, when outsiders formulate their contributions in the style, language and format suggestive of academic work, this in itself signals an incursion into the academic territory.
Thus, whilst academics often reject external work as being of poor quality, perversely, far from eliciting the expected intellectual response expected, work of the highest calibre, by those most qualified, and freely given, is most likely to be treated as a direct threat and stimulate the most hostile response from the “academic ape”.
Gatekeeping in peer review publishing is like scent marking to demark territory:
The system of peer review appears to be a form of gate-keeping mechanism. Thus suggestions that outsiders should have their work “peer reviewed” are disingenuous, particularly as in areas like climate peer review has not been the supposed hallmark of quality it is claimed. Instead it is suggested peer review should be seen as similar to behaviour like “scent marking”: used to demark the boundary, claim ownership of territory and attempt to establish authority.
The hypocrisy of qualifications
While academic insiders without any qualifications relevant to climate science are encouraged to speak out, and even to launch irrational personal attacks, outsiders who are more qualified than these same people are attacked as not-qualified-enough. The only explanation for this must be sociological in nature argue the authors (ahem, or economic thinks Jo):
Ad Hominem Attacks
One of the main areas of study resulting in the findings presented in this paper was carried out in an attempt to understand the appalling behaviour that led to the frequent use by academics of term “denier” which from this quote was clearly intended to portray sceptics as Holocaust camp detainees
Surely it’s time for climate-change deniers to have their opinions forcibly tattooed on their bodies.
Note, how this simultaneously suggests applying the Nazi style behaviour of tattooing people, whilst simultaneously asserting that climate sceptics are akin to Nazi “holocaust deniers”. And whilst given the anonymity of the on-line debate, whilst it is often not possible to link comments with individuals, it is possible to say that overwhelmingly similar ad Hominem attacks originate from those supporting the academic viewpoint. Haseler (2013)
Moreover, given the high profile attacks by individuals like Lewandowsky, Mann, Gleick, Hansen, etc., who have launched many attacks against sceptics and applaud any who attack sceptics, and given the utter silence of all but a handful of academics against their appalling behaviour, these attacks are clearly condoned by many and likely an overwhelming majority of academics.
However, whilst qualifications are usually cited as justifying such attacks (BBC) when a survey was completed of sceptics it shows that most were very well qualified in science and engineering and around 50% had a second degree (Haseler 2015a).
Indeed, in terms of qualifications, it is often the academic “insiders” who feels able to attack outsiders who are unqualified. Notable examples are Lewandowsky a Psychologist. Sir Paul Nurse, a geneticist (Tallbloke 2014) & Sir Mark Walport a medical scientist (IPCC report 2014). However despite their lack of qualification to speak on atmospheric physics and the relevant qualifications of most sceptics, unqualified academics have been given an “open door” by news outlets like the BBC to launch hostile, false and vitriolic attacks on qualified, experienced sceptics who are then usually denied any form of redress even to correct the false assertions about sceptics own views. (See: Haseler, 2014c).
Curiously archaeology appears to have found a kind of solution to the territorial dispute:
However, unlike climate which as of present is still an area of much hostility, archaeology, through the Portable Antiquity Scheme seems to have largely resolved the boundary dispute by creating a form of ritualistic submission of the finds from outsiders to the authority of academics. This “submission” seems to have satisfied the “academic ape” allowing fairly harmonious relations.
I see little hope for peace in the climate arena. This paper has a lot of offer as the start of a novel branch of study. I think the only thing that will change the hostility of climate academics are massive external effects eg. 1. a significant undeniable (unadjustable) cooling. or 2. A major financial collapse (whereupon who will have time to care about esoteric climate issues). or 3. The rise of true conservative political parties (largely for other reasons) which cancel funding for politicized and pointless research. (At that point “climate scientists” will mostly reappear with different job titles, a different scare will be The Thing, and academia will quietly want to forget what the fuss was. Remember Global Cooling?).
This report is a curious collection — it’s worth reading the Aquatic Ape section if you haven’t already heard of that dispute. p 9. Always seemed like a sensible idea to me that our lack of fur and extra subcutaneous fat suggested our ancestors lived on the beach and swam a lot.
Academics, all experts on climate,
Close ranks when others paradigm it,
Who behave in their group,
Like apes in a troop,
In a manner befitting a primate.
Lirpa Loofouy MSc. PhD FRS, Mike Haseler BSc. MBA. (2016) The Academic Ape: Instinctive aggression and boundary enforcing behaviour in academia, Produced for free by the Institute for Research into Academia, PDF. Published on April 1, 2016.
motto: Let knowledge be free.