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Social curiosities

Printed From: History Community ~ All Empires
Category: Scholarly Pursuits
Forum Name: Social Sciences
Forum Discription: Discuss Sociology, Law, Economics, Psychology and other soft sciences.
Printed Date: 04-Jul-2022 at 17:37
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 9.56a -

Topic: Social curiosities
Posted By: Menumorut
Subject: Social curiosities
Date Posted: 09-Feb-2013 at 04:25
I found yesterday some very interesting Wikipedia articles vaguely related about some social experiments and observations that I will present shortly.

This thread is anyway open to anything similar.

First, about some interesting Hoax Experiments

The Sokal Hoax

Alan Sokal, a physics professor at New York University, submitted in 1996 an article to Social Text, an academic journal of postmodern cultural studies. In subsequent publications, Sokal claimed that the submission was an experiment to test the journal's intellectual rigor and, specifically, to investigate whether such a journal would "publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if it (a) sounded good and (b) flattered the editors' ideological preconceptions."

In other words, he created a pseudo-scientific, hoax text with much jargon terms but which in reality has not any coherence or meaning.

The experiment succeeded, the editors publishing the text because it appeared something serious,although they didn't understand what is about. Their conventionalism trapped them.

Sokal reasoned that, if the presumption of editorial laziness is correct, the nonsensical content of his article would be irrelevant to whether the editors would publish it. What would matter would be ideologic obsequiousness, fawning references to deconstructionist writers, and sufficient quantities of the appropriate jargon.


Sokal said that their response illustrated the problem he highlighted. Social Text, as an academic journal, published the article not because it was faithful, true, and accurate to its quantum gravity subject, but because an "Academic Authority" had written it and because of the appearance of the obscure writing.

Sociological follow-up study

One main hypothesis was later replicated in a controlled experiment by Cornell sociologist Robb Willer. Student subjects were randomly separated into treatment and control groups; both groups were presented with copies of Sokal's hoax article. Those in the control condition were led to believe that it was penned by another student; those in the treatment condition were told it was written by a famous academic. The experimenters found that those subjects who believed that the author of the text was a high-status intellectual were significantly more likely to claim that the text was comprehensible, interesting and valuable. The results of the experiment thus suggested that Sokal was correct to claim that academic status may account for the intellectual appeal of unintelligible academic texts. -


Posted By: Menumorut
Date Posted: 09-Feb-2013 at 04:44

Other series of 'scientific' hoaxes similar with the previous one, these ones generated by a computer software named SCIgen capable of combining linguistic formulae specific to different scientific branches in an apparently coherent way, but again, without any meaning.

Such meaningless 'scientific' papers generated by the program have sent to scholar publications, some of them being accepted, proving again the superficiality and conformism of some of those who call themselves scientists.

CIgen is a program created by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that randomly generates nonsense in the form of computer science research papers, including graphs, diagrams, and citations. It uses a context-free grammar to form all elements of the papers, and its authors state that their aim is "to maximize amusement, rather than coherence."


In 2005 a paper generated by SCIgen, Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy, was accepted as a "non-reviewed" paper to the 2005 World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics and the authors were invited to speak. The authors of SCIgen described their hoax on their website, and it soon received great publicity -


Posted By: Menumorut
Date Posted: 09-Feb-2013 at 04:59
Rosenhan experiment

A psychiatrist and seven other mentally healthy people (most of them psychologists) simulated insanity (pretedning they hear voices) and were admitted to 12 different mental hospitals is US, being released after 7-52 days (average 19 days), only after they accepted the diagnosis of schizophrenia, although shortly after being admitted in hospitals they reported that they no longer heard voices and behaved normally.

Interesting, many of the real patients in those hospitals noticed that the new comers are normal persons, but none of the medics believed that.

A second phase of the experiment was when a prestigious mental institution claimed that they wouldn't be so superficial and chalenged doctor Rosenhan for a new experiment. Rosenhan sent 193 purported patients to that hospital, asking them to identify the real ill of them from the impostors. The hospital identified 41 as impostors and 42 as suspects, when in reality all were really ill people.

Related experiments

In 1988, Loring and Powell gave 290 psychiatrists a transcript of a patient interview and told half of them that the patient was black and the other half white; they concluded of the results that "clinicians appear to ascribe violence, suspiciousness, and dangerousness to black clients even though the case studies are the same as the case studies for the white clients". -


Posted By: Menumorut
Date Posted: 09-Feb-2013 at 05:05
Pierre Brassau

Is the name of a fictious visual artist, whose body of "work" (paintings) were presented at Gallerie Christinae in Göteborg, Sweden. Critics praised the works, with Rolf Anderberg of the Göteborgs-Posten writing, "Brassau paints with powerful strokes, but also with clear determination. His brush strokes twist with furious fastidiousness. Pierre is an artist who performs with the delicacy of a ballet dancer." One critic, however, panned the work, suggesting that "Only an ape could have done this."

In reality, the paintings were made by a chimpanzee named Peter from a Swedish zoo.

The experiment was carried out by a journalist, Åke Axelsson. -


Posted By: Menumorut
Date Posted: 09-Feb-2013 at 05:18

In the period of the apogee of Modernist Art, in 1924, when all kind of opportunists like Picasso were 'revolutioning' the artistic expression with countless - "avant-garde art movements" (cubism, dadaism, futurism and many other "-isms"), one guy had the idea of exploiting the exploiters, by inventing a new "art movement" to test the hypocrisy of an art jury.

Paul Jordan-Smith, upset for the cold reception of his wife's realistic paintings at an exhibition, took the pseudonim Pavel Jerdanowitch and entered a blurry, badly painted picture of a Pacific islander woman brandishing a banana skin, under the title "Exaltation". He made a suitably dark and brooding photograph of himself as Jerdanowitch, and submitted the work to the same group of critics as representative of the new school, "Disumbrationism". He explained "Exaltation" as a symbol of "breaking the shackles of womanhood." To his dismay, if not to his surprise, the Disumbrationist daub won praise from the critics who had belittled his wife's realistic painting.


More Disumbrationist paintings followed: a composition of zig-zag lines and eyeballs he called "Illumination"; a garish picture of a black woman doing laundry which he called "Aspiration", and which a critic praised as "a delightful jumble of Gauguin, Pop Hart and Negro minstrelsy, with a lot of Jerdanowitch individuality"...



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