Maybe somebody can wade through this article entitled "Cultural Topology" by Brent Blackwell, professor of English at Ball State, and tell me if it is a joke or intended to be serious.
With lines like "A kind of patchwork space, topologic analysis can combine incongruent, even contradictory axiomatics by bounding them within a single topologic field", I am tempted to think it is an elaborate hoax. But who knows? The stupidity that lurks in some academic departments can be stupefying.
This link was sent to me in 2006 by the late Norman Levitt, but I didn't take a look until now.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Posted by Jeffrey Shallit at 6:37 PM
Labels: bad mathematics, postmodernism, stupidity
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Intruiging. A few of us students in my program recently came across the phrase/discipline 'counter topology' (apparently this is something studied in 'critical' programs). We haven't decided if its a new topology to counter-act some old one, or the study of countertops.
ANyway, I can't help but notice that Blackwell's article is from 2004 but has no references later than the late-mid 90s. And snooping around a bit I see that his BS, MS, and PhD are all from the same college, which I've usually been told is something you want to avoid, because you can get a bit too focused.
I also noticed that he says his Phd is 'summa cum laude', I hadn't actually realized that this was something given out at the PhD level.
Also interesting that he mentions Sokal's article, maybe he is playing a joke and just being meta, or maybe he wasn't paying attention to Sokal.
He appears to be a bonafide professional bullshitter
But, but, he's absolutely right! You can take all those distinct, even contradictory, axiomatics, put them in one big set, endow it with the discrete topology ...
Blackwell may not have the mathematical vocabulary to say exactly what he means, but there could be something there.
Those two different university-departments have totally different discourses, and the people tend to think about seemingly different things. So it's inherently risky for him to write something like this. I think that merits a different standard of critique than "safer" ideas.
Nonsense is still nonsense, no matter how fancy the wrapping.
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