Yes, I'm talking about the Quadrant hoax - it's all over the media and the blogs by now, and you can read all about it here, here, here, here, and here. It's provoked a whole range of bizarre ideological positioning and attacks all over the media. Perhaps the strangest responses have probably come from Margaret Simons, who broke the story of the hoax, and commented on the ethics of other journalists as the story she was writing about developed.
I'll say it here and now - I like Quadrant. I've never thought that Keith Windschuttle was a good choice for editor of the magazine, but it's not just Windschuttle that has been cheated here. Wilson has abused the privilege of space that Quadrant gives to writers, and she's effectively lied to everyone who reads the magazine. That's all being debated elsewhere, but for now, there's a couple of things about the whole affair that have left be befused and confuddled. No, wait, make that febuddled and deflused.
Firstly are the headlines people are using to describe this whole thing. LP says that Windschuttle has been sokaled. Sokal is a verb now? At Skeptic Lawyer, SL reckons Wilson has demidenkoed Quadrant, and I guess SL has about as much authority as anyone to verb that particular noun. But if we're going to go down this road every time a hoax occurs, will it be possible to demidenko Sokal, or to sokal a Wilson while she's demidenkoing someone else? Will hoaxers try to out-gould one another? What has more value, goulding a Demidenko, or sokaling a Wilson?
And then there's the weird defence Windschuttle has tried on.
Yet I still insist that this was not a genuine hoax.
A real hoax, like that of Alan Sokal and Ern Malley, is designed to expose editors who are pretentious, ignorant or at least over-enthusiastic about certain subjects.
(Clears throat) What's the difference between a real hoax and this hoax? Was the Gould hoax actually a hoax hoax, expressly designed to hoax the hoaxers who thought they were hoaxing Quadrant? Did Wilson pull the ultimate hoax and hoax herself into believing she was hoaxing Quadrant? Maybe Katherine Wilson goulded herself, or Sharon Gould wilsoned herself, completely unknowingly?
It makes more, which is to say, less sense, when you consider the Gould article itself, which is almost entirely plausible, if you take out the footnotes and the name of the author. The only reason the article was considered a hoax was because some of the footnotes were incorrect. Which makes me wonder, what was really wrong here, the footnotes, or the article? Or perhaps they're just the right footnotes for the wrong article, or it's the wrong author for the right article? Maybe Katherine Wilson really is the hoax, the wrong name for the right person, and it's time for Sharon Gould to step forward and reveal herself...
Dr Sharon Gould holds a PhD in Applied Science (Biotechnology), and works asHonestly folks, I just don't know any more.
a biotechnology informatics consultant. An earlier version of this article was
presented at the 19th International Conference on Genome Informatics in
I guess this is what's called 'Taking to the media with a blunt hoax'.