I’ve got a great deal of other stuff on at the moment, so will only comment briefly. I’ll try to update this post in more detail when I’ve finished thesising. For now, a few thoughts:
1. Hoaxing only works when there is a pretension to expose/exploit. Sokal exposed the postmodern pretension to science; Ern Malley exposed the high modernist pretension to poetry (although you can make a pretty good case that it showed that good modernist poetry can be knocked up easily enough in an afternoon by a pair of clever chaps). I exposed the pretension that one needs to be ‘authentic’ in order to write well about a given topic. And ‘Dr Gould’ has exposed the pretension that historical accuracy can be reduced to footnotes.
2. If one is going to hoax, one should hoax in good spirit. This is something I failed to do, at least as time went on. Instead of following the Ern Malley hoaxers, or Leon Carmen (the Wanda Koolmatrie hoaxer) and outing myself, I waited for the press to find me. This was a bad idea, and led to a great deal of bitterness, some of it ongoing. ‘Gould’ should out him or herself. As I said over at Larvatus Prodeo:
I will make only one suggestion: hoaxer, if you’re reading this, out yourself. I failed to out myself back in the day and the reaction was much worse as a result. People think you’re pulling their chain and unwilling to take responsibility for pulling their chain. I speak from experience.
3. Australians are very good at hoaxes. In fact, we rock. I do think Australians are — on the whole — good at handling pretension. They don’t like it much, so they go about puncturing it to the best of their ability.
4. While it is tempting for lefties like Margaret Simons and the LP crew to engage in some schadenfreude, and they’re probably entitled to their fun at Keith Windschuttle’s expense, the real test of character will come in the form of Windschuttle’s reaction. When I exposed the fashionable leftist pieties attached to ‘multicultural literature’, the lefties ran me out of town on a rail. Maybe all those of years of Howard have taught them some humility as well as a sense of humour. I hope so. For his part, I hope Keith Windschuttle is not motivated by malice to make ‘Dr Gould’s’ life as difficult as many lefties have attempted to make mine.
5. If any more evidence were needed, surely it is time to end taxpayer funding of ‘merit goods’. There is simply no merit in evidence. Ironically, Quadrant will survive a withdrawal of Australia Council funding — KW is independently wealthy. Many of the ‘little magazines’ throwing slings and arrows at him and his supporters will fold. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say. For those thinking only Hayekonistas say stuff like that, here is John Rawls, the social democrat par excellence:
The principles of justice do not permit subsidizing universities and institutes, or opera and the theatre, on the grounds that these institutions are intrinsically valuable, and that those who engage in them are to be supported even at some significant expenses to others who do not receive compensating benefits. (A Theory of Justice, 291-2).
The best summary post is from Tim Lambert, who not only links to everyone else who’s written anything worthwhile, but can take considerable credit for protecting my Wikipedia entry from malicious vandalism over the years. He was doing this without me knowing, too — simply out of generosity of spirit.
UPDATE: I note that people on all sides are trying to mitigate the effectiveness of the hoax against their ‘side’, so the Social Text aficionados are trying to draw a distinction between this and Sokal, while KW is trying to make something of the fact that only ‘Dr Gould’ is fake, not his/her article. Take it from someone who knows and give up. You’re all covered in egg. In fact, you’re all wrapped in a giant omelette. That’s what a good hoax should do. Now go wash the egg off and get on with the rest of your life.
UPDATE II: I also like Andrew Norton’s comment — very sensible as usual.
UPDATE III: Catallaxy’s Jason Soon makes a strong case for the Quadrant hoaxer being Katherine Wilson, who used to post as ‘weathergirl’ around the blogs. She also used to write for LP (and Crikey), becoming increasingly fractious until she requested that LP delete all her posts and comments. This was done, although with some regret — LP has never been the sort of blog to engage in covering up anyone’s tracks, including their own. See Jason’s comments here, here and here (although there are a few others scattered through the thread).
UPDATE V: Mark B quite properly disassociates himself from Katherine Wilson and all her works and all her ways over at LP.
UPDATE VII: Get it while you can — Wilson’s ‘hoax blog’ is now password protected, although a truncated version is still available at this link (it only goes up to November, however, so some of the jucier bits people have been quoting have vamoosed).
UPDATE VIII: Simons fesses up — quite an amusing, lighthearted piece, too.
UPDATE IX: How the whole thing looks to a scientist and skeptic. I keep forgetting that there’s actual, ahem, science buried underneath all this. Andrew Norton also looks at the science situation, and comes to the conclusion that Wilson hoaxed the wrong magazine. He also digs up some of Wilson’s MO, this time by linking to the National Library of Australia’s ‘Pandora’ archives. Wilson may have browbeaten LP into deleting all her posts, but this cracker of a conspiracy theory is still there to enjoy, preserved in aspic for posterity.
UPDATE X: Tim at Will Type for Food ponders the verbing of various nouns, including the one in the headline for this post. Highly amusing.