Quadrant Demidenkoed. That is all

By skepticlawyer

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. (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 IV: Troppo’s Don Arthur comes to the same conclusion as Jason Soon, while Nexus 6 makes the very pertinent point that the whole thing looks very bad for Crikey.

UPDATE V: Mark B quite properly disassociates himself from Katherine Wilson and all her works and all her ways over at LP.

UPDATE VI: Woolly Days provides a very fair summary of events thus far; quite apart from anything else, it’s a helpful guide to who’s up who. The Australian’s Samantha Maiden also does a nice job.

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.


  1. Nanu
    Posted January 8, 2009 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    JC – Don’t forget she put her prep. child out there purely for attention.

    Yes SL, before you say it this is very ad hom’…but she made the rules. I stop the line at personal details so if I have (and I don’t think I have but I would swear my life on it) that’s wrong.

  2. Nanu
    Posted January 8, 2009 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    FYI, Simons is a very big influence on Kath. She coined the attack on you SL that Wilson followed.

  3. Posted January 8, 2009 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    Nanu, I’ve deleted all the offending posts/email address etc. I’d appreciate it enormously if you stopped thread-hogging and left this business alone for a while, otherwise I’ll be forced to place you in moderation or close the thread.

  4. Nanu
    Posted January 8, 2009 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    SL – take out my post with her details please. It’s fun but not kosher.

  5. Jacques Chester
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    I thought this was a public forum with published rules and guidelines. Now I see it is not. This a private conversation with it’s own set of unwritten rules and mysterious characters.

    Close, but not quite right.

    The blog is private property, and usual nostrums of private property apply: the proprietors reserve the absolute right to eject anyone at any time for any reason. They reserve the absolute right to edit or delete any post at any time for any reason.

    This is not a court of law, there are no ironclad rules, common law ideas of natural justice do not apply. What SL and LE say goes, goes.

    I support this policy. It has been my experience that internet fora of all varieties degenerate into troll-blasted wastelands very quickly without rapid, vigorous norm-setting by forum owners.

    I’m only the techie here, not a poster per se, but that’s my view of things.

  6. Jason Soon
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    mostly accurate story except for the last bit
    (the ‘blogger’ was Nanu)


  7. Nanu
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Hmmm… who was a naughty boy last night then 😕

  8. Ken N
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Gee, 153 comments.
    Is that a record?

    I have now adopted a fairly transparent alias, only to try to limit the Googetrail.

  9. Jacques Chester
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Ken N;

    No, if you count the back catalogue.

    	display_name as post_author,
    	count( comment_post_ID ) as num_comments
    	( wp_posts.ID = comment_post_ID )
    	( wp_posts.post_author = wp_users.ID )
    group by
    order by
    	num_comments desc
    limit 10;


    Post Title Post Author Date # Comments
    The ongoing Brian Burke trainwreck skepticlawyer 2007-03-03 419
    Pinochet dead skepticlawyer 2006-12-11 385
    A bit of legal stuff… skepticlawyer 2007-03-06 343
    The straight dope skepticlawyer 2007-01-18 282
    Phillip Adams is at it again… skepticlawyer 2007-10-02 253
    Benazir Bhutto assassinated skepticlawyer 2007-12-28 233
    Let’s go to the store & get some more blogrolls… skepticlawyer 2007-01-04 205
    Open Forum 02/06/07 skepticlawyer 2007-06-02 203
    Countdown to the Ashes skepticlawyer 2006-10-22 200
    So, will Cricket self-destruct? skepticlawyer 2008-01-08 190
  10. Ken N
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Jacques – not even close to a record.
    But I won’t encourage everyone to shoot for it – discussion is getting a bit ragged by now.

  11. Nanu
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    “the ‘blogger’ was Nanu”

    For the record, I didn’t threaten, I indicated my temptation to post her detail given her total disregard for the privacy of others and further indicated that I would have no problem giving them to KW.

    It was inferred that a media camp had formed outside her house as a result of me recklessly revealing her home address, which resulted in me having a rush of blood (please allow for the fact I was PUI 😛 :S ) and posting her street number & email for the heck of it (all of which are readily available online) . While her personal details are available online, I took the view that highlighting them is inappropriate regardless of the fact WG has no such qualms. SL can confirm that I quickly asked her to delete them with my second request overlapping their deletion by her.

  12. Nanu
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 11:37 am | Permalink


  13. The Weather Girls
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    It’s raining memes – hallelujah

  14. Nanu
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm…. I’m still on the naughty chair 🙁 😉

  15. Nanu
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Free at last…free at last! 😛

  16. Nanu
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Well maybe not! 🙁

  17. Nanu
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    LE –

    Who told you that you are allowed to take a lunch break. My understanding is that this blog is to be manned 24/7. How dare you take a break before dawn in the UK when SL takes over for the next 12hrs. Shame, Shame, Shame. You have a duty to your advertisers! 😉

  18. Posted January 9, 2009 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    So what do we do? Continue to abuse the crap out of each other and get nowhere?
    Yeah. It’s called human politics. Fab innit?
    Or start having a conversation about, say, why Australians are so hostile to pretension.
    Or even you should be more careful with stuff even if you think it’s good? But no. Then we’d learn something.
    The Poms aren’t.
    Is there an Annual Understatement Award we can nominate you for.
    And the Scots just find everything funny.
    Except sporrons. Which is weird cause they are actually pretty funny.

  19. Nanu
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Before I promise to be good…

    Your computer problems may be related to your husband searching for visual relief during your final trimester. 😉

    …OK, I promise to be good! 😛

  20. Posey
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    The weathergirl pumpkin photo took up about a quarter of SMH page today. I think Ms Wilson looks quite fetching in it.

    And for inner-city Sydney and Melbourne folk, it’s beyond cool to grow vegies on your roof . In fact, it rocks.

  21. Posted January 9, 2009 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    On the plus side they’ve mispelled the name of LP, so with any sort of luck Mark won’t be carrying the can for Ms Post Deleter.

    I’ll take you off the naughty seat, Nanu. I didn’t want her details all over this blog, that’s all. If you wish to make private contact with Keith Windschuttle with her details, then that is fair enough and — in context — probably appropriate. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s probably better that the matter be settled between the two relevant parties. But not on a blog, when it’s now become clear that she didn’t expect to be outed, and is eight months pregnant.

    On another matter, we have been made aware of your history, Posey, as ‘jinmaro’ at LP. A repeat of the same or similar behaviour will not be allowed to get as far here.

    Right, now back to ET at the top of the blog.

  22. Nanu
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think Windschuttle will be too worried about being punk’d by Wilson, however he might take issue with Crikey’s involvement which clearly predated the articles publication.

  23. Posey
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    I have no idea who jinmaro is or what you are talking about, SL. I posted for 2 weeks on LP and got accused by Liam of being jinmaro because I backed up Adrien on a couple of issues. Go figure.

    Thing is LE, people bitch about the possums but end up affectionately saying things like well, they got to eat somewhere. As with the bats, the possums are beauteous wild animals who are breeding up in the coastal inner cities because these are the greenest, yummiest places around. I say, go for it, dear ones.

  24. Posey
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    I live about 12kms from Sydney Airport and in the decade I’ve lived here I’ve seen: a tawny frogmouth, a bandicoot, red foxes, deer, frilly tailed lizards galore, brushtail and ringtailed possums (in the back garden), frequent raids/visits by flocks of rainbow lorikeets, galahs, koels, both black and white cockatoos, honeyeaters, terns and, of course, miners, currawongs, magpies, and very rarely, the to-die-for butcherbird.

    I can’t imagine life without the presence and existence of these other fabulous, beautiful creatures.

  25. Posted January 9, 2009 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Nanu, the relevant contact information has been sent to your login email address for this blog.

  26. Posey
    Posted January 9, 2009 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    The black cockatoos fascinate me, LE. So diifferent from their coarse, white brothers and sisters.

    They’re rarely sighted in Sydney (well, not by still comotase office workers) and most frequently heard, not seen, in the early Spring morns.

    I hold my breath when I hear them flying overhead, bound for who knows where, and always try but fail to memorise their wistful-joyful call.

  27. Nanu
    Posted January 10, 2009 at 2:43 am | Permalink

    I actually agree with K. Wilson, she’s not the story and I’m actually pretty pissed off that I revealed enough for lazy ass stalkers to feed on, even if it was only for a moment.
    [SL, I’ve posted on the cat in this regard and admittedly it was directed at you] …one swallow etc.
    To me Wilson strickes me as a an intelligient woman who has been distracted by the crew that you’re all too familliar with.

  28. John Greenfield
    Posted January 10, 2009 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Tears ran down my cheeks as I read Robert Manne’s account of same. This from the dope who was sacked from Quadrant for falling for the biggest hoax/fraud in Australia of the late 20th century – Bringing Them Home Report and its other two stooges – “genocide” and terra nullius! WTF was this last stooge all about? How the hell did an entire nation fall for this bullshit, and why do so many continue to do so?

    KW was extremely brave to take on all the forces that peddled this pornography, and they will never recover from the bitchslapping he dealt them all. They will never forgive, forget, or leave their bubble of denial.

    Poor lambs.

  29. John Greenfield
    Posted January 10, 2009 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Can anybody explain how this zero-sum analogy between KW and the Fabrication-set works? Surely, weathergirl is like the villains Lyndall Ryan, Henry Reynolds etc, while KW is the equivalent of an editor at University of Queensland Press, Allen & Unwin, Penguin.

    Now, I have not read much bile directed towards well-staffed academic publishing houses with scores of Ph.D trained editors to fact-check publishing tosh, so why get medieval on the ass of a single bloke who works for free having to juggle elevnty-four different disciplines for a mag that has always been devoted to extended op-edesque musings, and never claiming to have expertise in original scientific research, nor interested in acquiring it?

    The dopey Leftists have just declared open season on themselves.

    Poor dears.

  30. Posted January 10, 2009 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    On another matter, we have been made aware of your history, Posey, as ‘jinmaro’ at LP. A repeat of the same or similar behaviour will not be allowed to get as far here.

    Posey isn’t Jinmaro Skeptic. She’s been labelled as such for the reasons she states.

    I doubt either of them would attempt to hide behind a sockpuppet. And frankly they were both castigated for agreeing with me by a group of individuals who will remain un-named but (I hypothesize) take exception to any woman agreeing with me for reasons that will likewise remain unspoken.

    I’ve never seen either of them ‘misbehave’ at LP tho’ they both been accused of it.

  31. Posted January 10, 2009 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    ‘Jinmaro’ used to go after me in rather weathergirlish terms, Adrien — although before you were regularly around LP, to be fair.

    I will say, though, that it’s not an accusation Mark would make lightly, and in any case — when it comes to moderation — we’re quite happy to be dictators 😉

  32. klaus k
    Posted January 10, 2009 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    Adrien, jinmaro is delightful until you say something she strongly disagrees with or write in a way that she dislikes. Then she will go after you at each and every opportunity, and will even appear on blogs of third parties in order to do so.

    But you’re a Camille Paglia fan, so you’re much less likely to have seen this side of her.

  33. John Greenfield
    Posted January 11, 2009 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Ah, so ‘jinmaro’ is really Kerryn Goldsworthy! 😉

  34. Posey
    Posted January 11, 2009 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Hildegard of Bingen! Jinmaro, Kerryn and weathergirl sound like a veritable cacophony of yawps. Bit ruled by their passions, peut-etre?

    Not like us eh, sweeties?

  35. Posted January 14, 2009 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    But you’re a Camille Paglia fan, so you’re much less likely to have seen this side of her.

    Or maybe that’s the attraction. 🙂

  36. Posted January 26, 2009 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I know that this is a bit late but here is another point of view on the subject by R.J. Stove at the American emagazine Takimag:


  37. Posted January 26, 2009 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Thanks for that, MCB. Sorry about the delay — you got trapped by the spammer.

  38. Ken N
    Posted January 27, 2009 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Yes, thanks for the link to the R J Stove piece, MCB.
    Stove mentioned in an entry on John Quiggin’s blog that he had been an applicant for the job of editing Quadrant. It was then that he discovered that the job was unpaid.
    It is a bit misleading to describe Quadrant as “taxpayer funded”. I believe that it receives a small grant for publishing fiction and poetry. I doubt that it would fold if it lost this grant.

  39. Posted January 29, 2009 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    Seems hoaxing isn’t a practice unique to Australia … however in the UK it’s not taken quite as seriously.

    Peer reveals ‘cello scrotum’ hoax

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] and mainstream media in outing Ms Wilson. Then go to this piece by scepticlawyer (Helen Dale) Quadrant Demidenkoed. That is all. This provides a picture of the evolving events, including links through to some of the content […]

  2. […] various places around Ozblogistan (enumerated in considerable detail in my earlier post on the topic), people have been calling Katherine Wilson a fraud. Or they’ve been calling Ern Malley a […]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *