Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Dept. of You Can Too Make It Up

From today's Boston Globe:

Say what?

"THREE MIT graduate students invented a computer program that can spit out randomly selected words to create grammatically correct research reports that make absolutely no sense. Now they have had one of those papers accepted for presentation at a July scientific conference.
...

Jeremy Stribling, Max Krohn, and Dan Aguayo call their paper ''Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy" -- which might have been seen as a tip-off that scientific beaks were being tweaked. After all, why would anyone want to unify redundancy?
...
Their spoof echoes what has become known as the 'Sokal Hoax,' perpetrated in 1996 by Alan Sokal, a professor of physics at New York University. He lampooned Duke University's left-wing cultural criticism journal ''Social Text" by positing in 11 pages of text and 30 pages of footnotes that the physical world did not exist. The journal published the paper, which was titled ''Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity." The reason something like that can slip by editors without an eye blink is that a lot of people in academia think, speak, and write that way -- and they're hardly alone.


The business world can take a simple idea and turn it into a paradigm with parameters faster than a mouse click -- and the affliction keeps getting worse, no matter how many consultants are hired to promote clarity. The new book, 'Why Business People Speak Like Idiots,' by Brian Fugere, Chelsea Hardaway, and Jon Warshawsky should be required reading in America's suites and cubicles."

Oh, sure, the computer can crank out meaningless research studies. But does it know how to use them to get tenure or knock down six figure consulting fees? Nooooo. I just hate it when people start crowing about how computers can do everything better than humans...

2 Comments:

Anonymous jillian said...

i thought this administration already uses that...

5:23 PM  
Blogger bluememe said...

I absolutely love stories like this. As much as I favor science over religion, few things are as satisfying as watching scientists whiff the occasional knuckleball.

11:28 PM  

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