This is exceedingly funny

The background to all this is here.

And now someone tells Naomi Wolf that her PhD and new book are all entirely based upon this basic error.

42 thoughts on “This is exceedingly funny”

  1. Oh dear. (Click through to the Twitter link if the audio is clipped btw)

    The best bit is at the very end, where it turns out the gay martyr she wrongly claimed was executed not only wasn’t executed, but was prosecuted for child molestation.

  2. This is even more mortifying than helium-voiced minicon Ben Shapiro being DESTROYED WITH FACTS AND LOGIC by Brillo.

  3. It means that the “stupid woman” (Corbynisms are so right-on, eh?) not only cocked up the meaning of a legal term, but she hadn’t the first idea about that society and its functioning.

    It reminds me of the time that an American historian said that the English Civil War was a religious war of protestants vs catholics. Balls, I thought, she should stick to her own period. So I looked her up: she described herself as a historian of the English Civil War.

    It would be rude to suggest that Americans are such a parochial bunch that they need to be super-cautious on pronouncing on foreign matters. Rude but perhaps true.

  4. Wolf’s doctoral thesis was so obscure that no one could challenge it, and strange enough that no one wanted to do an even cursory check of the facts.

  5. One thing to add: I imagine that there is a terrible fear familiar to all academics from time to time; have I made some awful howler that turns my argument into mere drivel?

    The defence against it is, I suggest, to stand back from your work and ask yourself “could my conclusions possibly be true?”

    The most public horror show that I remember was Trevor-Roper and his Hitler Diaries fiasco. (And during one of his public performances during that schemozzle a person known to me noticed something which cast some doubt on the work which had made his reputation, The Last Days of Hitler.)

  6. Anyone remember that bit in ANNIE HALL, where Woody Allan conjures Marshall McLuhan to quiet an academic bore?

    Boy, if life were only like this…

  7. Bloke in Germany

    “One thing to add: I imagine that there is a terrible fear familiar to all academics from time to time; have I made some awful howler that turns my argument into mere drivel?”

    This is certainly a reasonable fear at the softer end of academia. Those of us whose doctorates relied on the creation of new and objectively-assessable, criticisable, data have fewer such fears, even if we would no longer seek to defend our theses as worthy of the title.

    And what a wonderful illustration of what happens when you dive into the politically charged reaches of crapademia. A “queer studies” lecturer can’t even point their student in the direction of a lawyer to do a bit of basic fact checking. Because the conclusion fits the postmodernist narrative (white male Victorians BAAAAD) it won’t get checked. Had she concluded the opposite, she would probably have failed.

  8. Bloke in Germany

    I should add – this subject matter (legal history) should fall towards the harder end of science, objectively assessable facts etc, even if no new data is created. It’s the assessment on the basis of “truth is what we feelz like now” that results in howlers like this. It’s not even literature, or political “science”, or similar subjects where you just sit in the library, read a bunch of stuff, and collate what various critics and contemporaries said and label it “original research”.

  9. Mr Lud: at a press conference some reporters shouted questions in English. Trevor Roper answered. Some shouted questions in German. He was flummoxed: he couldn’t cope. He asked for translation into English.

    Tentative conclusion: he couldn’t understand idiomatic German spoken quickly. However good his reading knowledge was, and perhaps however good his command of rather formal German spoken slowly enough was, he couldn’t cope with everyday German. If that was true too in 1945 then his enquiries must presumably have depended on an interpreter. But he never admitted to such a thing.

    Of course, maybe he was once a master of everyday spoken German and had lost that ability over the years. Maybe. Anyway the problem wasn’t with his hearing: he answered questions in English well enough.

    The idea is not impossible: I could – once upon a time – read German slowly but reasonably well, but couldn’t speak it beyond a handful of formulaic phrases, and couldn’t have understood German spoken quickly or in an unfamiliar accent/dialect. I’ve little doubt that his German was far better than mine: but was it good enough to pootle about Berlin in ’45 quizzing whomever he met and understanding their replies. I wonder. I wonder how many people even asked themselves the question.

  10. That’s like my Japanese. After doing it for two years at Uni 30 years ago, I can now read it slowly with a dictionary, and can eject pre-assembled sentences verbally, but struggle to disect norma-lpaced incoming speech.

  11. This is even more mortifying than helium-voiced minicon Ben Shapiro being DESTROYED WITH FACTS AND LOGIC by Brillo.

    Despite finding Shapiro mildly irritating, I felt he handled being lazily gotcha-interviewed by a smug-Jock-on-the-BBC appropriately (essentially – fuck off, waster). Not remotely comparable to the Wolf disintegration.

    Get well soon, Steve.

  12. dearieme:
    No idea if this is true or not, but I did see an author on some programme or other (impeccable sourcing, I realize!) suggest that HTR hadn’t been able to talk directly to many of the key witnesses from the final days in the bunker as they were in Russian hands.
    He therefore had quoted from their interrogations as if they were personal interviews.

    Again, this may or may not be nonsense.

  13. So can she be stripped, publicly, of her Piled Higher & Deeper qualification? As its only confirming she is an idiot, not advancing human knowledge or you know, scholarly.

  14. Bloke in Germany


    There are two languages I can read flawlessly, no dictionary needed. Have PGCerts to prove it, have translated for hire or reward. One of them I can’t speak to save my life, the other comes back slowly when I am in-country for a long time.

    Shapiro had his ass handed to him. I loved the moment he called Brillo left-wing. For everything else, there’s mastercard.

  15. This is what the memory hole, a.k.a. Progressive media was designed for. See this slowly disappear from view and Twitter bans for anyone posting this Untruth in the future.

  16. Bloke in North Dorset

    I thought she came across quite well when she realised what she’d done, maybe the enormity of it all hadn’t struck her. Matthew Street said she was quite gracious. Apparently she’s blocking all and sundry now, but knowing twitter her enemies won’t have been gracious.

    I saw someone try to defend he by saying that she had been let down by her publishers who hadn’t done any fact checking and that unlike journalists who have fact-checkers (really?) authors are on their own. To which I replied:

    She didn’t need a fact checker, she needed to put her biases aside instead of looking for evidence to support them.

    Thinking about it further, as I understand the way this sort of publishing works she will have been given an advance to cover the costs of writing the book and if she thought she needed a fact checker she should have got one. Furthermore, she’s a PhD, thorough research and fact checking ought to be second nature.

    So I’ve gone from a bit of sympathy to absolutely zero, I can’t quite make schadenfreude.

  17. BWTM

    ‘Outrages, a study of the persecution of gay men by the legal system in Victorian Britain’

    Rank presentism fallacy.

  18. PJF – thank you! More sympathy for the manflu than Mrs Steve shows 🙁

    I thought Shapiro humiliated himself unnecessarily. He obviously didn’t know who he was talking to, which is fine, but if you were a high-flying media professional with a carefully manicured image, wouldn’t you at least spend 10 minutes on YouTube to prep?

    Brillo is often smug, habitually confrontational, but generally fair IMO. It’s not unreasonable to expect your guest on a politics show to defend his own public statements. Cathy Newman style gotcha journalism this was not.

    For a guy whose public persona is basically “debate* me, libtard!”, it’s a little bit shocking how Ben immediately flew into an adolescent tantrum when mildly challenged. This isn’t someone pulled in off the street, he’s a multi-millionaire published author, TV and radio personality who styles himself as some sort of moral and political thought leader**.

    To be fair, he later apologised.

    Naomi Wolf, by comparison, has the absolute defence of being stupid.

    *I think there’s something wrong with the American definition of “debate”. They seem to think it means “talk really fast while reciting memorised factoids”. It’s super effective on the 19-year-old gender-confused rainbow-haired she-twinks Shapiro usually skewers, but if Socrates was still alive it’d probably drive him to hemlock.

    **I reckon there’s also a broader problem on the political Right, particularly in America but here as well, of terminal glibness. Margaret Thatcher was a thoughtful, insightful, erudite woman who could speak in paragraphs. Who have we got like that now? It’s all retarded slogans and rote waffle.

  19. @Steve

    Here, here.

    As taken out of context quotes go, “there’s no such thing as society” is hard to beat. Mrs T was making the point that people were neither helping themselves or others because they expected “society,” to sort it out. She went on to talk of a tapestry of people who should be looking to help each other and themselves. That bit never gets mentioned. I think it was an interview with Women’s Own. Worth tracking down and reading the whole thing.

  20. If you aren’t speaking then your enemies are, and they might flick out the odd glib comment which trends for twenty four hours, and that’s enough in modern politics.

    You can find in the history of science many, many examples of people who were right but slaughtered by the ‘consensus’ of opinion, in politics you don’t even have the flimsy defence of being right (rational, correct)


    Interview for Woman’s Own (“no such thing as society”)
    Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
    Document kind: Interview
    Venue: No.10 Downing Street
    Source: Thatcher Archive (THCR 5/2/262): COI transcript
    Journalist: Douglas Keay, Woman’s Own
    Editorial comments: 1600-1720. An edited version of the interview was published on 31 October 1987 (under the title “Aids, education and the year 2000!”), pp8-10. Douglas Keay faithfully reproduced MT’s reflections on society, although in the transcript the phrase “There is no such thing as society” occurs a few paragraphs below its position in the published text. Most unusually a statement elucidating the remark was issued by No.10, at the request of the Sunday Times and published on 10 July 1988 in the “Atticus” column: it is transcribed from the newspaper and follows the interview transcript.

  22. fact checking.
    If you aren’t capable of fact checking your own thesis then you don’t qualify for a PhD.

  23. Steve, the site ate the reply I’d constructed and I can’t be bothered to start again.

    In shorty, I thought it was reasonable for Shapiro to conclude that he was wasting his time talking to a predictable BBC NPC leftard since that was the impression Neil gave. It was like he was reading trite, agenda driven questions in a script for an interview set up by his producer and researched by the usual BBC leftie children. I think Neil did less research (personally) than Shapiro did. It was when he started reeling off quotes from Shapiro’s own web page of “stupid things I’ve said in the past” that the Ben boy went with bollocks-to-this.

    Both are irritating but Neil the more so to me because he proudly works for a shameless shower of shits that could be described fairly as fascist.

  24. But what about all those euros deprived of their human rights by not being able to vote for the EU parliament in the UK…. Or the 3 or 4 Brits in Australia deprived likewise…. We woz stripped of our rights!!!!!!!!!

  25. Dennis the Parochial Peasant

    It would be rude to suggest that Americans are such a parochial bunch that they need to be super-cautious on pronouncing on foreign matters. Rude but perhaps true.

    Oh really? What a typically parochial wog response: Them hicks across the pond just can’t get it right…

    Wolf got her PhD at Oxford – until now not noted as a hotbed of U.S. parochialism – and was supervised by a wog Oxford professor – also until now not noted as a hotbed U.S. parochialism.

    Wolf got it wrong not because she was a parochial septic, but because her scholarship was shit. Given that none of the wogs at Oxford involved in awarding her a PhD caught her error(s), much of the blame for this falls on Oxford’s faculty and especially her wog supervisor.

    Evidently, Oxford is a shitty enough uni that it could pass itself off as a second tier U.S. private college.

    Rude, but perhaps true.

  26. Dennis the Peasant

    fact checking.
    If you aren’t capable of fact checking your own thesis then you don’t qualify for a PhD.

    Yep. And if the faulty involved in the PhD process aren’t capable of fact checking a student’s thesis, it shouldn’t be in the business of awarding PhDs. At any school, from elementary to trade to university, shit scholarship by students is simply a reflection of shit scholarship by the teachers.

  27. Sort of similar. Whilst Tesla circles the drain ever more closely, one outfit – ARK Invest – continues to garner publicity for its $4000 per share narrative; this week choosing to release its spreadsheet purporting to justify this target. Cue Twitter:

    Here’s one for ya off the top of my head after spending about 45 seconds looking at the thing. Your bull case assumption has gross PP&E of 19 THOUSAND dollars (not 19 BILLION). You are using FORMATTING to eliminate zeros which doesn’t change the math! WTH.

    And it goes downhill from there.

  28. I share your amusement, Dennis. Especially as the accusation comes from a Brit. Most whom couldn’t point to half the countries of Europe on a map & are clueless about their histories & cultures.

  29. Bloke in Germany


    But Britain was first populated by followers of The Prophet, transsexuals, and [insert this week’s acceptable term for black people]. And all was peace, harmony, and rainbow flags.

    Then white males came along and enslaved them, and it was all shit. And it has never been shitter than today to live in Britain, especially as a follower of The Prophet, or [insert terminology] because of the fundamentalist transolamophobia, sexism, etc of the white male interloper.

    Truly, white males have made Britain today one of the most impoverished places on the planet, with their [insert terminology]phobia, discrimination, sexism, racism and so on. And are destroying the climate.

  30. @bloke in spain May 25, 2019 at 11:16 pm

    Jo Brand, the [alleged] comedian and [change channel to avoid] presenter, had said that she didn’t feel she could “make a fuss” over a businessman who sexually assaulted her at a Canary Wharf charity event because they were “raising loads of money”.

    Brand told an audience at the Hay Festival that she failed to report a man who “stuck his tongue in my mouth” because she didn’t want to ruin the “jolly” atmosphere at a charity fundraiser.

    I call Bollocks.

    Even beer goggles would not induce a man to kiss that hag, let alone put their tongue in her putrid mouth and pay £200 for doing so.

    Throwing bricks at her for £200 – that might work.

  31. @PJF May 25, 2019 at 11:40 pm

    Ever since AN was fired “to spend more time with his family” as Daily Politics lead he’s been conforming to BBC Agenda.

    This Week has gone way down since then.

    AN should be on Fox – he must know Steve Hilton’s number.

  32. @Dennis the Parochial Peasant May 26, 2019 at 12:31 am

    Evidently, Oxford is a shitty enough uni that it could pass itself off as a second tier U.S. private college.

    Oxford University last week committed suicide. A century from now, tourists will still come to admire its lovely buildings, but the guides will astonish them when they say that it was once considered the equal of the great universities of North America.

    I think PH is wrong, USA Unis eg Harvard, MIT have already gone full Left SJW PC. More chance of China, HK, Singapore or Taiwan rising.


    Interesting: James Pillans, Rector of Edinburgh High School 1810-1820, invented the blackboard.

  33. Didn’t stop her being the first guest on Radio 4’s Start the Week (from the Hay Festival, natch). I didn’t listen.

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