Inside Higher Ed runs an article on the Koch conspiracy narrative from defenders of Democracy in Chains. So far, there are no attempts to engage with critics who have pointed to the book’s crippling flaws of interpretation and analysis. It’s just repetitions of the “hocus pocus Charles Kochus” spell from the little-known forthcoming volume of the Harry Potter series (Harry Potter and the Stealth Plan for America).
Some quick thoughts:
“Still, it’s not hard to imagine that such a close reading of her book by so many scholars with affiliations to Koch — largely undisclosed in the critiques — could be some kind of conspiracy.”
Right. I watch movies, too, so I agree it’s “not hard to imagine.” It’s also “not hard to imagine” a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion.
Quoting a defender of MacLean’s story: “The rest is strongly footnoted. About a third of the entire text is references at the end.”
Sorry, but “it has a lot of footnotes” isn’t much of an argument. We’ve all heard some variation on that from students wondering why they got a C instead of an A.
“As for questions some have raised about MacLean’s academic integrity in asking supporters to police online book reviews, Jacoby said authors try to ‘game’ the Amazon review process all the time. It may be ‘something of a moral grey area,’ he added, ‘but it is certainly not a major violation of ethics. It’s not as if she was interfering in the academic review process.'”
This is more than “gaming.” If you’ve ever listened to a podcast, you’re familiar with podcasters and authors asking for five-star reviews from you found the content helpful. This is a call to influence the pattern of reviews for explicitly ideological reasons. On the “academic review process,” I would argue that commentary and criticism are integral to the academic review process–a process that is compromised by a conspiracy narrative coupled with what is so far a refusal to address critics’ claims about fundamental problems with the book.