The Pursuit of Irony

Savor, if you will, the merciless pursuit of irony, in a newly published paper, and then in gleeful commentary by people who read that paper.

The paper is:

The Ethics of Ironic Science in Its Search for Spoof,” Maryam Ronagh, Lawrence Souder, Science and Engineering Ethics, epub December 16, 2014. The authors, at Drexel University, explain:

“We attempt to understand why so many readers cited such ironic science seriously…. Based on this study we worry that the integrity of the scientific record is as vulnerable to ironic science as it is to retracted research. Unless they are warned otherwise, readers are left to wallow in Booth’s (1974) unstable irony. Readers of scientific research will not expect a published paper to express certainty about the truth of its content, but they should expect certainty about the truthful intent of its authors.”

Souder_LawrenceProfessor Souder [pictured here], co-author of that paper, has a doctorate in an unusual specialty. His web site says: “Lawrence Souder earned his PhD in the rhetoric of science from Temple University.”

Here are three in a growing line of delighted pursuers of those pursuers: Ivan OranskyRose Eveleth,  Neuroskeptic.

Another — a different — pursuit of irony is shaping up in New York City. Join the pursuit yourself, if you like, by reading these items, which are listed here in reverse chronological order:

BONUS: Alanis Morissette sings “Ironic”:


Improbable Research