The Dysology Hypothesis

Letting scholars get away with publishing fallacies and myths signals to others the existence of topics where guardians of good scholarship might be less capable than elsewhere. Such dysology then serves as an allurement to poor scholars to disseminate existing myths and fallacies and to create and publish their own in these topic areas, which leads to a downward spiral of diminishing veracity on particular topics.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Braced Myth Theory and the Self Defeating Prophecy Paradox. Mythbusting Problematized: The Problem of Zombie Cops in Voodoo Criminology

In the past few years a growing number of popular science and other non-fiction books seek to bust myths and conspiracy theories and encourage the public to be more healthily sceptical of news reporting. An underlying aim of these books seems also to be to help provide us with the necessary insight to spot dubious claims and research their veracity for ourselves. This is to be applauded, but does this movement present us with any risks?

The Self-Defeating Prophecy

I hypothesise that the growth of the informed healthy skeptic movement increases the risk of the literature on this subject creating braced myths. And braced myths may well prove more likely to become orthodox authority, that is in turn particularly difficult to debunk, because it is more socially entrenched. Braced myths are - for want of a better word - supermyths.

This hypothesis could be described as a self-defeating prophecy, which is the opposite of Robert Merton' s self-fulfilling prophecy. Because, by warning respected healthy sceptical authorities of the dangers of being hoisted by their own petards, I might diminish the chances of my hypothesis being supported by future evidence.

An example of a braced myth in criminology, which has had a major impact on policing and related policy making, is the Zombie Cop Model