A breakaway group of marine biology enthusiasts known as ‘Orangists” has emerged to take on the scientific establishment in the latest high profile scrap over the essential arbitrariness of objects.
Orangists insist that, despite all evidence to the contrary and in the face of withering disdain from actual experts in the field alongside anyone who’s ever been scuba diving, only bright orange fish exist in the ocean. The vast diversity of ocean life is “fake news“ to what some have come to call ¨the Tea Party of the ocean sciences¨; to others, who wouldn’t be named for fear of reprisals, “deranged, deluded, dangerous and daft”.
Orangists see their campaign as the latest battleground over “scientism’, an ideology that posits that things actually exist.
Peter Lind, the founder of the Orangist movement, is a marine biology professor at Gideon Pillow College in landlocked Iowa. Lind contends the dismissive reaction of “the globalist scientist cabal” conceals a deeply held fear their ‘hegemonic command of arbitrary constructs they misrepresent as facts” is on borrowed time. He then murmured something vaguely but unmistakably anti-Semitic.
From the moment Lind’s published his first Reddit post on the subject — “All Fish are Bright Orange and Only Neoliberalism Stops You From Seeing It” — dozens around the world have begun to question the very notion of biodiversity.
Sharryn Silver, who runs a the Facebook Page “Nemo-Liberalism”, says Lind has unleashed a “tsunami of critical thinking far beyond merely fish species, but around the very notion of notionness,” Silver told me over lunch near her tiny home in rural Vermont. (When I asked her if tsunamis exist, she faked an incoming phone call).
The mainstream media hasn’t shied away from the controversy, most notably in the form of a weekend feature in the Washington Post last month followed by a CNN panel featuring 78 experts (or the extended Brady family; it was hard to tell). “Is biodiversity real?”, the Post story, set off a flurry of interest in Orangist ideas, even as the Post’s features editor confessed to me that “Orangism is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard”. Pressed as to why the newspaper nonetheless ran the story, elevating the profiles and views of Lind, Silver and as many as seven others, the editor threw up his hands. “Hey, we’re not scientists but we can count. This shit flies out the fucking door,” he said.
Meanwhile, the marine biology ‘establishment’— broadly defined as those who cling to the view that fish come in more colours than simply bright orange — are exasperated.
“Lind goes on air and we’re forced to respond and say things like “no, look at this one; it’s yellow” or something, a leading international biologist told us on the condition we negotiate on his behalf with the FBI for a spot on the Witness Protection Program. “It’s just embarrassing”.
After President Trump in July tweeted a link to the Lind Reddit post, Gallup now records that 115% of registered Republicans believe the world’s oceans and waterways host only orange fish.
Meanwhile, the Organ Players of North America (OPONA) has been forced to issue a statement distancing itself from the scientific showdown.
“Due to spellcheck, we have been far more involved in this Orangist cause than we ever hoped or imagined,” OPONA spokesorganist Imogen Bottle emailed The Weekly Howler in response to misdirected queries.