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From Late Latin sciolus (diminutive of Latin scius (knowing), from sciō (I know)) +‎ -ism.



sciolism (countable and uncountable, plural sciolisms)

  1. The practice, or an instance, of expressing opinions on something which one knows only superficially or has little real understanding of.
    • 1800, “Art. XV. Lettre, &c. i.e. A Letter to the Editor of the Monthly Review: or an Answer to the Objections in that Journal, to the Methods of the Limits of Hypothetic Fluxions. By Mr. Stockler, Colonel of the Corps of Artillery, Member of the Royal Academy of Sciences, [in Lisbon], and Mathematical Professor of that of the Marine, Lisbon, &c. 1800.”, in The Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine; or, Monthly Political and Literary Censor, volume VI, London: Printed, for the Proprietors, [] By T. Crowder, [], OCLC 639841096, pages 526–527:
      The pureſt geometry has taught us, that lines may be taken as generated by motion, and that magnitude, in the abſtract, may be conſidered as repreſented by lines ſo generated; and conſequently increaſing quantity by increaſing lines: the crude paralogiſms of a vitiated metaphyſics, ſetting themſelves in oppoſition to the very poſtulates of all geometry, the truth of which we recognize by intuition, may pretend, that motion is a principle foreign to the nature of the ſubject; we are not to rank theſe ſcioliſms among the things which the rigour of the most exact reaſoning requires.
    • 1823, C[harles] Wellbeloved, Three Letters Addressed to the Ven. and Rev. Francis Wrangham, M.A. Archdeacon of Cleveland, in Reply to his Remarks on Unitarianism and Unitarians, Contained in His Charge to the Clergy of his Archdeaconry, Delivered in July, 1822, 2nd edition, York: Printed by Thomas Wilson and Sons, [], OCLC 702218756, page 11:
      And after all, should it be proved that Unitarian writers of the present generation are sciolists, it will not follow that their principles deserve the opprobrious name of sciolism. Principles which either wholly, or in their most essential particulars, have been professed, illustrated, and defended by such men as J. Crellius, Slichtingius, and other eminently learned Polish writers: and in our own country, by Peirce, Emlyn, Benson, Lardner, Lowman, Tyrwhitt, Jebb, Lindsey, and Wakefield, to whom many other equally honourable names might be added, cannot be fairly characterized as belonging to a school of sciolism.
    • 1838 November, “Art VIII.—Who are the True Conservatives?”, in The Quarterly Christian Spectator, volume X, number IV, New Haven, Conn.: Published for the proprietor by Hezekiah Howe [...], OCLC 5090641, page 608:
      They have guarded a few minds against sciolism and pretension in philosophy, and they have given a new and more imposing air to sciolism itself, and placed in the hands of the charlatan enchantments and magical arts, which hold fast its victims with a potency never granted to an inferior spell. There is no sciolism now which is more dangerous than that which is so very careful to inform us of its entire freedom from all that is superficial, []
    • 1845, Joseph Jones, Aphoristical Instruction: or, Many Thoughts in Few Words, London: Hamilton, Adams, and Co. W. Rowbottom, [], OCLC 265033655, page 73:
      Sciolism knows every thing, talks of every thing, and cuts every Gordian knot with ease: but wise knowledge sees that the sphere of light is small; is humble and silent; and allows mysteries to be mysteries.
    • 1939, The Sewanee Review, volume 47, Sewanee, Tenn.: T. Hodgson for University of the South, OCLC 1936968, page 115:
      His sciolism will then proceed more positively to fit his discoveries in the plays to the antecedent construct of his candidate for the authorship. It all works out very neatly. Every item joins: fits! But, alas!, he is thoroughly immune to any correction of his mind: []
    • 2003, Sara Delamont, “Organising the Necessary Work: The Question(s) of Method(s)”, in Feminist Sociology, London: Sage Publications, →ISBN, pages 70–71:
      One early definition of feminist research, which was often cited as a mantra was 'feminist research is by women, on women, for women.' [] I have called this mantra a sciolism because it was so superficial. [] The other sciolism was that all positivist or quantitative research methods (treated as synonymous) were 'hard' and masculine, so all feminist research must be interpretivist and/or qualitative, and therefore soft and feminine. This was both insulting to the men who did qualitative research and to women who chose quantitative methods as Jayaratne (1983) argued at the time. Clegg (1985) published a paper which clearly quashed that sciolism, intellectually, but did not of course kill it. Maynard reviews this sciolism and disposes of it.

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