For the past year scholars James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose, and Peter Boghossian have sent fake papers to various academic journals which they describe as specialising in activism or “grievance studies.” Their stated mission has been to expose how easy it is to get “absurdities and morally fashionable political ideas published as legitimate academic research.”
To date, their project has been successful: seven papers have passed through peer review and have been published, including a 3000 word excerpt of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, rewritten in the language of Intersectionality theory and published in the Gender Studies journal Affilia.
This is superb. They got a feminist journal to publish Mein Kampf in the language of intersectionality theory.
The three academics (who describe themselves as left leaning liberals) are fighting back over the grievance studies takeover of academia. They wrote 20 hoax papers and got seven published. They include:
- a paper claiming dog parks are “petri dishes for canine ‘rape culture’ ” and issues “a call for awareness into the different ways dogs are treated on the basis of their gender and queering behaviors, and the chronic and perennial rape emergency dog parks pose to female dogs.”
- a paper in a fat studies journal that claimed bodybuilding is “fat-exclusionary”
- a paper for the Journal of Poetry Therapy describing monthly feminist spirituality meetings with a “womb room” and six poems, which Mr. Lindsay generated by algorithm and lightly edited
The WSJ further report:
One hoax paper, submitted to Hypatia, proposed a teaching method centered on “experiential reparations.” It suggested that professors rate students’ levels of oppression based on race, gender, class and other identity categories. Students deemed “privileged” would be kept from commenting in class, interrupted when they did speak, and “invited” to “sit on the floor” or “to wear (light) chains around their shoulders, wrists or ankles for the duration of the course.” Students who complained would be told that this “educational tool” helps them confront “privileged fragility.”
And what was the response to this insanity?
Hypatia’s two unnamed peer reviewers did not object that the proposed teaching method was abusive. “I like this project very much,” one commented. One wondered how to make privileged students “feel genuinely uncomfortable in ways that are humbling and productive,” but not “so uncomfortable (shame) that they resist with renewed vigor.”
Yes they liked the idea of privileged students being unable to speak and wearing chains in class.
Mr. Boghossian doesn’t have tenure and expects the university will fire or otherwise punish him. Ms. Pluckrose predicts she’ll have a hard time getting accepted to a doctoral program. Mr. Lindsay said he expects to become “an academic pariah,” barred from professorships or publications.
Yet Mr. Lindsay says the project is worth it: “For us, the risk of letting biased research continue to influence education, media, policy and culture is far greater than anything that will happen to us for having done this.”
Brave people who have done us a service. You can read their own article on how and why they did it here.