Three Scholars Dupe Peer-Reviewed Journals into Publishing ‘Academic Hoaxes’

AFP/Miguel SCHINCARIOL
AFP Miguel/SCHINCARIOL

Three self-described “concerned academics” — who politically identify as “left-leaning liberals” — repeatedly duped several academic outfits over a one-year period. They submitted nonsense research papers to peer-reviewed academic journals which were subsequently published and praised.

Peter Boghossian, Mike Nayna, and Helen Pluckrose released the following video documenting their investigatory antics:

The hoaxed submissions — built on what the trio of professors said were “absurd or morally reprehensible” conclusions — were part of an effort to expose what the scholars describe as a “corruption” across humanities fields of American colleges and universities.

The professors describe the ascendance of a neo-Marxist political dogma across academia, which they warn is bleeding into the cultures of news media organizations and large corporations.

Opting for the term “grievance studies,” the professors note alternate terms for the same neo-Marxist analytical paradigms: “critical constructivism,” “blank slatism,” and “radical constructivism.”

“Grievance studies,” write the professors, is gaining influence “within the humanities, sociology, anthropology, and other social sciences [while] gaining increasing power over our universities, institutions, media, and culture.”

The threesome observed a lack of academic rigor within scholarly fields focusing on gender, race, and sexuality.

The professors warn of threats to free speech and expression related to the rise of neo-Marxist dogma, illustrating their admonition with a consideration of challenging feminists premises:

Questioning tenets of feminist philosophy might get you branded sexist or accused of carrying internalized misogyny. Questioning critical race scholarship is written off as exhibiting “white fragility”, “white ignore-ance”, a form of intentional ignorance, a form of resistance, or seeking white approval. Of note, it is impossible to counter such claims, and attempts to do so are taken as proof of guilt.

The professors noted how “grievance studies” corrupt academia and broader epistemological pursuits:

There is very little reason to consider work in [the field of grievance studies] as capable of generating knowledge about the world, the people living in it, and the societies they form.

We conclude the problem we have identified in grievance studies, which has taken over large sectors of the humanities and social sciences, is real and significant. That problem is that a political bias which intentionally blends activism into scholarship (sometimes described as “academic leftism”) has become dominant and entrenched in varying degrees within those fields it has successfully corrupted. Moreover, it aims to spread its assumptions and methods into other fields, including the hard sciences. This, in turn, delegitimizes this scholarship and casts serious doubt upon its conclusions and results. These results and methods are therefore in need of reconsideration.

Below are some of the professors’ submitted papers’ titles and summaries which were published and praised by academic journals:

“Dog Park” – Human Reactions to Rape Culture and Queer Performativity in Urban Dog Parks in Portland, Oregon

Discipline/subdiscipline: Feminist geography

Summary: That dog parks are “rape-condoning spaces” and a place of rampant canine rape culture and systemic oppression against “the oppressed dog” through which human attitudes to both problems can be measured and analyzed by applying black feminist criminology. This is done to provide insights into training men out of the sexual violence and bigotry to which they are prone. Arguably our most absurd paper.

Purpose: Journals will accept arguments which should be clearly ludicrous and unethical if they provide (an unfalsifiable) way to perpetuate notions of toxic masculinity, heteronormativity, and implicit bias.

“Dildos” – Going in Through the Back Door: Challenging Straight Male Homohysteria and Transphobia through Receptive Penetrative Sex Toy Use

Discipline/subdiscipline: sexualities studies

Summary: That it is suspicious that straight men rarely anally self-penetrate using sex toys, and that this is probably due to fear of being thought homosexual (“homohysteria”) and bigotry against trans people (transphobia). (It combines these ideas into a novel concept “transhysteria,” which was suggested by one of the paper’s peer reviewers.) Encouraging them to engage in receptive penetrative anal eroticism will decrease transphobia and increase feminist values.

Purpose: That journals will accept ludicrous arguments if they support (unfalsifiable) claims that common (and harmless) sexual choices made by straight men are actually homophobic, transphobic, and anti-feminist.

“Feminist ​Mein Kampf​” – Our Struggle is My Struggle: Solidarity Feminism as an Intersectional Reply to Neoliberal and Choice Feminism

Discipline/subdiscipline: feminist social work

Note: The last two thirds of this paper is based upon a rewriting of roughly 3600 words of Chapter 12 of Volume 1 of Mein Kampf, by Adolf Hitler, though it diverges significantly from the original. This chapter is the one in which Hitler lays out in a multi-point plan which we partially reproduced why the Nazi Party is needed and what it requires of its members. The first one third of the paper is our own theoretical framing to make this attempt possible.

Summary: Feminism which foregrounds individual choice, responsibility, female agency, and strength can be countered by a feminism which unifies in solidarity around the victimhood of the most marginalized women in society.

Purpose: That we could find Theory to make anything (in this case, part of Chapter 12 of Volume 1 of Mein Kampf with buzzwords switched in) acceptable to journals if we put it in terms of politically fashionable arguments and existing scholarship. Of note, while the original language and intent of Mein Kampf has been significantly changed to make this paper publishable and about feminism, the reliance upon the politics of grievance remains clear, helping to justify our use of the term “grievance studies” for these fields.

Read the professors’ entire report here.

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