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The Grievance Studies Scandal: Five Academics Respond

Editor’s note: 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.

Below is a response to the scandal from five academics who are currently researching, publishing and teaching in the fields of Philosophy, English Studies, Behavioral Genetics and Economics.

From Foolish Talk to Evil Madness — Nathan Cofnas (Philosophy)

Nathan Cofnas is reading for a DPhil in philosophy at the University of Oxford. His work focuses on the philosophy of biology, broadly construed. He has published on such topics as
innateness, the ethical implications of individual differences in intelligence, and Jewish cultural evolution. You can follow him on Twitter @nathancofnas

Twenty years ago, Alan Sokal called postmodernism “fashionable nonsense.” Today, postmodernism isn’t a fashion—it’s our culture. A large proportion of the students at elite universities are now inducted into this cult of hate, ignorance, and pseudo-philosophy. Postmodernism is the unquestioned dogma of the literary intellectual class and the art establishment. It has taken over most of the humanities and some of the social sciences, and is even making inroads in STEM fields. It threatens to melt all of our intellectual traditions into the same oozing mush of political slogans and empty verbiage.

Postmodernists pretend to be experts in what they call “theory.” They claim that, although their scholarship may seem incomprehensible, this is because they are like mathematicians or physicists: they express profound truths in a way that cannot be understood without training. Lindsay, Boghossian, and Pluckrose expose this for the lie that it is. “Theory” is not real. Postmodernists have no expertise and no profound understanding.

Critics of Sokal point out that his paper was never subjected to peer review, and they say it was unfair to expect the editors of Social Text to spot errors concerning math and science. This time there are no excuses. LBP’s papers were fully peer reviewed by leading journals. The postmodernist experts showed that they had no ability to distinguish scholarship grounded in “theory” from deliberate nonsense and faulty reasoning mixed in with hate directed at the disfavored race (white) and sex (“cis” male).

King Solomon said of the fool: “His talk begins as foolishness and ends as evil madness” (Ecclesiastes 10:13). Can a disregard for evidence, logic, and open inquiry combined with a burning hatred for large classes of people perceived as political opponents (“racists,” “sexists,” “homophobes,” “transphobes,” etc.) possibly lead to a good result? The editors and peer reviewers who handled LBP’s papers have revealed their true, vicious attitudes.

The flagship feminist philosophy journal, Hypatia, accepted a paper (not yet published online) arguing that social justice advocates should be allowed to make fun of others, but no one should be permitted to make fun of them. The same journal invited resubmission of a paper arguing that “privileged students shouldn’t be allowed to speak in class at all and should just listen and learn in silence,” and that they would benefit from “experiential reparations” that include “sitting on the floor, wearing chains, or intentionally being spoken over.” The reviewers complained that this hoax paper took an overly compassionate stance toward the “privileged” students who would be subjected to this humiliation, and recommended that they be subjected to harsher treatment. Is asking people of a certain race to sit on the floor in chains better than asking them to wear a yellow star? What exactly is this leading to?

The Battle was Lost Long Ago — Neema Parvini (English Studies)

Neema Parvini is a senior lecturer in English at the University of Surrey, and is a proud member of the Heterodox Academy as well as The Evolution Institute. He has has written five books, the latest of which is Shakespeare’s Moral Compass. He is currently working on a new book for Palgrave Macmillan called The Defenders of Liberty: Human Nature, Individualism, and Property Rights, a study of 500 years of thinking about freedom in the West, from Machiavelli to Milton Friedman. Follow him on Twitter @neemaparvini1

The news that these journals are nakedly ideological will not surprise many of those who work within the disciplines of the humanities in the modern academy. Now the ticking off of buzzwords seems to stand in for checking the quality of scholarship or the coherence of arguments. The battle was lost around 1991. Around that time the great historian of the Tudor period, G.R. Elton, had been fighting rear-guard action for the discipline he loved. He saw history in the tradition of Leopold von Ranke: a meticulous examination of the primary evidence and a refusal to allow present-day concerns or attitudes to colour the subject matter. But traditional history, like all other disciplines, came under attack. Elton fumed that the younger generation was on “the intellectual equivalent of crack”, addicted to the “cancerous radiation that comes from the foreheads of Derrida and Foucault”.1 But Elton lost the day to Hayden White who “deconstructed” history by complaining that:

Many historians continue to treat their “facts” as though they were “given” and refuse to recognize, unlike most scientists, that they are not so much “found” as “constructed” by the kinds of questions which the investigator asks of the phenomena before him.2

White’s point is that there can be no such thing as “objectivity” in history, it is merely a form of storytelling driven by the subjective interests of the scholar. Accordingly, historians now sought to rebuild their discipline “on assumptions that directly challenge the empiricist paradigm.”3

In literary studies, the radical feminist Hélène Cixous argued that the ideology of patriarchy was all around us: “a kind of vast membrane enveloping everything”, a “skin” that “encloses us like a net or like closed eyelids”.4How could anyone lay claim to “objectivity” in such conditions? By 1991, such thinking had become de rigueur. In an essay called “The Myth of Neutrality, Again?” the feminist critic Gayle Greene wrote bluntly:

Feminists and Marxists, who hold opinions that are not generally accepted, get called “ideological” (and “political”, “partisan”, “polemical”, and lots of other things) whereas those approaches which are more traditional, closer to what is familiar … get to pass as “neutral” and “objective”. … A fundamental premise of feminist scholarship is that the perspective assumed to be “universal” that has dominated knowledge, shaping its paradigms and methods, has actually been male and culture-bound. I find it astonishing this needs repeating.5

Where some of us might see Niccolò Machiavelli, Francis Bacon, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Rene Descartes, or David Hume palpably struggling with the deepest questions of political philosophy or epistemology, Cixious or Greene see only dead white men. What they say matters less to them than who was saying it. Thus, the competing systems of knowledge that came out of the Enlightenment – rationalism and empiricism – are both always-already tainted as “products of the patriarchy.” It has been the explicit goal of post-modernity to reject reason and evidence: they want a “new paradigm” of knowledge. Should it come as any surprise to us, then, that their journals will publish explicit nonsense such as the papers authored by Lindsay, Pluckrose and Boghossian?

References

1 G. R. Elton, Return to Essentials: Some Reflections on the Present State of Historical Study (1991; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 10, 12-3.
2 Hayden White, ‘The Burden of History’, History and Theory 5:2 (1966), p. 127.
3 Alun Munslow, Deconstructing History, 2nd edn (1997; New York and London: Routledge, 2006), p. 34.
4 Catherine Clément and Hélène Cixous, The Newly Born Woman (London: I.B. Tauris & Co., 1975), p. 145.
5 Gayle Greene, “The Myth of Neutrality, Again?”, in Shakespeare, Left and Right, ed Ivo Kamps (London: Routledge, 1991), pp. 23-4.

Barking in Academia — Rosalind Arden (Behavioral Genetics)

Rosalind Arden is a Research Associate at the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science at the London School of Economics. Her PhD in Behavioral Genetics focused on intelligence. Being brighter is associated with health benefits in humans. It may also be true in dogs; she is currently probing the feasibility and utility of the dog as model of ageing and dementia. Follow her on Twitter @Rosalind_Arden_

Does it matter that tax-payer funded scholars spread suppurating sores on the body academic? Twenty-two years ago Alan Sokal thought it did. Stepping lightly away, for the moment, from an apparently absorbing interest in zero-free regions for multivariate Tutte polynomials (alias Potts-model partition functions) of graphs and matroids, Sokal naughtily submitted to the journal Social Text a lampoon manuscript that married post-structuralist gobbledegook with physics catchphrases. They published it; it has garnered 1526 citations. Sokal’s spoof took aim at obscure language and epistemic relativism. But his quarry escaped.

Now, three academics have submitted twenty spoof manuscripts to journals chosen for respectability in their various disciplines. Seven papers were accepted before the experiment stopped; more are surviving peer review. This new raid on screamingly barmy pseudo-scholarship is the Alan Sokal Opening, weaponised. Like dedicated traceurs in a Parkour-fest, the trio scrambled over the terrain of what they call Grievance Studies. And they dropped fire-crackers. One published paper proposed that dog parks are “rape-condoning spaces.” Another, entitled “Our Struggle is My Struggle: Solidarity Feminism as an Intersectional Reply to Neoliberal and Choice Feminism” reworked, and substantially altered, part of Mein Kampf. The most shocking, (not published, its status is “revise and resubmit”) is a “Feminist Approach to Pedagogy.” It proposes “experiential reparations” as a corrective for privileged students. These include sitting on the floor, wearing chains, or being purposely spoken over. Reviewers have commented that the authors risk exploiting underprivileged students by burdening them with an expectation to teach about privilege.

These psychoactive hoax papers, some penned in just a few hours, are taken seriously because they fit with social science sub fields in which reason has been exchanged for ideology. How did we get here? Did it begin with scholars wanting to right social wrongs? A wish to emphasise, within academic writing, the value of treating one another fairly, of reducing, or eliminating, discrimination on grounds of ancestry, disability, sex, or sexual orientation? Perhaps such scholars were fed up with an implicit hierarchical model of academic discourse in which (like the wrong-headed March of Progress apes-to-man illustration) poetry sits meekly at the left of the line, while biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics strut proudly, at the far right, triumphal, end? If scholars wanted to reduce bias and barriers, the wrong fights have been picked. Here are just three problems with parts of academia that this new manuscript hoax has exposed.

The first is a battle with language. Readers are ill-served by opaque writing. Text can be hard-going because of its specialised content (such as string theory), or hard to decode because it has been written to sexily seduce the reader into slowly undressing the meaning (such as poetry, take, for example, the metaphysicals). But the shamed hoaxed journals too often host unintelligible waffle. Clear writing is not a matter of style; it’s a matter of clear thinking. The dog-park hoax paper, honoured by the journal as exemplary scholarship, contains gems like this: “Dog parks are microcosms where hegemonic masculinist norms governing queering behavior and compulsory heterosexuality can be observed in a cross-species environment.” It looks like a case of reviewers asleep at the wheel.

James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose and Peter Boghossian successfully published an academic paper on the rape culture of dog parks

Secondly, for academia to be worth anything, it is crucial that reviewers and editors understand what any particular experimental design can deliver. This holds for quantitative, qualitative, and post-qualitative (whatever that is) research. Reviewers and editors must object when results or interpretation over-reach the methods. If a hypothesis is unfalsifiable, it doesn’t hurt to say so. The function of empirical work is to steer us closer to the truth about the world. It is therefore crucial to distinguish between what can constitute evidence and what cannot.

Lastly, and most importantly, there is evidence from this experiment, and from the literature in which it is embedded, of a great change in perceptions about what constitutes vice. When I grew up something like the following order of badness prevailed: murder (the worst), followed by serious physical violence, cheating and lying, nasty shouting, nasty speaking and at the milder end, nasty thinking. This has changed. There is evidence that many scholars favour punitive thought-reform. Orwell had a word for this.

It is emblematic of that huge change that I feel queasy here, at risk of being misquoted, when I say that a sexist, racist, or foolish thought or comment is likely to be punished with what was formerly reserved for someone who throws a punch at the Dean’s snout. This, while actual scientific waffle—and worse—is published without criticism. Another sign is the widespread use of that dead metric, the Implicit Association Test, which should long ago have been put out of its misery with a shot of pentobarbital.

Where the hell is Orwell when we need him? We’ve sleep-walked into a Cultural Revolution in our own backyard and I fear we have not seen the worst yet. What to do? Make the academic literature freely available to the public; tear down the paywalls. At least, then, people could see what we are up to. That would be a start.

Philosophy’s Carefully Guarded Secret — Neven Sesardic (Philosophy)

Neven Sesardic is a Croatian philosopher who has taught philosophy at universities in Croatia, the United States, Japan, England, and Hong Kong. His recent books include When Reason Goes on Holiday: Philosophers in Politics (Encounter Books, 2016) and Making Sense of Heritability (Cambridge University Press, 2005). He has also published a number of articles in leading philosophy journals. Follow him on Twitter @NSesardic

One cannot properly judge this new (multiple) version of the Sokal affair before studying the fake articles that were part of the project conducted by Lindsay, Boghossian, and Pluckrose.

Among all these submitted papers mixing “absurdities and morally fashionable political ideas” the project collaborators single out the article that was accepted by the journal Hypatia (A Journal of Feminist Philosophy) as their most important success. Indeed, kudos to them. Yet the reader should know that it is a carefully guarded secret in philosophy that feminist philosophy is often not characterized by intellectual rigor and high academic standards. (The secret is so well-guarded, though, that many philosophers do not dare to admit even to themselves to know it, let alone express it publicly.) So Hypatia was a logical and easy choice for the attempt to place a fake paper in one of the well-known philosophy journals.

Occasionally, however, unintentional absurdities of feminist thinking have crept into much better philosophical journals than Hypatia. A good example is an article from the Australasian Journal of Philosophy in which a feminist describes a “phallic drama” involving two statements, p and ~p (the negation of p):

There is really only one actor, p, and ~p is merely its receptacle. In the representation of the Venn diagram, p penetrates a passive, undifferentiated universal other which is specified as a lack, which offers no resistance, and whose behavior it controls completely.

Note that this is no longer a Sokal-type hoax but an instance of authentic feminist philosophy. Sometimes it is impossible to tell the difference. For more information about how caving in to feminism damages philosophy as a discipline see the 2014 article co-authored by Rafael De Clercq and me.

At the beginning of the text in which the three collaborators explain their project, they write: “Because of the politicized nature of these disciplines, it bears mentioning that all three of us would be best classified as left-leaning liberals.” Sokal himself also found it important to stress, while explaining his hoax, that he was a man of the Left. I am puzzled by this. If you are criticizing a trend that clearly belongs to the political Left, why should you feel it necessary, or useful, to say that you are yourself leftist? Isn’t it enough that you offered arguments in support of your criticism, which presumably should speak for themselves? What’s the point of making that additional step and showing your political colors? Hoping to placate those you criticize by signaling that you are actually one of “them”? Or making clear that you should not be associated with the “right wing,” to which you (honest!) do not belong anyway?

I was in a similar situation in 1981 when I wrote my first article in a series of criticisms of Marxism in what was then Yugoslavia. A friend of mine, slightly worried about me and possible consequences of publishing that article, advised me to add one sentence and say that despite attacking Marxism I at least supported socialism. I refused to do that, not only because I was not a socialist, but primarily because I thought that the question whether I was a socialist or not was entirely irrelevant for my article.

Besides, even if I had been a socialist I would still have been against publicly subscribing to socialism on such occasions. For, although in this way it might have been somewhat easier for me to attack Marxism, the widespread practice of declaring one’s political views might have made the discussion more difficult for those who were not socialists and who had political opinions that were widely and more strongly condemned.

The same applies to the current situation of the dominance of the Left in Western universities. Leftists criticizing the Left should not hurry to identify themselves as leftists while making that criticism. First, because this information is irrelevant. And second, because this could put pressure on conservatives to come out of the closet, which for obvious reasons many of them might be reluctant to do. Or, alternatively, under the circumstances their conservatism could be inferred from their silence about their politics.

The Grievance University — Jonathan Anomaly (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics)

Jonathan Anomaly is a faculty fellow at the Institute for Practical Ethics at UCSD, a founding faculty member of the Philosophy, Politics, & Economics program at USD, and will be a visiting scholar at Oxford University in Winter 2019.  His current research focuses on the moral and legal dimensions of synthetic biology, including gene editing, and the use of synthetic phage viruses to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  More generally, he writes about the relative role of social norms and legal institutions in solving different kinds of collective action problems. Anomaly is co-author of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (Oxford University Press, 2015), his publications can be found here, and he can be contacted at anomaly@ucsd.edu

The authors have pulled off a modern Sokal hoax. The sequel is rarely as good as the original, but in this case it was more comprehensive and more fun than Sokal’s mockery of postmodernist scholarship (a computer-generated version of which can be found here). The project exposes some of the cultish ideas shared by faculty who have created fake subjects and staffed their departments with political activists. Many faculty in these departments seem alarmingly eager to hijack for their own ends the emotional circuitry of teenagers who arrive on campus in search of a tribe to join and a dragon to slay.

If this were the extent of the problem, we could laugh it off as a strange new sport that occurs on college quads rather than in football stadiums. But it is much worse than this. The main problem is not the rise of trendy disciplines with names that end with the word “studies,” or the opportunity cost of spending taxpayer money on bogus scholarship and bad education rather than medical research and space exploration. The problem is that many students are required to take these classes as part of a “diversity” requirement at universities, and that when students graduate, these ideas influence leaders of corporations like Google, which can manipulate its search engine to alter elections and change our epistemic environment in subtle ways.

To take an example, many students in universities and employees at Google take bias training courses that tell them “white privilege” and “systemic racism” explain disparities in outcomes between groups, despite the fact that—to take one example—Asian Americans from China and India (‘people of color’) make more money and are incarcerated at lower rates than whites. According to the conspiratorial worldview of many faculty in grievance studies departments, citing statistics and making arguments that go against the privilege narrative proves that you have an unconscious bias against minorities, and that you’re probably a white supremacist.

Boghossian, Lindsay, and Pluckrose did not publish their articles in the top journals of core fields like economics or psychology, so some skeptics might dismiss the project as a waste of time. But their articles did pass peer review in journals from fields whose basic assumptions are shared by mainstream subjects like literature, sociology, and (increasingly) philosophy.

Some of the most insidious dogmas many faculty in these fields defend include the idea that evolutionary biology can explain animal behavior but isn’t relevant to people; that differences in personality and intelligence can only be explained by education and parenting (not genes); that IQ tests don’t predict anything useful; that differences in outcomes for different groups can only be explained by oppression or systemic racism/sexism; and that five decades of behavioral genetics research can be safely ignored when it threatens environmental explanations. These are the dangers of our time. It is worth reminding those who subsidize this circus that we’re not in Las Vegas.

What happens on campus doesn’t stay on campus.

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292 Comments

  1. John M says

    This is downright heroic! This was a suicide mission for their careers.

    • Boerhaave says

      This would be a gofundme I would gladly contribute to

    • TMavenger says

      Well said. It takes heroes to fight the power of the zeitgeist. We need much more of this to turn back the harbingers of the new dark age.

    • david of Kirkland says

      It would have been suicide only if they intended to publish nonsense without evidence and indoctrinate the youth.

    • Alan D White says

      Is physics then also contaminated by political correctness? Holy sh-t!

    • Hypatia says

      “Boghossian, Lindsay, and Pluckrose did not publish their articles in the top journals of core fields like economics or psychology”

      What?! Hypatia and Conceptual Penis Studies aren’t top journals of core fields??

      Dat’s hate speech right there.

    • Alan D White says

      In no way is what they did a waste of time. They are three who have had the courage of their convictions and may have risked their career as a consequence.

    • Pill 'em All says

      A colleague of mine attempted to respond to one of the Lancet’s feminist themed editorials. It took 3 months for the journal to give a response to whether or not they would even accept the response- and that didn’t happen until they emailed the editor-in-chief after an assistant editor blew them off. The response has now been accepted, but the editor handling the article will not reply to their queries as to when it will be published. What’s weird is the Lancet has already published responses to articles that were published after the feminist editorial. What is also interesting is the editorial that was responded to has already been cited 4 times… and 3 of those articles were published in the Lancet. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, one of the coauthors on the editorial is an executive editor at the Lancet. My colleague remains optimistic, but it’s not looking good. It’s all seems very unprofessional.

  2. Farris says

    Whenever one falsely engages is scholarship, one can always be exposed by any work that mimics their own. Since these people are not scholars they fear being exposed and as such approve anything that appears similar to their output. They understand that if they call out any work similar to their own it is akin to calling themselves out or that others in turn might call them out. These are the properties of an echo chamber. They seek not scholarship but consensus. They seek to stifle debate because intuitively know their research can not survive scrutiny because in reality it lacks scholarship.

  3. This is a hugely important moment for the humanities. This article is good, but it clearly does not show us the way to a viable alternative to postmodernism. The quantitative/data driven approach to humanities is not going to cut it, as valuable as some of that research is. And going back to the great books at this point, while desirable, also seems increasingly unlikely. We need a new approach to the humanities. Complexity science, religious tradition, memetic contagion, self organizing collective intelligences, classic books all seem relevant.

    • The Pedant-General says

      “but it clearly does not show us the way to a viable alternative to postmodernism.”

      Why do we need an alternative to postmodernism? If a branch of study is nothing but postmodernism, perhaps we don’t need it at all….

      • We DO need a philosophy of science that is an alternative to both postmodernism and positivism: A strong contender is critical realism. One of the best criticisms of postmodern philosophy from a critical realist perspective is Andrew Sayer’s Realism and Social Science (2000). If you find postmodernism lacking but are worried about endorsing positivism, you will love it.

        • Paulo says

          In fact, they resemble each other on their focus on language and patterns of perception. Reality is that which we can’t talk about…

        • Alan D White says

          Physics is doing quite well without a philosophy of science. Lasers and computers do not suddenly stop working because defects are found in the philosophy of science….

    • Doug WALTER says

      I find hope in your analysis, Mr. Morley. Many thanks.

        • Ciaran Carroll says

          Anthony, I am not very familiar with modern philosophy jargon. Where would you place people like Wittgenstein and Strawson, or even Husserl’s Phenomenology? It would seem to me that they are respected in Philosophy but completely ignored by the rest of the humanities.

          • I really like Husserl’s phenomenology, it is very robust and interesting. It has seen some limited influence on sociology and anthropology. Husserl has important alignments with the later developments of complexity and emergence.

    • Dawuud Loka Loka says

      Beautiful and balanced response. I think the truth with everything is always in the middle. We are faced with two extremes stuck in last century for all the wrong reasons.

    • Alan D White says

      The foundations of modernist humanities must have been very weak not to have been able to withstand the arguments of post-modernists. Isn’t that always going to be a problem with humanist studies? There is no laboratory for testing the truth value of humanist speculations. Physics doesn’t have that problem.

      • Trying to model the humanities on physics is a dead end. That’s what academic economics is. It definitely has its place, I think data/quantitative/analytic approaches can be useful, I’m not going to say they’re not useful. I just don’t think they provide people with an underlying sense of motivation. They’re not potent enough to get average people out of bed, to get people excited. They don’t have that mythical narrative quality. And they’re not supposed to, that’s why a lot of people like the analytic approach. We don’t have to get carried away with exaggerations and non-sense poetic/literary metaphors, we can just stick to straight ahead logic. But large scale group coordination requires some kind of mythical premise. It requires some kind of metaphor that is not strictly reducible to the mechanistic, but is more emergent and processual.

  4. It seems like many of the self-indulgent journals approached by the LPB experiment lack ontological and axiomatic rigor in their approach to what they call ‘fields of study.’ In other words, they have no capacity for self-criticism, at least not beyond the obligatory self-effacing statements of guilt for simply existing. And now that I’ve satisfied the ‘Rule of Three’ by repeating hyphenated “self” statements, I shall wander off with some thankfulness that there are indeed honest academics in modern epistemology.

    • Socrates says

      Here’s the problem: the religion of Social Justice has found its way into mainstream philosophy journals and academic hiring committees. Here is kooky philosopher Rebecca Kukla, on why as editor of a major journal she lowered the standards for minorities and disabled people:

      http://dailynous.com/2018/08/30/anonymous-peer-review-inherently-conservative-procedure/

      Ah, the soft bigotry of low expectations…

      This woman has bullied non-leftists in the profession for years, while grandstanding about what a wonderful person she is. She and many others like her have powerful positions in philosophy departments at MIT, NYU, Cornell, etc. If rational people don’t start speaking up, the 3,000 year old enterprise of philosophy will be destroyed within a generation.

      • Ubu Roi says

        Yes and no. Everything you say is true. But the love of wisdom is alive and kicking all over the world, it’s just dead on campus. We noticed these barbarians a long time ago and moved elsewhere.

        • Yes, the world is a competitive enterprise, and our decline is not the end of civilization, just a reduced position and power in the world. Of course, reducing western position and power is the stated goal.

        • I was just audioreading Beowulf yesterday and was struck by the image of the empty troll-haunted hall at the center of the kingdom, while all the “heroes” find other places to stay… A clear sign that something was rotten in the state of Denmark. I also noticed that the hall was pretty near wrecked when the real hero came to set it free.

        • Alan D White says

          Where on earth did you find barbarian-free campus?

  5. Garry A says

    Postmodernism is a chemical process by which moral panic is bottled, distilled and concentrated into purified and legitimized ad hominem

  6. [Neven Searsdic]> If you are criticizing a trend that clearly belongs to the political Left, why should you feel it necessary, or useful, to say that you are yourself leftist? Isn’t it enough that you offered arguments in support of your criticism, which presumably should speak for themselves? What’s the point of making that additional step and showing your political colors?

    I have no doubt that the reason they explicitly state their liberal bona-fides is to preempt the lazy critics who will attempt to dismiss their entire endeavor as some right-wing, Breitbart-backed plot.

    • Nerf_Moose says

      Jesus H. Christ, how abysmally solipsistic is Neven Searsdic? I think he mistook the invitation to lend insight on the issue at hand as an invitation to broadcast his updated Linkedin & pawn his wares. Yes, Neven, we get it: this one time at Philosophy Bandcamp…

      His bravado & highhandedness about refusing to give disclaimers RE: being lefty just screams obliviousness about the very climate this whole episode is decrying/lambasting — he doesn’t get the utter necessity of just SURVIVING THE FIRST WAVE OF ATTACKING REDUCTIVISTS so your point can stick around long enough to be heard. “They” want you labelled and silenced before you even finish your first sentence, word, syllable.

      Neven, in the esteemed words of Heidegger: Unclench that ass. It ain’t all about you.

      • @Nerf_Moose says

        Triggered? I’m glad Neven said what he did. Too many of us feel the need to start off every sentence on campus with, “well I’m a leftist too, but…” Fuck it. We need to start expecting more of ourselves, and each other. More honesty, more integrity.

        • Michael says

          Agreed. It takes (or took) balls to “stick it to the man” in communist Yugoslavia back in the early ’80s. Big balls. Way to go Neven….

      • @Nerf_Moose
        O/T, turns out Heidegger was a Nazi (literal Nazi, not a Trump Nazi) so according to leftist thought his whole philosophy and every thought is tainted, null and void. Just saying….

    • Heike says

      Liberals aren’t leftists. How do you tell the difference? Liberals believe in freedom of speech; leftists do not.

      • @Heike They believe in freedom of (correct) speech. Liberty is an illusion, so if we coerce others to do their (correct) bidding, they are promoting liberty.

      • OleK says

        @EverythingOppresses

        Bwahahahaha! Thanks for sharing the tweet.

    • @EverythingOppresses
      This trend started long before Breitbart. After all, the nutcases of the French Revolution weren’t listening to the critical analysis of Edmund Burk while chopping heads off via the guillotine same with the Bolsheviks. I’d say, the left keeps repeating the same failed ideologies over and over again because no one is pure enough to be believed.

      Also, Macarthy is pretty much vindicated in his indictment of Communists in America (read the Verona Files) but he had the Nixon vs. Kennedy problem of a sweaty, too red face and a lack of nuisance. But I digress.

  7. innotecture says

    It is a good thing that fake or fraudulent papers are never published by scientists in scientific journals: https://retractionwatch.com/

    A search of the Quillette site yields 113 results for the term “postmodern” and 2 for the term “replication crisis”.

    There are a series of massive, interconnected problems in the world of academic publishing – predatory journals; unpaid and unrewarded labour; reviewers that are either conflicted in, or unsuited to, their roles; perverse incentives in article selection; and even research that should be published and is actively suppressed.

    It is, however, easier to blame the loopy postmodernists rather than tackle some of the hard structural issues at play here.

      • In your part of the article, you seem to dismiss the idea that white privilege and systemic racism can account for the difference in outcomes between racial groups. Do you think that biological differences are *completely* responsible for the disparity in IQ between (for example) whites and blacks, or could historical and contemporary patterns of discrimination play some role? In other words, are you convinced that people of African descent are (on average) innately and irredeemably inferior to people of European descent, or could social policies help to reduce the achievement gap?

        • Anomaly says

          Lemurlover: thanks for the question.

          Explanations are often multi-causal. For example, UCSD is 44% Asian, and 20% White. From these statistics, we can’t infer that Asian privilege explains the disparity. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. Privileges exist. They are real. Beautiful people, tall people, athletic people, smart people, have advantages that the rest of us lack. And on average, in different countries and contexts, it can be easier to fit in if you’re a member of one group rather than another. When I lived in Saudi Arabia, for example, I never revealed that I was Jewish. Muslim privilege was rampant. Similarly, in some contexts being white can carry some advantages, just as it may be easier to be Asian in Singapore, and Polynesian in Hawaii.

          But it’s interesting that American academics focus *exclusively* on white male privilege. I think that’s telling. It’s dangerously divisive.

          • Adam says

            “White male privilege” has the same status in the religion of SJWism as original sin has in Christianity.

          • Strange Bedfellow says

            Brilliant article, and to employ an overused phrase, brave. How have so many smart people embraced this lunacy? Are its roots in jealousy? And where does it end?

          • Anomaly – I don’t think you answered the question you thanked him for. Or are you saying that “Asian” genetics are superior to “white” ones? Clearly, culture matters overall; not all of any group dominate as we see ignorance across all races, sexes, nations, ethnicities, weights, heights, religions or however you want to divide people. Even among “smart” people there is a vast difference in capabilities.
            Clearly, genes play a role, but it’s hard to know because studying them is nearly impossible to fund or report on. If you have good enough genetics, environment will play the central role in IQ test results and academic performance as shown repeatedly in history.
            Simple real-world examples abound, such as splitting Germans and Koreans in two, and noting the big difference in results of nearly identical genetic populations with just a change in culture and environment.

        • AC Harper says

          There’s an article here: https://quillette.com/2018/09/25/forget-nature-versus-nurture-nature-has-won/

          which reviews “Blueprint: How DNA makes us who we are”, with some mild criticism. The review includes:

          “Assuming that this work is correct, what does it mean? What are the implications?
          It means that we have to completely rethink and rebuild the social sciences. Steven Pinker said: “For most of the twentieth century it was assumed that psychological traits were caused by environmental factors, called nurture.” This was completely wrong. Problems like p-value fishing and the current ‘replication crisis’ are nothing compared to the tsunami that’s coming.”

          So, postmodernists assume that nurture/culture/the environment is dominant (it’s not) because if nurture/culture/the environment is only a minor aspect of peoples’ behaviour then things that postmodernists dislike are far more intractable than they wish.

          My favourite question is “in a world where no unjustified discrimination exists, what outcome would you expect for a particular identity group in a particular activity?”. That’s a tough question usually avoided.

        • katmullaly says

          Stop wasting your energy on race, and focus instead on money. Systemic economic oppression alway was, and still is, the root cause of the disparities you cite – particularly in modern capitalist democracies. In today’s west what’s keeping people of every race from progressing is economic oppression (via game-fixing) by a rich minority.

          • Strange Bedfellow says

            What then explains the higher economic success of Asian and Indian POCs? And their lower rates of incarceration? Stop believing the propaganda, learn the science.

        • MRM berlin says

          Even if differences in outcome between biologically-defined groups (such as whites and blacks) are completely determined by social factors, these factors are probably not described sufficiently by empty word shells such as “white privilege” and “systemic racism”.

        • Heike says

          Quick question: is intelligence a heritable trait? If not, then carry on. It’s no more heritable than hair color or eye color. If so, then prepare for a shitstorm as you get fired from your job and rendered unemployable in your field.

        • András says

          If we go into race and intelligence and criminality, let me point to an excellent article about “Race Reconciled”: https://www.livinganthropologically.com/biological-anthropology/race-reconciled-debunks-race/

          The problems about talking about “Asian, Indian, African, etc.” groups have at least three main problems:
          1. Skin color do not cluster: there’s a continuous palette of skin colors, therefore it is not practical to determine “race”; there are populations though, but they don’t match race, and they are also varied.
          2. The African continent has higher genetic variability than the rest of the continents _combined_. Again, the term African is super impractical to use and can’t be used to describe “a race”.
          3. A concrete person must not be treated as an average representative of the person’s group. Even if these mentioned IQ tests studies/criminality reports would be 100% accurate and we would find a way to match these to actual groups we can call “races” _and_ we would see differences between these groups in our life our neighbor, our client, our boss, a candidate for a job interview will be a concrete person of a varied group; we know that brothers and sisters who come from the same parents, same background, same environments can behave dramatically different.

      • innotecture says

        Indeed. And this is the only article on this site that really mentions this issue in any material way. And there’s nothing that I can see on issues of clinical trial data publication that Ben Goldacre & Alltrials have spent so long trying to bring to the surface. There are specific sources of bias in research that Quillette is interested in. And others that it appears not to care about. Perhaps some ideas are just too “dangerous”.

        Incidentally, I found this passage somewhat amusing:

        “The problem is that many students are required to take these classes as part of a “diversity” requirement at universities, and that when students graduate, these ideas influence leaders of corporations like Google, which can manipulate its search engine to alter elections and change our epistemic environment in subtle ways.”

        Now, I have a passing acquaintance with academia (I teach occasionally at a university, I used to be a reviewer for a top journal in my field) but I have spent 20 years working in and around private and public sectors. Based on their actions, most corporate leaders I have met have been driven by money, power, and public acclaim (although they may say they are driven by very different things, such is the tribute paid by vice to virtue). In that time, I have seen a fair bit of sexism and racism. As a white man, other white men are relatively unguarded in front of me. Altho that nonsense is now noticeably less acceptable than it was when I started out. For most students, any training from the ethics sections of MBAs are quickly beaten out of them in the organizations they go on to work in (with some noble exceptions).

    • Bill says

      yes, there’s a gorilla in the room. But MINT does not try to deny the problem. “Crisis of reproducibility” means that at least agrees core standards are accepted. i.e. reproducibility.
      The “XYZ studies” do deny that in total.

    • If one identity group made it a habit to eat a bowl of lead paint every morning for breakfast more often than another identity group then one can imagine an environmental difference that would show up in IQ scores.

      The key is finding the bowls of lead paint, not arguing over whether constructing a null model where they must exist is the right thing or not. Go find the bowls, please. There aren’t really very many people on the reductionist spectrum of everything is either environmental or genetic.

      What I see is that the loudest people who claim to be the most interested in solving this problem aren’t interested at all in searching for bowls of lead paint, instead they are adamant that the null model must be to their liking and policy implemented based on their favored model. They do not want the burden of testing for lead in breakfast cereal. A cynical person would argue that this is because they have no confidence they will ever find any lead.

      • Robert Diggins @robertdiggins twitter (former Big10 Education + Human Development - IT Guy) says

        Yes! Stop trying to explain the obvious and get sucked into false dichotomies. Start looking at the leaked emails. They are trying to divide and conquer. The lead paint has been located. Please watch this for narrative and sworn testimony, in open court, under threat from FBI, when a whistleblower legally broke two State Secrets Privilege gag orders, naming names and crimes of the gov-mafia and its connections with Fetulah Gulen, the CIA, and BOTH Uniparty.

        They (yes I said “they” – if you have a problem with that, refer to the previous paragraph) have been controlling the public and individuals, with the same motivations mentioned in previous comments, and fear of being discovered. Then, even with a press release, the “media” doesn’t show up.

        Get mad, fuckers. The evidence and corroboration are publicly available and waiting is not ethical. Stop being satisfied by thinking about what you’re writing about what you’re thinking.

        The most vulnerable notice every second.

        • Robert Diggins @robertdiggins twitter (former Big10 Education + Human Development - IT Guy) says

          And the watch this link: Watch “Special Report- State Secrets: Sibel Edmonds Uncovers ‘The Untouchables’” on YouTube
          https://youtu.be/IClVKyb63m4

          • Robert Diggins @robertdiggins twitter (former Big10 Education + Human Development - IT Guy) says

            The Dean, a publicly paid employee, put her opinion of who to vote for, in the October issue of our College Newsletter.

            After the election, all staff and students got a mandatory message from their supervisor, implying we must be upset and offering counsel and safe space.

            I’d been at the U of M for almost 30 years, in central VP Offices, and Education, Teaching, Learning, and Human (read RESOURCE) Development, and never seen anything like it. I responded to the Dean in October, saying both sucked and she was omitting half of that fact.

            I gave her a link to one of the leaked emails, from the campaign manager, that talked about being satisfied with removing civics, but the public was needing more attention, because they weren’t acting docile enough (bad paraphrasing, but you can catch my drift).

            I mentioned this again in December, in the context of another relevant email conversation, and copied the Dean.

            I was notified of non-renewal in January. I also called out cronyism, so who’s to say what the reason was. I wasn’t given one.

            My point is that this ideological subversion targeted around 50k people, at one University. I don’t think it was isolated. See the rise of Antifa, shortly after.

            I’m more than disgruntled.

    • We would have even known about the replication problem if the original research wasn’t, at least in principle, falsifiable.

      That’s a different issue than postmodern horseshit that can’t ever be tested.

    • This is a strawman.

      What we have here is not a problem of fraudulent papers being published.

      First, you can publish poorly written and even outright absurd articles in all sorts of for-profit no-standards we-will-publish-anything-as-long-as-you-pay-the-publication-fee journals

      But nobody ever reads those except for laughs.

      They are typically not even indexed by the main databases.

      There is a long list of predatory open access journals that exists for the specific purpose of exposing them.

      In contrast, Hypatia is indeed the leading journal in feminist philosophy. This is not by any means the equivalent of the Antarctic Journal of Mathematics, it is more like the equivalent of Annals of Mathematics Their previous hoax a couple years ago was indeed in a marginal journal, but here they went for the top ones. Same results

      Second, there are fraudulent papers in top science journals, but those are all cases of fabricating data. This is not at all easy to spot. Often it is outright impossible for a reviewer to detect it and it only gets found out when people try to replicate

      This is not at all what we have here. There is no data in these journals, it is all text. That the text is nonsense should be and is obvious to any rational person.

      Also note that they deliberately wrote papers that are not only absurd but are also advancing openly misandrist and racist (in reverse) views. Reviewers praised them for those views…

      It is not at all the same as the replication crisis.

      And anyway, if you care about the replication crisis, do you think that the situation with it is going to improve with an infusion of postmodernist thinking and practices into STEM? If not, then what does that tell us about postmodernism?

      • Deafening Tone says

        There is no such thing as racism “in reverse.” There is only racism. Do not grant the demon hordes the premise of their arguments.

    • dirk says

      One of these structural issues I never well understood: in my time, the university paid, managed, edited and published scientific work of their alumni and other scientists in their own journals. All of a sudden, a lot of journals of Elsevier and other billion earning publishers took over the work, in many different journals. The reviewers of those journals are never paid, why not? Can you demand quality without paying anything? On top of that: long time science and study was for the happy few with very good notes in highschool,they did theoretical or practical disciplines (physics, chemistry, biology, agriculture), now everybody is studying, communication, touristics, management (??), gender (??), international this or that, and the journals have to be sold and filled with stuff. What good can become of all that?

  8. Postmodernism “scholarship” is mostly rubbish. I feel entitled to make that judgment because I have a PhD in American Culture Studies, so I suffered through far too many courses which muddied the water of theory in order to make it appear deep (to paraphrase Nietzsche). However, I don’t think this article proves that academia is in crisis, if that’s its intention. I also have an M.A. in philosophy, and I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of Anglo-American philosophers rightly regard pomo as obscurantist bunk. Likewise, I think it’s easy to overestimate the number of social scientists (sociologists, psychologists, political scientists, etc.) who have abandoned rigorous, empirical research in favor of ideological posturing. Across all disciplines, there are thousands of serious academic journals and dozens (if not hundreds) of “pay to publish” junk journals. It’s not altogether surprising that some have lax standards and will accept nonsensical, jargon-laden submissions for publication. Sokal performed a valuable service, and these authors should be celebrated for following in his footsteps. Still, it doesn’t follow that all (or most, or perhaps even many) scholars in the humanities and social sciences have abandoned the guiding principles of the Enlightenment. Quantitative research would be required to accurately assess the scope of the problem.

    • @Lemurlover says

      You’re right that academic philosophy has mostly avoided the obscure prose of “scholars” in grievance studies departments. But many of the trendy young philosophers are embracing political correctness, along with the invisible-oppression-is-everywhere narrative. They selectively cite science that is cherry-picked and can’t be robustly replicated, like “stereotype threat” and “implicit bias.” And they tend to pander to the pronoun police that try to tell us that transgendered people are under some kind of existential threat.

      Social scientists often do “rigorous” empirical research, as you put it. But they often fail to consider genetic confounds.

      In other words, many explanations for social phenomena – even obvious ones – are off the table for political reasons.

      • Out of curiosity, what “obvious explanations” do you have in mind? If you think that blacks are, on average, less intelligent than whites — and the disparity derives mostly if not entirely from biology rather than discrimination — I’d encourage you to say so. No reason to be P.C. in an anonymous comment!

        • Peter from Oz says

          Black men are on average quicker and stronger than white men. That is ”acceptable” knowledge, so those seeking to explian that fact can undertake research to find out why the difference between the races exists. On average, white people have higher IQs than black people. The only ”acceptable” explanation for this is that discrimination by white people has rendered IQ testing ineffective or has made black people less able. The left will not countenance the conclusion that blacks, in general, are not as clever as whites.
          The problem is that the left believes that there is no objective truth. But of course that is a lie. They believe that there is a subjective truth that trumps objective truth, and that subjective truth is anything they think is correct. In this case, the subjective truth is that black people will be the victims of more discrimination if scientists ever do discover that blacks are on average less intelligent than whites. That is a noble aim, but it confuses knowledge and the use to which that knowledge will be put.
          Personally, I think that blacks will be better of once they escape the clutches of the left. Once approximately equal numbers of blacks vote for the right and left, racial discrimination will be a thing of the past. That is because most discrimination against blacks now is cultural and political. We see a black person and we see a Democrat. The Democrats are all for divisive racial policies, large government and an extensive welfare state. Therefore we assume that blacks are all in favour of those things too, because blacks vote 90% Democratic.

          • Black men are on average quicker and stronger than white men.

            That is actually not true.

            There is a huge amount of variation within Africa, much more than the rest of the world combined (which makes sense given that humanity came out of Africa)

            It is people of West African descent specifically who are the best sprinters in the world.

            But have you ever seen a top sprinter from Ethiopia? No.

            Ethiopia and Kenya dominate the long distance events (which favor small skinny high-endurance people). Ever seen a top 10,000m runner from Jamaica?

            It is different subpopulations within Africa that are athletically dominant in some disciplines.

            And it’s not even true that the top athletes are to be found in Africa in all aspects of athleticism. There has been a very notable lack of successful swimmers of African descent, for example,

        • Lemurs are okay says

          Why focus on blacks and whites all the time? There are average genetic differences between groups. Olympic sprinters tend not to be Asian. The human brain is not immune from natural selection. If you want more details read David Reich’s new book, or the more politically correct extract of the book published at the NYT last spring: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/23/opinion/sunday/genetics-race.html

      • Jamie McArdle says

        ^This, especially the first paragraph, is the important takeaway for me: I am perfectly willing to believe that within the confines of academia, pomo is scorned and everybody knows that (Blank) Studies departments are easy cover for poor scholarship. But out in the world, these pernicious but sexy ideas first catch the attention of “social science” journalists, and then achieve broader circulation because they’re so sexy, and then appear as themes in TV dramas, and then take over HR departments, and then… Basically they march through the institutions, to cook a phrase.

        • Jamie, that’s a very good point. Popularized versions of ideas which originated in grievance studies are parroted by activists and gain cultural currency. If they were confined to nonsensical journals which nobody reads they could be safety ignored, but alas …

    • You are probably correct that this problem is not as bad as it is often portrayed. I just had two daughters go through the university and detected no obvious cultural programming. Their fields weren’t really related to the humanities and they completed most of this related work in high school.

      However what I do believe is that people in academia who disagree with the tenets of Diversity et. al. have been shamed into silence and fear the mob. This site here is some evidence that there is some pushback. I would love for there to be anonymous surveys of academia and how oppressed they feel by this alleged dogma, experiments on what happens to people who vocally object to this philosophy, etc.

      I think this would also be counter intuitively self serving to force the more extreme thinking back to the extremes. I can’t speak for others but I would vote yes in a heartbeat on a referendum to defund parts of the humanities and social sciences of taxpayer revenue. It is cultural poison.

      • tds, I think that kind of survey would be extremely valuable. It’s difficult to assess the scope of the problem in the absence of data; people on all sides of the debate make sweeping assertions which may or may not be accurate.

        I agree with you in principle about defunding pseudo-scholarship, but I’m concerned about compromising the principle of academic freedom. Do we really want the government (or voters) determining what kind of research can be conducted? I think it would be better if academics took it upon themselves to marginalize absurd perspectives, but that’s admittedly difficult to do in disciplines which are already dominated by nonsense.

    • Deafening Tone says

      I beg to differ. As one who holds a PhD in a field of sociology, I can assure you it is every bit as bad as is portrayed here. Most quantitative sociology is still holding out, but damn near all of qualitative sociology is several years into the apocalypse.

  9. Morgan says

    Well, I mean, dog humping IS evidence of rape culture. After all, the dogs desire something sexual, are male (I assume), and since all sex is rape and all male desire is rape culture, what other conclusion could you reach?

    • Casual Browser says

      Mounting in dogs is certainly not limited to males, both males and females will mount other dogs of the same and opposite sex.

  10. RadixLecti says

    My hoax article will be:

    Phallic Symbolism in Mathematics – how the optics of the upright and dominant y-axis, towering over the prone and submissive x-axis cannot fail to give young girls and POC the impression that the Y chromosome is superior to the X. This also harms male POCs, somehow.

    I’ll write a follow-up on how Western Patriarchal culture ignores the inconvenient truth that all value on the y-axis is nothing but a function of the value on the x-axis. #DifferentiateAllIdenties #IntegrateAllMen

    • splodgenessabounds says

      It’s high time such a paper was published. I do hope you examine and deconstruct the hegemony of the Y axis, since mathematics has been defiled and debased for far too long by the Patriarchal insistence of same. What is needed (and is, need I say, *natural*) is a mathematics plotted by XX axes.

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  12. Damian O'Connor says

    The anti-empirical stance is alive and well in History too. Remember the movie ‘Zulu’? According to leading academics, that was a British defeat. I cover it in ‘A Short Guide to the History of South Africa.’ You can find it on Amazon because it just isn’t worth submitting to an entirely Left wing publishing industry.

    • ga gamba says

      Remember the movie ‘Zulu’? According to leading academics, that was a British defeat.

      You sure? Who are these leading academics? I’m wondering if you’re mistaking the Battle of Isandhlwana on 22 January 1879, which was Zulu victory, a decisive and important one, for the much smaller Battle of Rorke’s Drift, ‎22–23 January 1879. The former was covered in the film Zulu Dawn and the latter was Zulu released in 1964.

      At Rorke’s Drift, out of a force of about 150 men (British and colonial), the British lost only 17 killed and 15 wounded. The Zulu deaths were estimated at over 350 and another 500+ wounded, though much larger numbers have been recorded. The film makes it appear both suffered much greater losses – there are other inaccuracies, but the outcome of the battle, British victory, is correct. The Zulu withdrew from the field of battle – a river ford between Natal and the Zulu kingdom – and the British force remained holding the territory, which was located in the Zulu kingdom.

      Perhaps the academics are defining defeat in some unconventional way, for example the British had to send a much larger force to fight the Second Anglo-Zulu War.

  13. Circuses and Bread says

    What I find interesting about this is that the “research project “ended after 7 papers out of the 20 that were originally intended were published. Why?

    My speculation is that while these academics were having a grand time, they also realize that there is an important image to be retained by academia. That there is some semblance of rationality and logic still remaining. No one within academia really wants to strangle the golden goose.

    That’s unfortunate because the debate within the larger society is moving toward the more basic question of whether universities provide value.

    • Marc says

      Nah. @realpeerreview tweetet out the dog rape culture studies and that in turn made some people look into it. Only to find out the author and institution were made up. They had to come out then.

    • John from California says

      Before discussing universities, make American students learn History and Geography in high school, because some of them don’t even know where Washington DC is. But, yes, universities should be redeveloped. In any case, many of the courses criticized by the authors above are funded by private foundations. Graduate students in public universities TA, which means they work for the university, and get a fee waiver for that. But usually there is another source of income, usually private. Still, the public “funding” is actually in benefit of the university, so I don’t see much of a problem in terms of public money being used in universities, honestly…

  14. Lovehoax says

    I wish a book titled “Debunking Mein Kampf” were published, with a text exposing the horrors of quotes from another famous text, only altered to have “communists” instead of “infidels”, and leaving “jews” as “jews”, with numbered references of chapters and lines for everyone to be able to check by oneself. My guess is that the leftards would promote it and cringe embarrassed when the hoax is inevitably revealed, giving as much audience as possible to it.

  15. the claims would be more convincing if they provided evidence that “The project exposes some of the cultish ideas shared by faculty who have created fake subjects and staffed their departments with political activists. Many faculty in these departments seem alarmingly eager to hijack for their own ends the emotional circuitry of teenagers who arrive on campus in search of a tribe to join and a dragon to slay.” rather than just relying on that they posted rubbish in a peer reviewed journal. NEWSLFLASH: happens in hard science peer reviewed journals too https://retractionwatch.com/category/by-subject/physical-sciences-retractions/physics-retractions/

  16. Aylwin says

    “Many faculty in these departments seem alarmingly eager to hijack for their own ends the emotional circuitry of teenagers who arrive on campus in search of a tribe to join and a dragon to slay”. Yes. Worth repeating.

  17. There is an argument against this kind of activity, that has nothing to do with the moral grandstanding or elitist dismissals they’re likely to get from the fields they infiltrated.

    First, It can be said that these three have engaged in precisely the kind of disingenuous scholarship that they are critiquing. That this is hypocritical is not the main problem, however. It is the fact that *even more disingenuous scholarship is getting published*. Polluting the journals doesn’t make them better. Adding even more pollution doesn’t make them better either. Getting rid of the pollution does.

    Second, It will be objected, I am sure, that what Boghossian, Lindsay, and Pluckrose are doing is trying to rid the journals of pollution, by exposing low standards. But in their first video, the three admit that they could not get published just by publishing buzzword straw-man examples of the scholarship they wished to lampoon. Instead, they admit, they actually had to *engage* with the literature on its own terms, understand the claims and arguments being made, and *emulate them* in their own published papers. But isn’t this precisely how the academic method is supposed to work? Bearing this in mind, all we can say, is that the three have simply learned how to do work in “grievance studies”, and then did some.

    Third, as philosophers all trained in the methods of philosophy, any one of them should have been able to take any piece of scholarship they studied in order to engage in this “experiment”, and tear it to shreds, *on its own terms*. THAT is what getting rid of the pollution looks like. Not repeating the same errors: but by correcting the existing ones. This is how Descartes and Hume overturned the “schoolmen”, this is how Kurt Gödel and Karl Popper overturned Logical Positivism, and this is how these three could have up-ended the fallacious nonsense of “feminist” philosophy.

    But they didn’t do that. Instead, they spent a year engaging in “PWNAGE” for its own sake. That’s not going to fix anything. It’s just going to make doing real criticism even more difficult. Why? Because, as with the Sokal affair, its further driving the disciplines into their own little walled-gardens of special language, and diverging standards of truth and knowledge. The whole point of the “university” (it’s built into the name, you see), is to UNIFY our understanding of the world. That requires periods of divergence and convergence. Often, those periods of divergence are littered with loads of incorrect nonsense. THATS OK. Because you have to fail, in order to succeed, and you succeed, by honestly arguing out the nonsense. But when correction turns into pillory, or worse — disingenuous mockery, the mission of the university is dead.

    This is not to say that there are not bad actors in the disciplines they were criticising. I believe there are, and I believe they do have political ends that go far beyond the scope of what a university’s mission should be, and I believe their actions — engaging in political activism via disingenuous scholarship — is incredibly dangerous and damaging to society. But this is a different question, and requires a different kind of criticism, than what went on here. What we need, is another Allan Bloom. Not another Alan Sokal.

    • E. Olson says

      The problem with your criticism is that you present no alternative for exposing bad actors and the garbage “research” that dominate these garbage fields. If they had done a critical review of the literature and systematically pointed out the weaknesses and biases that are common in the field, I expect their chances of getting it through the review process would be between zero and none, because the rejecting reviewers (and editors) would likely be authors, users, and perpetuators of the criticized weaknesses and biases presented. Replication studies also generally don’t get published in top journals, particularly if the results don’t replicate well liked/cited studies, because again the rejecting reviewers (and editors) would likely be authors and citers of the non-replicated studies. Alternatively, they might publish their criticisms in a book or low ranked journal, but then the criticized would simply say the presented criticisms weren’t valid because they hadn’t passed through the “rigorous” review process of the top journals. Since the review process is a key problem in this case, the only way to attack it is to demonstrate that the review process is a biased joke designed to support and perpetuate the favored falsehoods of leftist post-modernist academia.

    • Heike says

      Peer review should have detected and eliminated the fake science. It’s what it does in every other credible discipline.

    • ga gamba says

      You’re an excellent contortionist. Department of Pretzel Minded Studies, yeah?

    • c young says

      > That’s not going to fix anything. It’s just going to make doing real criticism even more difficult. Why? Because, as with the Sokal affair, its further driving the disciplines into their own little walled-gardens of special language, and diverging standards of truth and knowledge

      No doubt well intentioned but mistaken.

      Postmodernists aren’t constructing foxholes as a reaction to outside pressure from rationalists. They are pursuing the old scholastic tactic of strategic obscurity. There is nothing new here. John Locke described it beautifully :

      This learning very little benefits society. For, notwithstanding these learned disputants, these all-knowing doctors, … this artificial ignorance, and learned gibberish, prevailed mightily in these last ages, by the interest and artifice of those who found no easier way to that pitch of authority and dominion they have attained, than by amusing the men of business, and ignorant, with hard words, or employing the ingenious and idle in intricate disputes about unintelligible terms, and holding them perpetually entangled in that endless labyrinth. Besides, there is no such way to gain admittance, or give defence to strange and absurd doctrines, as to guard them round about with legions of obscure, doubtful, and undefined words. Which yet make these retreats more like the dens of robbers, or holes of foxes, than the fortresses of fair warriors: which, if it be hard to get them out of, it is not for the strength that is in them, but the briars and thorns, and the obscurity of the thickets they are beset with. For untruth being unacceptable to the mind of man, there is no other defence left for absurdity but obscurity.

      There really is no option other than to send in the hounds.

  18. Junior says

    My sincere gratitude for all who contributed to this piece with their own names and authorities.

    I wish I would not be a junior non-tenured scholar with too much to loose. Otherwise I would contribute this comment with my real name. For those not in the academia, such is the sad reality for those adhering to the ideals of objectivity, rationality, and truth.

  19. An interesting read, but it is disappointing that you have chosen five academics who support the views of LPB. There’s a danger that Quillette could come across as an echo chamber just as closed as the closed echo chamber it is trying to criticise.

    • E. Olson says

      You raise an important point, but the counter is “how do you defend the indefensible”? As they say in the legal profession: If the facts are on your side – use the facts, but if the facts are against you – attack the character of the opposition. As a consequence, I expect we will see plenty of attacks on the Lindsay, Pluckrose, and Boghossian, but such attacks will in themselves be indicators of the weakness of the “grievance” fields. Never-the-less, I would hope that the editors of the “duped” journals were invited to respond, and if not they should be.

    • Nicolas says

      Exactly. How are these “responses”?! It’s just folks cheering on and clapping like in the worst activist meetings.

      • Jamie McArdle says

        It would be my guess, given that it’s popular in postmodernism to decry evidence and logic as “tools of the patriarchy,” that responses from the duped publications wouldn’t stand up to this comment thread, much less to systematic scrutiny.

    • Yes, it would be great to have a bit of back and forth. I suspect a lot of the more radical left wingers wouldn’t deign to participate

  20. Michael says

    What a “wonderful” article. As an academic scientist I wasn’t sure whether to laugh of cry! I did a lot of laughing – in horror! I am becoming a big fan of Quillette.

  21. Thegonch says

    As other have said the idea that this is a problem for the humanities, or demonstrates some kind of structural problem across *thousands* of journals is laughable and not at all evidence based:

    Andrew Wakefield, a British anti-vaccination campaigner, managed to publish a fraudulent paper in the Lancet in 1998.

    A US nuclear physics conference accepted a paper written entirely in autocomplete.

    A trio of MIT grad students created an algorithm that creates fake scientific papers – in 2013 IEEE and Springer Publishing found 120 published papers had been generated by the program.

    A paper entitled “Get me off your fucking mailing list” was accepted for publication by computer science journal.

    A 2013 hoax saw a scientific paper about fictional lichen published in several hundred journals.

    Yet Quillette – which is no more than an ideological website itself ignores all these and other examples. if Quillette *wasn’t* ideological comments like mine would not be required.

    • E. Olson says

      You raise some important points, but also show the weakness of your position. Most of the examples you present above were published in “pay to play” journals/conferences that will accept most anything, but at least several of the 7 papers in this case were accepted in top “grievance” study journals that are thought to have very rigorous review standards. Certainly articles have been published in many top journals and fields that turned out to be fraudulent (such as your Lancet example), but you must also evaluate the motive for the fraudulence – was it a case of publish or perish pressure, or a desire to support an “important” cause, or to test the rigor of the review process? Furthermore, having not read the 7 accepted papers, can we say they were fraudulent in the sense of using fake data or purposeful manipulation of real data to get desired results, or are they merely conceptual nonsense that were accepted because they supported the conceptual nonsense of the field? I would like to know more about the content of the papers, and hopefully some additional summaries will be provided, but given the motivations of the project and the apparent transparency of it, I fail to see how this attempt is anything but scientifically valid.

    • Carl Craven says

      –Yet Quillette – which is no more than an ideological website itself ignores all these and other examples. if Quillette *wasn’t* ideological comments like mine would not be required.–

      Don’t ideological dogma’s prohibit exactly what you have expressed here? Isn’t that the difficulty with engaging the modern world of social justice where every attempt to actually verify anything is shot down with cries of heretic and unbeliever?

      Quillete is nothing more than a forum for ideas where people can engage in debate, which is what you have done. I am not aware that it is peer reviewed. Except through the comments.

      • dirk says

        Through comments is indeed a healthy, and open form of reviewing, everybody with knowledge and interest can check the facts or opinions and share them with others, only a pity that mostly the attention too ephemeric, and often superficial, or, also often, ironic or sarcastic, see Jamie.

    • You fail to understand the difference between pay to play journals and legitimate ones that have proper review procedures. The ‘computer science’ paper that you mention was sent to one of the fake journals, not a real one.

      Do you realize that not only did the three lefties manage to spoof well known and highly ranked journals, but one of their ‘papers’ snagged an award? That is, it received critical acclaim.

      None of the examples that you have provided above match that achievement.

      Also, the lichen paper was submitted to journals on a list by Jeff Beale, a librarian who maintains a list of predatory (pay for play) journals. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/342/6154/60

      I agree that there are often quality control issues in journals and conferences. (My own fields, CS and EE, are generally solid except for the predatory journals and conferences that everyone knows about). The fact, that some of the spoof articles were highly praised by the editors and reviewers of non-predatory journals makes this experiment a little different.

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  24. Carl Craven says

    This articles sums up the difficulty of engaging in debate and winning and calls to mind the quaint piece of advice.

    — Never argue with an idiot, they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience —

    Seems some may have found a way.

  25. Pat Shuff says

    Have mixed emotions that the project was cut short due to exposure. Firstly it would be interesting to see how it played out. Secondly that it WAS uncovered by at least some, somewhere, at sometime.

    • The dog park paper was uncovered by real peer review, a twitter account staffed by people who laugh at left wing insanity in academia.

      It was NOT discovered as a spoof by the reviewers assigned to it.

  26. Pizza Pete says

    My major grievance with this is that you have your opening material and your closing material. You start slowly, build towards something very funny like the dog-park rape-culture article, and then close the show with “Going in Through the Back Door: Challenging Straight Male Homohysteria, Transhysteria, and Transphobia Through Receptive Penetrative Sex Toy Use.”

    Unfortunately, they used the high-grade stuff up front and as a result the show ended early.

  27. Dr George B Miller says

    Unfortunately we have a feminist prime minister who embraces this fake ideology.
    Not good for peoplekind.

  28. The reports of this hoax are seriously deficient. We all know that most journals are junk, published for profit and with zero reputation. So saying you published an absurd article in a journal is like saying you published an absurd article as a weblog comment. All the meaning is in the journal’s reputation, which is never talked about. Hypatia is a journal I’ve heard of, but I don’t know how seriously even feminists take it.

    • McFly says

      Most people (outside of the academy) perceive “journals” as more or less authoritative… Or, at least as significantly influential repositories of knowledge and wisdom with persuasive force. Conceptually, that’s about all the time the “average Joe/Jane” for. Not a lot of energy reserved for nuanced understandings of the limits of falsifiability or appreciation for the replication crisis.

      We hear “peer-reviewed journal” and that means something. Generally, it means that the claims which become associated with “studies” are taken as mostly credible — as vetted assertions supportable by “scientific” means.

      That being the case, it seems to me that what’s important is how “feminists” in academia take Hypatia… Or, how the seriousness of Hypatia is projected by feminist scholars. The impact of work published by Hypatia creeps into public life by virtue of it’s being legitimized through processes that the general public tends to view as respectable and honest. Societal ethics are molded by the dissemination of alleged “truths” discerned by elite researchers, validated by elite institutions, packaged for elite consumers who will make adjustments at the highest levels of public life — the implied threat being coordinated activist mobilization against those who fail to accept the newly discovered “truths.”

      The rest of us are dissuaded from any meaningful push-back because these adjustments appear to be at least rational in light of legitimate inquiry these titans of industry, et. al., have a social responsibility to acknowledge and respond to…

      Perhaps part of the value in this “hoax” is to be found in the way it could be utilized to change the public perception of these journals so that public discourse may proceed from more critical frames of reference that don’t accept the mere mention of peer-reviewed data as dispositive, or even terribly meaningful?

      • Brian says

        I think you are onto something here. I am probably one of the few (or perhaps the one) person in this thread who posesses no formal higher education. I work in a blue collar trade and enjoy Dostoyevsky in the 1/2 hour between putting my kid to bed and the point where my own eyes start to close.
        That being said, those of us “laymen” really depend on you academics to police yourselves. We need you to have honest peer review, so that the best research and knowledge trickles down to us proles and we don’t have to suffer these morons. Shout these grievance studies morons down, so we can move on with living productive lives.

        Guys like me keep your power on, your water running, and your toilet flushing. Guess what? It’s your turn. Do your fucking jobs, and do it right.

  29. Les Fre says

    The real world harm of PC/SJWism is not that universities will waste resources funding grievance studies, nor that your Google searches will be skewed, but in its effects on law and legislation as radical feminists (who run for public office as equalitty feminists) are increasinhly elected or appointed to positions of political power. In the field of family law threre are entire journals devoted to the notion that wives sre better off forcibly separated from husbands; or that children are better off forcibly separated from fathers. There are entire pseudoacademic journals in the fields of law and psychology devoted to such nonsense, and the real-world effects on family life are profound.

    • Sydney says

      Important and terrifying comment. (And we’re already seeing some of this play out with young kids’ so-called ‘trans’ issues, where the state has decided that it knows best.)

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  31. Filius Roma says

    The answer is easy. Learn another language and stop going to Anglo universities. Anglo culture is too corrupted to be redeemed. It needs to be quashed altogether.

    • Quite right. If I were in high school, I’d be aiming at schools in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea (etc). These are countries that have little interest in left wing insanity such as identity politics. The competition is also better over there, since those are high IQ countries wherein the students tend to have first-rate work ethics.

      • Filius Roma says

        Exactly. In my opinion, Anglo culture, not Western, I stress Anglo culture because there’s a difference, Anglo culture is not the culture of education, it is the culture of entertainment. I for example barely read much in English anymore. Much of what comes out in English nowadays is almost strictly entertainment. Even Quillette or Jordan Peterson, while many people here might find them to be a breath of freash air, is really just entertainment masquerading as education. It’s entertainment because it’s partaking in riling up the culture wars for profit. It’s the equivalent of academic WWE.

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  37. flyfishingnow says

    Is anyone familiar with any studies or observations by practicing academics (grad students, post-docs, faculty) that attempt to quantify or estimate the current influence of postmodern “methodology” and “grievance” studies on traditional departments? We can assume that a SJW intellectual veneer (at least) is a mandatory requirement of nearly all practitioners of ethnic studies, literature, Art, etc. But what is its penetration-in 2018- into Philosophy, History, Linguistics, Psychology, Political Science, Economics departments? Is the intellectual battle still being waged in those fields, or has it already been lost? Is there a danger of being a bit alarmist here?
    My son is a graduate student in History at a top 10 program in the US. My sense is that a SJW/grievance/postmodern orientation, while certainly familiar to everyone, is not a central orientation or necessary philisophical framework that informs the work of most of his peers. This may be because in content-rich fields, at a high level of scholarship, extreme reductionist approaches are not, usually, very interesting.

    • Jamie McArdle says

      The effects of pseudoscholarship on the university are important, no doubt. But more immediately, as I’ve suggested above, my concern is that some ideas escape the “bad” journals simply because they run counter to traditional thinking, which as we all know means bad thinking.

      This in itself, the idea that because a logical or cognitive framework has been around for a while it is automatically not just suspect but must be suppressed and ultimately replaced by something new that owes as little as possible to the traditional, is a prime example of the danger I’m talking about. It’s why universities are so overwhelmingly left-leaning, I think – because that side calls itself “progressive,” which sounds very forward-thinking and not in thrall to the bad traditional patriarchal stuff even when the actual policies it calls for are reactionary or regressive. And the idea that the establishment must be overrun and replaced is the bread and butter of the (Blank) Studies departments and the journals (junk or not) in which their research is published.

    • Nonsense says

      At least regarding sociology and political science: yes, the battle is still on. But like the authors of this hoax have been pinpointing, a big part of the problem is that no one dares to debunk the nonsense even though everyone knows it is nonsense.

      So for instance in political science we see at least one “queer, gender, …, grievance” piece in each volume of leading journals. But everyone seriously engaged will just ignore those and pretend that everything is fine. Thus, step by step, the corruption prevails and gets stronger.

      That’s why some of the big names in social sciences and humanities should stand up against the insanity.

      • @Nonsense
        Christian Smith, Irving Louis Horowitz, Carle C. Zimmerman (caught on way back in the 1940’s), Stanislav Andreski (figured out the Social Sciences were ripe for political Hijacking way back in the early 70’s, Allen Bloom complained about the closing of the American Mind on campuses in the late 80’s and even Arthur Schlesinger Jr. tried warning about the effects of multiculturalism on the body politic. There’s many more where that comes from.

        The only way to battle it is to defund and drain humanities and disperse certain courses throughout other departments. But every time someone suggests such a barrage of accusations get thrown claiming it’s the reactionary right halting progress.

      • The corruption is starting to hit STEM, by the way. Check out the woman who leads Purdue’s faculty of Engineering.

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  39. Richard Rider says

    To me, the brainwashing “disciplines” that dominate today’s college campuses are “Exhibit A” for why online learning is rapidly becoming not only the best but too often the ONLY option in higher education. At least in the liberal arts spectrum. There’s still a case to be made for some old school STEM classes.

    Online courses gives the students 100% control of what classes to “attend” — at a TINY fraction of the cost for bricks and mortar education options. The quality of online courses (even down to YouTube tutorials) continues to improve — competition has that effect.

    Combined with the “guilty until proven innocent” (and we won’t give the OPPORTUNITY to prove your innocence) mindset on such campuses, I would never send a male student to such an institution — “institution” in the old NUT HOUSE sense of the term.

    • Brian says

      This is what Jordan Peterson is attempting to accomplish in the long term. High quality online education at a low cost.

  40. Trumptards says

    LOL. Not a single person here understands postmodernism or post-structuralism.

    • @Trumptards
      Maybe not but Michael Rectenwald does. He was a creature of the academic communist left but alas his faulty reasoning and world view smacked him upside the head or, in the words of Irving Kristal, he was Mugged By Reality. Everytime a publication does a take down of postmodernism, there is always an enlightened guru of the one true faith that comes out in the comment section to proclaim “This is not real postmodernism, yada yada yada”.

      I halfway agree that what they’re talking about here is not the same version of Postmodernism(tm) that pervaded the
      1970’s. But the current Social Justice paradigm that is spreading like militant cancer cells is spin-off of PM, Post-structuralism, Deconstructionism and most importantly it is a direct descendant of Critical Race Theory. It’s a bastardized amalgam of leftist theory that had invaded the campus in the 1970’s and, like termites, destroyed and hollowed out the foundation and centuries cultural backing of the humanities (and now social sciences).

      https://www.amazon.com/Springtime-Snowflakes-Justice-Postmodern-Parentage/dp/1943003181

      • Peter from Oz says

        KDM

        Well said.
        I would add that modern PC/SJW thought is a sort of folk-marxism, i.e. marxism stemming from those who have never read Marx himself, but have only taken in some distorted elements of his thinking through a multi-generational game of Chinese Whispers. The PC notion that every human relationship is about power and oppression is really not that different from the Marxist thoughts about the oppression of the proles. However, in the folk-marxist version the proles have been replaced by all the identitarian victim groups.

        • The problem is none of those groups are particularly victimised in any meaningful way. They merely identify or are identified as victims.

          These efforts put those groups on top, not level.

        • @Peter from Oz
          Agreed. It’s the Gramscian version of Marxism or what conservatives have aptly names Cultural Marxism. Which, as the sjw & political left like to believe, is not a conspiracy theory of the right. It is just a convient moniker to catergorize all the theories leading up to the current day Social Justice paradigm. I’m waiting for a serious scholar to do a serious in depth study of this entire ideology. From its inception to the current day version. Although, there has been some really great scholarship that has come out critiquing western intellectuals in the 19th and 20th centuries. Such as Paul Hollander (one of my personal favorites), Roger Scruton, Thomas Sowell, F.A. Hayek and an ameture (non-scholarly) but another favorite from the mid twentieth century is Eric Hoffer.

          Anyway it’s time for a serious, no holds bard takedown of this pseudo-scholarship. It likely doesn’t really matter anyway. The only way things will change is when parents vote with their feet and absolutely refuse the universities that are the most infected with SJ ideology. Also, it will help the tipping point to come faster when, as a result of the radicalization of the students and faculty, more university presidents, and high level staff and professors are taken down by their own kind. In other words, when the left really starts eating the left.

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  42. Sydney says

    Excellent, excellent piece. THANK YOU, QUILLETTE.

    One piece said, “Where the hell is Orwell when we need him? We’ve sleep-walked into a Cultural Revolution in our own backyard and I fear we have not seen the worst yet.”

    And s/he is correct. Because all this dangerous mind garbage has indeed been taught to K-12 teachers, and has been written into K-12 textbooks, and kids are being indoctrinated with it as we speak. It will take at least another generation to clean it out with strong sunlight.

    I spend a good amount of my free time expunging my kids’ brains of the trash they’re taught by union-automaton teachers who are incapable of thinking for themselves; or who are too afraid of their union and peers to speak against the po-mo tide of intellectual trash.

    I yell about history (of ‘dead white men’ and other dead people), culture, about independent thinking, and about all sorts of shit. And I teach them to question every piece of JUNK they hear from their idiot teachers, or that they read out of their propaganda-filled textbooks. It’s Soviet Russia 2.0.

    Who or what can start to turn around the university education programs? Because THAT’S the source of ‘the worst’ to come. Or just rename all the buildings, Chairman Mao Tse-Tung School of Education at U of __, and be done with it.

    • Beth says

      Oh, god, I’m doing the same with my kids. It’s already been years of relentless brainwashing from their teachers, and they’re only just beginning high school. It’s exhausting and frightening.

      • Sydney says

        @Beth, I was glad to see another parent! At least we all know we’re out here.

        And, no kidding, but look what showed up on my local news TODAY:

        https://bc.ctvnews.ca/teen-s-school-assignment-classifies-racists-as-right-wing-says-outraged-dad-1.4120218

        And of course this is only anecdotal, but this afternoon my Gr10 son came home and reported that his Socials teacher openly, clearly equated conservative America’s MAGA concept to…yeah, wait for it…the ultra-murderous ultra-nationalism of Nazi Germany (that’s a dumb teacher’s favorite go-to, isn’t it?). So in public schools, normal national pride in your peaceful, civil, democratic nation is now fascism, according to the indoctrinated SJW teachers.

        (Presenting all sides of an issue and teaching kids how to decide for themselves? How quaint and patriarchal! Anyway, the ‘wrong’ sides are so triggering.)

        Yes, “exhausting and frightening” are bang on. Good luck to us all.

        • @Sydney
          Another parent here! My boys are in elementary & middle school. I’m not sure where you and Beth are from but my situation is actually not that bad, I live in red state middle America (aka, smack in the middle of conservative, right-wingville) which, funnily enough, used to be annoying to me until I had children and now I thank my lucky stars everyday! I’m fully aware of the issues and problems of conservative America but when you’re fighting the tide of the ever extreme mao/lenin/marx/che guevara/stallin left that is taking over the moderate, normal Democratic party then the right-wing looks down-right reasonable by comparison.
          Still, I watch and listen to what my boys are learning with a sharp critical eye & ear. So far all is well, they are still teaching the colorblind civil rights of MLK & my middle schooler actually had an entire segment of communism that showed the evils and horror of it. This was also from a rare male social studies teacher. So far, so good. The middle school has also started a dad “watch dog” group where local dads hang out at the school a few times a week along with other events where they can intervene with adolescent boys (this was started after the school shootings last year). I think this is absolutely amazing and wouldn’t be fathomable in a blue state (Not sure if the left acknowledges the importance of parents at all, much less fathers).

  43. E. Olson says

    I have a theory that the rise of post-modernism in the humanities and social sciences, and more generally the rise in grievance studies are the result of a missing reason to exist. Do we need a 10,001st conventional literary analysis of Shakespeare or conventional historical analysis of Abe Lincoln on the pages of academic journals? Of course not, but what if we get innovative and examine Will and Abe from a post-modern feminist/queer/Chicano perspective – it might get me a research grant, a few publications and most importantly tenure. Is there anyone today that seriously thinks there is any HR department or search committee from a university, corporation, or government office that would purposely exclude from serious consideration any half-way qualified applicant from a victim class (i.e. women, blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals, etc.) purely because they are not white/male/heterosexual? The equality of opportunity war has been won – we have overcome and are no longer living in 1950s Little Rock or Selma, or 1960s Mad Men, but this brilliant victory also means that threatening questions might start to get asked about whether there are any serious reasons for maintaining grievance study departments and journals. Perish the thought, I have a PhD in gender studies and if I lose my academic appointment my next job will entail asking a customer if he wants fries with that, and hence I will get research grants to publish papers using theories of micro-aggression, implicit bias, intersectionality, etc. to prove that racism, sexism, and various phobias are alive and well. Thus post-modernism provides a perspective that allows a discipline to look at a world that doesn’t exist and study/solve problems that are not real or relevant, which is perfect when the real world is proving to have a very limited need for your expertise or credentials.

    • Circuses and Bread says

      @E.Olson

      The experts in these “grievance study” areas are quickly becoming obsolete anyway. As a poster above noted, online degree programs are allowing students to opt out of taking classes in these study areas. Ultimately a college or University has to pay the bills and compete for cash cows, i.e. undergraduates. “Woke” schools are quickly becoming broke schools as students enroll elsewhere. For example, University of Missouri and Evergreen College.

      • True, but some of the worst offenders are the big Ivy leagues, who have billions of dollars in endowments. They aren’t going broke anytime soon.

    • Caligula says

      Careerism surely should not be discounted.

      Schools have continued to produce far more PhDs in the humanities than the academic job market can possibly absorb and, indeed, there’s not much left to glean from conventional fields of academic research in many of the humanities.

      With existing fields fully gleaned and discoveries of new primary sources rare indeed, what’s an ambitious academic in a job market overwhelmed with excess candidates to do?

      Although at some point the change becomes irreversible, as those who’ve made their careers by casting contemporary politics onto the past inevitably favor job candidates similar to themselves.

    • Brian says

      You are onto something here.

      I often tell my wife that folks “don’t struggle enough”.

      My grandmother picked fruit on farms as a young child, her and her siblings only had shoes during the winter, as my great-grandparents didn’t have enough money to afford shoes for them all the year round. They loved in a trailer that my great-grandfather built with his own hands. My great-grandmother was once admitted to a mental hospital after suffering a mental breakdown – they had been laid off from their farm job with just one single dollar left to feed the kids with.

      That is the story of most of humanity for the majority of our existence. It’s hard wired into us. When struggle doesn’t exist, we create it. It is simple as that.

  44. Mr.Tweed says

    Bravo to Neven Sesardic for pointing out the stifling influence of declarations about the authors’ political affiliation.

  45. Peter G says

    Loved this piece. However I feel compelled to point out that it is likely to produce fewer and finer scholars. And a lot of dreck. If you can transit these academic grievance mills and still come through largely unscathed and still capable of independent and rational thought then, I would submit, Nietzsche might actually be right about you. What did not kill your intellect made you stronger. Basically all you really need is an acute sensitivity to bullshit. Think of it as tuning up your intellectual immune system.

  46. Cecil E Bohanon says

    Some 25 years ago a couple of colleagues of mine and I wrote a spoof research proposal based on the notion that commas were tiny little penises and periods were vaginas and all written documents must be interpreted in that light. We shared it with a couple of local feminists in the English Department that saw it for the spoof it was and thought it was hilarious. Two observations: a generation latter it would either be taken seriously or we’d be investigated for sexual harassment! Glad I’m at the tail end of my academic career

  47. Fabiano Barreto says

    Can´t charges be pressed against these so called “academic journals” so that when they publish garbage they should be held accountable? We all know all impostors flee when they have back their lies up with their pockets….

  48. ministeroffacts says

    If you pay people to produce nonsense, they will produce nonsense. Defunding of these “indoctrination camps” would lead to some of these fools to find a useful profession.

    • E. Olson says

      …and what useful professions do you think professors of queer/gender/black/fat studies are qualified for?

      • McFly says

        Loss Prevention at Best Buy. They’ll be uniquely qualified to assess behavioral characteristics of both employees and shoppers who might intend on stealing. Having identified these potential thieves they can monitor the individuals in a non-invasive, culturally sensitive manner — careful to avoid micro-aggressions — and should the need for confrontation arise (as in such circumstance where theft is witnessed), these LP specialists can make sure the offenders are given every opportunity to offset the criminal nature of their alleged conduct with the recognized biases working against them in their daily lives, as marginalized peoples subject to the tyranny of a white male cishetero capitalist meritocracy. Lastly, this new corps of LP specialists will recommend to management whether punitive measures are warranted (in the case of white male suspects) or if the socially responsible course requires a more delicate touch; like, giving away inventory and rewarding the attempted burglar with gift cards and free high-speed internet access.

        • E. Olson says

          Excellent – but if it ever happened it would be a sure sign to short Best Buy stock.

  49. Filius Roma says

    Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho! These Anglos in the West have got to go! Let the sons of Rome fix this!

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  51. Douglas V. Anderson says

    As an unapologetic non-academic right-winger, I only ask which would help you more: if I celebrated or attacked you?

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  54. Chris says

    This article could have used some voices from the other side of the issue. Do you know that people have faked being policemen, doctors and lawyers? Does that make these disciplines nonsense? People have falsified papers in all areas of study.

    These are all minor league publications. And the fact is that almost no journal investigates the papers submitted for fraud in advance. But there are serious consequences for fraud when it is found and it should be applied to the authors of this fraud.

    Anybody who understands academia knows that a single paper means little. They are submitted and then people try to replicate the results. Only replicated results are taken with any seriousness.

    I am not particularly fond of the targets of this fraud. If Pluckrose et al cannot come up with a convincing critique of identity studies without resorting to academic fraud, they probably should head back to school.

    I can call up the police and have SWAT show up on somebody’s doorstep. But should I? Does it prove that the police are idiots? NO, it does not. It proves that we rely on basic trustworthiness and good intentions. Falsifying papers puts every single research result in question. It is a sad response to jealousy at other people’s success, however much you disagree with it.

    • Paul says

      I was with you until your second sentence.

      The point is not that they committed fraud which went undetected. The point is that they wrote a series of ridiculous papers which passed a peer-review at the journals in question. Passing peer review is meant to be hard: it supposed to act as a check on the quality of academic research. It’s clearly not doing this at the journals discussed here.

    • It’s not needed. Get a random selection of their hoaxes and a random selection of papers on things like gender studies and the like. Try to tel, which is which. The problem is normal people don’t read this garbage. It’s an in group that ever reinforces its own insanity. Someone should do papers on that. Sexist bias against white heterosexual men in certain academic fields. The study of ideological in groups and lack of ideological diversity or representation.

    • AesopFan says

      “Anybody who understands academia knows that a single paper means little. They are submitted and then people try to replicate the results. Only replicated results are taken with any seriousness.”

      Well, that just proves that you don’t understand academia. The examples of unreplicated papers that are highly cited are legion. Either no one tries to replicate them (they just run with the first published result because it’s so cool), or the replications cast serious doubt on the initial conclusions.
      This occurs in all disciplines, but mostly in the social sciences, because, at some point, buildings have to stand up and planes have to fly, but “people studies” don’t have to have any contact with reality.

    • Jack B Nimble says

      @Chris

      I agree with most of your comments. Here are some voices from the other side:

      https://www.chronicle.com/article/Sokal-Squared-Is-Huge/244714

      https://twitter.com/dwschieber/status/1047497301021798400

      Note that D. W. Schieber is a graduate student in sociology who wrote a review of one of the fraudulent papers. He wrote in good faith, unlike the authors. That is time and effort he will never get back, and anyone who has been in graduate school knows that time is precious then.

      Much of society runs on trusting people not to cheat, whether in academia, politics, business affairs, etc. Sometimes trust breaks down, as when athletes are tested for doping. Academic publishing would probably be better if journals tested for plagiarism, incorrect statistical analysis, image manipulation, etc. But, except for top-tier journals, editors are volunteers who lack staff and resources to carry out such analyses, and that is even more true for reviewers.

      Some stage magician–I think it was James “The Amazing” Randi–pointed out that scientists are incredibly easy to fool with conjuring tricks, because they expect people to play by the rules and not cheat. Similarly, academics often give colleagues the benefit of the doubt. That is called collegiality, and it is not necessarily a good thing.

      Is it OK to commit fraud to make a point? That’s debatable, but a better analogy might be the animal rights activists who used false credentials to gain employment on factory farms and secretly videotape evidence of livestock abuse. The lawmakers in those states subsequently passed laws against–videotaping on farms without permission!

      In academia, researchers who knowingly falsify results have sometimes been fired or otherwise disciplined severely, particularly when NIH or NSF funding is involved. In fact, federal agencies have pushed hard for universities to set up mandatory ‘research ethics’ courses for graduate students and postdocs. But in the end, it still comes back to trust.

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  56. augustine says

    “…although their scholarship may seem incomprehensible, this is because they are like mathematicians or physicists: they express profound truths in a way that cannot be understood without training.”

    Gnosticism, in other words.

  57. Fantastic article. I especially appreciated the input from Neema Parvini, who mentions Foucault, Derrida, and Cixous, all of whom are the pillars of my university’s English and Philosophy professor. Every class that he teaches is infected with them.

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  59. John from California says

    So basically the USD professor argues that Indians and Asians earn more in the US, so the discourse on white supremacist issues would be false. Well, Indians that come to the US are the 0.1% of India’s population. Not using the actual figures, but they are a minority within a minority. Check the percent of visa applications denied in India and you will see that in order to come to the US you need to be wealthy. Therefore, they had a good education in India before doing their master’s or PhDs in the United States. Asians may have a different background, but neither Asians nor Indians were enslaved for centuries. There are problems nowadays that still reflect the trauma of slavery and segregation. Which includes, in some states, funding in schools predominantly black. So sorry, your conservative discourse doesn’t make much sense…

    • Mark Stein says

      John:

      Notice how you feel the need to dismiss a skeptic of your narrative as a “conservative”: that says more about your need to categorize, than about the argument. Jews were persecuted in a little event called the Holocaust long after slavery ended. They’re doing okay. Historical facts about oppression can sometimes have explanatory power. Problem is, grievance studies faculty (with whom you seem to agree) make them the only acceptable explanation, and label skeptics of their narrative with the usual “racist,” “sexist,” “transphobe,” “Islamophobe.”

      Accusations like this, and associating people you disagree with as a member of some other group you don’t like (such as conservative) shows that you are out of arguments.

      • I am so tired of this Holocaust nonsense being people’s moral anchor. Imagine if history had happened differently and the Holocaust hadn’t happened. For people to depend on history for their morality never had it to begin with.

        • @First Last says

          I’m confused. Mark wasn’t using the holocaust to advance some kind of agenda, but as an example of how persecution cannot fully explain a group’s relative position in society today. How about the Irish or Chinese? Same point applies: the fact that they have been discriminated against in the past does not imply that they will somehow stay forever poor. That’s the point.

          Maybe you missed the fact that Mark’s replying to a dumb point about how slavery explains everything, forgetting the fact that most groups have been persecuted in the past, and some very recently, so past persecution is rarely a sufficient explanation of achievement gaps.

    • c young says

      There are very large numbers of Indian heritage people in the UK, and they are also at the top of the income spectrum here.

      The group at the bottom of the income spectrum are those of Bangladeshi heritage. These groups have similar skin colour. To a racist they probably look identical. There is no differential in the racism they suffer, but they occupy the two extremes of the income spectrum.

      The evidence shows that racism has very little, if any, impact on economic success in the UK, not sure why it should be any different in the US.

      • John from California says

        Indians formed an elite in the UK since the beginning, at least for Indian standards. Indians who are wealthy and have access to education, housing, sanitation, etc., in India manage to study abroad (otherwise they wouldn’t have their visas approved by any US or UK consulate). Visa procedures require language proficiency, proper university documentation, among other documents, that someone from lower, working classes, wouldn’t be able to deliver.

        Mark: the Jewish community has strong bonds, formed thousands of years ago, due to constant oppression in different locations of the world. The Jewish diaspora is very specific and many of those who fled war in Europe came from the upper classes – in fact, many times they were being chased by discourses of “Jewish economic dominance” that motivated the horrible attacks on their property and bodies. It’s a specific case. They may have lost a lot or almost everything during this migration process, but were able to re-form their bonds and to use their accumulated heritage in order to ascend again in the United States, Argentina, Brazil, etc. Which makes the Jewish case a special case. But I do agree that labeling the others is incorrect in a discussion (though you also make your own argumentum ad hominem in parentheses). However, the conservative branch has lost a lot of its roots, especially with regard to Edmund Burke. One of the conservatives above said that feminism was a terrible thing, a problem for Philosophy. Being anti-feminist is not something Burke would see as proportional, adequate, reasonable. Society moves while keeping traditions. This is what “conservative” means. Indeed, the Left uses groups to advance its agenda, but it doesn’t mean that such groups have unreasonable demands. Women participate more and things like divorce have been reached due to their engagement. Divorce hasn’t ended the family structure, but rather recognized rights to something that would de facto occur.

        • augustine says

          Divorce ends family structure. That’s what it does.

          “recognized rights to something that would de facto occur.” By that reasoning, do you support giving rights to anything that occurs de facto?

          If it is something destructive to society and to individuals it needs limits or prohibitions, whether legal or cultural.

          • John from California says

            No. It doesn’t end the family structure. Families are formed by kids who have been raised by their grandparents. They still exist when one of the parents die. Nevertheless, families matter to the legal system due to property and custody of children. Let the churches believe differently (and they have the right to do so). Therefore, if a separation occurs de facto, it must be addressed by the law.

            I didn’t say that every de facto situation should be legally recognized. This is your creative interpretation (typical of blind conservatives, that have departed from Edmund Burke, as I stated in another post).

          • augustine says

            Legalism is only one aspect of the subject, and not the most important one for those involved. It is typical of liberals nowadays to resort to the law to settle moral dilemmas.

            “I didn’t say that every de facto situation should be legally recognized.”

            I didn’t say you did, I was asking. Your glib take on divorce made me wonder if you considered other issues similarly.

  60. I have to give a shout out to the lovely lady who talked about the need for talking plainly and not being overly esoterical yet didn’t speak quite so plainly. However is was possible to comprehend, it’s not enough to just read. An important factor of literacy long lost to our education system. The point about guilt by implicit association resonates strongly with me. Otherwise know as “my interpretation is always right”. Common decency and humility are no longer common. “How dare one say something that might be interpreted incorrectly tarnishing my good reputation for being infallible undermining my utmost genius in the eyes of other.” they subconsciously conclude rather than asking what you mean or giving you the benefit of the doubt. We do live in an oppression culture and this is it. Don’t dare blaspheme against political correctness lest you invite public shame and crucification by the media. We live in a culture of intimidation. It’s no wonder Trump’s popularity soured when he spoke that we can no longer afford political correctness. People have had enough and want to get out. If they can’t speak about it you’ll see increasingly more drastic action through other avenues such as the voting booth.

    The process we’re seeing in science is no different to scientific racism. I’ve read a paper on feminism that was published and wasn’t as far as I could tell a hoax. It was up front unabashed scientific sexism. Essentially women having the theory the way men behave is bad for them then doing a confirmation bias association piece of research to support their position that men should behave differently. You can look it up, IwataIt’s nasty stuff. I think academics should more aggressively confront it and there should be serious consequences for such extreme bias and corruption of science.

    It’s very much the case of people deciding they’re right and then every following effort serves only to reinforce that.

    • The comment posted itself. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1557988318785549

      I just read another paper about a similar celebrity group that in effect advocates manipulating voter choice so that more people vote for homosexual candidates. A huge problem with these papers is they try to manipulate society rather than really study it. Someone decides they want to achieve some outcome and then abuses scientific processes to try to advocate and justify it. It’s not really science but propaganda.

    • Rosalind Arden says

      I confess that was probably me. All I can say is that you should have see the first draft. I got a real earful from my my daughter whose txt I quote “if you want to do witty complicated writing, do a novel. This is an online article people will read while on the subway on their phones…Every metaphor, asks the reader to do mental work. It’s exhausting.”

      You can’t say I wan’t told! I agree with your comment that we must cultivate of the habit of talking across divides without seeking to oppress one another – and with some humility.

  61. Mark says

    Wow, I take a few days off from reading the news, and this beautiful story breaks.

    Bravo to the academics. No doubt the humanities are already calling this an attack by Nazis.

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  65. Dustin Arand says

    Here’s my problem with this latest version of the Sokal Hoax (I was a big fan of the first, and of Sokal’s book Fashionable Nonsense):

    1) Not one of the hoax articles was published in a top tier journal of economics, psychology, criminal justice, or other social science field. They were all published in third-tier philosophical and literary journals.

    2) Nevertheless, the pranksters are playing this up as an expose of academia. That’s disingenuous, because the journals they published their papers in get relatively few citations and are almost never referenced in mainstream news media articles about racial or gender bias.

    3) And yet, this story will be used to conflate the content of these marginal and admittedly political/ideological journals, with the content of other social science journals whose authors conduct original experimental research, record their data assiduously, explain their methodology transparently, and try to address alternative conclusions that might be implied by their data, and why they prefer their own.

    • David Huston says

      Aaahhh yes…so wonderful to see these rational and/or [il]logical consequences now coming to fruition, in true John Dewey inspired fashion too!

      And by this, I mean the clearly self-refuting, or logically incoherent cultural manifestation(s) of moral anarchy; whose philosophical catalyst was/is precisely correlative with this US’ “state-sponsored” brainwashing, or the cramming of the neo-Darwinian paradigm (i.e., “high-octane evolutionary naturalism” = NO absolute truth & NO absolute morality either] down-the-collective-throats of untold millions of highly impressionable young minds throughout American public education systems for some 50-years now – under the constitutional guise of unfettered religious/ideological “neutrality” too mind youl? – and beautifully replete with its own incoherent notion of absolute/normative truth claims, that’ve been unashamedly tethered to its tail-chasing corollary called absolute relativism. WHEW! Come again??

      So what’s all the fuss about amongst you academics et al. anyway? You’re simply experiencing (or reaping) the rationally denuded results of what’s been sown into the hearts & minds of “we the people” for more than a generation now.

      Allan Bloom’s almost prophetic (’87) masterpiece, “The Closing of the American Mind,” had penetratingly described this inexorable trend headed-our-way in the not-too-distant future – as a direct result of our not only imbibing, but indefatigably disseminating such post-Enlightenment philosophy to a nations citizenry.

      Fortunately, living under this controlling paradigm, ultimately everyone is RIGHT; since “we’re all simply dancing to our own DNA” – including those three brilliant academic pranksters, as well as their brilliant counterparts involved in the process of peer-reviewed literature. After all, “ideas do have consequences.”

      This is what happens when “Evolution” becomes the intellectual “opiate of the masses.”

      “Let my people think”!

    • Nonsense says

      1) This point is simply untrue: these are highly ranked journals. For instance, in our national ranking systems some of the journals are ranked to the highest level and many to the second highest. Please do not spread misinformation.

      2) Whatever mainstream media references has nothing to do with scientific quality. Quite the contrary: many people have long criticized media for mostly (and often incorrectly) referencing the “sexy” or “outrageous” papers published in a just few selected journals (Nature, Science, etc.). Granted, this issue is more of a problem for the hard sciences.

      3) This point I can agree with. If you re-read the points (especially in the main Areo piece), the point was also explicitly noted as a danger. Now, as you seem to be in the social sciences, maybe it would be a good time to clear the house? That is, you’re housing unethical, discriminate, and immoral pseudo-science within your quarters. That has now been proven and there is no easy way out.

  66. I find this problematic in more ways than one. And I’ll add that some of the respondents reek of genuine anti-feminism and other points that come off as essentialist and narrow-minded. I’m all for good, accessible scholarship, and I do think that postmodern theory can be needlessly obtuse. However, I question the motive and ultimate point of the deception employed by these scholars. Exposing poor review practices and confirmation bias doesn’t do positive work. Feminist theory and postmodern theory are not inherently bad thought systems, and reading some of these responses would make it seem so. These thought systems do help shed light on silenced voices, and other ways of knowing and approaching important concepts. Why not write papers that trouble what you perceive as problematic and other solutions or revisions rather than spending so much time sending bogus research through the peer review process. It’s morning, so my thoughts are completely formed, but I needed to write something.

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  69. Caligula says

    I’m surprised no one has brought up Lysenkoism.

    Trofim Lysenko was a Soviet biologist who promoted the theory that acquired characteristics could be inherited. This was a politically popular theory in Stalin’s USSR, for it implied that the pace of biological evolution could be far more rapid than if it were constrained by genetics. And thus the New Soviet Man could be rapidly created, free of such anti-Soviet human flaws as preferring one’s own children over those of others.

    It’s not just that Lysenko was able to ascend to the top of his profession, but that as he did so those scientists who were unwilling to denounce their “errors” found themselves dismissed from academic posts and became unemployable, as entire academic departments became closed to those who would not profess Lysenkoism.

    Lysenkoism is to be expected when the need to advance political goals becomes more important than scientific rigor. Researchers are discouraged from following paths of inquiry that might lead to “incorrect” conclusions and rewarded for produing politically attractive results. In time entire fields may come to be dominated by charlatans to the exclusion of honest and competent researchers.

    It may well be that there are valuable insights to be obtained from gender and ethnic studies, yet these fields as presently constituted remain so overtly political that it is impossible to believe that honest and open scholarship can ever thrive within them. Is it not unreasonable to expect that fields founded and dedicated to advancing specific political goals might produce scholarship that is often less than honest and rigorous? Or, indeed, that they might descend into a full-blown, latter-day Lysenkoism?

    • dirk says

      But, Caligula, don’t forget, Lysenko lost influence and power even in the Sovjet period, and not only because the wheat yields (in later periods) didn,t improve as he predicted they would. BTW, what many people forget, his findings that you could grow wheat also in boreal climates and soils by treating the sowing seed with an artificial wintertime (Jarowisation) resulted in millions and millions of extra tons of wheat! Nobody ever mentions that, it’s always only the negative sides that are stressed.

      • Albigensian says

        Lysenko lost influence following the death of his mentor, Joseph Stalin.

        And, yes, Lysenko deserves credit for Jarowisation. Which goes to show that even bad science can sometimes produce useful results (e.g., phlogiston theory is bad science, but it still works well enough to solve many HVAC heat-transfer problems).

        Unfortunately the persecution and expulsion from the academy of biologists who refused to accept Lysenko’s theory that acquired characteristics are inheritable was real also, as was the wholesale intellectual corruption of entire academic fields of study due to the subordination of science to political ideology.

    • c young says

      You missed the common factor between academic loons and Lysenko – social constructionism.

      Lysenko was motivated by the hope proving that genetics change could be driven by social/political change, or more to the point, that genetics did not create any drag on the USSR’s socialist justice movement, or its leader.

      Postmodern academics are motivated to deny elements of Darwinism for precisely the same reason. If society is grounded in biology/genetics, their project is in danger.

  70. Although I can’t really fathom what would drive three academics who are mostly outsiders to these fields to spend a year or more of their time writing absurd research papers as part of an elaborate troll, on the balance I think they did a good thing. I think the main goal was indeed to show that the current state of these fields is a house of cards. These studies aren’t about replicability – nobody is going to replicate them. It’s about showing how the vast majority of studies in these fields are just self-referential, theoretical waffling about. The premise is usually “I will use [famous theorist]’s theory of X and [other theorist’s theory] to show that [absurd premise] is so.” When I was a student, I never thought the impact of these sorts of studies would have much of an effect on society as a whole, but here we are.

    I’ll admit that I am a social sciences and humanities graduate. Although I went on to do a masters in a professional program, I still recall fondly my university days reading sociological theory and continental philosophy of religion. I still read some of that stuff. I’ll even defend Sociology as not an entire worthless discipline – there is still plenty of rigorous, considered research taking place within the field. But that research is not just theoretical waffling. It includes a vetted research design, methodology, sampling, data analysis, and so forth. It’s not just speculation. So for me it has some value, although these factors should absolutely be heavily scrutinized as part of the research process.

    Despite that, I think that rewriting Mein Kampf in intersectional lingo is hilarious. These journals who published and gave revise/resubmits deserve every bit of scorn that the academic community can throw at them.

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  74. Designer says

    I see the real problem not in the Grievance Studies itself but in the demand for it. No SJW will abandon her faith because the faith is wrong, a scientific fake or pure bullshit. People want to be believe and belong to the good ones. Postmodernism is the escape path for the non-expert and politician from the burden of deciding what is right or wrong – it is just a matter of convictions. Moral convictions are a lot cheaper than rationale expertise, faith is easier than reason and emotions are close to everyone’s heart. The amount of knowledge today is too much to handle for the human brain, but nobody likes to be suspected an idiot.

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  76. Chris says

    Krishnamurti once wrote, “What we fight against, we become.” Quillette proves the point. Do you really need to fake results in areas of study that believe that logic is oppression? Quillette is so intent on its arguments that it is has no interest in even trying to understand that which it critiques. Same with identity studies. “A pox on both your houses” is the only reasonable reply.

    • Fighting against barbarism has only led to… recruitment of more barbarians? No.

      When it becomes clear that a particular subset of your own population is ideologically determined to destroy much of what you hold dear, how much understanding do you need, and to what end?

      • Chris says

        Man, What a hysterical perspective. I’m sorry. Identity politics is half moral panic and half hucksterism. And so is the response to it.

        • Chris, is this what you are getting at?

          Krishnamurti:
          When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. Jiddu Krishnamurti
          Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/jiddu_krishnamurti_752654

          Things to meditate on and to live by tend to inhabit different realms. His statement is akin to “power corrupts”. Of course it does. Can “power” be excluded from social experience?

          How do you separate “identity” in this sense from being human, from human nature? We can go to war over a woman or a lump of gold. No identity required other than being human. I’m honestly not up on Krishnamurti these days. How does he suggest going about transcending our worst tendencies?

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  78. dirk says

    What I missed here: in scientific studies and research on food and food habits, there is a wide diversity of (objective?) facts, they mostly come in a well or hype, cheese is healthy in a certain period, but all of a sudden is found to be bad for your health. People eat more if served on a large plate than when served on a small one. Eggs are good, or, again dangerous. Two glasses of red wine is good for your heart,, or even 1 glass shortens your life. Japanese in certain village get 100 yrs or more because of their diet of greens and seaweed. Mostly, the research is done in good faith. Sometimes, it is just plain fiction, presented by a research team in a journal, and never disputed (until somebody does, and finds the opposite, but is that finding (objectively) true? One can doubt about that). So, nothing new in fake and cheating.

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  81. lootie says

    “like mathematicians or physicists; they express profound truths in a way that cannot be understood without training. ”

    “A theory that you can’t explain to a bartender is probably no damn good.”- Ernest Rutherford

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  86. John Spray says

    Well sport’s fans… it all comes down to a culture of belief and with that template, the woolgathering academics peering uneasily over their dusty bifocals are in the same leaky boat as the (gasp!) tub thumping Evangelicals. I wrote a satirical essay in university years ago for the amusement of my creaky, Mr. Chips prof. (for my giggles, not his) re an assignment on American poets and their inspiration(s). I dissected Frost’s poem, ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’, with all sorts of Jungian noise and then tagging the words snow, horse, and sleep to put forth the absurd notion that Frost was, in fact, a Heroin addict crying for help. Instead of derision… I got both an A and an invitation to discuss my ‘paper’ at a faculty tea. With the realization that said ‘tea’ might be orchestrated by some ‘Mad Hatter’, cobwebbed denizen of the musty library, crawling from the remote corners of the ‘stacks’, I declined and soon washed my hands of the farce of a Lib. Arts grounding and decided to join the conga-line of (sigh!) Capitalists. My hats off to these Merry Pranksters.

  87. Indiewifey says

    Bravo to the brave trio for their callout contributions to the blatherdom that comprises some of higher ed today

  88. john davies says

    Fair enough, but do they have to crow about it?

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  92. dirk says

    Anecdote again. From the Amazon, and undermining the message of the article, and of most of the positive comments here.
    I was so young, and thought to make it. My first ms to a scientific journal.
    It was on curare, the arrow poison of some tribes in the Amazon, used also as a source for a muscle relaxant in surgery.
    The source of this medicine for some time came from a produce made in Sisa, Peru, from a certain plant, but nobody there used it as such. That was strange, because I knew it was used by Indians as an arrowpoison 500 km more to the north. So, out of curiosity, I proposed to my company to find out, they paid my trip, without much interest, because their source of the produce was sure and safe enough. I navigated to the upper Pastaza where some Achual still were hunting with that curare as a poison on their blowpipe-arrows, and found out that it was not of the plant that was used to make the strong Sisa curare, but of another species of the same plant genus, the plant used in Sisa was growing there also, but the curare made from these plants there did not produce a useful, efffective poison, quite remarkable I thought, so I wrote a report of the results (lab analyses of the samples, material and methods etc)of my findings and sent it to the journal Economic Botany, with nice and original photographs , report of the deposits and official determinations of the relevant plant material in Utrecht and Nw York and in proper English as improved by my American friend Chuck. The first judgements of the reviewers were quite positive, and were sent to me, yes, they thought the piece well written and worthy of publication. But then, I got a final message of rejecting, the highest authority on the subject did not trust it and they followed this distrust. It took 3 years from sending to rejecting, and the rejection after so much time and original approval really hurt me. But, now, after so much time, I think, yes, so it goes of course, it’s all a matter of trust, the highest authority (of the 3 that knew about the subject) had his doubts, what can you do? I must admit, it was highly unlikely what I found, and difficult to acknowledge. How easy it is for scientists just to cook up data and have a nice publication again in a relevant journal. How often does this happen? Remember, the results of carcinogenics of transgenic maize ? In the Lancet even.True? Or fake? What counts here is: the reviewers judgement, but what does that mean?
    Does it help to have scientists swear (like all medicals have to) that they will not cheat and be honest?
    So, what I want to say is, cheating is possible at every corner, in hard and soft science, in ordinary and top journals, and not only in the pomo, socio and SJW world.
    For people that don’t trust me neither, look at -Krukoff-dirk- under Google, Krukoff was that highest botanical authority in curare.

  93. Taavi Kuusik says

    Is there any place where we could see the full papers now that they’ve been retracted? Or better yet, full papers and reviewer comments?

  94. I woke up angry says

    do they get massive Woke Points for exposing an injustice?

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  99. Really No says

    This was a good article till that last joker. Why can’t it be that one set of factors explain the outcomes for Asian Americans, and “white privilege” and “systemic racism” explains it for African Americans? Is he so stupid to not understand that the historical and social context for relationships between these different sets of people is, well, different. Oh and that gem “bogus scholarship and bad education rather than medical research” – you mean like the man from Cornell fudging his research. Or the sugar industry paying academics to point the finger at fat? Oh that kind of medical research is what we want funded. UCSD – what are your hiring criteria?

    • @Really No says

      Stop the pearl clutching. As Cofnas says in the first commentary, there is an almost religious commitment to certain propositions in these departments, first among them that white men are the out-group (along with, increasingly, Asians, because of their achievements).

      If you sit through classes in ethnic studies and women’s studies, you will see that almost all focus is on white men as the oppressors, and everyone else as the victim. This despite the fact that human history is complex, that slavery and persecution were found all over the world, that whites were among the first to actually abolish slaver (it lasted well into recent times in Africa and the Middle East). The point is that other factors may help explain things like Africans dominating the NBA and Asians dominating mathematics. We need not advert to “Black privilege” or “Asian privilege.” Sometimes privilege is a good explanation, sometimes not, but it’s revealing that only *white* privilege gets emphasized.

      See John McWhorter’s excellent “Anti-Racism, Our Flawed New Religion”:
      https://www.thedailybeast.com/antiracism-our-flawed-new-religion

      And Jonathan Haidt’s video on the unjustified tendency among radicals to infer that differences in outcomes are caused by injustice:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQNaT52QYYA

      This kind of thinking is at the core of the grievance studies agenda.

      • Really No says

        Umm – is it too hard for you to understand that the reason white privilege gets emphasized is because its been a country of male white power and primacy – for A LONG TIME? Is that too hard to understand?
        Asian’s dominate math? Let me check the Fields Medal Winners – oh guess what 2 white, one of Iranian descent and 1 of Indian. Remind me again about asians dominating math and this asian privilege you so speak of.

        • Really No says

          Also someone tell McWhorter the difference between religion and ideology.

        • @Really No says

          If you haven’t noticed that East Asians tend, on average, to excel in mathematics, you are probably engaged in motivated reasoning. Jews have more Fields medals in mathematics than any other group. And guess what? Ashkenazi Jews and East Asians have the highest average IQ of any ethnic groups in the world.

          Shocking, I know. I’m sure you’ll find a way to blame white men for those facts.

          How about just lightening up, enjoying the biodiversity around us, and treating people as the individuals they are rather than feeling the need to constantly single out one group for blame?

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  102. The Coddling of the American Mind by Haidt and Lukianoff which came out a month ago delves deeply into the culture of ‘safetyism’ on campus but falls short of pointing a finger at the grievance disciplines. The hoax papers does just that and is complementary to the Coddling of the American Mind. The paradigm debates of a few decades ago need to be reignited. Not all ideas are equal and not all research paradigms are equal. Some are more useful than others, and the claims that certain types of research can make need to be part of the IRB process.

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  111. John Ortmann says

    Regarding the P squiggly P thing in Neven Sesardic’s essay: I’m not a married man myself and really don’t know, but I’ve heard tell of some squiggly P things that were anything by passive.

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  113. Isaías says

    When we read the reactions elicited by this scandal, one could exclaim that all hope is not lost: there still remain some decent and sensible academics in American and Canadian universities!! I really wish this is the case, though I tend to be skeptical on this matter.
    Valuable as these reactions are, they rather look like the Asterix and Obelix comic books, with the small hamlet of irreducible Gauls surrounded by Roman legions’ barracks, with the significant difference that we do not have any magic potion to defeat postmodernists and send them to hell.
    Universities, not just in the US or Canada, this is a malady spread over most western countries, have been the refuge for extreme leftists over the last 50 years, specially once communists had been politically and economically defeated in the real world. Of course, during the 60s and 70s there still was enough ideological variety within the institution so as to have a reasonable debate, which naturally is always desirable. However, once the more conservative and the more classical liberals began to retire, they were not replaced by younger like-minded academics; quite the contrary, the proportion of leftists has grown so much that, at present, in a whole range of faculties and specialties the split is something like 90% to 10%, in favour of leftists, of course, which means it is out-rightly impossible to have any honest, open discussion about any of the subjects mentioned in the hoaxes: the tenets of those ‘theories’ have become dogma, just like in any good old-fashioned monotheistic religion or just in Nazi/Leninist style, with the corresponding sinners, heathens, and heretics and, of course, with the corresponding inquisition. Needless to say, and the evidence provided in all the hoaxes is highly significant, the reviewers appear to be quite happy with their role as inquisitors, not only sanctifying all that nonsense, but even encouraging the authors to go further ahead in their ‘struggle for social justice.’
    Unfortunately, more and more I tend to see the future of the humanities well outside the university: a rotten body cannot produce healthy, strong offspring.

  114. Trevor Norris says

    What they don’t emphasize enough in this article is that the right is responsible for the very term “Fake News” now used to discredit humanities and the left. Yes, the destruction of truth by the right has indeed infected academia. When the GOP has all three branches of the government, plus the Supreme Court, they keep construing themselves as the victims and now turn their sights on academia. As if left humanities prof ruled the world. Conservatives are tripping over themselves with grievance envy. What’s more alarming is that when journals publish right wing nonsense the stakes are quite high: 100,000 dead from opioids additions in the last 10 or 15 years because of false studies funded by pharmaceutical companies published in academic journals.

    • Thylacine says

      Hollywood might be left wing; but I didn’t realize that “pharmaceutical companies” were “right wing.” They are staffed almost entirely by university graduates, and universities are not what you would typically consider incubators of right wing activism.

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  118. Thylacine says

    If you don’t go to university, you are uneducated. If you do go to university, you are miseducated.

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