Interview, Top Stories

Writers Behind ‘Grievance Studies Scandal’ Address Criticisms

Do you remember the article on dog rape culture by Helen Wilson that was published in a feminist geography journal earlier this year? What about the paper on challenging male homophobia through using anal sex toys? On October 2, the Wall Street Journal broke the news that the feminist academics behind these articles don’t actually exist. They’re pseudonyms adopted by three intellectuals in an elaborate hoax designed to expose alleged shoddy scholarship in activist disciplines they dub “grievance studies.”

Mathematician James A. Lindsay, British writer Helen Pluckrose, and Portland State philosophy professor Peter Boghossian have become an overnight sensation. They’ve earned recognition from academics all around the world including high-profile figures like Jordan Peterson and Steven Pinker. But their detractors have also stepped out in full force. Lindsay, Pluckrose, and Boghossian have agreed to an exclusive interview with Quillette to address the issues raised by their critics.

For the record, I know the three writers but had no prior knowledge of their year-long project before the story broke. The following text has been transcribed from an in-person interview. It has been edited for readability and flow.

Andy Ngo: First of all, what are “grievance studies” and how did you identify which disciplines belong in this field?

Helen Pluckrose: What we’re looking at specifically is a particular epistemology that originally came from postmodernism in the late 60s and then underwent an evolution in the late 80s and 90s. It formed the disciplines we have now: critical race theory, intersectionality, postcolonial studies, and queer theory. These are subdisciplines within the field of identity studies that we’re calling “grievance studies.”

How did you come up with the term?

James Lindsay: I started using it on Twitter a year or two ago when trying to describe [this field of research]. If you just say “gender studies,” you leave out critical race theory, queer theory, postcolonial studies, etc. There was no succinct way to name these things en masse. At some point I started calling it “grievance studies” and we decided it was the appropriate name to uphold for this project.

Pluckrose: I used to call it “identity studies” because identity was the common feature. But you could certainly study identity rigorously and consistently. So, “grievance studies” gave it that clarity that we’re starting with the assumption of a power imbalance.

Lindsay: Which they call “critical constructivism” if you want the fancy academic term.

Moving on to the criticisms you’ve received since coming clean; in retrospect, do you think your project was unethical and a serious violation of academic norms?

Lindsay: It probably is something of a violation of academic norms. If we’re going to do a credibility audit of the field then what we did was necessary. For example, using pseudonyms doesn’t present any automatic ethical quandary. However, when major journalistic publications like the Wall Street Journal got involved, they contacted the [academic] journals who in turn started demanding that we prove our identity. That’s where the deception of a pseudonym could have become forgery [if we continued]. That would have crossed a line. When we set out on this project we had a few guiding principles. One of those was that we were going to come clean with whatever happens—positive or negative.

I do understand that academic research depends upon trust. But, the peer review system is designed to be able to weed out broken scholarship. Even though we took advantage of that trust, the papers we put forth should have been able to have been detected by a rigorous field as being bogus. Whether it was the data being ludicrous, or our arguments being completely specious, or our methodology being nonsensical—all of these problems should have been things that peer reviewers picked up on.

Pluckrose: We couldn’t inform journals that we were intending to test whether they’ll publish rubbish because then obviously they won’t. There was a need for a certain amount of deception. There wasn’t any other way to do this.

And what do you think would be different if you got to see your project go to completion?

Peter Boghossian: We had other papers that were scheduled to go out in January or February. We had more papers awaiting peer review. People can go to the Google Drive and decide for themselves how many of these papers would have gotten in.

The three of you have continually stated your leftist political identity in your writing and on your social media accounts. How is your political affiliation relevant to the project?

Pluckrose: It’s not a secret that we want to fix the left so that it will win and avoid right-wing problems like Trump.

Lindsay: It’s also in no way surprising that people would say we’re tools of the right. It makes sense to clearly articulate [our views]. We’re of the left. [Grievance ideologues] don’t speak for us and we don’t think they speak for the left either. These people are lunatics.

Pluckrose: This is the natural response if you feel that your own group is doing something wrong. The answer is to address it from within.

So then is your goal to improve academe or is it to further a political agenda?

Pluckrose: Liberal science needs to have a respect for truth and a solid epistemology based on evidence. It’s not doing social justice causes any favor to be shoddy and inconsistent. Our main objective isn’t to forward a political agenda. It’s to make scholarship more rigorous. We accept that sometimes that may produce results which we’d rather wish to not be true.

Are you uncomfortable that many of your vocal supporters right now are on the political right?

Pluckrose: Speaking for myself, I don’t have a problem with them being on the right. I’d try and persuade them to not be but the important thing is being liberal and rational.

Lindsay: To me, it’s important that I’m liberal. That means I don’t mind that people are who they are. People should be able to think for themselves and do as they will. I can’t control who supports me and I wouldn’t want to. Let them support me for the reasons they think are most valuable.

Critics have tried to delegitimize your work by saying your articles were only published in “obscure” or fringe journals. To that, you say what?

Lindsay: Yes, the Journal of Poetry Therapy is by no means big. But qualifying how big or small a journal is is difficult because they’re in disciplines that are subdivided in sub-disciplines, etc. Nobody can deny that Sex Roles and Hypatia are serious journals. Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography is the leading feminist geography journal. So if I want to criticize feminist geography, I better go to their top journal. Fat Studies is of course a niche, boutique journal. Fat studies as a discipline is boutique, so it’s going to be a small journal.

Pluckrose: This is what needs to be understood. People are thinking we’re criticizing whole disciplines. We’re not. We’re not criticizing geography as a whole. We’re criticizing approaches to geography which incorporate “grievance studies.” The same goes for social work and so on.

Andy Ngo interviews James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose and Peter Boghossian. Photo: Mike Nayna

Does your experiment suffer from the lack of a control group?

Lindsay: What on earth would a control group be for if our test is to test “grievance studies” and not all of academic scholarship? The fact that some of our papers were rejected and we could see why they were rejected gives you the kind of data that serves in place of a control.

We’re not doing a comparative study. We’re trying to do an investigation. Somebody asked me why I didn’t do this to math. Why the hell would I do it to math? Yes, people make mistakes and stuff gets by, but I don’t see systematic error going on there.

Ms. Pluckrose, given that you came into this project after Dr. Lindsay and Dr. Boghossian had already written a hoax paper together last year, do you wonder if your addition was for the optics of having a woman on board?

Pluckrose: (Laughs.) I don’t wonder that, no. I’m fairly sure that what they wanted was my approach to theory.

Boghossian: We could not have done this without Helen. We are a team and everybody had a unique contribution. And Helen having certain anatomy had absolutely nothing to do with the choice [to include her].

What’s this documentary you’re working on and teasing in short segments on YouTube?

Lindsay: We committed to transparency from the beginning so we invited a documentary filmmaker, Mike Nayna, to work with us. We wanted him to document the process whether we succeeded or failed. If we made complete fools of ourselves, that would have been committed to the film so that we couldn’t have any possible way out. Of course, the story has also grown over time so it’s going to be a documentary about how this project came together and what the fallout was.

Pluckrose: We still don’t know precisely what the documentary is going to be because the story isn’t over yet.

Well, in the spirit of transparency, I have to ask: Who is funding this project?

Lindsay: This project was funded in the sense that I was funded. I have a handful of anonymous donors that span the political spectrum. And if anybody needs to know, more money came from the left than the right. The relevant question is, “Did the money influence the work?” And the answer to that is no. The funders had no creative control. They gave no direction. We were left totally to our own devices.

And what did the donors want in return for their contributions?

Lindsay: Nothing. They wanted the work to be done—if it could be done. They made this possible given the number of hours it took to do it.

With #MeToo dominating headlines again because of accusations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, do you think the timing for your story is insensitive given that your project seeks to undermine some feminist disciplines?

Boghossian: We didn’t choose the timing.

Pluckrose: I don’t think that any time would have been better or worse. It’s not as though we are getting a break from scandalous news stories. It is always an appropriate time to look at things rationally and with evidence.

Dr. Boghossian, as the only one of the three currently working in academe, what consequences, if any, are you anticipating for your career?

Boghossian: I don’t know. Ask me again in two months?

Feature photo by Andy Ngo.


Andy Ngo is a subeditor at Quillette. Follow him on Twitter @MrAndyNgo


  1. ADM64 says

    It’s interesting that they say they want to fix the left – restoring reason and a search for truth – so they can advance a leftist philosophy and avoid problems like Trump in the feature. They seem honest. If they are really honest, they’ll know that the right – broadly defined – or classical liberalism if you prefer, are in fact right and that there is very little that’s actually rational or true about huge parts of leftism. In fact, the basic contradictions in the left brought it to its current position.

    • Gary P. says

      The right has had to be dragged kicking and screaming by the left to give equal rights under law to blacks, women, homosexuals, and not yet transexuals. The right is by and large religious conservatives tied to reliance on superstition and faith over reason and evidence.

      The only thing that makes the right look good lately in comparison is the parts of the left that have succumbed to the vomit spewing from these grievance studies and the minds that have been warped by that line of thought.

      Right that ship, improve or eliminate that bad scholarship, return to liberal sanity, and the sickness destroying the left, which in turn feeds all the worst reactionary pathologies on the right, will fade quickly.

      Bravo to these three brave souls. Everyone should stand behind them.

      • You don’t get to define the right as what you wish it was. Culturally it’s full of nutjobs who think that the best response to incoming hurricanes is to vigorously apologize to the deity because there are gays. Politically it’s just a tool of Wall Street. Trickle down economics fails every time it’s tried, and despite the lessons of Kansas the Republicans have foisted the same fraud on the American people again.

        There may be truths contained in “classical liberalism,” but I’ll tell you some it misses. Money is power. Advantage begets advantage. The monied classes cement their positions by purchasing favorable policies via campaign financing. That’s why unemployment in America can plummet while wages remain stagnant. The right has absolutely no solutions to these problems because their ideology says they either shouldn’t occur or don’t matter.

        • “Classical liberalism” is not a right leaning philosophy, and Republicans are in no way liberal. The closest American analogue to a ‘classical liberal’ is what many people now call “neoliberals” (bizzare, because there is nothing ‘neo’ about it).

          This term would have defined Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton (at least pre her shift somewhat left to meet Bernie in 2016), and most Democrats.

      • “The right is by and large religious conservatives tied to reliance on superstition and faith over reason and evidence.”

        This is ironic considering the article you’ve replied to. The left has butchered reason and evidence and replaced it with empty virtues and wishy washy pseudo-science.

      • E. Olson says

        Gary P. – It isn’t that simple. The Republican party freed the slaves and enacted all key civil rights legislation until the 1960s. The first states to give women the right to vote were also Republican. It is also important to note that most of the Republican lawmakers who pushed these initiatives against Democrat opposition were very religious and saw their efforts as God’s work. On the other hand, the Democrats were the party of the Confederacy, the KKK (progressive Robert Byrd was a high ranking member), Jim Crow laws, segregation of federal employees (under progressive Woodrow Wilson), and internment of the Japanese-Americans in WWII (under progressive FDR). Arguably the first Democrat led effort in support of black rights was Truman’s post WWII order to desegregate the armed forces, but even here the key Congressional opposition to the order was from his own party. Even the 1964,65,68 Civil Rights acts enacted by “progressive” LBJ were only made possible because of Republican support, but LBJ was among the leadership in opposition to all the Civil Rights efforts of the Eisenhower administration in the 1950s. Democrats argue today that it was only “conservative” Democrats who were racist, but this isn’t really accurate either because most of those “conservatives” were in fact very liberal when it came to support for larger government (i.e. welfare programs, higher taxes), support for organized labor, regulation of business including minimum wage laws (which were enacted to protect whites from cheap negro labor). The record will also show that it is the right (Republican) rather than the left (Democrats) that have been at the forefront in protecting free speech over the past 150 years (i.e. Woodrow Wilson locked up political opposition in WWI, Obama spied on and locked up journalists, Democrat politicians are encouraging violent behavior towards Republican officials, and Leftist professors and students are violently opposing free speech on campuses today). Thus the term “liberal” is very problematic, because historically it has been associated with the political left (perhaps because most history and political science academics are leftists), but in terms of actual behavior it should more accurately be associated with the political-right (including the religious) since the Civil War and even more strongly today in terms of protecting Constitutional rights of US citizens (admittedly the Democrats are much stronger at protecting the Constitutional rights of illegal aliens). It is therefore more accurate and clear to use the terms left and right instead of liberal and conservative.

        • Zulu Muster says

          Right on the button. The ‘Left is good, Right is bad’ mantra has undermined an awful lot of good scholarship and fed into the public discourse usually with terrible outcomes. And it isn’t only in ‘Grievance Studies’. It’s in History too; ‘A Short Guide to the History of South Africa’ covers this rather well.

        • @ E. Olson: Gary P. did in fact use the ‘clear and accurate’ terms left and right, and the rather convoluted history of the democrat/republican platform switch is totally incidental to what those parties happen to be today or have been most consistently since the 1970s. (See ‘political ships of theseus’, below.)

          I will be the first to vent my displeasure over the postmodern left’s censorious tendencies, piss-poor epistemology and unwarranted assumptions of bad faith, and I’ll agree that despite being a small minority they have by all appearances had a disproportionate and pernicious influence on the wider culture, including on the right. (As Kurt Anderson put it, “Once the idea of gates and gatekeepers had been discredited, all american barbarians could have their claims taken seriously.”)

          Nonetheless, what conservative republicans are, at the moment, is preponderantly what Gary and Joe described. Anyone vigorously engaged in denying the age of the universe, the fossil record, the archaeological history of most of the world, and/or the genetic evidence for speciation is clearly no friend of reason. Anyone arguing for the reunion of church and state and reinstitution of blasphemy laws is clearly no friend of free inquiry or liberal values. And white supremacists- which are not an entirely trivial demographic- did not vote for Obama or Hilary.

          • E. Olson says

            Morgan – total strawman arguments. Yes there is a fringe element among the religious right that strictly believes the Biblical history of the earth and/or questions Darwin’s theory, but they have virtually no representation among Republican policy makers or national policy initiatives. Persecuted religious groups (e.g. the Pilgrims) were among the first European settlers to the US, and it is their influence that made freedom of religion a Constitutional right, and today it is the religious right that is most adamant in fighting the incursion of Sharia law into Western democracies. On the other hand, it is the atheist Left that is most supportive of Sharia law and blasphemy laws (to protect Muslim figures only).

            The supposed Democrat/Republican switch thesis is also the product of left-wing academics and politicians trying to disassociate their beloved Democrat party from its racist heritage. Republican control of the “racist” South did not occur until the late 1980s and 1990s, at least one full generation after Republicans in the North shut down Jim Crow. How anyone can think that racist Democrats would suddenly switch their vote to the party of Lincoln is purely delusional thinking.

            As for the “not entirely trivial demographic” of white supremacists – most serious estimates put the number of KKK/Nazi types at less than 10,000 people nationally, which is pretty trivial in a country of 350+ million. But don’t be too sure about how they vote – Aryan nation types are generally for single payer health care, highly progressive tax rates, and many other “big” government polices favored by the Democrats.

          • Farris says

            These silly notions of the Right equals all racist religious fundamentalists Neanderthals and the Left equals all New Age communist flakes is the type of narrow minded overly simplistic thinking the author’s were trying to expose and battle against. Us good. Them bad. Defining any group by it’s worst elements is slip shod. Not all members of the Left are violent antifa types who wish to impose tyranny. Not all members of the Right are religious zealots wishing to subjugate women and minorities. Truth is there are great intellects on each side, there are many church going scientists and Leftist, there many on the Right who are atheists or compelled to worked with the underprivileged. The entire South is not racist. Muslims are not all terrorists, illegal immigrants are not all criminals, men are not all misogynistic rapists. However all persons who engage in such overt generalities are profoundly ignorant. Neither members of the Right or Left have joined the “Party of the Angels”, history bears that out.

          • You’re speaking of some individuals within a party. Are all people on the left crazy, screaming people trying to claw there way into the Supreme court? The presumption from the left that they are more educated is laughable. A Humanities or Liberal Arts degree is a joke and in many cases, the person has less problem solving skills than when they entered college. I am a scientist with just under a decade of education. I work at a large national lab (over 10,000 people) with world experts from very diverse backgrounds. I know more devout Christian scientists than devout liberals. “Progressive” ideas are like a math function with good origin behaviour but they always go asymptotically to zero.

          • Post Truth blame sits squarely on Dan Rather’s lap. Just a few years before the Atlantic author “noticed” post truthiness Rather took a bunch of lies about Bush and ran it like was well vetted research–clearly because he wanted it to be true. And he simultaneously injected small bloggers in with credibility beyond what they warrant when he left it to them to uncover the poorly erected hoax. Rather is the judas in the house of Cronkite and sadly Walter lived to see it happen.

            Since then, subversive sources of information have been on the rise. Some of the spread to the truth, some are lies, and some are batshit crazy. But the cork cannot be put back on the bottle, pandora’s box is open.

            The only way forward is for citizens to get better at reason and being skeptical. There is precedence for this as at one time in history, when public literacy was a new thing, people tended to believe what they read, enough that it necessitated the folk wisdom, ” don’t believe everything you read”. Maybe we need to, “don’t believe every citation”. Not poetic but gets the job done.

            Oh, and these people that wrote these papers are heroes.

        • Michael Jefferis says

          Yes, it’s true that Lincoln was a Republican and he issued the emancipation proclamation which freed the slaves. It’s true that the Democratic Party (especially in the south) was pro-segregation, in favor of suppressing black voting, and so on. BUT, time makes ancient good uncouth. The Dixiecrats of yesteryear are now Republicans. Rockefeller Republicans were isolated and shelled out of the party between Goldwater and Reagan. The Democratic Party that started Aid For Dependent Children to relieve childhood poverty was the party that ended AFDC under President Clinton. And so on.

          It’s also true that many terms which have private meanings (one knows what they mean in one’s own head) have become meaningless–terms like liberal, conservative, left, right, communist, socialist, free enterprise, capitalist, and so forth. New terms haven’t arisen to take their place–so we’re stuck with the old ones.

          • Charlie says

            Reagan gained the votes of blue collar workers, the people who grow food, work in factories, coal mines, oil rigs and construction sites. Post 1968 the Democrats have given up on the blue collar workers and become dominated by humanities graduates.

            LBJ expanded welfare to buy votes, which worked. The massive expansion of humanities degrees post mid 1960s now provides many Democrat voters.

            Employment by city councils now provides a reservoir of Democratic voters- Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, etc, etc . The large number of humanities departments are another reservoir of Democratic voters.

            I would suggest divide is now between those who believe in self reliance, the pioneer spirit and those who believe in reliance on the state. People like the Clintons have accumulated money through state employment.

            Government of the people, by the people for the people is now being replaced by government of the employees paid for by the people.

        • Ty Lee Holland says

          @E. Olsen, your history is horrible off base and missing key variables that you have left out.

          I want you to look at these numbers for the vote totals in congress for who supported the 1964 civil rights act.

          This chart tracks not only party vote totals, but also REGIONAL vote totals from each party.

          What do those numbers suggest Olsen? Is it that the “democrats” were more hostile to civil right vs republicans, or was it that the representatives (and by extension the population of people that put them there) from the old confederate southern states were more hostile?

          Almost EVERY republican and democrat from one of the old confederate states voted AGAINST the 1964 civil rights act, and almost every republican AND democrat from everywhere else voted in favor of it.

          The key variable was NOT about democrat/republican, that is a LIE the right tells, and grifters like Dinesh D’Souza that rapes the historical reality to fit deceit filled narratives. The key variable was region.

          This ridiculous notion that parties are constant vessels of ideas across time and space is just wrong.

          Large chunks of those southern “democrats” with racial animus later became republicans. It’s why if you find the people most likely to be peddling the line that the civil war was a “war of northern aggression” and not really about slavery, it’s typically southern republicans, from “the party of Lincoln”

          But descendants of the daughters of the confederacy, that passed on so many distortions of history and pride down through the ages. Don’t be such a fool to think the stickiness of those fel ideas are sourced from political parties.

        • chowderhead says

          Yes, all those good things delivered by the Immutable Republican Party. And Sarah Palin. And Donald Trump.

      • Sean says

        “The right is by and large religious conservatives tied to reliance on superstition and faith over reason and evidence.”
        Your point of view that fringe elements of the right are representative of all on the right and we should ignore the mainstream right whereas the fringe elements on the left should be ignored and just focus on the mainstream left is disingenuous.
        Most conservatives I know are atheists. Even the ones I know who are religious do not believe in the literal meaning of the bible.
        The extreme religious right haven’t held much of an influence over most conservatives for a very long time although in the past it has done so. On the left at the moment the extremist element has taken over much of the left and this is what these three in the article are trying to undo.
        Your “left = good, right = bad” narrative is delusional or childish and serves to deepen the divide currently going on in the west.

      • What we did not do here is define Left and Right. The Left is exemplified by Marxist Collectivism which then spawned Communism, Fascism, and NAZIsm. Yes, Mussolini was a member of the Communist party before he split away to form a more nationalist Collectivism than international socialism. But all three are totalitarian and collectivist. So the left is first and foremost Collectivist and then totalitarian.

        So the Right is philosophically rooted in individualism and liberty as the goals with laissez faire capitalism, free market economics, the bill of rights and therefore, LIBERALISM being the outward manifestations.

        So slavery, racism (what Ayn Rand called the most primitive form of Collectivism), and any other form of identity politics is a manifestation of the Left, not of the Right.

        • TL:DR summary of Lemuel Pitkin

          All that is bad and evil and twisted in this world, is sourced from the holy evil knows as the left. All that is good and noble and just and right, comes from the right.

          This site truly is a cesspool for right wing delusion.

      • Myron says

        No sorry, it was the left (Democrats) that had to be dragged kicking and screaming to give rights to blacks.

        As for women’s right to vote, The House of Representatives passed the 19th amendment by a vote of 304 to 90. That’s a big margin, I would say no one at that time had to be dragged into it.

        As far as second and third wave feminism, I think those issues fall into LGBTQ rights. Its not really a matter of religion that keeps the right against some of those issues. You can see that to much religion can bring its own problems to society, such as pedophilia, loss of rights and tyranny. The real issue with feminism and LGBTQ is that it degrades society. This has been born out through history. Homosexuality has been around for a hundred thousand years. Sodom and Gomorrah wasn’t just a bible verse, I believe it was a history lesson.

        The point is that to much of something no matter if its food, drink, religion or belief system can have a negative impact on society as a whole. Just look at whats happening with Antifa.

        • Not the “left” or “democrats,” the south. Southern republicans were just as hostile to civil rights as southern democrats were, and northern democrats were generally as supportive of civil rights as the republicans were. I linked the vote totals for the civil rights act, have you looked at the actual vote totals by region?

          It’s a useful bellwether for highlighting precisely what I describe. Anyone saying this was a democrat republican issue as the prime driver is spreading misinformation.

          Interesting stat, the last president where a democrat got a majority of the white vote was Johnson. What did Johnson sign that might have infuriated a subsection of white from a certain southern region? Oh right, the 1964 civil rights act. Not democrat/republican, southern vs non southern.

          Today it’s more of a left right dynamic, but the origins were nowhere near as pristine and noble as conservative revisionists want to suggest.

      • That’s not true at all, it was the Democrats who fought the Republicans to prevent Blacks from gaining their rights. Don’t fall for the leftist narrative

      • I suggest when you make such allegations, you actually look at facts, such as the voting tally for H.R. 7152 (Civil Rights Amendment).

        YEA- 46
        NAY- 21

        YEA- 27

        HOUSE VOTE-H.R. 7152
        YEA- 153
        NAY- 91

        NAY- 35

        I am not suggesting the Republican party has not had it’s share of loon squad bigots and racists, however, the Democrat party has had such luminary racists as Woodrow Wilson, Luis Farrakhan, George Wallace, Harry Truman, Hillary Clinton, “Mahatma Gandhi ran a gas station down in St.Louis.”, Robert Byrd, Bill McKinney, Barack Obama, “I have been very clear on this,” Obama told a television reporter at a Springfield, Ill., campaign event. “I have said I am not a supporter of gay marriage”.

        I could also list the Republican racists(just as plentiful to be sure), but, my response is aimed at showing you are a victim (as are we all)of what the popular academic and media slant on American politics has been for the past 50 years, to the point we all make statements based on what we have been taught, instead of actual fact.

        All Democrats and Republicans must be vigilant, that we don’t succumb to propaganda of our respective parties. Remember, these are politicians, and the vast majority are not principled enough to refrain from lying.

        An example from a NYT article on April 22, 2016. ” Donald Trump’s More Accepting Views on Gay Issues Set Him Apart in G.O.P.” by Maggie Haberman

        Elton John and his longtime boyfriend, David Furnish, entered a civil partnership on Dec. 21, 2005, in England under a law the country had just enacted granting recognition to same-sex couples. The congratulations poured in as the two men appeared at a joyous ceremony at Windsor Guildhall, amid a crush of paparazzi. Donald J. Trump, who had known the couple for years, took to his blog to express his excitement.

        “I know both of them, and they get along wonderfully. It’s a marriage that’s going to work,” Mr. Trump wrote, adding: “I’m very happy for them. If two people dig each other, they dig each other.”

        Contrast that to the anti-rainbow reputation which sprouted around Trump shortly after he won the election. So, the question is, was the media right about Trump in April of 2016 or are they right now? I suppose it depends on whether you hate or like the man, and facts be damned.

      • Wendy Rundel says

        I thoroughly enjoyed this project! Ben Shapiro shared the story on one of his daily podcasts a week or so ago. My interest in Quillette was peaked after I had listened to Claire Lehmann on the Rubin report. It was such a coincidence that I found this article on Quillette shortly after hearing about it on Ben’s podcast. Will stand behind them, would gladly fund them and I’m a ‘rightest’ politically, but probably a little bit more in the middle. This was indeed a brave project.

        I agree that everyone should stand behind these folks.

        Wendy R.

      • Alan D White says

        The progressive left is riding high and they know it. They see no need to make concessions to classical liberalism, so they continue to follow their path without the slightest idea they are headed for self-destruction.

    • Jack B Nimble says

      @ADM64 “….They seem honest…..”

      Lindsay: “We committed to transparency from the beginning……..”

      The idea that these fraudsters are honest and transparent is laughable. For proof, I submit this online note from the editors and publishers of one of the journals they pranked:

      “We, the Editors and Publishers of Gender, Place & Culture, are issuing an Expression of Concern for the following article:

      Helen Wilson, “Human reactions to rape culture and queer performativity at urban dog parks in Portland, Oregon”, Gender, Place & Culture, DOI:10.1080/0966369X.2018.1475346, published online on 22nd May 2018.

      This is due to a suspected breach of the following Publishing Agreement clause, signed by the author during the publication process:

      “You warrant that: i. All persons who have a reasonable claim to authorship are named in the article as co-authors including yourself, and you have not fabricated or misappropriated anyone’s identity, including your own.”

      To date, the author has not responded to our request to provide appropriate documentation confirming their identity. This Expression of Concern will remain in place until this documentation has been received and checked.”

      In plain English, “Helen Wilson” had to certify, as part of the journal submission process, that the list of authors was accurate and complete. The authors lied about that.

      Lying and cheating on behalf of a supposed greater good have been used by activists of all political stripes. See, e.g. James O’Keefe, who had to pay $100,000 and apologize to one of the victims of his frauds. “O’Keefe stated that he was out to make a point and to damage ACORN and therefore did not act as a journalist objectively reporting a story”. Link:

      Bottom line: the flaws exposed by the fraudsters are just a symptom of broader problems with academic publishing, the most important of which is that there are simply too many journals. That situation doesn’t justify committing fraud, however.

      • @ E. Olson- “Yes there is a fringe element among the religious right that strictly believes the Biblical history of the earth and/or questions Darwin’s theory, but they have virtually no representation among Republican policy makers or national policy initiatives…”

        “Jindal has supported legislation in Louisiana that allows creationism to be taught in public schools. Last year, he repeatedly refused to say whether he believed the theory of evolution.”

        Of course ‘states rights’ get trotted out as the usual justification for this sort of nonsense, but how does that make it better.

        48% of republicans do not accept revolution, vs. 27% of democrats. This is predominantly a right-wing issue.

        “…Republican control of the “racist” South did not occur until the late 1980s and 1990s, at least one full generation after Republicans in the North shut down Jim Crow…”

        This was already covered in the video I linked to. Of course it took a full generation for the party allegiances to switch, it takes time for political incumbents to age out of the system. But the trends are obvious.

        “As for the “not entirely trivial demographic” of white supremacists – most serious estimates put the number of KKK/Nazi types at less than 10,000 people nationally…”

        Really? The Red Elephants youtube channel alone has over 150,000 subscribers, and they’ve been known to dabble in holocaust denial. How many people do you think tune in to Jared Taylor/AmRen for their political commentary, which is explicitly fixated on maintaining racial purity? You don’t think Breitbart or InfoWars had any kind of influence on the political discourse leading to Trump’s election?

        • E. Olson says

          Morgan – your video is only an opinion piece that criticizes another opinion piece, but the fact remains it is only the Republican party that were supportive of civil rights from 1854 to approximately 1948, and support for segregation or Jim Crow was NEVER part of any Republican platform – only Democrats. There were no major Republican candidates or elected officials that were members of the KKK – only Democrats. Southern Democrats didn’t switch to the Republican party to continue segregation or get back at the black man, they switched because of the free market economics and the stronger anti-Communism platform of the Republicans. I’m sure you can find lots of historians and political scientists that support your position, but about 90+% of historians and political scientists are Democrats, which clearly biases their opinions and analysis.

          Your Pew Survey from 2013 is based on a sample of less than 500 supposed Republicans, and the results are drastically different than 2009. This would suggest some serious sampling problems and/or a change in how the questions are asked. Yes there have been some proposals backed by Republicans as the local level to add creationism or intelligent design as additions to creationism in teaching curriculum, but not to replace creationism, and I believe all or most of those proposals never became law. Difficult to see how this is a major problem compared to mainstream Democrat beliefs that high income taxes and big welfare will not detrimentally change working behaviors. Or mainstream Democrat beliefs that cutting 80% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions to save the planet from global warming will not be economically or socially painful – especially for the world’s poor. Or mainstream Democrat beliefs that letting in boatloads of Muslims from failed countries, who tend to think that women are 3rd class citizens, homosexuals should be killed, and jihad against infidels is justified, will strengthen the country.

          Show me some real evidence of large scale Nazi uprisings and I’ll listen, but Breitbart is not a Nazi site. But as I said before, the German Nazis, and most white supremacists today are leftist in their political positions – i.e. they want big government and are big into identity politics, which are key leftist/Democratic positions.

          • Deciding which party had the more righteous members in previous centuries provides exactly no answers, or even suggestions, about how we ought to solve the problems of today.

            Neither does this approach of asking what ideology one ought to subscribe to. We never even attempt to solve real world problems, especially in our professional lives, at that level of generality.

          • “Morgan – your video is only an opinion piece that criticizes another opinion piece, but the fact remains it is only the Republican party that were supportive of civil rights from 1854 to approximately 1948…”

            E, this is an answer to a question that nobody asked. What the republicans were a century ago is not relevant to diagnosing what republicans are today, or what political conservatives had advocated fairly consistently for the last 40 years.

            “Your Pew Survey from 2013 is based on a sample of less than 500 supposed Republicans…”

            Then show me some different survey results. Yes, the numbers are thankfully trending slowly down, and thankfully this legislation rarely makes it into law, but this pretense that ideological irrationality is somehow less prevalent on the right has no factual basis. We could have a debate about policy justifications, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that believing in social welfare, carbon taxes and political asylum for war refugees is not less rational than believing the earth to be 6000 years old or that Obama was not a US citizen.

            “Show me some real evidence of large scale Nazi uprisings and I’ll listen, but Breitbart is not a Nazi site. But as I said before, the German Nazis, and most white supremacists today are leftist in their political positions – i.e. they want big government and are big into identity politics, which are key leftist/Democratic positions.”

            This is just the “no true scotsman” fallacy. You’ll forgive me if I suggest that waiting until you see a full-scale kristallnacht or reichstag fire seems to be excessive caution when it comes to dealing with white supremacists, and I would point out the majority of US domestic terrorism seems to be coming from this quarter.


          • Steven says

            “Southern Democrats didn’t switch to the Republican party to continue segregation or get back at the black man, ”

            Morgan has provided clear evidence for his points, all you are doing is asserting your personal opinions as fact. Given the clear racism Republicans have shown towards African Americans your belief does not hold up here.

            “I believe all or most of those proposals never became law”

            Even if your belief was factually correct, it changes nothing. What you are proposing is the equivalent of claiming that if the GOP backed allowing racist white people to hunt people of color for sport it would only be evidence of racism if those proposals became law.

            “Or mainstream Democrat beliefs that letting in boatloads of Muslims from failed countries, who tend to think that women are 3rd class citizens, homosexuals should be killed, and jihad against infidels is justified, will strengthen the country. ”

            The same way allowing boatloads of Chinese people from a “failed country” with comparable beliefs did not strengthen our country? Or boat loads of Irish people? Or Soviets?

            The whole “this time it’s totally different” hysterics on immigration are truly despicable. Immigrants from impoverished countries have been coming to America in boat loads for centuries: they have and continue to strengthen our country.

            You have quite a few beliefs, but that is all they are. They have no basis in fact, which is why you insist a leftist conspiracy must be afoot: you can’t even imagine the possibility that your beliefs are wrong.

        • D-rex says

          Interestingly, I recently taught the topic of Evolution to my year 10 science class where I presented a large amount of evidence supporting the big picture of evolutionary change over time. One video that I used presented what I considered slam dunk evidence of human evolution, at least over the relatively short term past 5 million years or so. Only a small minority of my class professed any religious affiliation, yet when we discussed the evidence, the majority of my students expressed disbelief in the idea that humans evolved from primates, while generally accepting the overall panoramic of change over time.
          I should declare that I’m also a christian and once believed in recent Earth creationism but now accept the theory of evolution.
          I have no explanation for my students’ ideas on the matter.

      • Peter Kriens says

        @Jack I do feel a bit queesy about their approach. On the other hand, their goal is perfectly valid. Do you have a suggestion how could they have showed that these grievance studies have no content? I wrecked my brain over this but can’t see any other strategy that would expose the fraud?

        • Jack B Nimble says

          @Peter Kriens

          My background is in ‘hard’ science, not social science. That there are too many academic journals out there, including those published by for-profit enterprises, is hardly a secret. My postdoctoral mentor groused 40 years ago that quality control was lacking at a lot of journals and that mediocre work could eventually get published somewhere. It is sort of like the US higher ed system–a mediocre student will get accepted at some college eventually, as long as they keep submitting applications.

          To attempt to answer your question, the field of bibliometrics [ ] tries to judge the importance of published articles and books by, among other things, calculating how many times–if at all–an individual work is cited by colleagues. The idea is that trivial papers will rarely be cited by other scholars, in contrast to ground-breaking work.

          Interested people can investigate further by accessing Google Scholar [free] or the ISI Web of Knowledge [proprietary, usually accessed from university library websites]. For example, Google Scholar reports that my published works have been cited by others almost 4000 times over my 40-year career. A similar analysis can be done for individual papers or for entire journals. Whether those raw numbers equate to ‘importance’ is hotly debated, however.

      • Alistair says

        Jack B. Nimble: “How dare you trick me into confessing to murder! Tricking someone is a horrible thing to do! How is a poor murderer to know who to trust?”


        I like Jack and all his predictable, motivated reasoning in defence of his tribe. It’s nice to see his vile and disingenuous arguments in their fullest and most powerful presentation, just so we can be sure that we’re not missing anything of value in them.

        • Jack B Nimble says


          We all understand that ad hominem attacks are easier to write than actually doing a rebuttal. But aren’t you engaging in the sort of virtue-signaling behavior toward your own ‘tribe’ that you would condemn if it was done by a leftist?

      • Alan D White says

        No, the problem is not that there are too many sleazy journals willing to publish anything that comes through the door. The problem is too many scientists are willing to have their articles published in sleazy journals in an effort to increase their citation rating.

    • david of Kirkland says

      There’s no demonstrable “correctness” when it comes to broad terms like left/right. That’s all in your bias. Some think the individual is paramount, others society, neither correct or wrong, even if I would agree that the individual should be the focus.
      But the individual is long gone in the USA and most of the west. If “correct” means what most are doing, then we’re incorrect.

  2. Drew Domalick says

    I’ll definitely be watching the documentary. Men’s Rights Activists having been raising the alarm about Feminism for some time. Hopefully this project and the following documentary helps shine a light on the problem helping people to open their minds to the idea that there are protections that men need as well.

  3. E. Olson says

    This attempt to undermine the credibility of grievance studies scholarship by getting fake papers accepted due to their adherence to leftist dogma would have been greatly enhanced if they had also attempted to publish papers in the same journals using theory and examples from the political/economic right. Their case would have been much stronger if they could have compared their publishing success and favorable comments using leftist fake papers with what I would assume would be much higher rejection rates and nastier reviewer comments with regards to submitted manuscripts that supported James Damore’s Google memo, or showing evidence that poor economic choices are a major reason for black/Hispanic poverty, or that there is little evidence of rape culture or police bias against people of color, or analysis that suggests transgenders are in fact mentally ill, or demonstrating that homosexuals and single moms frequently make poor parents, or that racial/gender differences in IQ levels and distribution explain a great deal of variance in economic and social success, or that diversity is often a weakness rather than strength. In fact, it wouldn’t even be necessary to create Fake papers to document the veracity of these types of issues, because there is actual data that provides support. Unfortunately, the leftist biases of these fields and academia more generally means these types of topics rarely get addressed, and more importantly the implications of these topics rarely get addressed. For example, IQ differences are real, some cultures appear to be less successful in a modern world, and women and men have biologically based differences in preferences and abilities, so why shouldn’t black/Chicano/gender/etc. studies academics do research to demonstrate how society can most effectively deal with these real issues? Unfortunately the reason is due to their postmodern world-view that prevents them from seeing and addressing the world as it is.

    • Someone says

      It is tricky to use IQ scores as they have gone up and up last decades (wich means close to 0 genetic causes of that variation within cohorts).

      • Someone says

        I forgot to say that I know what you mean. I was at a seminary and pointed out that blacks scored less at IQ test to the ponent.
        His response was that he will ignore my politycally incorrect assert about how blacks are less inteligent, when my point was that IQ scores are a proxy to measure something. He totalilly misrepresented my argument and said that a fact was politically incorrect. Pure madness.

      • Indeed, you can teach IQ improvements. But that doesn’t mean IQ isn’t hereditable. I mean, you can teach football/basketball skills and make players better, but some physical traits will always helps too.

      • ga gamba says

        Perhaps you’re talking about the Flynn effect, which has the mean IQ score increase about 3 points over the decades. Could be all the Asians who starting arriving in the US after 1965, yeah?

        Could be IQ scores have gone up because the amount of lead in the environment has gone down. A lot.

        I also have to ask, how commonly taken are IQ tests over the past few decades? Given their controversial nature, I thought they’re uncommon and not given in schools except in unusual circumstances, such as when a student is exceptionally bright or dim. Yes, some non-IQ tests are heavily g-loaded, for example the Army’s ASVAB. The SAT is less g-loaded, and its scores have been decreasing. What is being to assert IQ scores are increasing or decreasing?

  4. Ozymandias says

    Both the left and the right have for too long failed to expose and criticize the irrational and illiberal elements within their respective ranks. Their “tu quoque” arguments are silly and tiresome. Better to thank these three scholars for exposing the frauds and quacks among those sharing their own political outlook. The care and standards they applied in their project refutes the charge by some that their goal was merely “lulz.”

    As for the charge of dishonesty, there is respectable precedent for the use of a certain amount of deception to expose dishonesty and bad behavior, such as in the submission of identical job or loan applications by fictional or nominal white and African American applicants to expose discriminatory practices. The pollution of scholarship practiced by the grievance studies journals may not be as serious a problem as unlawful discrimination, but in view of the tendentious and degraded state of higher education, it is nonetheless a valid target in the larger effort toward reforming the vile political climate that is crippling our country.

  5. I love what they have done. It has inspired me massively and I’m quite further left than they are. It might not change much in the profit-making university but I do think this kind of act has the potential to reverberate in wonderful ways, even if it is just strengthening, especially for those of us on the left who are dismayed and distraught at this particular flavour of left identitarian insanity.

  6. Circuses and Bread says

    What I find fascinating about this article and the comments is how quickly it shifted from a discussion of a lack of intellectual rigor and gullibility within certain academic disciplines to a tribal contest of whose political faction is right or wrong. To my embarrassment I have to admit that I find it amusing in a dark sort of way.

    The pathology of this Sudden Political Onset Syndrome also leads me to question some of my own views. I often draw the analogy of politics being like a cancer. But maybe I’m wrong on that? Politics seems to spread and operate more like a virus. With those who are severely infected throwing away all rationality and good sense so long as they perceive it bringing about some inconsequential advantage to their faction. I don’t come from a medical background, but to me it seems very similar to the onset of viral diseases such as encephalitis. Or perhaps rabies.

    This is a sickness of the spirit and mind. That well educated and otherwise rational people can instantaneously go off the deep end does not bode well.

    • There was no ‘shift’ here. The very first comment consisted of ADM64 equating classical liberalism with the political right and declaring a moral victory. Some of us have pointed out this was a not a sound equation.

  7. Circuses and Bread says

    @morgan Allen

    I stand corrected. The comments on this mostly non political article went straight to politics. It didn’t pass GO. It didn’t collect $200. So that probably means that any deprogramming efforts need to start with a very basic level of facts and expand from there. With that in mind:

    Fact #1 for the politically afflicted:the sun rising in the east in the morning and setting in the west in the evening is NOT, repeat NOT evidence of a vast right wing conspiracy.

    Fact #2 for the politically afflicted: water is wet. This is NOT, repeat NOT due to a left wing cabal hell bent on draining our precious bodily essences.

  8. Benjamin Perez says

    Idea: Maybe those who consider themselves progressive but not pro-PC, not pro-identity politics, etc., should start calling themselves “classical progressives” in order to differentiate themselves from SJWs? (Maybe if more and more did, we’d see how relatively few SJWs there really are? – maybe…)

  9. When you’re talking about the political Right in America it is important to define which wing of the party you’re talking about. There is not just a “right-wing” just like there is not just a “left-wing”.

    The Republicans have taken on different ideological flavors since it’s inception in the mid 1800’s after the Whig Party became relegated to the trash heap of history. I agree that the radical wing of the Republicans were definitely responsible for instigating the Civil War. While there were some abolitionists who were against slavery for ethical reasons, I tend to take the realist approach and side with those that believe it was for economical reasons. The South was major competition for the North and the Dixiecrats were extremely POWERFUL. What better way to cripple them than make them pay wages for there labor.
    Even though I’m non-leftist and on the center right, I don’t like to whitewash history just to make my side look better.

    The reality of it was that the North was everybit as prejudice as the South. There were even abolutionist who thought the blacks should leave the country and sent back to Africa. I would say there wasn’t a single person in the U.S. who was not prejudice against the African American.

    What I do hate is the people who claim that magically the parties “switched”, which is a crock of shite! The Republicans were considered the party of big business way before Teddy Rosevelt came on the scene, and they still are even to this day. Republicans were also against every tax increase and hated the New Deal. Just look at Taft, Wilson, FDR and Coolidge and tell me the parties have switched!
    Woodrow Wilson, the intellectual, the once president of Princeton (the president whom Hillary Clinton once said she patterned her progressivism after) was a proponent of the Prussian school system and thought America should adopt that here, he also thought the Constitution was out dated and needed to change with the times. He believed that centralized government would be in a better position to manage the “new industrial era” and that the populace was too stupid and couldn’t be trusted to govern themselves. He was a big fan of executive orders and the “pen and the phone” before Obama was born. He was also a major bigot and segregationist. He was also very much a Democrat. Other than his KKK tendencies he would fit it quite well with the modern Democrats…. So, did the republican and democrats switch over before or after Wilson????

  10. Also, currently, there are 3 wings to the modern Republican party.

    There are the Paleocons which are major anti-interventionists, anti-war, socially conservative who like government programs like Social Security, Medicare ect… They are concerned about the culture wars, were against the Iraq War from day one, are anti-imperialist, pro-life, anti-gay marriage and have some disagreements with the Religious Right over foreign policy (think Israel). Major figures are Pat Buchanan, Rod Dreher and basically everyone at The American Conservative.

    Then there are the Neocons. These are the war hawks. They support Israel no matter what, they’re not too concerned with government programs. This is you’re Compassionate Conservative. I think most are pro-life but I don’t think they’re tied to the abortion argument. The National Review, Commentary, David Frum, The Never Trumpers and all the architects of the Iraq War.

    Last you have the Libertarian wing. These are the people who are pro-immigration, some are open borders, no welfare state, the lowest taxes possible, anti-regulation, anti-intervention, cut the military back as low as possible with just the minimum you need to defend the country. They think government should get out of private life altogether. They have no stance on abortion or gay marriage, they think it’s up to the states. The tea-party started out as basically this group. Think Ron and Rand Paul, Reason magazine.

    So, basically the republicans have some huge structural differences in their respective wings to overcome.

  11. John H says

    This is getting called Sokal Squared and I think a better comparison is the Rosenthal Experiment. To save you a trip to Wikipedia, in 1973, David Rosenhan and 11 other pseudo-patients each visted a different psychiatric hospital. They had a single symptom, hearing “thud”, “empty” or “hollow” from a voice – then nothing else for duration of treatment. This symptom will receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia, 7-52 days of inpatient treatment and a prescription for anti-psychotics.

    Staff at the hospital required the pseudo-patients to agree with the diagnosis and pathologized normal behavior. Taking notes for the experiment was recorded as a “writing behavior”, waiting in line for lunch is “oral acquisitiveness”.

    The follow-up was even better, loudly announcing they would send many more pseudo-patients without sending any. Over the next month 41 people were not admitted despite no actual pseudo-patient being sent. Lots of people can make the announcement to invite a siege mentality among the journal editors and reviewers.

    Rosenthal caused a firestorm because psychiatrists and phycologists considered themselves to be scientists and it inspired development of objective criteria in the DSM. I suspect the result here will be different because the there is more hostility to science than observance and it will probably require and third and fourth wave to inspire the right level of contrition.

  12. Jack B Nimble says

    @John H

    ‘…..phycologists considered themselves to be scientists….’

    ‘Phycology (from Greek phykos, “seaweed”; and -logia) is the scientific study of algae. Also known as algology, phycology is a branch of life science and often is regarded as a subdiscipline of botany.’–Wikipedia

    More seriously, this whole thread, and Ngo’s interview, have tunnel-vision regarding the real crisis in academic publishing. Here’s a useful link from which I excerpt below.

    “The [peer-review] system is not flawless. There have been instances of fraud and manipulation due to refereeing, but these are – we hope – isolated cases.

    But there are much bigger systemic problems associated with peer review. These are negatively affecting scientific credibility. These include the fact that, globally, it is hard to find referees: reviewing a manuscript requires a lot of time and minimal reward. Very few journals pay referees, and most academics who act as referees are doing so for free in their spare time…..

    Journal editors are frustrated about the dearth of referees…….No wonder they’re worried: more than 1 million research articles are published globally each year. That requires a lot of referees….”

    This problem with peer review also occurs in the social sciences:

    What are the solutions? Well, the ‘Sokal-Squared’ fraud might encourage more journals to mandate that authors use the ORCID iD (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) to eliminate identity fraud.

  13. furrcats says

    Could we just have the picture of the dog next time?

  14. Anya says

    kudos to this team; I wish you had published a 100 articles like this, if only to make your point more pervasively. This is not just about poor scholarship or poor review procedures, it is about the intellectual wasteland that is this field.

    I am left wondering–is it taxpayer money that funds the ‘research’ published in the journals you targeted? In lieu of say, investing in cures for cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and a million other diseases, plumbing the frontiers of neuroscience, etc? Sad.

  15. Trajan Fanzine says

    Ridiculous…they don’t need to apologize for a thing, the “system” and its gatekeepers are embarrassed, so kill the messenger is their response, no surprise there.

  16. The problem with “victim studies” is that the “proper” viewpoint and buzzwords have come to replace true scholarship, rigor, and logic. When “feelings” and “telling your story” are viewed as equally valid as data, then gibberish can get published. I have seen it argued that with so many more people in college and as professors that we cannot expect to maintain high standards of scholarship. So I suppose you don’t mind if your odds of dying during surgery become 30% instead of 2%, in the name of relaxing standards? This is simply an argument to favor lazy and untalented people.
    Many years ago (30?) I saw a proclamation that some feminists were going to create a “feminist math”–nothing happened because there is no such thing. Claims that math or physics are hegemonic or support colonialism likewise are insane, yet get published. There have been claims that Egypt was historically black, when all the artwork for 3000 years refutes this (as do new genetic tests of skeletons). Other nonsense about history is published that can be refuted easily. Same in economics, sociology, anthropology you name it. Sad.

  17. Andre says

    “Pluckrose: Liberal science needs to have a respect for truth and a solid epistemology based on evidence. ”
    Liberal “science”, whatever it means, exists only because it does not even accept the very concept of truth, and therefore does not need any evidence, Evidence for what?

  18. Robin Collins says

    Well done. Only the genuine Left could do this right. Let’s hope the regressive left gets the wake up call, and this starts a transformation away from decades of BS.

  19. “Lindsay: To me, it’s important that I’m liberal. That means I don’t mind that people are who they are. People should be able to think for themselves and do as they will. ”

    I am, broadly speaking, centre/left in my worldview. I happen to think this statement by Lindsay is utter nonsense for a very simple reason. To be obvious, we do know what happens when people like Stalin, Hitler, etc. “do as they will.” More importantly we know what happens when leaders like Trump, “do as they will.” Neither set of outcomes are comparable to each other in any way good.

    Less obviously, we are barely scratching the surface when it comes to understanding human nature. Gaugins famous questions; What are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? We really should respect our lack of knowledge before locking down our ideologies and insisting that others abide by them, while at the same time accepting that we must be on the watch for the destructive ambitions of certain people who “do as they will.”

    Neither liberals nor conservatives as broadly defined by Johnathan Haidt base their views on anything resembling an accurate and complete knowledge of human nature, a subject we have barely begun to understand.

    Writers like E O Wilson point to out “stone age emotions”. Yes, the amygdala governs much of human behaviour, in particular our views on others. The grand though unstated goal of fulfilling human potential consists of the quest to civilize the amygdala. Today conservatives want to civilize the amygdala using very simplistic rules and tools and liberals think that tramples on what they believe to be our highest value; individual freedom and autonomy.

    Neither are right. Our highest value must be species survival. Everything else is secondary. First among the secondary matters; it is essential to civilize our primitive emotions. Our “people” have existed for about 8 million years. The project to civilize ourselves has been underway for about 2,500 years. Study, analysis, deep thinking, education and time are essential elements of this project.

    There is no quick fix. We have no choice but to struggle on as we have been. In the meantime we should probably take a good look the sacred cows on all sides of the debate. For example; it would be useful to really understand the value of sentencing non-violent offenders to 40 years in prison under a “3 strikes” statute to decide whether it’s a good policy from any perspective. Similarily, we ought to find out what has happened with people who have had sex change surgery 10, 20 and 30 years after to see whether life has been better for them so people contemplating that change can make better decisions.

  20. Interesting study and results. Funny and entertaining, too, to be honest. I think the concerns that drove this investigations are valid. If certain fields of study within the left/liberal/progressive end are lacking in honest scholarship, attention should get called to that. And regardless of methodology, this article pretty convincingly demonstrates that this is a legitimate problem.

    Where it gets tricky is in the..”so what, now?” What will this end up mostly accomplishing?

    If the true goal of this was to strengthen the academic left would it have been more effective to limit the dissemination of these results to a more strategic and intentional group – those departments, journals, leading academics who are the one’s involved within this problem? Perhaps this approach would have felt less like an attack on a portion of members of the liberal community and more like a constructive critique hoping to lead to productive dialogue within the community. It’s kind of like when you pull someone in your family to the side and let them know in private that you think they’re messing up, rather than calling them out in front of everyone at the party. You might especially want to do this when there are people at the party who are committed to discrediting your family at every chance they get (in other words, sensationalist right wing propagandists).

    By instead broadcasting this to the mainstream audience, of course it’s going to be folks like the Tucker Carlsons, Ann Coulters, Rush Limbaughs etc.of our culture who are going to weaponize and spin this article to use as ammo for their continuous propaganda that liberals and the university are destroying this country. Will the researchers feel like their work was a success if the largest impact it ultimately has is to further add to this “liberalism is a cancer” propaganda movement? Because I’m noticing those are the circles having a field day with this article so far.

    At the same time, maybe it’s painfully necessary to fully expose this problem regardless of how disingenuous people may end up using it. It’s a tough one..

    • Alan D White says

      This is a wake up call for old fashioned classical liberals. Be wary of accepting any radical new ideas particularly those originating in France or from the Frankfort School

    • Area Man says

      Criticism can only succeed when those doing the criticizing outnumber the guilty. If this were kept in-house, it would be hushed up & buried. Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

  21. Glen Anderson says

    Loved the article, however the comments below are proof that very little of it has sunk in. We are all so intellectual and so liberal. Good ideas only come from the left. Those stupid stupid righty fools with their superstitions. Its laughable.

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