Deplorables in the Academy: A trio of disgruntled academics publish fake research papers in an attempt to discredit ethnic and gender studies.
Three conservative alt-right academics have been busted conducting an elaborate hoax in a deplorable attempt to discredit academic research dealing with postmodernism in general, and ethnic and gender studies in particular.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports:
Three scholars — Helen Pluckrose, a self-described “exile from the humanities” who studies medieval religious writings about women; James A. Lindsay, an author and mathematician; and Peter Boghossian, an assistant professor of philosophy at Portland State University — spent 10 months writing 20 hoax papers… Of the 20, seven papers were accepted, four were published online, and three were in process when the authors “had to take the project public prematurely and thus stop the study, before it could be properly concluded.”
The authors were forced “to take the project public prematurely” because they were busted by Wall Street Journal editorial writer, Jillian Kay Melchior, who began raising questions about the trio’s fraudulent and false research.
According to the trio, their fraud was motivated by their supposed concern with truth in scholarship.
In an article trying to explain and justify their fraud the trio writes:
Something has gone wrong in the university—especially in certain fields within the humanities. Scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established, if not fully dominant, within these fields, and their scholars increasingly bully students, administrators, and other departments into adhering to their worldview. This worldview is not scientific, and it is not rigorous. For many, this problem has been growing increasingly obvious, but strong evidence has been lacking. For this reason, the three of us just spent a year working inside the scholarship we see as an intrinsic part of this problem.
In other words, the authors claim that they are unhappy because they are concerned with “scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances,” and so they spent 10 months writing and submitting dishonest scholarship to attend to their own “social grievances.” The hypocrisy cannot be ignored.
It should also be noted that the concerns expressed by the authors may be legitimate concerns that are worth exploring. And they should be explored. Academic inquiry at its best is self-correcting, and arguments should have been and could have been presented to justify and establish their complaint. There can be no doubt that there is overreach and mistakes being made in all areas of academic research, including ethnic and gender studies.
However, instead of doing the real work that would be entailed in the attempt to justify and prove that their concerns are legitimate, the trio chose instead to abandon honest inquiry, and substitute dishonesty and fraud for the hard academic work required to establish and justify their claims.
Instead of sober research, the trio of would-be academics offered an elaborate hoax.
Answering the question, “Why Did We Do This?” the trio writes:
Because we’re racist, sexist, bigoted, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, transhysterical, anthropocentric, problematic, privileged, bullying, far right-wing, cishetero straight white males (and one white female who was demonstrating her internalized misogyny and overwhelming need for male approval) who wanted to enable bigotry, preserve our privilege, and take the side of hate?
Indeed, given the targets of their fraud and their alt-right audience it is easy to conclude that this elaborate and mean-spirited hoax was motivated in part by racism, sexism, bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia.
In addition, it also seems clear that the elaborate hoax demonstrates that the trio of disgruntled academics share a fear of and contempt for honest academic inquiry, and would rather falsify research then do the hard work of honest academic analysis.
Noting the mean-spirited nature of the effort, physicist Sean Carroll opines:
Substantive merits of these fields aside, what strikes me about stunts like this is their fundamental meanness. No attempt to intellectually engage with ideas you disagree with; just trolling for lulz. I wish we could be better.https://t.co/Yn2t7sWisu
— Sean Carroll (@seanmcarroll) October 4, 2018
Substantive merits of these fields aside, what strikes me about stunts like this is their fundamental meanness. No attempt to intellectually engage with ideas you disagree with; just trolling for lulz. I wish we could be better.
Commenting on the deplorable trio, Karen Gregory, a lecturer in sociology at the University of Edinburgh, wrote:
The chain of thought and action that encourages you to spend 10 months ‘pulling a fast one’ on academic journals disqualifies you from a community of scholarship. It only proves you are a bad-faith actor.
Also commenting, Jacob T. Levy, a political theorist at McGill University, notes:
I am so utterly unimpressed by the fact that an enterprise that relies on a widespread presumption of not-fraud can be fooled *some of the time* by three people with Ph.D.s who spend 10 months deliberately trying to defraud it.
— Jacob T. Levy (@jtlevy) October 3, 2018
I am so utterly unimpressed by the fact that an enterprise that relies on a widespread presumption of not-fraud can be fooled some of the time by three people with Ph.D.s who spend 10 months deliberately trying to defraud it.
Bottom line: A trio of dishonest academics published fake research papers in a misguided and immoral attempt to discredit academic disciplines they find threatening.