Neetu Chandak, DCNF
- Three scholars handed in hoax papers at leading social science journals to reveal corruption in the humanities.
- One of the papers accepted by Gender, Place & Culture argued that dog parks were “rape-condoning spaces.”
- The authors of the project said they could face some sort of repercussion including getting fired, not getting accepted for a doctoral program or not receiving professorships.
Three scholars handed in hoax papers — with topics from rape culture in dog parks to making astronomy less sexist — at leading social science journals over the course of a year to show corruption in the humanities.
Mathematician James Lindsay, Areo Magazine editor Helen Pluckrose and Portland State University assistant philosophy professor Peter Boghossian wrote and submitted 20 papers under aliases to social science journals like Gender, Place & Culture, Fat Studies and Sexuality & Culture. Seven of the 20 papers were accepted, four of which were published online and three “have been accepted without having had time to see publication through,” the trio wrote in an Areo Magazine essay on Tuesday.
Lindsay, Pluckrose and Boghossian embarked on the project to show the reality of “grievance studies,” a term the researchers coined for academic fields like “gender studies,” “identity studies” and “critical theory.” Grievance studies tend to focus on finding identity-related oppression and power imbalances, according to the essay’s authors.
“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,” the authors of the essay wrote.
One paper argued that dog parks were “rape-condoning spaces,” that “provides insight into training men out of the sexual violence and bigotry to which they are prone,” according to the paper’s thesis.
The study was originally published May 22 in Gender, Place & Culture, but was retracted by Thursday after finding out the identity of the person was false.
“Following an investigation into this paper, triggered by the Publisher and Editor shortly after publication, we have undertaken a number of checks to confirm the author’s identity,” Taylor & Francis Online, the journal’s publisher, wrote Thursday. “These checks have shown this to be a hoax paper, submitted under false pretences, and as such we are retracting it from the scholarly record.”
The essay’s authors said Gender, Place & Culture had recognized the paper as one of 12 leading pieces in “feminist geography” for the journal’s 25th anniversary.
“This is an interesting paper seeking to further the aims of inclusive feminism by attending to the issue of allyship/solidarity,” one of the reviews from Affilia had reportedly written, according to the essay.
Affilia editors said in a statement that the study did not espouse racism, anti-Semitism or fascism.
“Indeed, the article as a whole espouses social justice and anti-oppression, ideals entirely at odds with fascism,” Affilia editors said in the statement. “While the editors would have recognized the ideas from Mein Kampf, they did not recognize paraphrases shorn of that ideology. A version of the article had been accepted by the journal, but was not published.”
A different study focused on men eating at “breastaurants” like Hooters because they enjoyed ordering women around.
“For instance, counselors could interrogate men (or their partners) about whether they frequent breastaurants and contextualize these issues in terms of breastaurant masculinity as a possible avenue toward remediation,” the study stated.
“Moon Meetings” is written from the perspective of a bitter, divorced feminist and did not have a clear thesis. The authors wanted to see if a journal would accept “rambling nonsense” if the writing supported woman and went against men, they said.
The authors were forced to cut the experiment short after the dog park study gained attention from Twitter account Real Peer Review, a platform that exposes low-grade scholarship, according to the essay.
“This deserved incredulity led to small and then larger journalistic publications investigating our fictitious author, Helen Wilson, and our non-existent institution, the Portland Ungendering Research Initiative (PURI) and finding no credible history of either,” the authors wrote.
Lindsay, Pluckrose and Boghossian said they hope the project will make universities review theory-based studies and the humanities.
The authors of the project said they will probably face some sort of repercussion for the hoax papers, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. Boghossian, who is not tenured, said he thinks he will get punished or fired by his university, Pluckrose thinks she will have a difficult time getting into a doctorate program and Lindsay thinks he will be banned from professorships or publications.
“Portland State University is aware of the hoax journal articles and is looking into it,” Christopher Broderick, Portland State’s assistant vice president for communications, told The Daily Caller News Foundation over email.
When asked whether a professor could be punished or fired for doing such a project, Broderick said the university could not “comment on personnel matters.”
Affilia’s publisher Sage Publications, Gender, Culture & Sexuality’s publisher Taylor & Francis Online and Boghossian did not immediately respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.