Skip to comments.Academics Expose ‘Grievance Studies’ Journals With Bogus Papers
Posted on 10/03/2018 11:56:48 AM PDT by DeweyCA
If you rewrote a chapter from Hitlers Mein Kampf using current feminist jargon and submitted it to a respected feminist journal, would they agree to publish it? How about a paper suggesting dog parks are rampant sites for canine rape culture? Or one that explores the threat of metasexual violence from (private) masturbation? You can probably guess the answer but read on for the details.
A trio of academics decided to explore the current state of peer-reviewed publishing in the humanities by writing bogus papers to see if there were any limits to what was acceptable. Helen Pluckrose, James A. Lindsay and Peter Boghossian (I wrote about their discussion of intersectionality as a religion earlier this year) wanted to see if highly respected journals covering areas like feminist studies, gender studies, fat studies, etc. would bite on papers that were intentionally written as nonsense.
Their initial efforts were a failure. It turned out that creating a word salad of feminist jargon was not enough to be accepted in high profile journals. Rather than give up, the group decided to dig in and try to understand the field better. Once they had a grasp on what was already being published, they quickly wrote 20 bogus papers. Seven of those were accepted for publication by various journals and several others were pending rewrites and probably would have been accepted if the authors hadnt been forced to call off the experiment early. For comparison purposes, seven papers is the average number you would need to publish over seven years in order to secure tenure at most universities. The authors estimate at least 10 of the 20 would have been accepted given more time. And they could have kept churning these out and had one or two new papers accepted for publication every month, for as long as they wanted to continue.
The key point here is that the papers themselves were written not as an attempt to expand knowledge but as pure sophistry. Each one started with an absurd premise and then used the contours of social justice thought, what the authors call grievance studies, to make the premise seem plausible. From Aero Magazine, heres the authors own summary of some of the papers in question:
Sometimes we just thought a nutty or inhumane idea up and ran with it. What if we write a paper saying we should train men like we do dogsto prevent rape culture? Hence came the Dog Park paper. What if we write a paper claiming that when a guy privately masturbates while thinking about a woman (without her consentin fact, without her ever finding out about it) that hes committing sexual violence against her? That gave us the Masturbation paper. What if we argue that the reason superintelligent AI is potentially dangerous is because it is being programmed to be masculinist and imperialist using Mary Shelleys Frankenstein and Lacanian psychoanalysis? Thats our Feminist AI paper. What if we argued that a fat body is a legitimately built body as a foundation for introducing a category for fat bodybuilding into the sport of professional bodybuilding? You can read how that went in Fat Studies.
At other times, we scoured the existing grievance studies literature to see where it was already going awry and then tried to magnify those problems. Feminist glaciology? Okay, well copy it and write a feminist astronomy paper that argues feminist and queer astrology should be considered part of the science of astronomy, which well brand as intrinsically sexist. Reviewers were very enthusiastic about that idea. Using a method like thematic analysis to spin favored interpretations of data? Fine, we wrote a paper about trans people in the workplace that does just that. Men use male preserves to enact dying macho masculinities discourses in a way society at large wont accept? No problem. We published a paper best summarized as, A gender scholar goes to Hooters to try to figure out why it exists. Defamiliarizing, common experiences, pretending to be mystified by them and then looking for social constructions to explain them? Sure, our Dildos paper did that to answer the questions, Why dont straight men tend to masturbate via anal penetration, and what might happen if they did? Hint: according to our paper in Sexuality and Culture, a leading sexualities journal, they will be less transphobic and more feminist as a result.
We used other methods too, like, I wonder if that progressive stack in the news could be written into a paper that says white males in college shouldnt be allowed to speak in class (or have their emails answered by the instructor), and, for good measure, be asked to sit in the floor in chains so they can experience reparations. That was our Progressive Stack paper. The answer seems to be yes, and feminist philosophy titan Hypatia has been surprisingly warm to it. Another tough one for us was, I wonder if theyd publish a feminist rewrite of a chapter from Adolf Hitlers Mein Kampf. The answer to that question also turns out to be yes, given that the feminist social work journal Affilia has just accepted it. As we progressed, we started to realize that just about anything can be made to work, so long as it falls within the moral orthodoxy and demonstrates understanding of the existing literature.
All of these papers had an element of humor to them. For instance, the paper on meta-sexual violence was titled: Rubbing One Out: Defining Metasexual Violence of Objectification Through Nonconsensual Masturbation. But the reviewers seemed to find it entirely plausible. The paper about Hooters was titled: An Ethnography of Breastaurant Masculinity: Themes of Objectification, Sexual Conquest, Male Control, and Masculine Toughness in a Sexually Objectifying Restaurant. One reviewer wrote of this paper, I agree that the breastaurant is an important site for critical masculinities research that has been neglected in the extant literature and this study has the potential to make a significant contribution. Even the paper which suggested white students should be forced to listen to lectures while chained on the floor received positive responses such as it is great that the author is trying to suggest some specific approaches.
The experiment had to be called off after some outside observers caught on to what was happening and the Wall Street Journal started asking questions. But it ran long enough for the trio to draw some conclusions about what is driving this:
This problem is most easily summarized as an overarching (almost or fully sacralized) belief that many common features of experience and society are socially constructed. These constructions are seen as being nearly entirely dependent upon power dynamics between groups of people, often dictated by sex, race, or sexual or gender identification. All kinds of things accepted as having a basis in reality due to evidence are instead believed to have been created by the intentional and unintentional machinations of powerful groups in order to maintain power over marginalized ones. This worldview produces a moral imperative to dismantle these constructions
Any scholarship that proceeds from radically skeptical assumptions about objective truth by definition does not and cannot find objective truth. Instead it promotes prejudices and opinions and calls them truths. For radical constructivists, these opinions are specifically rooted in a political agenda of Social Justice (which we have intentionally made into a proper noun to distinguish it from the type of real social progress falling under the same name). Because of critical constructivism, which sees knowledge as a product of unjust power balances, and because of this brand of radical skepticism, which rejects objective truth, these scholars are like snake-oil salespeople who diagnose our society as being riddled with a disease only they can cure. That disease, as they see it, is endemic to any society that forwards the agency of the individual and the existence of objective (or scientifically knowable) truths.
Having spent a year doing this work ourselves, we understand why this fatally flawed research is attractive, how it is factually wrong in its foundations, and how it is conducive to being used for ethically dubious overreach. Weve seen, studied, and participated in its culture through which it proves certain problems exist and then advocates often divisive, demeaning, and hurtful treatments wed all do better without.
I recommend you read the full write-up at Aero Magazine if you have time (its long) but if not, heres a video summarizing the endeavor. Note, this video is titled part 2. Part 1, which deals with similar topics, is also worth a look and is available here:
Be careful writing nutty papers. With the state of academia these days, readers might love the craziest ideas and build on them.
Fake academia. Film at 11.
American Academics are a total crock!
Going back 10 years when my son was in college he used to scheme with me for ridiculous content to include in his social studies courses.
Some good times shared over a beer or two and plate of wings.
Two of his best grades (A) on papers were “If you disagree with Obama you are a racist” and “If you think OJ is guilty you are a racist”.
This is funny stuff. These guys all deserve tenure at Fruitfarm U!
No shit, Sherlock.
“these opinions are specifically rooted in a political agenda of ‘Social Justice’”
The idea of justice is predicated on there being an objective truth. “Social Justice” is fundamentally unjust.
Sent a paper on a new type of calculus, and the editor was Dr. Underwood Dudley who is famous for making fun of math crackpots. I was so afraid of making a mistake that I reworked the paper at least 10 times. I made my coauthor double check our work too the point he told me to just send the dagnabit paper in. Dr. Underwood liked the paper so much that he bumped our paper up to the next printing of the journal.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.