Academia Tries To Spin Out of Hoax

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

A trio of writers with credentials who managed to place dubious articles in academic journals are already being dismissed by academics attempting to downplay the prank. “Last week three scholars published an article reporting on how they had submitted over twenty fraudulent and purportedly ridiculous nonsense papers to various journals in gender and diversity studies,” Hank Reichman writes on the academe blog maintained by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). “Seven 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.'”

“Two of the three, James A. Lindsay and Peter Boghossian, had previously boasted of placing a similar bogus piece, on the ‘conceptual penis,’ only to be embarrassed by the disclosure that the journal they had hoaxed was essentially a pay-for-play scam. (The third hoaxster, Helen Pluckrose, is a self-described ‘exile from the humanities’ who studies medieval religious writings about women.)” Apparently Reichman and company don’t think much of this discipline which is arguably more substantive than most of what passes for scholarship in academia today.

Nevertheless, he goes on to make an interesting point about the target of the satirists: gender studies. He quotes Daniel W. Drezner, a professor in the Fletcher School at Tufts. Drinzer penned an op-ed on the hoax in the Washington Post.

“Yes, the authors got several papers accepted and favorable referee reports in fields like gender studies,” Drezner wrote. “What is entirely unclear is whether other disciplines are equally vulnerable.”