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Annals of “scholarship”: Peer-reviewed journals fall for massive hoax, publishing a paper on “canine rape culture” and a chapter of “Mein Kampf” with feminist buzzwords swapped in

October 4, 2018
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Gender studies professors don’t like it when you pull off a scholarly hoax at their expense.

Such as getting a paper exploring “canine rape culture” at dog parks in Portland, Oregon (one “dog rape per hour”) not only published in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal in 2017 but given “special recognition for excellence from its journal, Gender, Place, and Culture … as one of 12 leading pieces in feminist geography as a part of the journal’s 25th anniversary celebration.”

Or how about a paper with this title: “Going Through the Back Door: Challenging Straight Male Homohysteria, Transhysteria, and Transphobia Through Receptive Penetrative Sex Toy Use.” Yes, it, too, got accepted and published, in June, in the peer-reviewed journal Sexuality & Culture. The article’s “scholarly” conclusion is that heterosexual men ought to spend more time sticking dildos into themselves.

Or this title: “An Ethnography of Breastaurant Masculinity: Themes of Objectification, Sexual Conquest, Male Control, and Masculine Toughness in a Sexually Objectifying Restaurant.” Yup, the “Hooters” paper found a peer-reviewed home in September in the journal Sex Roles. Here’s an excerpt:

Following recent trends in masculinities research, my study interprets the breastaurant as a type of male preserve that erects a local pastiche hegemony in which these themes gain protected status. It also theorizes that the unique interactive environment of the breastaurant between (mostly) male patrons and attractive female servers who provide heterosexual aesthetic labor to the patrons, primarily in the form of ersatz sexual availability, produces these masculinity features.

Shorter version: Men like being served by busty waitresses.

The articles were part of a year-long experiment by Ph.D. mathematician and author James A. Lindsay, Portland State assistant philosophy professor Peter Boghossian, and Helen Pluckrose, editor of the online magazine Aero, to see how far respected academic journals in the trendy victimology-based fields of “cultural studies” and “identity studies” (including “gender studies”) that have overrun college humanities departments would go in publishing outlandish papers loaded with impenetrable postmodernist jargon and based on shoddy methodology and fake or nonexistent data.

The trio, who just went public in Aero on Oct. 2 , enjoyed remarkable success with their project while it lasted. Of the 20 papers they churned out at the rate of one per week, sometimes using phony names and bogus “research institutes,” and sometimes borrowing the name of a genuine professor, Richard Baldwin of Gulf Coast State College, who was in on the game, they managed to get seven papers accepted for publication, four actually published, and seven papers in play (with “revise and resubmit” recommendations) when they had to call the whole thing to a halt.

That was because the “dog park” paper, titled “Human Reactions to Rape Culture and Queer Performativity at Portland Dog Parks and reportedly written by one “Helen Wilson” of the nonexistent “Portland Ungendering Research Initiative,” who said she’d spent 1,000 hours in dog parks observing canine humping, received too much mocking attention from the non-academic press. Writers for National Review and Reason seized on “Wilson”‘s suggestion that male humans be trained dog-style not to hit on human females as a quintessential example of the wholesale hijacking of humanities departments by the ideologically fixated. A Wall Street Journal writer began wondering if “Wilson” and her “institute,” which couldn’t be tracked down, actually existed.

As might be expected, academics who actually practice in the fields of “grievance studies,” as the Aero trio calls them, were Not Amused by the parodies of their own scholarly efforts. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports:

“I am so utterly unimpressed,” wrote Jacob T. Levy, a political theorist at McGill University, “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.”

Karen Gregory, a lecturer in sociology at the University of Edinburgh, wrote that “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.”

I can’t decide whether my favorite among the hoax papers is one titled “Moon Meetings and the Meaning of Sisterhood: A Poetic Portrayal of Lived Feminist Spirituality” by one “Carol Miller, Ph.D.” that was accepted by the peer-reviewed Journal of Poetic Therapy but was actually produced by a teenage angst poetry generator–or the chapter of Mein Kampf with fashionable buzzwords swapped in that was accepted by Affilia, a “journal of women and social work”

Posted by Charlotte Allen


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