• Bitter Crank
    6.5k
    Could one get a fake article about canine rape in dog parks into an academic journal? Would some academic publisher of feminist philosophy not notice bits of trendy jargon seasoning passages of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf in a manuscript? Is there a mystery about why men like to have lunch at Hooters?

    Similar to Sokol's pious fraud perpetrated on the postmodern journal, Social Text, 2 academics and an editor pulled off a similarly embarrassing fraud on the journals Sex Roles, Hypatia [feminist philosophy], Fat Studies, and several others.The hoax was revealed first in the Wall Street Journal, then Aero (where one of the hoaxers is editor), and the New York Times.

    Ann Garry, an interim co-editor of Hypatia, a leading feminist philosophy journal that had accepted but not yet published the paper “When the Joke’s on You” (a feminist critique of “unethical” hoaxes, as it happens), said she was “deeply disappointed."

    “Is there any idea so outlandish that it won’t be published in a Critical/PoMo/Identity/‘Theory’ journal?” the psychologist and author Steven Pinker tweeted.

    Nicholas Mazza, a professor emeritus of social work at Florida State University and editor of the issue of The Journal of Poetry Therapy that accepted the article “Moon Meetings and the Meaning of Sisterhood: A Poetic Portrayal of Lived Feminist Spirituality” (described by the hoaxers as “a rambling poetic monologue of a bitter divorced feminist, much of which was produced by a teenage angst poetry generator), noted that the article was based on the supposed author’s personal experience.

    Two questions:

    Do the various practitioners of the aptly named GRIEVANCE STUDIES deserve this fraud? Is this fraud unethical?

    Discuss savagely like dogs fighting over a bone at Hooters.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.5k
    The Three Deflaters of Academic Fluffo:

    merlin_144816147_43ed1792-6f1c-486c-9203-d821ad5c3c9e-superJumbo.jpg?quality=90&auto=webp

    Math, Aero, Philosophy
  • Jake
    518
    Seems like fair game to me, though perhaps investing this much effort in debunking takes the targets more seriously than is merited.

    I got an education in to philosophical academia after spending a few months on a group blog for academic philosophers. It seems every third article was about diversity in journals, and there was a lot of political correctness mantra chanting going on.

    Academics seem to excel at crafting polished presentations, playing the philosophy business game, projecting the image of authority etc. But when it comes to the quality of thinking, I prefer this site.
  • Marchesk
    2.2k
    Martin Luther said that human nature is like a drunk trying to ride a horse. He falls off one side, gets back on vowing not to fall off that side, and then falls off the other side.

    Which is ironic, given that the great reformer himself fell off several issues. The point is human beings have this tendency to go overcorrect in response to a previous wrong. Prohibition in the US over alcohol and drugs is one such example.
  • unenlightened
    2.7k
    Well my darlings, it is very easy to find and mock contradictions in human endeavours of all kinds, and such mockery is not without purpose. First you denigrate, then you demonise, and then things get less pleasant. There are very few of us that are immune from being defrauded and made to look like idiots. Trust is not a vice.

    Have a nice simple little piece about identity politics that even you might understand.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.5k
    it is very easy to find and mock contradictions in human endeavours of all kindsunenlightened

    Indeed. But there was a purpose behind the mockery, the pious fraud. Expose the vacancy in these fields. The insubstantiality of these fields has historical roots, as one would expect.

    The articles submitted to the several identity-oriented journals (not major academic journals, except for Hypatia, apparently) were absurd. The point of the fraud was to show that the editors of the journals, applying their insubstantial methods, could not tell shit from Shinola. They were further casting doubt on the capacity of the identity studies programs which would consume the journal articles.

    I don't think it is a stretch at all to say that "identity studies" has difficulty telling shit from shinola. Why? Because they aren't really academic fields at all. They are advocacy groups who employ hair-trigger sensitivity in responding to real or imagined slights. They are a means to address grievances.

    50 years ago the new programs in chicano studies, black studies, gay studies, women's studies, aboriginal studies, and so on addressed some broad cultural groups which had been neglected, if not altogether ignored in the humanities.

    All that happened at the same time that post-modernism and its various spawn came to dominate the university humanities fields and undermined what had once been solid fields. "Power: who has it and who doesn't" became the leitmotif of several fields, and led to a resentful focus on power deficiency among the populations represented in the specialist fields.

    Society is now, and has long been crosshatched by major and minor faultiness of power differentials. Whether all those fault lines can be equalized is doubtful, because the major faultiness would have to be equalized first, and that would take a real revolution.

    The revolution won't begin in the "Fat Studies" department.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.5k
    Have a nice simple little piece about identity politics that even you might understand.unenlightened

    Did you understand it?

    The authors of the hoax hailed from the left, not the right. None of them are members of the power elite.
  • unenlightened
    2.7k
    The authors of the hoax hailed from the left, not the right. None of them are members of the power elite.Bitter Crank

    And turkeys often vote for Christmas, but that doesn't make it vegetarian.
  • Baden
    6.7k
    Is this fraud unethical?Bitter Crank

    It's fine to keep publishers on their toes for the sake of academic standards. But the idea that everything written in the field is nonsense because these journals messed up is as silly as their mistake in accepting the bogus articles in the first place.
  • LeBerg
    5
    Wether it's ethical or not seems contingent to me.
    Rather I'd ask, if succeeding in this fraud discredits those studies, wiz discloses an epistological flaw - not to say the lack of any terminiology, emphaticially speaking.
  • unenlightened
    2.7k
    When I was admin on the old site, (admin is like editor), there were times I could not e sure if a post was garbage or something I didn't understand, or something that was profoundly wrong but worth arguing through. So I can well understand that the presumption is that if you have gone to the trouble of submitting, that you have at least done so honestly, rather than with the intention of making me, the editor look foolish. Actually, in the scheme of things, the editor looking foolish is one of the least of the dangers he faces. I'd rather let through some garbage than not let through something valuable and innovative because of my extensive ignorance or even more extensive bias.

    Unfortunately, the clearly intended intention of such scams is to devalue all the legitimate pieces in the journal. Or am I being paranoid again?
  • LeBerg
    5
    To whom are you referring?

    Edit: Nevermind I get it now.
  • ssu
    602
    Unfortunately, the clearly intended intention of such scams is to devalue all the legitimate pieces in the journal. Or am I being paranoid again?unenlightened
    Yes, you are being paranoid. Especially thinking this is some kind of right-wing conspiracy.

    Because academic journals, especially those that are peer reviewed, should really have a higher bar than oh... a philosophy site where total amateurs (like me and others) can discuss philosophy or math. It's not "refreshing new ideas" if it is nonsense. And lets not forget that there were those journals that didn't publish the nonsense rubbish articles, but put the articles where they should go, to a dustbin.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.5k
    As editor of the old site, you were evaluating submissions from left field, right field, center field, back field, the stands, and the parking lot behind the field. Academic journals are narrow in range, and the editors expert in that narrow field. Your situation at PF would be analogous to Science or Nature accepting papers from biology, chemistry, and physics as well as French literature and Russian history.

    The instigators in this case were not 'sharp shooting'; I'd say they were bombing more than the editors. They were casting doubt on the journals and the particular academic banana republics for which they stand. The authors of a paper in these dubious fields of scholarship usually have academic standing, but some don't. It isn't the academic standing that is the problem, it is the degree to which the 'field of study' has elevated itself on top of a spongy, soft, even squishy foundation.

    Take "Fat Studies": with large percentages of the population now meeting the standard of obesity (being at least fairly fat) "fat studies" seems like a worthwhile field. There is such a field in medicine, and there is another one in the humanities. The medical field is concerned with the biological and medical aspects of fatness. In general, obesity/fatness is not viewed as a good thing in medicine.

    The humanities version of Fat Studies is in favor of fatness getting good PR with titles like "Fat fashion: Fattening pedagogy in apparel design". or "Fat pedagogy and microaggressions: Experiences of professionals working in higher education settings". 'Fat Studies' is a good example of the advocacy function of identity studies. I will readily grant (as a formerly thin, fit man -- now fat, old, balding -- that being fat is not a personal, social, aesthetic, medical, athletic, or stylistic advantage. Arguing that being fat is not only tolerable (or deserving of empathy) but is positively a good thing on its own merits is fine for lobbyists working for a fat constituency. That approach doesn't deserve academic respect.
  • LeBerg
    5
    I'd rather let through some garbage than not let through something valuable and innovative because of my extensive ignorance or even more extensive bias.unenlightened

    I honestly don't know which principles of philosophy of science the so called "grievance studies" go along with. Since I suspect them to be positivistic, I assume either they require comprehensibility, some tweaked form of comprehensibility or a completely different epistemological foundation.
    In the first case they'd simply be exposed as bad scientists, since they would'nt check for comprehensiblity, yet the video of Pluckrose (and partners) indicates that it is more of a identitary reasoning judging by what they tell us about their work process.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.5k
    Then there is the academic journal publishing business--another can of worms. Journals will get published if there are buyers. Given the publish-or-perish academic rules for advancement from non-tenure track to tenure track jobs, there is a strong demand for places to publish -- in all fields.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.5k
    In the first case they'd simply be exposed as bad scientistsLeBerg

    One would think so. But... no. For one thing, the identity departments are not sciences, and they don't aspire to science. They are appropriately situated in the humanities where they presume to study the human situation. There are problems with 'identity' departments: One big one is the role ofadvocacy. There is nothing wrong with advocacy; lets have more of it. But advocacy isn't the proper function of an academic program. It belongs outside of the university. If you take away advocacy, there is not much left for these departments to do during an 8 hour day.

    I am an old gay man with lots of experiences among gay people. Despite decades of life-experience and extensive reading, I don't think that the positive and negative aspects of gay people's experiences add up to an academic identity department. There just isn't enough there. Sociology, psychology, history, art, and literature are existing departments where a course or two could be productively offered. There are enough explicitly gay novelists to mount a 2 or 3 credit course in English Lit. Psychology has enough material to offer a couple of courses, I should think -- one on etiology for instance. There are some nice studies that have been done in sociology. A whole department? No. At most, a few courses offered by professors who are already good at what they do.

    And if the academic world doesn't want to offer any classes on gay history, gay socializing patterns, gay sex habits, gay literature, gay law, gay music, gay pets, and whatever the fuck -- fine. Very well written books and articles have been published on the important aspects of gay life.

    I'm something of a WASP. I'm not black, chicano, female, deaf, or several other categories. And this will offend specialists, but black, chicano, female, deaf, fat, and other categories of identity don't add up to academic departments either. Identity is best established at home, in the community, the work place, and other "natural" places. People who have an identity don't need academics studying it.

    As for History, yes -- the history of black, chicano, female, native american, deaf, white working class, the uber rich, the middle class, the sodden poor -- all are appropriate topics of formal historical study.
  • unenlightened
    2.7k
    I honestly don't know which principles of philosophy of science the so called "grievance studies" go along with.LeBerg

    Nor do I. I imagine it involves some notion of justice, and comes under the general rubric of sociology and social studies. And of course that is a field particularly prone to bias and also to garbage.

    Yes, you are being paranoid. Especially thinking this is some kind of right-wing conspiracy.ssu
    Where did you read me saying anything about a right wing conspiracy? Technically, since it was several people planning together to commit a fraud, it would count as a conspiracy, but it is not a term I applied - that's your paranoia showing.

    Academic journals are narrow in range, and the editors expert in that narrow field. Your situation at PF would be analogous to Science or Nature accepting papers from biology, chemistry, and physics as well as French literature and Russian history.Bitter Crank

    Yeah, and they are probably full-time and paid. They fucked up big time. If you work in retail, every now and then the mystery shopper rocks up and deliberately makes himself a pain in the butt to see if you can deal with difficult customers appropriately. So maybe these guys are like that - mystery submitters seeing if the editors are on their toes, and maybe if the editors prove to be crap, they should be fired.

    But I don't think that is the aim and purpose of these people, to improve the journals and weed out the incompetent. I could be wrong, but I think the aim is to undermine the whole enterprise. In which case it is less like the firm using mystery shoppers to challenge and improve its customer service, and more like a rival company seeking to create a scandal.
  • ssu
    602
    Where did you read me saying anything about a right wing conspiracy?unenlightened
    Here.

    Well my darlings, it is very easy to find and mock contradictions in human endeavours of all kinds, and such mockery is not without purpose. - Have a nice simple little piece about identity politics that even you might understand.unenlightened

    The authors of the hoax hailed from the left, not the right. None of them are members of the power elite. — Bitter Crank

    And turkeys often vote for Christmas, but that doesn't make it vegetarian.
    unenlightened

    But I don't think that is the aim and purpose of these people, to improve the journals and weed out the incompetent.unenlightened

    The Guardian article, which you referred that we (or Bitter) even might understand says "The right denigrates equal rights campaigns as ‘grievances’ while cornering the market in victimhood" and that "It’s not difficult to see why the right has a problem with this. Their agenda is centred on preserving and extending privileges that already exist. Denigrating equal rights campaigners as “grievance politics” practitioners, the irony is that they practise the very methods they lampoon. Railing against liberal elites, feminists, migrants and Muslims, they have cornered the market in victimhood."

    Hence I thought this purpose of railing against these kind of studies in this fashion is similar. Of course I can misunderstood you.
  • LeBerg
    5
    One would think so. But... no. For one thing, the identity departments are not sciences, and they don't aspire to science.Bitter Crank

    Even the humanities need some kind of philosophy of science. I'm not saying that the positivistic approach, of an critical empiricism, is mandatory - that's up for debate - yet if they theorize, being scientific or philosophical in some sense is mandatory.
    I'm actually confused, why you denied it. You gave the arguments regarding this yourself (if you didnt just wanted to deny my first assumption, that they are neglect their own methodology) : their telos is advocacy.
  • ssu
    602
    It's important to understand the motives of people's actions and not just put them into a broader context of an ongoing discourse in the media.

    Good example about this was a little newsclip of a CERN researcher professor Strumia, who got fired after claiming at a seminar that physics was “invented and built by men”, that fewer women than men in physics largely because of innate differences in intelligence between the sexes and that women were preferred on the field. The reason for his outburst can be actual seen from his strange and whimsical paper as he gives as proof of the favouring of women that he didn't get a position that he applied for and the position was given to a women that (ghasp!) had far less citations than he did.

    Again this is speculation and I might be wrong, but being disgruntled for not getting a position at CERN sounds like a very good motive for making an intentionally outrageous outburst that you know from the start (and actually make it clear to people) that it will get you into trouble. (Also it looks like that CERN obviously did the correct decision of appointing someone else than Strumia for the postition.)

    Naturally those having an agenda to promote won't come to the conclusion that Strumia is a disgruntled crank, but either that he talks the 'truth that is politically incorrect' (example The Washington Free Beacon's catch on this) or that Strumia is an example of widespread attitudes among males in physics.
  • unenlightened
    2.7k
    Here.ssu

    No, no mention of conspiracy there.

    It's important to understand the motives of people's actions and not just put them into a broader context of an ongoing discourse in the media.ssu

    I agree with this and what follows. Except to say that being disgruntled at the loss of privilege is not cranky, but a very common reaction. I don't know much about male attitudes in physics, but Strumia's views are widespread, (though not commonly as baldly expressed) as well as widely opposed in society in general. And this opposition is part of that general alignment of views that folks refer to with 'left' and 'right'.

    I think we should be careful, but loss of privilege is not victimisation, and fraudulent publishing is not debunking.
  • ssu
    602
    And this opposition is part of that general alignment of views that folks refer to with 'left' and 'right'.unenlightened
    I'm not so sure if that's so true. Left-wing or right-wing media discourse can be far from what ordinary people who just happen to vote either left or right think of the issues. Typically in both political movements the ardent ideological agenda is narrow and can be far from what the grass roots supporter thinks. Especially in gender issues or when the issue is women or minorities in the workplace, I don't think that the thinking goes so between political fault lines.

    fraudulent publishing is not debunking.unenlightened
    I agree. What is only debunked is that all journals are strict in their publishing requirements. It doesn't mean that the academic fields themselves are nonsense.
  • MindForged
    476
    Whenever I see these sorts of threads or discussions on the internet, I immediately know these people have not looked much into the sokol hoax (and it's purpose) and have no knowledge of (or no acknowledgement of) things like Retraction Watch for fraud and nonsense in fields like chemistry and physics or about studies where A.I. gets hundreds of fake articles published in computer science journals and the like. As someone who's in grad school for CS (or as we like to think of it, grad school for those of us who couldn't become mathematicians), it's not something I like but the fraud and such in our field is not insubstantial (see lots of A.I. "research").

    So I take creation of threads like this more as OP signaling their political/ideological affiliation rather than them actually caring about the integrity of academic papers. I'm gonna guess (probably accurately) that this is more about getting a dig in at left wingers from a right winger. Which is... cute, but not terribly revealing about the nature of these fields.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.5k
    Of course, scholars across all fields [outside of the sciences] need to apprehend the scientific method--if for no other reason that they are educated people and science and the citizen is very important.

    When one thinks critically about classical literature, English literature, music, sculpture, history... "science" per se may be helpful; it is more likely that logical and consistent rules of evidence are going to be more helpful.

    The point that critics make about identity studies is that the content of the fields too often is free of logical and consistent rules of evidence, let alone actual science.
  • StreetlightX
    3.1k
    Yup. Science journals get all sorts of rubbish published in them all the time. And for anyone without an ideological axe to grind, the issue is a social and institutional one distributed all across academia, thanks to a mix of institutional pressure and the politics of peer review in general (here, here). It doesn't help of course that most journal articles are never read, let alone cited. So what wonders what the big hash is about when the whole damn enterprise is rotten from top to bottom.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.5k
    I'm gonna guess (probably accurately) that this is more about getting a dig in at left wingers from a right winger.MindForged

    If digs are being gotten, in my case it's "left" on "left". I don't think the problem highlighted by this hoax is a left/right issue. Good, solid publications exist in the fields being lampooned. The problem of junk journals is probably one of supply and demand: there just isn't enough quality to go around.

    I do doubt some of these fields should even exist as academic departments. I have absolutely nothing against advocating for disadvantaged people. But advocacy isn't the appropriate reason d'être for an academic department.

    Academics in some fields have been excoriated for horrendous language for decades. The Miseducation of American Teachers came out in the 1960s. It had a wonderful appendix of stupid language used in Education journals. The purpose of such language is generally to make a sow's ear look like a silk purse. The educational journals suffered from a serious deficiency of significant content.

    Deficient content is a wide spread problem because faculty are pressured to publish as proof of productivity. This isn't limited to academia: a good share of the non-fiction books I've read in the last few decades would have benefitted greatly from an editor's knife cutting out material that was redundant several times over. But then the book is kind of skinny, and seems less substantial.
  • ssu
    602
    So I take creation of threads like this more as OP signaling their political/ideological affiliation rather than them actually caring about the integrity of academic papers. I'm gonna guess (probably accurately) that this is more about getting a dig in at left wingers from a right winger.MindForged
    Yes, Bitter Crank has been for years the voice of conservatism and right-wing ideology on this forum and has fiercely opposed leftist thinking and especially marxism. Along with Maw, they are the life-long Republicans here now turned Trump supporters on this forum. :razz:
  • ssu
    602
    I do doubt some of these fields should even exist as academic departments. I have absolutely nothing against advocating for disadvantaged people. But advocacy isn't the appropriate reason d'être for an academic department.Bitter Crank
    In academia it's quite normal that people studying something that isn't clearly part of existing disciplines want to start their own. Enough researchers on some specific field it's an issue of organization. Once you have an apartment for the field, then there's the biggest prize of them all: academic career positions.

    What is a touchy subject is how 'academic' the studies are in one field or another. The most typical critique is that basically the "humanities" aren't science or scientific enough, which typically just shows the ignorance of the (usually) natural scientist promoting this idea. And of course Americans push this to the outrageous with "Science Wars", which Sokal and this topic come very close to. Of course the proposed rift between 'sciences' and 'humanities' goes to C.P. Snow's book about "Two Cultures" in the 1950s. There is a point in that if you don't have even the basics of mathematics and statistics, your research might be very simplistic. I remember from Snow's book his extremely naive take about science solving the biggest disputes of the time, namely the Cold War, with some panglossian ideas.

    Perhaps the issue is that because there simply is so much academic research going aroung these days, it's inevitable that there is also a lot of lousy research. That there would be research advocating some agenda isn't hard to imagine either.
  • yazata
    35
    I think that what this little exercise demonstrates, is that in some of the more politicized academic subjects anything will likely be accepted for publication in the journals, provided only that the paper's politics are perceived to be correct. Which arguably does tell us something about the academic standards of the subjects in question. (They are more about advocacy than academics.)

    While I'm unfamiliar with the others, Hypatia has been around for a long time and is one of the most prominent feminist philosophy journals. So it isn't just the pay-to-publish crap journals.

    I believe that Hypatia is published by Wiley (a major academic publisher), its editorial board includes many of the biggest names in feminist philosophy, and the journal claims that it only publishes 28% of the papers that are submitted to it. Yet...
  • LD Saunders
    176
    While I agree that this published hoax does not necessarily mean that the entire field is questionable, it certainly calls into question the legitimacy of the publication.
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