An Exposé - Pushing Back on Grievance Studies

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A trio of concerned academics has published seven intentionally absurd papers in leading scholarly journals as part of an investigation to expose extreme bias in fields that study race, gender, sexuality, and other politically-charged topics. The trio says the papers, which used fabricated authors and credentials, highlight that these fields are being misled by politically-motivated research and biased methodologies.


“It is worth mentioning that all three of us are left-leaning liberals who think rigorous scholarship in the areas of gender, race and sexuality is important. We see the type of scholarship we have been exploring as a hindrance to obtaining genuine knowledge by which to achieve social progress,” UK academic Helen Pluckrose said.

“Although purposely biased and satirical, our papers are indistinguishable from other work in these disciplines. This is a big problem as this scholarship is taught in universities, taken up by activists, and misinforms politicians and journalists about the true nature of our cultural realities,” philosophy professor Peter Boghossian said.

“Every paper combined an effort to better understand the fields’ biases with an attempt to get terrible ideas published as legitimate academic research,” mathematics Ph.D. James Lindsay said.


Seven papers passed the highest level of critical assessment in leading peer-reviewed journals for Gender Studies and related fields. Accepted papers include an adaptation of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, developing the concept of ‘fat bodybuilding’ and a paper that claims to address rape culture by monitoring dog-humping incidents at parks in Portland, Oregon.






You can view all the original documents here as well as download the above video: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/19tBy_fVlYIHTxxjuVMFxh4pqLHM_en18
 

TenEightyOne

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the papers, which used fabricated authors and credentials,​

I haven't read through it all yet but at first glance even they don't claim this - for several of the papers they used (with permission) the identities of known researchers. That raises an few initial questions for sure.
 

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@TenEightyOne - Everything in the OP of this thread is copied & pasted from the documents they provided.


For those of you who can't be bothered to go through all the documents for yourself, here's the authors summary of the first of the accepted papers. I'll post them all up one at a time with the corresponding PDF file as well. FAO all Moderators: I'm uploading these one at a time because I don't think all the PDF's will fit into one post (I've had trouble trying that before), please make an exception to the double posting rule. Thank you. Also, it looks tidier with each paper summary in a separate post IMHO.


"1. “Dog Park”

Human Reactions to Rape Culture and Queer Performativity in Urban Dog Parks in Portland, Oregon

Published in and recognized as exemplary scholarship by Gender, Place, and Culture, the leading feminist geography journal and a top-10 gender studies journal.

In the name of Helen Wilson, Ph.D. (fictitious) of the fictitious Portland Ungendering Research (PUR) Initiative'

Discipline/subdiscipline: Feminist geography

Summary: That dog parks are “rape-condoning spaces” and a place of rampant canine rape culture and systemic oppression against “the oppressed dog” through which human attitudes to both problems can be measured and analyzed by applying black feminist criminology. This is done to provide insights into training men out of the sexual violence and bigotry to which they are prone. Arguably our most absurd paper.

Purpose: Journals will accept arguments which should be clearly ludicrous and unethical if they provide (an unfalsifiable) way to perpetuate notions of toxic masculinity, heteronormativity, and implicit bias.

Notes on Status:
Accepted, honored, and published by Gender, Place, and Culture
Accepted: February 19, 2018
Honored as leading scholarship by journal: May 7, 2018
Published online: May 22, 2018
Link: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0966369X.2018.1475346?journalCode=cgpc20

Selected Reviewer Comment:
"This is a wonderful paper - incredibly innovative, rich in analysis, and extremely well-written and organized given the incredibly diverse literature sets and theoretical questions brought into conversation. The author's development of the focus and contributions of the paper is particularly impressive. The fieldwork executed contributes immensely to the paper's contribution as an innovative and valuable piece of scholarship that will engage readers from a broad cross-section of disciplines and theoretical formations. I believe this intellectually and empirically exciting paper must be published and congratulate the author on the research done and the writing." -Reviewer 1, Gender, Place, and Culture

" As you may know, GPC is in its 25th year of publication. And as part of honoring the occasion, GPC is going to publish 12 lead pieces over the 12 issues of 2018 (and some even into 2019). We would like to publish your piece, Human Reactions to Rape Culture and Queer Performativity at Urban Dog Parks in Portland, Oregon, in the seventh issue. It draws attention to so many themes from the past scholarship informing feminist geographies and also shows how some of the work going on now can contribute to enlivening the discipline. In this sense we think it is a good piece for the celebrations. I would like to have your permission to do so." -Editor of Gender, Place, and Culture."


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VBR

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The second paper that got accepted.


"2. “Dildos”


Going in Through the Back Door: Challenging Straight Male Homohysteria and Transphobia through Receptive Penetrative Sex Toy Use

Published in Sexuality & Culture, a highly regarded journal in sexualities studies.

In the name of M Smith, MA (fictitious) of the (fictitious) Portland Ungendering Research (PUR) Institute

Discipline/subdiscipline: sexualities studies

Summary: That it is suspicious that straight men rarely anally self-penetrate using sex toys, and that this is probably due to fear of being thought homosexual (“homohysteria”) and bigotry against trans people (transphobia). (It combines these ideas into a novel concept “transhysteria,” which was suggested by one of the paper’s peer reviewers.) Encouraging them to engage in receptive penetrative anal eroticism will decrease transphobia and increase feminist values.

Purpose: That journals will accept ludicrous arguments if they support (unfalsifiable) claims that common (and harmless) sexual choices made by straight men are actually homophobic, transphobic, and anti-feminist.

Notes on Status:
Accepted and published by Sexuality & Culture
Accepted: June 9, 2018.
Published online: June 16, 2018.
Link: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12119-018-9536-0

NB: We cited this paper in another of our accepted papers, the “Hooters” paper (#6, below). This indicates how nonsense in one paper can propagate into other papers and, over time, skew the canon of literature in these fields.

Selected Reviewer Comments:
" This article is an incredibly rich and exciting contribution to the study of sexuality and culture, and particularly the intersection between masculinity and anality. ... This contribution, to be certain, is important, timely, and worthy of publication." -Reviewer 1, Sexuality and Culture

" Sorry for so many questions, but this paper is so rich and exciting, I'm just overwhelmed by so many new questions—which is a sign of a marvelous paper !" -Reviewer 1, Sexuality and Culture

"Overall, this paper is a very interesting contribution to knowledge ."
-Reviewer 1, Sexuality and Culture"


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TenEightyOne

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@TenEightyOne - Everything in the OP of this thread is copied & pasted from the documents they provided.

They said "fictitious authors" despite then saying they used the identities of real, known, published authors?

VBR
Notes on Status:
Accepted, honored, and published by Gender, Place, and Culture
Accepted: February 19, 2018
Honored as leading scholarship by journal: May 7, 2018
Published online: May 22, 2018
Link: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0966369X.2018.1475346?journalCode=cgpc20

And retracted the same year.

This is probably the most well known of their spoof papers, at least it was the only one I'd heard of and the only one I'd ever seen discussed in uni. I'm not sure what the point was - to show that the $500million-per-year journal was morally corrupt (they admitted they failed to check the research notes or the identity of the writer) or to deride feminist research language. Or something else. The author's claim that the data was "implausible" is a difficult one, I'm not aware of test data sets accepted for such research and I'm pretty sure there are none.

The whole thing's pretty weird and I'm not quite sure I understand the deeper point. Some of them are very funny though.
 

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Paper number three.


"3. “Feminist Mein Kampf ”

Our Struggle is My Struggle: Solidarity Feminism as an Intersectional Reply to Neoliberal and Choice Feminism

Accepted by Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work, leading feminist social work journal

In the name of Maria Gonzalez, Ph.D. (fictitious) of the (fictitious) Feminist Activist Collective for Truth (FACT)

Discipline/subdiscipline: feminist social work

Note: The last two thirds of this paper is based upon a rewriting of roughly 3600 words of Chapter 12 of Volume 1 of Mein Kampf, by Adolf Hitler, though it diverges significantly from the original. This chapter is the one in which Hitler lays out in a multi-point plan which we partially reproduced why the Nazi Party is needed and what it requires of its members. The first one third of the paper is our own theoretical framing to make this attempt possible.

Summary: Feminism which foregrounds individual choice, responsibility, female agency, and strength can be countered by a feminism which unifies in solidarity around the victimhood of the most marginalized women in society.

Purpose: That we could find Theory to make anything (in this case, part of Chapter 12 of Volume 1 of Mein Kampf with buzzwords switched in) acceptable to journals if we put it in terms of politically fashionable arguments and existing scholarship. Of note, while the original language and intent of Mein Kampf has been significantly changed to make this paper publishable and about feminism, the reliance upon the politics of grievance remains clear, helping to justify our use of the term “grievance studies” for these fields.

Notes on Status:
Peer reviewed and rejected by Feminist Theory
Accepted by Affilia , August 21, 2018
Proofs approved, September 19, 2018

Selected Reviewer Comments:
“ This is an interesting paper seeking to further the aims of inclusive feminism by attending to the issue of allyship/solidarity.” Reviewer 1, Affilia

“ I am very sympathetic to the core arguments of the paper, such as the need for solidarity and the problematic nature of neoliberal feminism .” -Reviewer 1, Feminist Theory

“ While I am extremely sympathetic to this article’s argument and its political positioning, I am afraid that I cannot recommend publication in its current form .” -Reviewer 2, Feminist Theory

“ The reviewers are supportive of the work and noted its potential to generate important dialogue for social workers and feminist scholars .” -Co-Editor in Chief, Affilia, first review"


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Paper number four.


"4. “Fat Bodybuilding”

Who Are They to Judge?: Overcoming Anthropometry and a Framework for Fat Bodybuilding

Published in Fat Studies, the flagship journal of the discipline called fat studies.

In the name of Richard Baldwin, Ph.D., professor emeritus of history at Gulf Coast State College (and
professional bodybuilder)

NB: Dr. Baldwin let us use his name and identity with his permission, but we invented an email address for him for this project which we control.

Discipline/subdiscipline: fat studies

Summary: That it is only oppressive cultural norms which make society regard the building of muscle rather than fat admirable (“the fat body is a legitimately built body”) and that both bodybuilding and fat activism could be benefited by including fat bodies displayed in non-competitive ways as a part of professional bodybuilding.

Purpose: Journals will accept arguments which are ludicrous and positively dangerous to health if they support cultural constructivist arguments around body positivity and fatphobia.

Notes on Status:
Accepted and published Fat Studies
Accepted: March 13, 2018
Published online: April 10, 2018
Link: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/21604851.2018.1453622?journalCode=ufts20

Selected Reviewer Comments:
"I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article and believe it has an important contribution to make to the field and this journal. For the most part, I wholeheartedly agree with its argument. It is well written and structured." -Reviewer 3, Fat Studies

"On p. 24, the author writes “a fat body is a legitimately built body”. Absolutely agreed." -Reviewer 3, Fat Studies

“the use of the term ‘final frontier’ is problematic in at least two ways. First – the term frontier implies colonial expansion and hostile takeover, and the genocidal erasure of indigenous peoples. Find another term.” -Reviewer 3, Fat Studies"


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Paper number five.


"5. “Joke’s on You”

When the Joke Is on You: A Feminist Perspective on How Positionality Influences Satire

Accepted by Hypatia, the leading feminist philosophy journal.

In the name of Richard Baldwin, Ph.D., professor emeritus of history at Gulf Coast State College (and professional bodybuilder)

NB: Dr. Baldwin let us use his name and identity with his permission, but we invented an email address for him for this project which we control.

Discipline/subdiscipline: feminist philosophy, specifically feminist epistemology

Summary: This paper argues that social justice activists can make fun of others, but no one is allowed to make fun of social justice. Specifically, it argues that satirical or ironic critique of social justice scholarship are unethical, characterized by ignorance, and rooted in a desire to preserve privilege. Most importantly, this paper demonstrates that we know the arguments feminist philosophers might make to criticize our study. In common parlance, we have therefore proved that we can “steelman” the case feminist philosophy would make against us, and we obviously do not think that argument is sufficient to discredit our project. In this sense, we consider this paper the flagship for our study and consider it our most important one.

Purpose: There is simply no acceptable way to critique social justice scholarship, even if one engages fully and knowledgeably with the ideas to the extent of having a paper on them published in a leading academic journal. This paper is also to anticipate and show understanding of the feminist epistemological arguments against our project and demonstrate their high estimation in the field by having them accepted in the leading academic journal of feminist philosophy. That is, to criticize our work that way, they have to cite us. It is also ironically titled “When the Joke Is on You.”

Submission history:
Accepted by Hypatia, July 31, 2018

Selected Reviewer Comments:
"The paper is well written, accessible and clear, and engages in important scholarship in relevant ways. Given the emphasis on positionality, the argument clearly takes power structures into consideration and emphasizes the voice of marginalized groups, and in this sense can make a contribution to feminist philosophy especially around the topic of social justice pedagogy." -Reviewer 2, Hypatia

"The topic is an excellent one and would make an excellent contribution to feminist philosophy and be of interest to Hypatia readers." -Reviewer 2, Hypatia

"Excellent and very timely article! Especially nice connection with pedagogy and activism." -Reviewer 1, Hypatia (second review)"


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The sixth paper.


"6. “Hooters”

An Ethnography of Breastaurant Masculinity: Themes of Objectification, Sexual Conquest, Male Control, and Masculine Toughness in a Sexually Objectifying Restaurant

In the name of Richard Baldwin, Ph.D., professor emeritus of history at Gulf Coast State College (and professional bodybuilder)

NB: Dr. Baldwin let us use his name and identity with his permission, but we invented an email address for him for this project which we control.

Discipline/subdiscipline: men and masculinities studies

Published in Sex Roles, a leading interdisciplinary journal dedicated largely to gender theory

Summary: That men frequent “breasturants” like Hooters because they are nostalgic for patriarchal dominance and enjoy being able to order attractive women around. The environment that breastaurants provide for facilitating this encourages men to identify sexual objectification and sexual conquest, along with masculine toughness and male dominance, with “authentic masculinity.” The data are clearly nonsense and conclusions drawn from it are unwarranted.

Of note, this paper cites the Dildos paper (#2, above). This demonstrates a point that the canon of literature builds upon itself, so that once a ridiculous paper gets published, it can become the basis for other ridiculous papers. This process has gone on in grievance studies fields for long enough now—more than fifty years—that we were able to get a rewrite of part of Mein Kampf published in a feminist social work journal (#3, above), among others.

Purpose: This paper ridicules men for being themselves by caricaturing them and assuming bad motivations for their attitudes. It seeks to demonstrate that journals will publish papers that seek to problematize heterosexual men’s attraction to women and will accept very shoddy qualitative methodology and ideologically-motivated interpretations which support this. To insert a great deal of crass language and disturbing themes as though they are indicative of what men secretly view as “authentic masculinity.”

Notes on Status:
Peer reviewed and rejected by Men and Masculinities
Accepted by Sex Roles
Accepted: September 6, 2018
Published online: September 19, 2018
Link: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11199-018-0962-0

Selected Reviewer Comments:
“ 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 .” -Reviewer 2, Sex Roles

“ I thank the authors for addressing an important and interesting issue in gender research viewed through a masculine perspective. ” -Reviewer 3, Sex Roles

“ This article is certainly interesting to read and to think about, and I can imagine this article being valuable in an undergraduate or graduate class on masculinities .”
-Reviewer 1, Men & Masculinities"


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The seventh & final paper that got accepted.


"7. “Moon Meetings”

Moon Meetings and the Meaning of Sisterhood: A Poetic Portrayal of Lived Feminist Spirituality

Accepted by The Journal of Poetry Therapy, which is a very small, niche journal.

In the name of Carol Miller, Ph.D. (fictitious) of the (fictitious) Portland Ungendering Research (PUR) Initiative

Discipline/subdiscipline: poetry therapy, (innovative) qualitative methodologies, feminist spirituality

Summary: This paper utilizes a method called “poetic inquiry” to present a made-up depiction of feminist spirituality meetings. No clear thesis. A rambling poetic monologue of a bitter, divorced feminist, much of which was produced by a teenage-angst poetry generator before being edited into something slightly more “realistic.” Interspersed with self-indulgent autoethnographical reflections on female sexuality and feminist spirituality to describe a rather strange monthly girls’ night event (“Moon Meetings” held in a “womb room” with a “Vulva Shrine”). Written entirely in slightly under six hours.

Purpose: Journals will accept rambling nonsense if it is sufficiently pro-woman, implicitly anti-male, and thoroughly anti-reason for the purpose of foregrounding alternative, female ways of knowing. (NB: It was written entirely by James, who is male.)

Notes on Status:
Accepted by Journal of Poetry Therapy, July 14, 2018
Note: Accepted after peer review with no recommended changes."


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Joey D

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For those of you who can't be bothered to go through all the documents for yourself, here's the authors summary of the first of the accepted papers. I'll post them all up one at a time with the corresponding PDF file as well. FAO all Moderators: I'm uploading these one at a time because I don't think all the PDF's will fit into one post (I've had trouble trying that before), please make an exception to the double posting rule. Thank you. Also, it looks tidier with each paper summary in a separate post IMHO.

So do you have an opinion on these or are you just copy/pasting things?

From what I can tell, they did a study to show how poor peer review can be. I'm not sure what there's to really read because it's supposed to be bogus.
 
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It's well known that there are serious problems with the general structure of for-profit scientific journals. Those tend to be more apparent with the "soft" sciences where there's not even necessarily hard evidence and experimentation to point to, but it happens all over.

But if the point is simply to establish that you can fool journals into publishing something that is false...well, yeah? So? The journal isn't replicating work. The system assumes a minimum good faith attempt on the part of the authors of a paper.

This has been done before by a number of people, notably Alan Sokal. That journals will publish rubbish that is either outside their area of expertise or just plain gibberish isn't new.

And it's honestly not really that much of a problem, because the point of journals is to make scientific research widely available. Anyone who is actually using said research will have the requisite experience and be reading closely enough to identify problem papers. The people who are likely to be taken in are laymen and the media, who jump on a click-baity abstract like dingoes on an unattended baby.

I honestly don't understand why people do stuff like this, except to demonstrate that a lot of the social "sciences" are less science and more groupthink. Which, well, duh? Congratulations wasting a year of your life proving the obvious?
 

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A trio of concerned academics has published seven intentionally absurd papers in leading scholarly journals as part of an investigation to expose extreme bias in fields that study race, gender, sexuality, the papers...highlight that these fields are being misled by politically-motivated research and biased methodologies.​

 

TenEightyOne

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highlight that these fields are being misled by politically-motivated research and biased methodologies.

Their only demonstration is that by deliberately lying and using the identities of known academics they were able to publish satirical, made up papers. I'm not sure they've managed the deep reach they were going for.

Congratulations on your 2 hour video, that's a recent record. Any chance of a summary, I'm seriously not watching two hours of a video presented by the Portland State College Republicans. I doubt anybody is... particularly given that anybody with a college+ education can answer "Is intersectionality a religion?" very easily.

It isn't.
 
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I doubt anybody is... particularly given that anybody with a college+ education can answer "Is intersectionality a religion?" very easily.

It isn't.

I think the answer you'd get from a stupid 10 year old would be close enough. "Is what a religion?"

Intersectionality's issue is that too often it's an answer looking for a problem instead of a useful framework to be applied in specific relevant situations. Frankly, the people doing this "study" seem to be as big a part of the problem as any other; they're still promoting navel gazing and arguing over definitions instead of actually getting out there and doing some productive research.
 

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It's well known that there are serious problems with the general structure of for-profit scientific journals. Those tend to be more apparent with the "soft" sciences where there's not even necessarily hard evidence and experimentation to point to, but it happens all over.

But if the point is simply to establish that you can fool journals into publishing something that is false...well, yeah? So? The journal isn't replicating work. The system assumes a minimum good faith attempt on the part of the authors of a paper.

This has been done before by a number of people, notably Alan Sokal. That journals will publish rubbish that is either outside their area of expertise or just plain gibberish isn't new.

And it's honestly not really that much of a problem, because the point of journals is to make scientific research widely available. Anyone who is actually using said research will have the requisite experience and be reading closely enough to identify problem papers. The people who are likely to be taken in are laymen and the media, who jump on a click-baity abstract like dingoes on an unattended baby.

I honestly don't understand why people do stuff like this, except to demonstrate that a lot of the social "sciences" are less science and more groupthink. Which, well, duh? Congratulations wasting a year of your life proving the obvious?

Given that it is obvious that social sciences aren't scientific, or at least not as scientific as actual science, perhaps they ought to alter the name? Of course that won't happen, as the word is included specifically to bolster the perceived credibility of whatever articles or books are posted within the field. It's not a term chosen by chance. Unlike the humanities, whose fields often overlaps with those of the social sciences, the latter overtly campaigns to influence public opinion through its pseudo science with articles that often aren't too far removed (in terms of ludicrousness) from the satirical ones created for the purpose of exposing its biases. The problem extends beyond the occasional oversight of the large scale academic journals, although, given how transparently ridicules some of these papers are, the problem of them passing muster is bad enough in its own right.

While I think the people behind the project is "selling" its findings as being evidence of more than it actually is, it does serve to further illustrate the lacking academic values behind the respective field of studies. The peer reviews, available on their Google Drive https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/19tBy_fVlYIHTxxjuVMFxh4pqLHM_en18, do illustrate a distinct lack of common sense in their approach to these flat out ridicules papers, usually supporting the projects themselves fully, albeit with significant criticisms regarding the argumentation and sourcing of the articles, which I think the people responsible for the project are downplaying. You'll only see it if you read the reviews themselves.

I've had to participate in a few social studies classes at university (my major is history), and their content has consistently reinforced my existing perception of them as being carefully devised, possibly well meaning, narratives constructed to promote a somewhat far left (in a US sense) ideology. Both the content and lecture always promote one view, and one view only. I am not aware of any silencing of opposing opinions in Danish universities, nor have I ever felt at risk when expressing an opinion that conflicts with professor or written material, but my impression is that this would be quite different if I attended class in the US. My own experiences with social studies stand in stark contrast to my history course which goes out of its way to be neutral, and impressing upon us the importance of not instilling the past with our present day moral compass or the benefit of hindsight.

This became longer than I intended, and for that I apologize. My point is that the project, while being somewhat hyperbole in its claimed findings, is not without merit. social sciences do lean overwhelmingly to the left, inspire nonsensical "social justice" movements, which in turn bring out more extremists on the right side. By adhering so strongly to its agenda rather than attempting a neutral course, it fuels both camps so to speak.


- -​


Lastly, and this might be a result of me not picking up on sarcasm or the like, But I believe the term "religion" in the title of the YouTube video is to suggest that intersectionality is an infallible guiding framework for social scientists, similar to what religion is to some religious people.
 
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This became longer than I intended, and for that I apologize. My point is that the project, while being somewhat hyperbole in its claimed findings, is not without merit. social sciences do lean overwhelmingly to the left, inspire nonsensical "social justice" movements, which in turn bring out more extremists on the right side. By adhering so strongly to its agenda rather than attempting a neutral course, it fuels both camps so to speak.

What is the merit, though? If it's already obvious to you and others that social sciences are idealogues, then why waste a year pointing that out?

I question the value of pointing out the flaws in a system where the flaws are basically obvious to anyone with any sense of critical thinking. I would much rather see time spent in proposing or advancing improvements or solutions, because despite belonging to a hard science myself I don't think that the soft sciences are without merit. They are simply more difficult to gather appropriate data for, and unfortunately seem not to attract the sort of people with the high level understanding of math that is necessary to tease accurate conclusions from a noisy data set.

It seems to me that after this "expose" the fields are in basically the exact same position as before; obviously flawed. It also seems to me that if someone wanted to correct that flaw, the biggest waste of your time would be to spend a year making up fake papers to demonstrate how obviously flawed the system is.

On the other hand, it is a great way to get your name out there. And fishing for popularity is basically the exact flaw that they're criticising.
 

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What is the merit, though? If it's already obvious to you and others that social sciences are idealogues, then why waste a year pointing that out?

I question the value of pointing out the flaws in a system where the flaws are basically obvious to anyone with any sense of critical thinking. I would much rather see time spent in proposing or advancing improvements or solutions, because despite belonging to a hard science myself I don't think that the soft sciences are without merit. They are simply more difficult to gather appropriate data for, and unfortunately seem not to attract the sort of people with the high level understanding of math that is necessary to tease accurate conclusions from a noisy data set.

It seems to me that after this "expose" the fields are in basically the exact same position as before; obviously flawed. It also seems to me that if someone wanted to correct that flaw, the biggest waste of your time would be to spend a year making up fake papers to demonstrate how obviously flawed the system is.

On the other hand, it is a great way to get your name out there. And fishing for popularity is basically the exact flaw that they're criticising.

Because it's far from being obvious to the majority, or at least that is my impression based on conversations with people at university and observing from a distance the many emerging social justice movements in the US in particular. If social studies themselves are as entrenched in their views and agenda as it appears to me, and if it is actually true that dissenting voices are met with blind refusals and removal, then the only method left to the dissenters is to appeal to outside forces who might then incite change. By terming it as science, which imbues it with a certain sense of authority, they provide ammunition, so to speak, for people to hurl at their opposition. That wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't for the fact that the ammunition is more often dummy rounds, disguised as live ammo, so as to provide a false offense. That is to say that the arguments presented are based on a variety of truisms, subjective feelings or washy statistics that show whatever you want them to show, disguised as hard evidence. When this fuels both sides of extremists, it becomes a problems, and if it isn't possible to affect this problem from the inside, you have to do it from the outside.

I agree that soft sciences, although I protest to the use of the term science for them, have merit. But only so long as they adhere to certain values, such as neutrality. Promoting political agendas should not be the primary driver of academia. I do not believe that the flaws of the fields are as obvious to the population as a whole as I think you're suggesting. I would, however, expect such an awareness to exist within actual science.
 
12,041
Australia
Melbourne
Neomone/GTP_Imari
Because it's far from being obvious to the majority, or at least that is my impression based on conversations with people at university and observing from a distance the many emerging social justice movements in the US in particular. If social studies themselves are as entrenched in their views and agenda as it appears to me, and if it is actually true that dissenting voices are met with blind refusals and removal, then the only method left to the dissenters is to appeal to outside forces who might then incite change.T By terming it as science, which imbues it with a certain sense of authority, they provide ammunition, so to speak, for people to hurl at their opposition. That wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't for the fact that the ammunition is more often dummy rounds, disguised as live ammo, so as to provide a false offense. That is to say that the arguments presented are based on a variety of truisms, subjective feelings or washy statistics that show whatever you want them to show, disguised as hard evidence. When this fuels both sides of extremists, it becomes a problems, and if it isn't possible to affect this problem from the inside, you have to do it from the outside.

Look, there's a few scenarios here and I don't see how what was done helps any of them.

1. The entire field is rotten with SJWs and political shenanigans. No amount of change is going to touch this rotten core, and so you might as well just get out and start publishing your legitimate research in a field where the scientific method is recognised. If such a field doesn't exist, create it.
2. There are some bad apples, but the heart of the field is basically in the right place. Push for reform and guidelines as to what constitutes appropriate research and studies.
3. It's basically not a problem and they're tilting at windmills. Don't waste your time doing anything, all fields have some practitioners that are arseholes and/or disingenuous, and they tend to weed themselves out.

You can't fight a mob based on emotion and groupthink with science and reason. If they were amenable to science and reason, they wouldn't have turned into an irrational mob in the first place.

As far as outside voices who might incite change, who are those? There is no High Overlord of Chemistry who hands down decrees to all the chemists like me on how we perform our art, and I doubt that such exists for any other field either. At best you might pursue individual bad actors and petition to have them removed from their posts, but that would require critiquing their studies. Spending a year creating similarly bad studies does nothing except to prove that you too are just as terrible for the field as the bad actors that you rail against, hence why I said it was the biggest waste of time someone hoping to reform the field could undertake.

I agree that soft sciences, although I protest to the use of the term science for them, have merit.

Why would you object to the term science? They use the scientific method when pursued properly. Just because human psychology is difficult to understand and quantify, doesn't mean that the scientific method is inapplicable.

But only so long as they adhere to certain values, such as neutrality.

See above; use the scientific method. By definition that includes all the values anyone should want to require of something labelled as a science.

Promoting political agendas should not be the primary driver of academia. I do not believe that the flaws of the fields are as obvious to the population as a whole as I think you're suggesting. I would, however, expect such an awareness to exist within actual science.

And why does a layman's perception of the field matter?

Junk science being run through the media as though it's solid research is a meme. Hell, we have anti-vaxxers thanks to one tool who did exactly this in medical science. The reality is that most journal papers or studies are pretty opaque to anyone outside the field or without a reasonably high level of general knowledge and intelligence. Laymen and the media will read BS into perfectly good studies with no flaws at all, and so having the bar be that a field should not be able to be misinterpreted by laymen seems too high. A field should be content with publishing studies that are based on a conscientious application of the scientific method, no more.

If flaws are obvious to other practitioners of the art then that's sufficient to prevent bad research from propagating, as the best and most influential research is the research that is then used as the basis for dozens or hundreds of follow-on studies and technology development. Every field has it's seminal papers, and they come about not because of the approval of a majority of laymen but through confirmation from the work of their peers.

Science should not concern itself with how it appears to laymen, as down that road lies the exact fault that you're attributing to social sciences; namely, being political and coming to only "popular" conclusions.
 

Jawehawk

Premium
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Yohansen_92
Look, there's a few scenarios here and I don't see how what was done helps any of them.

1. The entire field is rotten with SJWs and political shenanigans. No amount of change is going to touch this rotten core, and so you might as well just get out and start publishing your legitimate research in a field where the scientific method is recognized. If such a field doesn't exist, create it.
2. There are some bad apples, but the heart of the field is basically in the right place. Push for reform and guidelines as to what constitutes appropriate research and studies.
3. It's basically not a problem and they're tilting at windmills. Don't waste your time doing anything, all fields have some practitioners that are arseholes and/or disingenuous, and they tend to weed themselves out.

You can't fight a mob based on emotion and groupthink with science and reason. If they were amenable to science and reason, they wouldn't have turned into an irrational mob in the first place.

As far as outside voices who might incite change, who are those? There is no High Overlord of Chemistry who hands down decrees to all the chemists like me on how we perform our art, and I doubt that such exists for any other field either. At best you might pursue individual bad actors and petition to have them removed from their posts, but that would require critiquing their studies. Spending a year creating similarly bad studies does nothing except to prove that you too are just as terrible for the field as the bad actors that you rail against, hence why I said it was the biggest waste of time someone hoping to reform the field could undertake.

I presume that the idea was that a loss of credibility in the eyes of other academic circles, as well as potentially the general public, would prompt internal reflection and subsequent changes? Other than that, I agree that the project couldn't hope to achieve anything by itself. I disagree that the exposure of a lack of common sense among the peer reviewers is completely without value. If anything, its a good thing for the fields themselves to be held under scrutiny. Ultimately, I see your point, and I guess I can mostly agree with it too.


Why would you object to the term science? They use the scientific method when pursued properly. Just because human psychology is difficult to understand and quantify, doesn't mean that the scientific method is inapplicable.

How many social science fields can truly provide an environment for empirical, falsifiable research? How do you accurately extrapolate the opinions of a few onto a whole nation, as social scientists so love to do, or reach fair conclusions, when seemingly the majority of the gender or sexuality related fields seem to already have the conclusions before even starting? There are of course a lot of branches within social studies, but I think its fair to say that the fields in regards to the topics of the project can be narrowed down to just a few, which consistently produce politicized material based on weak or biased statistics. Do you disagree that the term "science" is used specifically to garner credibility? if there are actual sciences within the fields, using objective and falsifiable methods, then by all means, move them into the science category, but it is painstakingly obvious to me that many of the fields within the social sciences are sciences in name only. There's nothing wrong with not being a science, but correct nomenclature ought to be used.


And why does a layman's perception of the field matter?

Junk science being run through the media as though it's solid research is a meme. Hell, we have anti-vaxxers thanks to one tool who did exactly this in medical science. The reality is that most journal papers or studies are pretty opaque to anyone outside the field or without a reasonably high level of general knowledge and intelligence. Laymen and the media will read BS into perfectly good studies with no flaws at all, and so having the bar be that a field should not be able to be misinterpreted by laymen seems too high. A field should be content with publishing studies that are based on a conscientious application of the scientific method, no more.

If flaws are obvious to other practitioners of the art then that's sufficient to prevent bad research from propagating, as the best and most influential research is the research that is then used as the basis for dozens or hundreds of follow-on studies and technology development. Every field has it's seminal papers, and they come about not because of the approval of a majority of laymen but through confirmation from the work of their peers.

Science should not concern itself with how it appears to laymen, as down that road lies the exact fault that you're attributing to social sciences; namely, being political and coming to only "popular" conclusions.


Academia is not confined to academic circles and its creators should not presume it to be so. Also, there's a difference between science being misinterpreted, and papers that are purposely constructed to promote a certain view. When the latter becomes widespread (which I believe to be the case), and is actively used by segments of the populace, then there is a problem. Scholars cannot prevent people from abusing their work, but they can make an effort to be neutral, and I simply don't see this being the case in gender, race and sexuality studies. Perhaps you have entirely different experiences than I do with the interaction and/or observation of the people engaged with these studies, but for my part, they tend to adhere to the discourse (within the respective fields) of systemic oppression in spite of any and all evidence to the contrary. As scientists tend to do, they do have some influence with people outside academia.
 
8,807
United States
Marin County
...and I simply don't see this being the case in gender, race and sexuality studies.

I gather that there are essentially two viewpoints on these specific topics:

A. They are worth exploring (History of humanity says to me this is the correct answer)
B. Everything is fine

I can see how lampooning social sciences would be satisfying for those in group B, but you can't say there are problems with the rigor of studies in these fields, in good faith, when you really think that there just shouldn't be studies in these fields. I'm not saying the authors of the purposefully absurd studies feel this way (though I do think they found their work exponentially more profound than most observers would), but the way this thread has been promoted exudes the latter.
 

Jawehawk

Premium
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Yohansen_92
I gather that there are essentially two viewpoints on these specific topics:

A. They are worth exploring (History of humanity says to me this is the correct answer)
B. Everything is fine

I can see how lampooning social sciences would be satisfying for those in group B, but you can't say there are problems with the rigor of studies in these fields, in good faith, when you really think that there just shouldn't be studies in these fields. I'm not saying the authors of the purposefully absurd studies feel this way (though I do think they found their work exponentially more profound than most observers would), but the way this thread has been promoted exudes the latter.

I object to constructing two camps like that as such a thing allows for nothing but extremist views. It's more nuanced than that.

I don't understand your comment on how this thread has been promoted. VBR, the creator of the thread, has not provided his own opinion on the matters, although one can perhaps infer it based on him posting it in the first place. How is it being promoted? The only ones who've engaged in debate on the matter, Imari and myself, both agree that the fields do have merit, although we appear to disagree on the extend of the problems within the respective fields. So I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean.
 
12,041
Australia
Melbourne
Neomone/GTP_Imari
Academia is not confined to academic circles and its creators should not presume it to be so.

I agree. I'm not an academic, I work in the commercial sector yet I make significant use of academic research. Yet I maintain that a scientist should not concern themselves with how their research may be perceived by laymen. A true and accurate study is true and accurate regardless of the perception of people who do not understand it's place in the greater body of knowledge.

Also, there's a difference between science being misinterpreted, and papers that are purposely constructed to promote a certain view. When the latter becomes widespread (which I believe to be the case), and is actively used by segments of the populace, then there is a problem.

Propaganda. What you're taking about is propaganda.

And yeah, that's not ideal, but if you're looking to stamp out propaganda at the root then good luck with that. What should and does happen in most fields is what happened to Andrew Wakefield; his research was debunked, he himself was determined to be detrimental to the field, and his research was retracted and his qualifications nullfied.

If there are fields where this sort of self-correction of obviously damaging research isn't taking place, then that's a field that real scientists should be fleeing from. The thing is that most research is applicable to a number of fields. I don't publish because I'm commercial and our research is proprietary, but if I were to I have a pretty wide range of choices of where to publish, including open source stuff like arXiv. If the gender sciences are really that corrupt they'll disappear up their own assholes once any pretence of real science is removed and join stuff like Scientology, Astrology and Polygraphy as things that sound like sciences but aren't.

I don't know about soft sciences, but most hard scientists are also provided as part of their education at least some history of pseudoscience.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudoscience


Having a robust definition for pseudoscience is what stops good scientists from getting lost in the weeds doing work that's actually meaningless. If the practitioners of a field aren't self-policing when pseudoscientific work turns up, yeah, it's gonna turn into a quagmire.

Scholars cannot prevent people from abusing their work, but they can make an effort to be neutral, and I simply don't see this being the case in gender, race and sexuality studies. Perhaps you have entirely different experiences than I do with the interaction and/or observation of the people engaged with these studies, but for my part, they tend to adhere to the discourse (within the respective fields) of systemic oppression in spite of any and all evidence to the contrary. As scientists tend to do, they do have some influence with people outside academia.

I'm speaking mostly about science as a whole, you'll notice, as I think you have some misconceptions around how much influence being "published" has on the science of a field. I have no first hand experience with the fields in question, which is why I've continued to offer my opinion as a range of states that I think could describe the fields.

The only ones who've engaged in debate on the matter, Imari and myself, both agree that the fields do have merit, although we appear to disagree on the extend of the problems within the respective fields. So I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean.

Incorrect, I don't have an opinion on the extent of the problem within the fields in question because there's insufficient data.

The "study" that started this thread is a prime example of people who have chosen their conclusion and then figured out an experiment to "prove" that conclusion. It's meaningless and proves nothing about the state of the fields, and one could perpetrate a similar fraud in just about any scientific field with limited difficulty.

You have your experience, but that's a single anecdotal data point from someone on the internet.

I just think it's interesting to observe how much the behaviour of people who decry the problems in their field actually fall into the same traps themselves. Speaking of the authors of the fake studies here, not yourself. I have serious doubts that any of these people actually understand how science is supposed to work. It is not a tool for proving yourself right.
 

Jawehawk

Premium
4,646
Denmark
Denmark
Yohansen_92
Incorrect, I don't have an opinion on the extent of the problem within the fields in question because there's insufficient data.

The "study" that started this thread is a prime example of people who have chosen their conclusion and then figured out an experiment to "prove" that conclusion. It's meaningless and proves nothing about the state of the fields, and one could perpetrate a similar fraud in just about any scientific field with limited difficulty.

You have your experience, but that's a single anecdotal data point from someone on the internet.

I just think it's interesting to observe how much the behaviour of people who decry the problems in their field actually fall into the same traps themselves. Speaking of the authors of the fake studies here, not yourself. I have serious doubts that any of these people actually understand how science is supposed to work. It is not a tool for proving yourself right.

The highlighted point is of course entirely true. I certainly can't claim to know the true extend of the problems for sure, and thus I can only give my impressions on the matters. If you are truly able to maintain a neutral mindset on the topic then I tip my hat to you, as the best I can do is to try and maintain an open mind to opinions and data that conflicts with my already etablished impression.

I thank you for the civil debate on a topic that all too often descents into mud throwing 👍
 

Pupik

Staff Emeritus
17,925
United States
HSV or something
It should be noted that not all scientific journals are equal; some are lauded institutions with rigorous screening, while the other end of the scale is entirely pay-to-publish. For example, a request to be taken off a mailing list (NFSW / profanity / coffee-spit-at-screen or keyboard warning). And the list of these journals just keeps on getting larger each year...this may be from 2014, but it's been updated yearly.

It's the kind of thing which gives ammunition to those who want to detest a segment (or all) of scientific research; but just like fire drills, practice, and over-bloated virus protection, it's a bit of a necessary step to help remove out the junk from the valuable to protect those kinds of institutions.

One thing I'll never forget about the first minutes of a sophomore-level Physics course I took many moons ago: "Science is about proving other scientific theory is false. The great minds we've respected over the centuries: Archimedes, Galileo, Newton, and Einstein were perfect in their time, but later had some of their theories proven wrong" (this is a slight paraphrase, which might explain why I did not graduate with a degree in any type of Science).
 

VBR

Meme Dissident in Exile...
Premium
7,586
England
London
If anyone out there is planning on higher education & is concerned about the various issues surrounding this, there is an organization called The Heterodox Academy which has lots of advice & resources that you may find helpful.

https://heterodoxacademy.org


👍
 
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TenEightyOne

I'm Slow, But I'm Wide!
Premium
20,678
TenEightyOne
TenEightyOne
VBR
If anyone out there is planning on higher education & is concerned about the various issues surrounding this, there is an organization called The Heterodox Academy which has lots of advice & resources that you may find helpful.

https://heterodoxacademy.org


👍

But I thought you hated intersectionality?
 

VBR

Meme Dissident in Exile...
Premium
7,586
England
London
UPDATE: A podcast from Dr. James Lindsay on how the problem described in the OP is starting to infect other disciplines in academia & beyond...