Three scholars spent the past year submitting absurd, bogus papers to well-known academic journals to show how easily studies can pass the supposedly rigorous peer review process if they spout trendy, liberal dogma. The scholars submitted 20 hoax papers to journals that focused on race, gender, sexuality, and other politically charged issues. Much to the scientific community’s shame, seven of the papers passed peer review and were published.
The trio, mathematician James Lindsay, philosopher Peter Boghossian, and English literature and history scholar Helen Pluckrose, managed to get a paper asserting that dog parks produce a canine “rape culture” published in the feminist journal Gender, Place & Culture.
The gender studies journal Affilia published another of the academics’ phony submissions, in which they simply rewrote a chapter of Adolph Hilter’s autobiography Mein Kampf in feminist terms. In yet another published article, they wrote that “privileged students” (in other words, white) should not be allowed to speak in class and should be required to make reparations by sitting on the floor in chains.
Several fellow academics responded with opinion pieces in Quillette magazine. “The editors and peer reviewers who handled [the] papers have revealed their true, vicious attitudes,” wrote Nathan Konfas, a doctoral student in philosophy at the University of Oxford.
A University of California, San Diego, faculty fellow voiced concern that these fake studies show how falsified ideas become thrust upon impressionable young minds when students enter universities staffed with political activists. “Many faculty in these departments seem alarmingly eager to hijack, for their own ends, the emotional circuitry of teenagers who arrive on campus in search of a tribe to join and a dragon to slay,” Jonathan Anomaly wrote.
More than anything, this hoax shows how “ripe the moment is for Christians to offer the education world an alternative,” John Stonestreet, president of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, said on the organization’s podcast, Breakpoint. (Stonestreet also discussed the topic briefy with WORLD Radio’s Nick Eicher during a recent “Culture Friday” segment on The World and Everything in It.) Christians with a desire to point students to God founded most universities, but just because schools have lost that vision does not mean that the task of educating young people and publishing solid research is over, he said, adding, “With mainstream academic journals going to the dogs, now’s not the time for Christians to lose our educational souls to fashionable nonsense. Now’s the time to recommit to truth.”