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Academic who hoaxed grievance study journals could lose his job

John Sexton Posted at 3:21 pm on January 09, 2019

Last October I wrote about the trio of academics, Helen Pluckrose, James A. Lindsay and Peter Boghossian, who submitted bogus papers to supposedly serious journals and discovered that a number of them were not only accepted but praised. Now one of the professors who engaged in that attempt to point out the deficiencies in contemporary scholarship fears he is in danger of losing his job. Peter Boghossian, an associate professor of philosophy at Portland State University, says the university is considering accusing him of “fabricating data” in the papers which were so obviously absurd they bordered on satire. From Fox News:

Four days before Christmas, Portland State University Vice President Mark McLellan emailed Boghossian that he had been found guilty of “a clear violation of the policies of your employer” for hoaxing the journals without first seeking permission from an “Institutional Review Board”.

Institutional Review Board rules mandate “informed consent” from “human subjects” – in this case, the fooled journal editors – meaning the university would have required him to get consent from the journals in advance of sending the hoax papers. Boghossian notes that would have defeated the whole point.

Boghossian says the university has assigned him extra training as a punishment – but that a more serious punishment, to be determined by the university’s President and Provost, will also be announced soon, that may include his termination…

The university is currently deliberating about finding Boghossian guilty on an additional charge of “fabricating data”. Boghossian’s published hoax paper about “rape culture and queer performativity” in dog parks extravagantly claimed to have examined 10,000 dogs’ genitals and then surveyed their owners about their sexual orientations.

Boghossian and his co-authors say the claim to have such data was “clearly preposterous” and that the whole point was to see if the journal editors would pick up on the absurdity.

It seems pretty clear what is happening here. Entire fields of feminist and gender studies (what the academics call grievance studies) have been embarrassed by this experiment and the people who look like frauds for praising rewritten versions of Mein Kampf (just one example of a paper that was accepted for publication) are looking to lash out at those who embarrassed them.

And it’s not just the publication of the papers that started this. Last year Boghossian invited James Damore to speak on campus. That event was interrupted when someone cut the microphones to silence the speakers. Not long after that, all three of these academics hosted a talk on campus titled “Is Intersectionality a Religion?” They concluded that it was a kind of religion. Part of the irony of the reaction to them is that all three professors are liberal atheists. They aren’t remotely on the right themselves, they’re simply critical of the far left. That’s enough to make them enemies in modern academic settings.

Last November, a group of a dozen PSU professors contributed an anonymous hit piece to the student paper in which they claimed Boghossian’s efforts had damaged the value of a PSU degree. Though they wouldn’t put their names on the attack, they clearly wanted to see him punished or fired. “It is utterly incredible to me what the university has become,” Boghossian said at the time. Here’s a video made the day the article was published:

In case you’ve forgotten what the fake journal papers were about, here’s a video summary of the trio’s efforts. I strongly suspect one of the things motivating this backlash is how much joy these three took in mocking the grievance studies journals and their idea of academic rigor.



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