When a group of three people set about demonstrating the problems with so-called “grievance studies” in academia they did so by creating spoof papers designed to embarrass the reviewers at leading journals. As I described last October when the story broke, they were very successful. Seven of the 20 bogus papers they wrote were accepted for publication by various journals. More would have been accepted if the group’s plan hadn’t come to light before they had time to complete the work.
Of the three people involved in the hoax, only one had a university position at the time it was revealed. Professor Peter Boghossian works at Portland State University. A few days before Christmas he received a letter saying he was in violation of the school’s policies for failing to seek the permission of an Institutional Review Board when planning the hoax. Last week, Boghossian published a letter from PSU which represented the school’s final judgment on his case:
The letter states that he has been found to have violated protections for human subjects of the experiment (by hoaxing them without prior IRB permission) and concludes this raises a concern about a “lack of academic integrity” and “questionable ethical behavior” on Boghossian’s part. Boghossian will be unable to carry out future research until he takes some human-subjects-training which doesn’t sound too serious. However, the letter was forwarded to his superiors at the school, including the school’s president, who could take additional steps.
In short, a group of hoaxsters invited academia to laugh at the nonsense being taken seriously by feminist journals and PSU’s response is to shake its head and say “that’s not funny!” In a sense, it couldn’t be a more perfect response, but that doesn’t make the potential outcomes any less serious for Boghossian. But as Bret Weinstein warned when he learned about this academic hoax, “to succeed is to invite something dire coming back.”
Meanwhile, has a single person at any of the hoaxed journals has suffered any professional blowback or loss of reputation? I haven’t really seen anything about that. Perhaps the social justice machine is just churning onward, unperturbed by evidence it is can’t even distinguish real research from obvious nonsense.