Academic Hoax Reveals Deep Problems in Social Sciences



Groundbreaking work from the failed academics wing of Project Veritas.


katie SUCKS


“The risks are enormous:“

Indeed. By creating fictional entities with names like “Portland Ungendering Research Initiative," they’re risking the jealous wrath of the writers at Portlandia.


I'm not sure what's worse, the fact this happened or that lefty alternate newspapers pick up on such trash to make batshit crazy claims?


@2 nope.gif


Academia is a far-left circle jerk. News at 11.


It's always fun to watch The Left eat it's self on a Wednesday afternoon.



respect... the dogs.... privacy?


@7: You’re letting the journals off the hook far too lightly. In the “dog rape study,” the hoaxers made claims specifically designed to be unbelievable, and then provided no data to support the claim. None of the peer reviews even requested the data which would have exposed the hoax.

As you say, the reviewers “saw no inherent flaw in the [study’s] logic or process,” but that’s only because the reviewers never bothered looking.


The peer review process is intended primarily to judge the quality of honest work, catch mistakes, and secondarily it catches clumsy fraud. How are reviewers supposed to know if somebody makes up an entire data set? That gets caught only if somebody bothers to replicate the experiment.

I mean, why couldn't I actually gather data about buttplugs and transphobia and do a legit analysis? How are you as a reviewer supposed to know if I lied about whether I did the work?

Seems to me the real point in the hoaxers' minds is not that the work is fake, but that they think it's dumb material to publish even if it's real. Which is a criticism you could make equally validly by referring to existing published articles. Unless you just want to score internet points for attention.


Note the critical difference from the Sokal article, which was utter gibberish and could be rejected without regard for whether some hypothetical work to back it was real or fake.


@11: See @10. The reviewers were not fooled by a fraudulent data set. They were fooled by a nonexistent data set, which they never asked to examine.

You’re right that reviewers are supposed t “judge the quality of honest work,” but these reviewers made no attempt to do so.


One 'tell' is that criticism focuses more on the theoretical interpretations than on the methods or data. Truth is, my peer reviewers will give my airy interpretations more leeway than is perhaps correct, because my colleagues don't care about those. In a paper with experimental results, if I have a fringe idea what they mean, other workers just ignore my ideas and take my results.


@13 where are you seeing the details of which articles did or did not include data?

It is true that many journals still allow articles that report the ANOVA or summary statistics without making the full underlying data. This is generally bad, both for fraud and for mistakes.

But that's by no means a feature of squishy lefty journals. Not at all. Historically routine in science journals. Still quite common in legit journals. So if that's the real concern, it's, let's say, telling, which targets were picked.


Many science journals now require sharing your data sets, and sometimes analysis scripts, so people can directly replicate your work. At least this is how things work in the biological sciences. These social “science” journals need to get with the times.


@15: The nonexistent data set is discussed in the WSJ article Herzog links to in her article:

“[the study] ‘was constructed to look outlandish on purpose. So asking us for the data would not have been out of sorts. It would have been appropriate, and we would have been exposed immediately.’”

If your argument is that the journals’ failure to ask for data is SOP, then I think you’ve just proved the hoaxers’ point.

@17: It’s not the case that “the authors presented no data” or “not even the authors are claiming there is data.” They claimed to have data. Crazy-looking data. And the peer reviewers didn’t ask them for it. You can’t defend that by saying, “Oh well, it’s just the humanities, whatcha gonna do?”

But even if that is your defense, how would you defend the hoax feminism article that submitted a rewritten chapter of Mein Kampf and was nonetheless published? Even if you accept a “never check data” SOP for the humanities, quoting Hitler seems like the sort of thing peer review should catch, no?


Interesting read (the linked Aero article). I agree with some of their concerns, but I disagree with their wholesale dismissal of critical constructivism, critical theory, and critical pedagogy. True, there is some awful work in these areas (like any area of study), but there is also some amazing work that has been done, and is being done, that I'd hate to see unfairly disregarded. Qualitative data and analysis are useful (especially in the Humanities), but need to be looked at critically and challenged/responded to.

All in all, there is a need to hear other perspectives, voices, and ways of knowing in academia. But we also need to be critical thinkers.

I think concepts like white privilege, white fragility, etc are useful for exploring our culture and society. I think activists and scholars should continue to adopt and investigate them. The usual suspects aren't going to like them (or any critiques offered by marginalized folks), but so what.


"Why go through all this work for a hoax? "

Because they're fishing for a steady paycheque from the same collection of morons Jordan Peterson has.


It reveals there is nothing scientific about the social sciences. It's simply an exercise in rationalizing moral feeling. Academics can be fooled if a text appears to validate their opinions and is written in a sophisticated academic language-- the more up-to-date and clever it is, the better.

Smart and sophisticated writing rather seeks to present normatively complicated ideas in a concise and clear manner; it takes real skill to do this and sometimes it does take complexity, but often this is a consequence of a ratcheting up affect of simply presenting many ideas.

Modern academics take very few ideas(or no ideas; in the sense that critical theory disprivilages positive claims) and they complicate and obscure them. It's a relatively easy trick once you learn the formula, but it does take work to unlock it as it's somewhat esoteric knowledge.


I wonder what it's like to have the same opinion as internet personas that maintain fascist military imagery in their profiles


This bogus scholarship is unfortunate but of no consequence other than to embarass the journals and the fields, which I guess is well earned. Here in Seattle we engage in policy decisions based upon trash studies that provide no raw data, are agenda driven and purport to demonstrate that our vagrant population are largely from the area rather than drawn here from other regions. Nobody calls this junk out and we spend literally hundreds of millions of dollars on homeless issues with negative results (ie- it gets worse either due to our actions or in spite of them), and we have no quantifiable and reliable data on who this population is and their drivers. Easy enough to do but woefully resisted. Not a dollar more for homeless services beyond sweeps until and unless responsible scholarship answers crucial questions. Otherwise we continue to plunge forward blindly.


This kind of stunt is fun, but it does nothing to address the two huge problems in academic publishing right now: predatory publishing and the replication crisis.

These aren't confined to the social sciences or humanities; Medicine is particularly hard-hit ny both, and especially worrying. Computer security careers are being built on worthless papers published in predatory pay-to-publish journals with rubber-stamp "peer" review.

And to fight this, what are we doing? Writing more hoax papers. Here's a presentation of similar large, long-term hoax operation that went after the predatory publishers specifically, and in the "hard" sciences:

Again, all very amusing, and don't we feel good when we're let in on the joke-- but it doesn't do a damned thing about the underlying problems.



Academic work is supposed to be done in pursuit of the truth. To the extent that it embraces ideology, any ideology, it needs to be called out.

I'm in the middle of grad school right now. I'm working very hard to acquire the skills and tools needed to do proper research in my chosen field.

The fact that these ludicrous studies were accepted and even praised by peer reviewers at these supposedly reputable journals speaks volumes about the state of the disciplines in question: they're dominated by ideologues. That's unhealthy and ultimately self-defeating.

I am very impressed by much of the work that feminist scholars have done in my particular discipline. When they do their work well, as most of them do, they really shine a like on areas that have been ignored for far too long. Forcing them to compete with "scholars" who produce drivel that merely lines up with the current groupthink is more than an insult to their work: it undermines it.

Gender studies is important. Queer studies is important. Race studies is important. So important, in fact, that they deserve to be done by proper scholars, not ideologues, hacks, and charlatans.

And if you want an example of how such interdisciplinary studies can be done right, in many cases, Jewish Studies generally tends, for some reason, to be done better. It's not a bad model to follow.


Like, seriously
Somebody decided a human-gender analysis of animal mating practices was a valid thing to put into a gender studies journal in the first place and that the article merited peer review? AND THEN THE PEER REVIEW CAME BACK and was like "yep this is all good"? Like, entire chains of people approved this?

Like, who gives a fuck how compelling the fakes were, they should have been rejected even if they had been real studies. That the peer review is lazy has already been established, that doesn't say anything about academics in 'grievance studies' in particular; the shameful part is that anyone considered these valid academic papers to begin with. The doubly, doubly shameful part is that they unwittingly (but predictably, in my opinion) ended up endorsing MEIN FUCKING KAMPF. If the alarm bells aren't ringing off in your head at this point, I don't know what else to say.


I left academia before identity politics and "grievance studies" became the fad of the day, and even then you knew in certain classes that the correct answer was ALWAYS going to be the most politically correct one for the time.

One thing you learn fast in the "social sciences" is that it is just a bunch of really self-absorbed people desperately trying to force their views on everything, and no one really has much more than their opinion.

Which is why they fight so hard when the stakes are so low.


When creating tool of constructive criticism, one has the obligation to take steps that it not be taken up by other as a weapon of destruction. This was the most reasonable objection to Bret Weinstein's actions at Evergreen. In this America, the documentarians can't not be aware that their work will be red meat for the Rightist media who believe that higher education should be limited to training young people to be the best-skilled and most agreeable employees of the Koch Brothers.

And, as we speak Bavarian clock-makers are replacing cuckoos with dog-rape-per-hour automatons, we mourn the recent passing of Alan Abel, creator of the similar but superior Society for Indecency to Naked Animals. Or fondly remember Hugh Troy, whose beef jerky fake Van Gough ear drew bigger crowds than the Van Gough exhibit next door.

The best hoaxes target nor serve Left, Right, elitism, anti-intellectualism, etc.; but shed universal insight on how people are just so fucking cross-eyed stupid.


Literally any academic or person who has worked with academics could tell you about the exponentially increasing publication demands placed on academics. The same people could also tell you that this demand has lowered quality standards as bits or work that should be a section are expanded into a paper to meet tenure expectations or to build CV. The same people could furthermore tell you that there's been an explosion of extremely niche, for-profit journals who are ready and willing to accept mediocore submissions as long as the page charges are forthcoming. And finally, they could tell you that the ballooning publications expectations have left reviewers so swamped that they sometimes spend no more than one read on a paper.

So, yeah, in some sense, academic papers and academic publications are, at some level, broken. But what this article doesn't seem to mention is that:
1) With thousands of papers being published a month, most have absolutely zero impact
2) Nobody reads, cites, or remembers the obviously bad papers
- Seriously, I remember coming across a comically bad paper in my field once, I
revisited it 3 years later to show a colleague. At that time it had been view/downloaded
a grand total of 5 times.
3) If someone does, they'll be like "this seems shitty, how did this get published, oh yeah elsivier (et al.) $$$"

There's a lot of interesting to be said and written about academic publishing in the face of corrosive publication pressures. There are also some systematic issues with the way social sciences try to treat subjective data quantitatively. But to hear that bad-faith actors have (with a very low success rate) gotten invented studies published and to suddenly see a crisis where entire disciplines are illegitimate requires some truly remarkably level of credulity (with a healthy helping of "wooooossssh" to go along).


@31 said: "When creating tool of constructive criticism, one has the obligation to take steps that it not be taken up by other as a weapon of destruction."

I'm sorry, but that's the kind of excuse that kept the Catholic Church covering up for pedophiles for decades. No-one was willing to step forward because protecting the institution was more important than fulfilling the role that the institution was meant for.

At some point, someone needs to say that the emperor has no clothes. And if that's embarrassing to the emperor, well that's kind of the emperor's own fault, not that of the kid pointing it out.


Sadly this emperor-has-no-clothes will not wake up the people who are nodding and smiling about the emperor's fine garments. Instead, the authors will be burnt on the heretical stake for being dangerous reactionaries attempting to overthrow the dominant paradigm, and all manner of association with evils will be made on them. In fact, this article points out it's already happening.

Such is what we call "truth." Modern society -- and to my dismay, especially leftist society -- is not concerned with demonstrable reality, but only with artificially constructed misconceptions that justify prejudices.

I have always believed that the majority of progressive liberal principles have their roots in objective truth. But the progressive liberal community does not allow itself to be distracted by objectivity or demonstrable facts. (To be sure, neither does the conservative traditionalist community. As a result, each side can score points by pointing out the irrational examples of the other, and yet, neither side is interested in correcting this.)

Religion -- not in the sense of churches and prayers and fancy hats, but in the sense of beliefs held without basis in evidence or reality -- is the order of the day. (Probably, depressingly, it always has been.)

Hail to the heretics.


@31 bull fucking shit. that is hardcore totalitarianism