For the past year scholars James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose, and Peter Boghossian have sent fake papers to various academic journals which they describe as specialising in activism or ”grievance studies.” Their stated mission has been to expose how easy it is to get âabsurdities and morally fashionable political ideas published as legitimate academic research.
To date, their project has been successful: seven papers have passed through peer review and have been published, including a 3000 word excerpt of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, rewritten in the language of Intersectionality theory and published in the Gender Studies journal Affilia.
James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose and Peter Boghossian successfully published an academic paper on the rape culture of dog parks
These psychoactive hoax papers, some penned in just a few hours, are taken seriously because they fit with social science sub fields in which reason has been exchanged for ideology. How did we get here? Did it begin with scholars wanting to right social wrongs? A wish to emphasise, within academic writing, the value of treating one another fairly, of reducing, or eliminating, discrimination on grounds of ancestry, disability, sex, or sexual orientation? Perhaps such scholars were fed up with an implicit hierarchical model of academic discourse in which (like the wrong-headed March of Progress apes-to-man illustration) poetry sits meekly at the left of the line, while biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics strut proudly, at the far right, triumphal, end? If scholars wanted to reduce bias and barriers, the wrong fights have been picked. Here are just three problems with parts of academia that this new manuscript hoax has exposed.
To take an example, many students in universities and employees at Google take bias training courses that tell them “white privilege” and “systemic racism” explain disparities in outcomes between groups, despite the fact that—to take one example—Asian Americans from China and India (‘people of color’) make more money and are incarcerated at lower rates than whites. According to the conspiratorial worldview of many faculty in grievance studies departments, citing statistics and making arguments that go against the privilege narrative proves that you have an unconscious bias against minorities, and that you’re probably a white supremacist.
The main problem is not the rise of trendy disciplines with names that end with the word ”studies,” or the opportunity cost of spending taxpayer money on bogus scholarship and bad education rather than medical research and space exploration. The problem is that many students are required to take these classes as part of a “diversity” requirement at universities, and that when students graduate, these ideas influence leaders of corporations like Google, which can manipulate its search engine to alter elections and change our epistemic environment in subtle ways.