Academics succeed in publishing prank papers (in highly rated gender studies journals)

Jun 27, 2007
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#1
https://areomagazine.com/2018/10/02/academic-grievance-studies-and-the-corruption-of-scholarship/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/fake-news-comes-to-academia-1538520950

Copied from Reddit, emphasis added:

Summary: Three academics decide to test whether disciplines such as gender studies, cultural studies, fat studies etc. only exist to push an ideological agenda. They do so by writing papers to the top peer-reviewed journals in the fields. The papers advocate for things including fat bodybuilding, chaining up school children for being privileged, studying rape culture through dog-humping incidents at dog parks and re-wording Hitler's Mein Kampf with feminist jargon. Funnily enough, they were almost all published and heralded by the top scholars in the fields.
Gender studies really is a cult.
 
Dec 15, 2011
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I've been seeing this article crop up in my feeds today. Had planned on making a thread. Thank you for saving me the effort @Hypnotoad !
From one of the three academics:

Full video:

I've seen the same experiment conducted in other fields. Such as a list of videogames being shortlisted for some awards - with totally fictitious games put into the list - and then seeing how widely that same list is propagated across other 'professional' sites. Compared to the topics in this experiment, a bunch of videogames is of minor concern.

There are some pretty obvious things to take away from all of this.
I feel the growing adoption of confirmation bias at the expense of critical thought is, for me, the saddest one.

On a lighter note (or darker note?), lifting text from Mein Kampf, framing it as an argument in feminist intersectionality, and having it accepted - with acclaim - by academia puts quite an interesting spin on the "literal nazi" accusations that get flung around these days.
 
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Jul 26, 2018
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I mean, it definitely is a bad look, but similar publishing scandals have happened before, right?

A brief look at Wikipedia reveals such "academic publishing sting" operations have occurred in fields such as computer science and chemistry ("hard sciences"), while also in the fields of social sciences (a notable example being the Sokal affair).

I'm all for criticizing elements of social science which have gone off the rails, but let's not act like this is a problem exclusive to such fields--this is a problem in academia as a whole.
 
Jan 27, 2018
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I mean, it definitely is a bad look, but similar publishing scandals have happened before, right?

A brief look at Wikipedia reveals such "academic publishing sting" operations have occurred in fields such as computer science and chemistry ("hard sciences"), while also in the fields of social sciences (a notable example being the Sokal affair).

I'm all for criticizing elements of social science which have gone off the rails, but let's not act like this is a problem exclusive to such fields--this is a problem in academia as a whole.
Actually no, this is more nuanced.

There are many predatory journals that are either outright fake or have extremely poor standards. There have been numerous occasions that people have published fake science in those. Many of those journals don't have peer review even.

In this case, you have the top and most respected journals in the field publishing garbage. This exposes that the core of all these disciplines is flawed, which is different than in other cases.

I am trying to look into this a bit more, but so far all I see is that previous hoaxes like this only made it into crap journals, but in this case they got into the heart of the most respected outlets.
 
Dec 15, 2011
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As a human, I'm a subjective creature, not objective. I can't deny this.

But there's irony in this exercise. Those of us willing to believe it because we like what it says may not be thinking about it critically.
Are we also guilty of the behaviour it is warning us of, but simply feeling too pleased with our sense of validation to look further?

Maybe. Maybe not.

How would you feel if, in another 12 months, more was added to this exercise to the tune of "Aha! Double-bluff. We made up all that stuff about making stuff up - and you believed us!"
 
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Jul 26, 2018
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Actually no, this is more nuanced.

There are many predatory journals that are either outright fake or have extremely poor standards. There have been numerous occasions that people have published fake science in those. Many of those journals don't have peer review even.

In this case, you have the top and most respected journals in the field publishing garbage. This exposes that the core of all these disciplines is flawed, which is different than in other cases.

I am trying to look into this a bit more, but so far all I see is that previous hoaxes like this only made it into crap journals, but in this case they got into the heart of the most respected outlets.
Your second sentence is not surprising--the standards for academia seem to be getting lower all around.

Interesting, I'll look into it when I have the time and try comparing it to other such hoax operations. Thanks for the info.
 
Apr 18, 2018
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#10
How would you feel if, in another 12 months, more was added to this exercise to the tune of "Aha! Double-bluff. We made up all that stuff about making stuff up - and you believed us!"
True, but in this case we at least have other third-parties verifying the info (such as Gender, Place, & Culture admitting they are in the process of removing the articles).

There's quite a lot of hostility within academia toward rigorous research on "confirmation bias". I'd have to go look it up (I believe I read it in a book called The Power of Noticing). Researchers did a meta-examination of scientific procedures among biology and chemistry undergraduates as well as tenured professors and found quite a lot of lapses. They were shredded for it, of course.
 
Jul 26, 2018
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True, but in this case we at least have other third-parties verifying the info (such as Gender, Place, & Culture admitting they are in the process of removing the articles).

There's quite a lot of hostility within academia toward rigorous research on "confirmation bias". I'd have to go look it up (I believe I read it in a book called The Power of Noticing). Researchers did a meta-examination of scientific procedures among biology and chemistry undergraduates as well as tenured professors and found quite a lot of lapses. They were shredded for it, of course.
I mean, that sort of research directly undercuts their authority, so that reaction is to be expected.
 
Dec 3, 2013
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Academic social science really is just a neo-Puritan pseudoreligion isn't it? Imagine paying upwards of $25k a year for a degree in gender studies.
Then not getting a job worth a damn after. No wonder most who study that false science, call for socialism and wave a hammer & sickle at their full time protesting positions.
 
Oct 1, 2006
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Such hoaxes are unethical, and The Wall Street Journal doesn’t condone them. The Journal expects op-ed contributors to be truthful about their identities and research, and academic journals also rely on the honesty of their authors.
*published actual Nazi propaganda as science*

*whines about "muh ethics!"*

LMAO

Some people deserve to be tricked, especially when it comes to the fake sciences.

You know what happens when real scientists examine a rubber bigfoot costume filled with decaying pig guts? They don't just check off on it because it fits with their feelings. Due diligence is a part of ethics too.
 
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Dec 3, 2013
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*published actual Nazi propaganda as science*

*whines about "muh ethics!"*

LMAO

Some people deserve to be tricked, especially when it comes to the fake sciences.

You know what happens when real scientists examine a rubber bigfoot costume filled with decaying pig guts? They don't just check off on it because it fits with their feelings. Due diligence is a part of ethics too.
This is not an isolated case either. There are countless videos on YouTube where people go up to those on the Left outside of Berkeley, etc. at rallies/protests, read passages from Mein Kampf or the like to them, and they agree completely with them... Only to later be revealed where said passages came from.

:pie_roffles:

Continues to remind me of this:

 

matt404au

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#20
I mean, it definitely is a bad look, but similar publishing scandals have happened before, right?

A brief look at Wikipedia reveals such "academic publishing sting" operations have occurred in fields such as computer science and chemistry ("hard sciences"), while also in the fields of social sciences (a notable example being the Sokal affair).

I'm all for criticizing elements of social science which have gone off the rails, but let's not act like this is a problem exclusive to such fields--this is a problem in academia as a whole.
Uh no, it’s very much a humanities problem. I can guarantee you we don’t have this problem in STEM.

What are you suggesting? That because the Sokal Affair happened that these examples aren’t as egregious? I can’t understand what point you’re trying to make other than handwavey nonsense.
 
Jun 18, 2018
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#21
Looking into the first 3 named journals in the aero article, it seems none of them have an impact factor above 1.0 in academia, leading me to believe the reddit user has more agenda than actual knowledge.
BTW don’t have too much faith in Peer review especially in soft sciences like humanities and economics, most are based on hunches and the personal ideology of the “peers”. For both the hard and soft sciences there is rarely any attempt to replicate results by the reviewers. It’s mostly scolars asking themselves “is this plausible?”
 
Aug 22, 2018
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Looking into the first 3 named journals in the aero article, it seems none of them have an impact factor above 1.0 in academia, leading me to believe the reddit user has more agenda than actual knowledge.
BTW don’t have too much faith in Peer review especially in soft sciences like humanities and economics, most are based on hunches and the personal ideology of the “peers”. For both the hard and soft sciences there is rarely any attempt to replicate results by the reviewers. It’s mostly scolars asking themselves “is this plausible?”
I would say that for the most part this shouldn't necessarily a problem. It's impractical of course to replicate every single experiment or study that gets published, but in a healthy ecosystem what should happen is that people read it, observe that it's utter horseshit and seek to replicate your study to prove that it's horse shit, or write a suitable rebuttal. The question here is whether that is happening. If it isn't, and the presence of peer reviewers who are accepting utter shit suggests this may be the case, then the system is unhealthy and in dire need of examination.
 

cryptoadam

... and he cannot lie
Feb 21, 2018
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Maybe these guys wrote that paper about TLJ and Russian bots LOL.

It seems like in the soft sciences you can say anything as long as you blame it on the "privilaged" group and you are in a the "victim" group.
 
Jul 26, 2018
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Uh no, it’s very much a humanities problem. I can guarantee you we don’t have this problem in STEM.

What are you suggesting? That because the Sokal Affair happened that these examples aren’t as egregious? I can’t understand what point you’re trying to make other than handwavey nonsense.
Cool your jets. I'm not trying to handwave away anything.

I'm saying that the problem of shoddy academic publication is not restricted to the social sciences, and that saying this is a social science issue is missing the bigger picture.
 
Aug 22, 2018
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It seems like in the soft sciences you can say anything as long as you blame it on the "privilaged" group and you are in a the "victim" group.
There are good aspects of Social Sciences, mostly Twin Studies, Trans-Racial Adoption Studies that are attempting to glean an estimate for the general Heritability of a given trait, and Population studies.(Quantitative Genetics in a sense)
Especially today when Scientists are able to put those estimates to the test through Qualitative genetics by correlating SNPs of DNA to particular traits, mostly intelligence, and finding the rate of distribution of these SNP's among populations.
 

matt404au

Gold Member
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#28
Cool your jets. I'm not trying to handwave away anything.

I'm saying that the problem of shoddy academic publication is not restricted to the social sciences, and that saying this is a social science issue is missing the bigger picture.
It sure read like you were.

Enlighten me on the bigger picture then please.
 
Jun 18, 2018
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#29
I would say that for the most part this shouldn't necessarily a problem. It's impractical of course to replicate every single experiment or study that gets published, but in a healthy ecosystem what should happen is that people read it, observe that it's utter horseshit and seek to replicate your study to prove that it's horse shit, or write a suitable rebuttal. The question here is whether that is happening. If it isn't, and the presence of peer reviewers who are accepting utter shit suggests this may be the case, then the system is unhealthy and in dire need of examination.
Im not saying its a problem, but for the science journals, it could offer more validity to findings (a step above peer review). It was a PSA for gaffers not familiar with scientific journals, and those who only know peer review from journalism and opinion pieces in media and online.
 
Jul 26, 2018
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#30
It sure read like you were.

Enlighten me on the bigger picture then please.
As far as I understand it, the social sciences have been impacted by a herd mentality, a groupthink, where publication is dependent on going with the thoughts of the cognoscenti.

STEM is less susceptible to that due to the fact that it is based on physical experimentation and rigorous proofing; however, publication in STEM has not been without issues. Several cases in Asia (where I'm from and have more familiarity) involved falsification of test results and led to widescale redaction and condemnation--for examples, see the case of Hwang Woo-Seok and the STAP cell controversy in Japan.

The reason I made my original point is that the OP specifically pointed out gender studies as if it is the only branch of academia with problems pertaining to academic publication; my argument is that as problems abound in the world of academic publication as a whole, it is an unfair generalization to single out gender studies as being the red-headed bastard child of academia for that reason alone.

Let me stress again that I am not trying to say that the problem mentioned by the OP is not genuine or not serious; it is. The reason for my post was to offer a different perspective--that the problem is not just that of gender studies (let's face it, that is what we are talking about mostly when we say "social sciences", along with race studies), but of the system of academic publication--that getting published in junk journals is still a bonus, and provides a perverse incentive.

Sorry if this is rambling all over the place; it's 2AM here and I'm way too tired to proofread.
 

matt404au

Gold Member
Apr 25, 2009
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#31
As far as I understand it, the social sciences have been impacted by a herd mentality, a groupthink, where publication is dependent on going with the thoughts of the cognoscenti.

STEM is less susceptible to that due to the fact that it is based on physical experimentation and rigorous proofing; however, publication in STEM has not been without issues. Several cases in Asia (where I'm from and have more familiarity) involved falsification of test results and led to widescale redaction and condemnation--for examples, see the case of Hwang Woo-Seok and the STAP cell controversy in Japan.

The reason I made my original point is that the OP specifically pointed out gender studies as if it is the only branch of academia with problems pertaining to academic publication; my argument is that as problems abound in the world of academic publication as a whole, it is an unfair generalization to single out gender studies as being the red-headed bastard child of academia for that reason alone.

Let me stress again that I am not trying to say that the problem mentioned by the OP is not genuine or not serious; it is. The reason for my post was to offer a different perspective--that the problem is not just that of gender studies (let's face it, that is what we are talking about mostly when we say "social sciences", along with race studies), but of the system of academic publication--that getting published in junk journals is still a bonus, and provides a perverse incentive.

Sorry if this is rambling all over the place; it's 2AM here and I'm way too tired to proofread.
Ok, that makes more sense, but I think a critical point that you’re overlooking is in regards to peer review. If someone is submitting falsified test results to a STEM journal, it can be very difficult for the reviewer and editor to pick up on it. In the case of the social science hoax articles mentioned in the OP, there’s absolutely no way they should have passed peer review for a legit journal. It’s a *puts on Ree glasses* false equivalence 😎
 
Jul 26, 2018
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#32
Ok, that makes more sense, but I think a critical point that you’re overlooking is in regards to peer review. If someone is submitting falsified test results to a STEM journal, it can be very difficult for the reviewer and editor to pick up on it. In the case of the social science hoax articles mentioned in the OP, there’s absolutely no way they should have passed peer review for a legit journal. It’s a *puts on Ree glasses* false equivalence 😎
For some reason, the CSI: Miami "YEEAAAAHHHH" sound went off in my head.

And you're right that it's a false equivalence, but only if you're looking at it from the perspective of peer review. I think I was approaching it more from a macro perspective (i.e. "academic publication has problems galore") so I can see how that point could have been construed a bit differently from what I intended.
 
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llien

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#33
Hilarious.

But remember, who did that first (also left leaning guy, by the way): Sokal Affair

PS
And let's not forget Hans Christian Andersen:


STEM is less susceptible to that due to the fact that it is based on physical experimentation and rigorous proofing; however, publication in STEM has not been without issues. Several cases in Asia (where I'm from and have more familiarity) involved falsification of test results and led to widescale redaction and condemnation--for examples, see the case of Hwang Woo-Seok and the STAP cell controversy in Japan.
This isn't even from the same league, though. How do you expect reviewers to validate test results? That is only done by repeating the tests, which isn't up to reviewers to do. (cold fusion anyone?)

If you want a "bad things in STEM" example, then:
1) Nothing comes to mind for math
2) The original oil drop experiment is probably the worst physics have ever seen, as even when others failed to reproduce the result, it took several steps, each within margin of errors of the previous experiment, to correct the fraud.
 
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Kadayi

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#35
I don't really have anything to add, but it does make you wonder whether its high time universities boards took a serious critical look at the nature of some of the courses they're teaching and whether there's an actual need for them because it seems to me that any that trade in dogma versus investigation simply aren't required.
 

Arkage

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#37
Here's a significant rebuttal (multi-tweet response):
He cites this as an example of how widespread the problem is: http://news.mit.edu/2015/how-three-mit-students-fooled-scientific-journals-0414

He says this problem isn't any worse in this field than in any other, but I find that a hard sell. It's likely worse since it's a soft science, and I would bet they are easier to manipulate if someone has bad intentions.

Also worth noting: this is an example (as are the other previous versions of fake studies) of the left correcting itself. I'm glad we still have people doing that (see Ration Left OT for more!). Conservatives need to up their self correction game.
 
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#38
Here's a significant rebuttal (multi-tweet response):
He cites this as an example of how widespread the problem is: http://news.mit.edu/2015/how-three-mit-students-fooled-scientific-journals-0414

He says this problem isn't any worse in this field than in any other, but I find that a hard sell. It's likely worse since it's a soft science, and I would bet they are easier to manipulate if someone has bad intentions.

Also worth noting: this is an example (as are the other previous versions of fake studies) of the left correcting itself. I'm glad we still have people doing that (see Ration Left OT for more!). Conservatives need to up their self correction game.
Let's not turn this into a sermon about Conservatives.

I agree with you, by the way. The problem is widespread and is not unique to the social sciences.
 

llien

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Here's a significant rebuttal (multi-tweet response):
He cites this as an example of how widespread the problem is: http://news.mit.edu/2015/how-three-mit-students-fooled-scientific-journals-0414

He says this problem isn't any worse in this field than in any other, but I find that a hard sell. It's likely worse since it's a soft science, and I would bet they are easier to manipulate if someone has bad intentions.

Also worth noting: this is an example (as are the other previous versions of fake studies) of the left correcting itself. I'm glad we still have people doing that (see Ration Left OT for more!). Conservatives need to up their self correction game.
He literally mentions the exposure of "pay to publish" case (where conference organizers were basically sending spam emails), yeah, those will accept almost anything, just pay.
I fail to see how it is even remotely relevant.

PS
Has anyone figured what is "feminist geography"????

The problem is widespread and is not unique to the social sciences.
I dare you to find examples of nonsense of that caliber being accepted by peer reviewed math/physics journal.
 
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Sep 4, 2018
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last year i read a book called The Swerve, which is firmly in the academic tradition of "people were idiots in the middle ages then the enlightenment happened and the modern world began" which tbh i find to be a self-flattering myth. the academics of the 15th century were full of themselves as well, they were Latin snobs, they had a nostalgia fetish for Roman culture, they spent a lot of time just making jokes about how they were better than their employers.

their employers were in fact the Catholic Church, and they were happy to take their money in exchange for writing the Latin legal text that condemned people as witches. they didn't believe that hokum so they were let off the hook. it didn't really matter, they still profited from it all, they did nothing to help people. in fact they turned on one another and indulged in constant gossip, accusing one another of homosexuality and hereticism. the "hero" of the book at one point is sad while attending a witch burning only because the accused says something in Latin. the cultural snobbery of academia goes back hundreds of years.

in a lot of ways you can draw parallels to the university system today. modern Latin fetishists speak the language of law (just as Latin was the official language of the Church) and go to work protecting the rich and powerful. MIT graduates that want to make any money go to work for hedge funds, contributing to our ever-widening wealth gap. science also fuels the military industrial complex in a very direct way. i had a friend graduate as an engineer from GA Tech and the only decent paying job she could find was with Lockheed Martin. perhaps this is why humanities are so popular, it's a form of virtue signalling, it lets them "off the hook" while allowing them to still profit. it's to make us think higher education is so liberal while they produce the next generation of monsters.
 
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Oct 24, 2017
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Someone should post this on era I would even pay for your ban :p

Seriously this is why I do not trust gender studies or even see it as science. It is mostly hoax build upon lies and feelings and not on facts research etc.
 
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cryptoadam

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#47
This is the type of tripe that is common amongst leftist

This article examines the contemporary animal rights movement in Palestine–Israel and compares Jewish Israeli activism to Palestinian activism to illuminate the ways in which the settler colonial context shapes animal politics. The article argues that human–animal relationships constitute a significant dimension through which settler colonialism is expressed, engaged with, and resisted. As such, drawing on ethnographic material, it explores how different approaches to animal activism can obscure or reveal the racial and colonial relations they are bound up with. It considers how Jewish Israelis frame animal rights in non-intersectional ways, as a simple, single-issue movement that can be abstracted from human politics and power relations, while the Palestinian Animal League in the occupied West Bank weaves animal activism with the decolonial struggle for Palestinian self-determination in an intersectional spirit. The article hence suggests that, to a great extent, animal politics follows the patterns set up by the settler colonial regime, with the type of advocacy on behalf of animals being shaped by the sides taken within the settler state. Instances that trouble and complicate this settler/native binary are explored as well as the possibilities of coalitional politics.
https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/tvy6HwxEJWIaUMz8pyv3/full

This type of hooey passes as academic research. Intersectionality will be the death of soft sciences.
 
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#48
Your second sentence is not surprising--the standards for academia seem to be getting lower all around.

Interesting, I'll look into it when I have the time and try comparing it to other such hoax operations. Thanks for the info.
Sorry, no, speaking only for the field I am in, theoretical computer science, if you were to try to publish complete bogus even in a mid tier journal or vconference, I am pretty sure it would get declined. We check proofs upon reviewing, you know. Unintelligible or clearly wrong proofs will get your paper rejected. I mean, of course you can get wrong papers through the review process, but then you n eed to be an expert on the field to come up with a cleverly written paper with hidden mistakes. If a complete bogus paper succeeds, it is always in one of those predatory journals without any standard.
 
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