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Professor faces getting sacked after writing 20 spoof scientific papers

A professor faces losing his high-powered job at an American university after writing 20 fake scientific papers. 

Seven of these fake pieces of research were accepted and four were published online. 

Peter Boghossian, an assistant professor of philosophy at Portland State University in Oregon now faces the sack after a widespread backlash from the scientific community. 

Steven Pinker and Richard Dawkins, prominent academics and science communicators, have defended the controversial the stunt.

Dr Boghossian claims he conducted the questionable experiment to challenge the ‘nonsense’ which features in many social science papers.   

Some of the works included convoluted papers on ‘dog rape culture’, ‘a conceptual penis’ and even a re-wrote a chapter of Mein Kampf.

  

Peter Boghossian (pictured), an assistant professor of philosophy at Portland State University in Oregon now faces the sack after a widespread backlash

Dr Boghossian and two collaborators said their aim was to expose how ‘absurdities’ get published in legitimate peer-reviewed academic papers due to a lack of critical review.

In total the team of three researchers wrote 20 hoax papers on a field of study loosely defined as ‘grievance studies’.

These papers were based on ‘nutty or inhumane’ ideas that featured ‘a little bit of lunacy’.

Portland State University officials said Dr Boghossian had not eceived proper ethical approval for the exercise. 

By challenging the protocols implemented by journal staff and peer-reviewers the university say the academic breached guidelines when he manipulated these ‘human research subjects’. 

He is also being reviewed for falsifying data and the penalty for this is dismissal from the institute.

The authors claim their prank shows that higher education’s fixation with identity politics has created ‘absurd and horrific’ scholarship, according to an in-depth piece by Wall Street Journal.  

The other two researchers involved in the deception were mathematician James Lindsay and Helen Pluckrose, who is editor-in-chief of current affairs magazine Areol. 

Their aim was to expose how easily morally fashionable political ideas are published as academic research.

One paper, published in Gender, Place & Culture, claimed to be based on a year observing sexual misconduct among dogs in a US park.

WHAT WERE SOME OF THE FAKED PAPERS ON? 

One paper, published in Gender, Place & Culture, claimed to be based on a year observing sexual misconduct among dogs in a US park.

The paper said that parks were ‘petri dishes for canine ‘rape culture” and said people needed to be aware of the way dogs were treated depending on their gender.

The year before they had publised a paper called ‘The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct,’ in the journal Cogent Social Sciences.

Another paper published in the journal Fat Studies claimed that body building is ‘fat-exclusionary’.

They published a paper in the Journal of Poetry Therapy was about feminist spirituality meetings. It was written by an algorithm.

Another paper published in peer-reviewed journal ‘Affilia’ was a rewrite of a chapter from Mein Kampf which was accepted despite going through a double peer review.

The authors claim their prank shows that higher education’s fixation with identity politics has created ‘absurd and horrific’ scholarship.

The paper said that parks were ‘petri dishes for canine “rape culture”‘ and said people needed to be aware of the way dogs were treated depending on their gender.

It was written under the alias of Helen Wilson, who claimed to have a doctorate in feminism studies. The real authors were James Lindsay and Peter Boghossian.

‘I think that certain aspects of knowledge production in the United States have been corrupted,’ Dr Boghossian told the Wall Street Journal. 

The year before they had published a paper called ‘The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct’ in the journal Cogent Social Sciences.  

Their scribblings included the phrases ‘gender-performative, high fluid social construct’, ‘exclusionary to disenfranchised communities’, and ‘isomorphic to performative toxic masculinity’.

They even associated male anatomy with climate change. 

Another paper published in the journal Fat Studies claimed that body building is ‘fat-exclusionary’.

Talking about the hoax, Dr Lindsay said each paper ‘combined an effort to better understand the field itself with an attempt to get absurdities and morally fashionable political ideas published as legitimate academic research’.

They believe that people are so keen on identity politics that they will accept papers despite ‘outlandish’ data.

Last year Dr Lindsay’s team also published a paper written by an algorithm in the Journal of Poetry Therapy.

Another paper – which was just a rewrite of a chapter from Mein Kampf – was published in the journal ‘Affilia’. It was accepted despite going through a double peer review.

'A tremendous amount of garbage gets published regardless of method because a) It's hard to do good work, and b) There's tremendous pressure to publish', tweeted Kieran Healy, an associate professor of sociology at Duke University

‘A tremendous amount of garbage gets published regardless of method because a) It’s hard to do good work, and b) There’s tremendous pressure to publish’, tweeted Kieran Healy, an associate professor of sociology at Duke University

As well as having papers published, the team were also asked to peer-review journals. 

Richard Dawkins, an outspoken atheist and Emeritus Charles Simonyi Professor at the University of Oxford, wrote to the university: ‘Do your humourless colleagues who brought this action want Portland State to become the laughing stock of the academic world? 

‘Or at least the world of serious scientific scholarship uncontaminated by pretentious charlatans of exactly the kind Dr Boghossian and his colleagues were satirising?’ 

‘How would you react if you saw the following letter: Dear Mr Orwell, It has come to our notice that your novel, Animal Farm, attributes to pigs the ability to talk, and to walk on their hind legs, chanting ‘Four legs good, two legs better’. 

‘This is directly counter to known zoological facts about the Family Suidae, and you are therefore arraigned on a charge of falsifying data…”

Steven Pinker and Richard Dawkins, prominent academics and science communicators, have defended the controversial the stunt and sent letters to the university 

Steven Pinker and Richard Dawkins, prominent academics and science communicators, have defended the controversial the stunt and sent letters to the university 

Steven Pinker, the Harvard psychologist, wrote of the false data charge: ‘This strikes me (and every colleague I’ve spoken with) as an attempt to weaponise an important principle of academic ethics to punish a scholar for expressing an unpopular opinion.’     

This was not the first instance of academics have published fake papers.

Twenty-two years ago, a respected New York University physicist called Alan Sokal published a hoax paper to the journal Social Text.

He wanted to prove people would publish ‘an article liberally salted with nonsense’ if it sounded good and flattered current ideological preconceptions.

The paper, which was titled ‘Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity’, was accepted. 

The trio behind the latest hoax say their work was research in itself.

‘For us, the risk of letting biased research continue to influence education, media, policy and culture is far greater than anything that will happen to us for having done this’, Dr Lindsay said.

Richard Dawkins, an outspoken atheist and Emeritus Charles Simonyi Professor at the University of Oxford, wrote to the university: 'Do your humourless colleagues who brought this action want Portland State to become the laughing stock of the academic world?

Richard Dawkins, an outspoken atheist and Emeritus Charles Simonyi Professor at the University of Oxford, wrote to the university: ‘Do your humourless colleagues who brought this action want Portland State to become the laughing stock of the academic world?

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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