Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship

Sollie

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https://areomagazine.com/2018/10/02/academic-grievance-studies-and-the-corruption-of-scholarship/

Something has gone wrong in the university—especially in certain fields within the humanities. Scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established, if not fully dominant, within these fields, and their scholars increasingly bully students, administrators, and other departments into adhering to their worldview. This worldview is not scientific, and it is not rigorous. For many, this problem has been growing increasingly obvious, but strong evidence has been lacking. For this reason, the three of us just spent a year working inside the scholarship we see as an intrinsic part of this problem.
 

ponder

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There should be no bursaries for pol & soc sciences, it's a culture dish for cancer. Same goes for most BA degrees, allocate funds according to real world needs.
 

OrbitalDawn

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There should be no bursaries for pol & soc sciences, it's a culture dish for cancer. Same goes for most BA degrees, allocate funds according to real world needs.
Thing is, this happens in basically all disciplines, including mathematics, medicine, chemistry, physics and computer science.

http://news.mit.edu/2015/how-three-mit-students-fooled-scientific-journals-0414
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bogdanov_affair
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2012/09/harvard-psychology-researcher-committed-fraud-us-investigation-concludes
https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2012/10/nonsense-paper-accepted-by-mathematics-journal.html
https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2013/oct/04/open-access-journals-fake-paper
https://www.the-scientist.com/the-nutshell/fake-paper-exposes-failed-peer-review-38589
https://www.forbes.com/sites/samlemonick/2017/03/31/the-time-isaac-asimov-clowned-on-chemistry/#2d6e1e636b04
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Sudbø

Getting a BS paper published in a journal that gets one citation every 4 years is not a crowning achievement to expose problems.

Has more to do with bad publishing business models, pressure to publish, poor QA processes, etc.

Good thread here:

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1047478400762503169.html

The writeup is bad. They elide what was published and rejected; fields/journals rejecting everything with those that accepted; they select the most polite comments rejection reviews; there's no systematic overview (e.g. a table, the full reviews) summarizing what happened. 2/n

—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. This means lots of stuff ends up in print anyway, even if it’s dull, stupid, boring, or wrong. This is not a surprise. 3/n

—Indeed, it’s probably easier to get literally fake work published, given that the system depends on a norm of honesty. And consistent with this, many heavily quantitative fields are trying to come to terms with widespread irreproducible, HARKed, or faked work. 4/n

—Reviews of several Pluckrose et al papers were partly conditional on claims to have done some sort of actual (very bad) fieldwork. Again, we already know all kinds of crap is published because people are willing to put a thumb on the scales, or just make up results. 5/n

—Other papers don’t have data, just more theoryish/philosophical arguments. It is of course the easiest thing in the world to make fun of things like this, according to taste. Right on cue, here's Pinker (from the unimpeachably scientific world of [checks notes] Psychology).

Stuff published in not merely “ranked” but elite philosophy journals argues seriously for outlandish ideas like how there are no objects, or wonders whether there are holes, or denies that time passes, etc, etc. I wonder why this sort of work seems exempt to "hoaxing", hm? 7/n

—Meanwhile it's a fact that in *all* disciplines, yea even unto the most hard of sciences, the world of published work is infested with people locals will cheerfully tell you are stupid, or cranks, or super-peripheral. Browse the ArXiv some time. 8/n.

—Similarly, we know that it's possible to get auto-generated technical garbage published in legitimate (but maybe not super high-quality) Engineering and CS proceedings and journals. 9/n
So what are we left with? Good work is hard to do; incentives to publish are perverse; there's a lot of crap out there; if you hate an area enough you can gin up a fake paper and get it published somewhere if you try. The question is, what do you hate? And why is that? 10/FIN.
 
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konfab

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Put succinctly:
I am so utterly unimpressed by the fact that an enterprise that relies on a widespread presumption of not-fraud
Fake:
The author admits that “my own anthropocentric frame” makes it difficult to judge animal consent. Still, the paper claims dog parks are “petri dishes for canine ‘rape culture’ ” and issues “a call for awareness into the different ways dogs are treated on the basis of their gender and queering behaviors, and the chronic and perennial rape emergency dog parks pose to female dogs.”
"Real"
Milk is one of the most ubiquitous and heavily regulated substances on the planet – and perhaps one of the most contested. It is tied closely to notions of purity, health, and femininity, and is seen as so central to human civilization that our own galaxy – the Milky Way – is named after it. But despite its wholesome reputation, milk has long had a sinister side, being bound up with the exploitation of the (human and nonhuman) bodies it comes from and being a symbol of and tool for white dominance and superiority. The word itself, in verb form, means “to exploit.”
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3229995

And this Journal has an impact factor of 1.14, so it isn't a complete rag.
 

Arthur

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Delicious. But hardly new. It's hard to top Dennis Upper's 1974 published blank paper on The Unsuccessful Self-Treatment of a Case of "Writer's Block". Or physicist Alan Sokal's 1996 paper in Social Text on Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity.
 

konfab

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Delicious. But hardly new. It's hard to top Dennis Upper's 1974 published blank paper on The Unsuccessful Self-Treatment of a Case of "Writer's Block". Or physicist Alan Sokal's 1996 paper in Social Text on Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity.
That is pretty clever TBH
 

buka001

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I read the account of one of the reviewers of these fake papers.

He rejected it, but because he thought it was a genuine submission, he offered constructive criticism to the author so that they could learn and improve.

His criticism has been quoted by the authors of this to demonstrate Academias acquiescence to rubbish. In a way forgetting that one of Academia's primary role is education and some people genuinely tried to apply learning lessons to these rubbish papers.
 

OrbitalDawn

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I read the account of one of the reviewers of these fake papers.

He rejected it, but because he thought it was a genuine submission, he offered constructive criticism to the author so that they could learn and improve.

His criticism has been quoted by the authors of this to demonstrate Academias acquiescence to rubbish. In a way forgetting that one of Academia's primary role is education and some people genuinely tried to apply learning lessons to these rubbish papers.
Yeah, and it's pretty contemptible that they in effect trolled a grad student who spent hours sincerely responding to someone he thought he was helping.

A good thread by Noah Smith on this:

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1047647218553958400.html

1/OK so, I might as well give my take on this new Sokal Hoax on culture studies:

2/Sokal hoaxes are funny pranks - at least I find them funny.

And they probably do point to an important problem in academia - the "publish or perish" ethos that forces many academics to publish low-quality papers, often (though not always) in low-ranked journals.

3/Our country has decided that research is the mark of a good professor, but the demand for professors as teachers far outstrips the supply of good research to be done.

So tons of profs spend their time doing useless signaling.

That's what Sokal hoaxes are picking up on.

4/But what does this tell us laypeople about culture studies as a field?

Does it tell us that it's all just a bunch of bullshit? No better than gibberish and copypasta from Mein Kampf?

No, it does not.

5/The reason I know this is because of econ.

If you wanted to "prove" that econ was bullshit, you wouldn't even have to Sokal hoax any journal. You could just pull real examples from the literature.

There are some BAAAD papers out there.

But are most econ papers bad? No.

6/Most econ papers have methodological issues of one kind or another, sure. But the majority are serious, honest efforts by smart researchers to get at important questions.

*Despite* the weakness of peer review.

7/There are a lot of people who criticize the econ profession from outside, without seeming to know what economists even actually do.

Sokal hoaxes play to the preconceptions of these folks.

8/Sokal hoaxes appear to confirm a "pop critique" of an academic field that may only be true for a minor subset of that field.

"Econ is shilling for rich people."

"Postmodernism is unintelligible gibberish."

"Culture studies is lefty propaganda."

And so on.

9/So while Sokal hoaxes are fun and funny, don't take them as proof that an academic field is bankrupt.

An academic field MIGHT be bankrupt...but Sokal hoaxes won't tell you if they are or not.

10/But I will say this: People who use a pop version of an academic field for purposes of political rhetoric are NOT HELPING.

For example, it did NOT help econ's reputation when every other conservative pundit decided he was an economist.

11/Similarly, my guess is that progressive activists (and Twitter shouters) probably tend to lean too hard on a simplified, pop version of cultural studies.

I don't *know* that's the case since I'm not an expert in cultural studies.

But that's what happened with econ.

12/When pundits, activists, and shouters lean too hard on an oversimplfied, cartoonish pop version of an academic field, it makes that field more vulnerable - through no fault of its own! - to stuff like Sokal hoaxes.

13/To sum up, my take is:

1. Sokal hoaxes point to problems in the "publish or perish" culture of U.S. academia

2. Sokal hoaxes don't discredit whole academic fields

3. Politicization of pop social science makes academia more vulnerable to Sokal-hoaxing
 

konfab

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I read the account of one of the reviewers of these fake papers.

He rejected it, but because he thought it was a genuine submission, he offered constructive criticism to the author so that they could learn and improve.

His criticism has been quoted by the authors of this to demonstrate Academias acquiescence to rubbish. In a way forgetting that one of Academia's primary role is education and some people genuinely tried to apply learning lessons to these rubbish papers.
That is not what the problem is, the problem is they cannot distinguish what is a legitimate paper and what is not.

The first main substantive analytical point relates to how the paper at once obviously focuses on animal oppression through the plight of queered male dogs and female dogs subject to sexual violence at dog parks, but also loses focus of the difference anthropocentrism and speciesism makes in certain parts of analysis. At several instances, this focus is not lost and the discussion proceeds very tightly and comprehensively to keep all the axes of oppression in focus. For example, this unpacking is done extremely well in the introductory paragraph of section 2 on page 20. Could the author consider the role of speciesist attitudes toward dogs and other animals more at other parts of the paper, specifically as laid out below? In my view, if the discussion points below are addressed the revisions would avoid criticism of the paper from critical animal studies scholars and increase the paper's insights and persuasiveness.
page 9 - the human subjects are afforded anonymity and not asked about income, etc for ethical reasons. yet, the author as researcher intruded into the dogs' spaces to examine and record genitalia. I realize this was necessary to the project, but could the author acknowledge/explain/justify this (arguably, anthropocentric) difference? Indicating that it was necessary to the research would suffice but at least the difference should be acknowledged.
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1t5zlnYWzHvmplQmkaNDAFn9ZwGiwXw4m

This is because the whole field is proudly founded on a rejection of reality. Had a scientist reviewed the paper , the first question would be:
how do you know if a dog is "raping" another dog, and thus the whole paper would crumble to pieces.
 

buka001

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That is not what the problem is, the problem is they cannot distinguish what is a legitimate paper and what is not.



https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1t5zlnYWzHvmplQmkaNDAFn9ZwGiwXw4m

This is because the whole field is proudly founded on a rejection of reality. Had a scientist reviewed the paper , the first question would be:
how do you know if a dog is "raping" another dog, and thus the whole paper would crumble to pieces.

I get you. I do. probably because I am engineer, I tend to think very little of such fields of study. Big bias here. So I am not surprised at this to be honest.

I do however sympathise with the guy who genuinely tried to evaluate that on a basis of honesty (i.e. he had no reason to believe people were submitting these papers to prove a point, his belief was that he was reviewing a "misguided" student) and tried to help the authors constructively. His view is obviously clouded in that environment and has some bias in that respect.
 

konfab

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Yeah, and it's pretty contemptible that they in effect trolled a grad student who spent hours sincerely responding to someone he thought he was helping.

A good thread by Noah Smith on this:

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1047647218553958400.html
As for you...
4/But what does this tell us laypeople about culture studies as a field?

Does it tell us that it's all just a bunch of bullshit? No better than gibberish and copypasta from Mein Kampf?

No, it does not.
Have you read what any of the "real" papers in the field actually say?

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1367549418761795
Developments within cryobiology have turned the freezing of biological parts into standard clinical procedure. This article turns to the cryopolitics of egg freezing and seed conservation to focus on the cultural imaginaries of (frozen) cells and seeds revealed in the two documentaries: Motherhood on Ice (2014) and Seeds of Time(2014). The cultural imaginaries of frozen cells and seeds reiterate an understanding of reproduction as kinship-through-genes, extending the reproductive temporality of the body and the affective temporalities associated with climate change, turning cells and seeds into desirable insurance objects and objects of human manipulation. The article concludes that while Seeds of Time upholds a masculinist and scientific imaginary of humans as gods over seeds, in Motherhood on Ice, the cultural imaginary cements a gendered and straight temporality in which ice synchronizes straight, white women’s middle-class femininity and reproductive potential with ideals of romantic time.
 

konfab

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I get you. I do. probably because I am engineer, I tend to think very little of such fields of study. Big bias here. So I am not surprised at this to be honest.

I do however sympathise with the guy who genuinely tried to evaluate that on a basis of honesty (i.e. he had no reason to believe people were submitting these papers to prove a point, his belief was that he was reviewing a "misguided" student) and tried to help the authors constructively. His view is obviously clouded in that environment and has some bias in that respect.
I don't feel sorry for anyone regurgitating this b.s. I put people who believe in astrology and tarot cards in exactly the same category of intellectual honesty as these people.

Good writing is making the point as eloquently and simply as possible. This is something that you can see when you read papers or listen to people who really know what they are talking about. That is the polar opposite of what goes on in these papers.
 

OrbitalDawn

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I don't feel sorry for anyone regurgitating this b.s. I put people who believe in astrology and tarot cards in exactly the same category of intellectual honesty as these people.

Good writing is making the point as eloquently and simply as possible. This is something that you can see when you read papers or listen to people who really know what they are talking about. That is the polar opposite of what goes on in these papers.
Interestingly, I think this post applies 100% to someone like Jordan Peterson. :)
 

OrbitalDawn

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Another good thread:

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1047516105718124544.html

They wrote 20 hoax papers. All 20 got rejected by all the top journals. Just seven managed to get published by obscure, less reputable journals. Sounds like academia is doing a fine job weeding out hoaxes from real research.

Second: Anyone could have told you that there are problems with the peer review process, namely that peer reviewers are overworked and unpaid. So yes, bad research slips through. This is true in all fields. But their conclusion isn't "pay peer reviewers."

Third: At the very most, this is an indictment of the editorial standards of those particular journals. It says absolutely nothing about any of the real research done by other people and published in other journals (or even published in the same journals).

Fourth: They didn't bother submitting any hoax papers in non-"academic grievance" fields, so they have no control. There is no reason to think you're more likely to publish a hoax paper in a racial studies journal than, say, a physics journal.

Fifth: Bad research gets published all the time. In all kinds of journals. And always has. Feast your eyes on some of the "real" science that has been done in "real" fields.

Corporations just straight-up hire professors to produce pro-monopoly research, but no, that's not the problem with academia. Gender studies is the problem.

The difference, of course, being that all this bad research SUPPORTS the status quo, so it passes without comment. But as soon as a field of study starts CRITIQUING the status quo, then suddenly bad research is a huge problem. What a coincidence.

Sixth: This. Their "study" is itself bad research, ergo we can throw it, and its conclusions, out on its ear.

Seventh: Yes, academia is predicated on the base assumption that everyone involved is operating in good faith, and it tends to break down when someone just straight-up makes **** up. How is that a fault of academia? How is that a fault of anyone but the hoaxers?

Conclusion: This hoax doesn't prove anything except that the hoaxers are trolls.
 

OrbitalDawn

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Beat me too it. Was going to say the same thing.

"Maps of Meaning" is all that needs to be said.
Or his mindless ranting about Frozen being feminist propaganda, or claiming people who smoke Ayahuasca get insight into the double helix structure of DNA. Deepak Chopra-like stuff.
 

buka001

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Or his mindless ranting about Frozen being feminist propaganda, or claiming people who smoke Ayahuasca get insight into the double helix structure of DNA. Deepak Chopra-like stuff.
Or when he didn't sleep for 25 days straight because he drank cider.
 
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