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4 Oct, 2018 10:55

Academics 'rewrite' Mein Kampf using radical feminist language, paper accepted

Academics 'rewrite' Mein Kampf using radical feminist language, paper accepted

A trio of frustrated academics has perpetrated an elaborate hoax exposing malpractice within academic research by submitting 20 bizarre and deliberately ridiculous papers for publication, several of which were accepted.

Portland State University assistant professor of philosophy Peter Boghossian and mathematician James Lindsay are the authors behind the now infamous 'conceptual penis' as a social construct paper in which the pair deployed intentionally dense language to obfuscate the fact that what they were discussing was absolute nonsense: namely that penises should not be considered as male reproductive organs but as social constructs.

However, their absurdist activism didn't have the desired effect as a call to arms for academics to take themselves and their work more seriously and raise standards beyond partisan politics and ideology. So, in June 2017, the pair teamed up with Helen Pluckrose, the editor-in-chief of the current affairs magazine, Areo, to carry out a more elaborate hoax.

Over the course of the next 10 months, the physicist, the philosopher and the medievalist submitted a total of 20 fake research papers for review and publication by cultural studies journals, discussing elements of modern progressivism including patriarchy theory, rape culture theory and Western imperialism, to parody what they dub 'grievance studies.'

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“Sometimes we just thought a nutty or inhumane idea up and ran with it,” the writers explain. “What if we write a paper saying we should train men like we do dogs – to prevent rape culture? Hence came the ‘Dog Park’ paper.” The dog park paper was submitted under the keywords: Animaling, Black feminist criminology, dog park, feminist geography, queer geography, rape culture.

The trio drew inspiration from the Sokal Affair in which NYU physicist and mathematician Alan Sokal had his nonsense paper 'Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity' published in an academic journal. Sokal famously called postmodernism “fashionable nonsense,” but the modern-day hoaxsters took things a few steps further.

For instance, they rewrote a 3,000-word excerpt of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf using the language of Intersectionality theory. The piece was reviewed and accepted by the Gender Studies journal Affilia.

In another bizarre instance, the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia accepted a paper arguing that social justice advocates be exempted from mockery but should be free to chastise their political opponents as they see fit. The same paper also proposed censoring or silencing ‘privileged students’ who should instead conduct ‘experiential reparations’ including sitting on the floor, wearing chains or constantly being spoken over.   

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The team also wrote papers discussing, among other topics: how male masturbation is sexual violence against the object of the man’s lust (dubbed ‘The Masturbation Paper’); That AI is inherently dangerous as it is currently programmed to be masculinist and imperialist, based on Lacanian psychoanalysis and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (The ‘Feminist AI paper’); or the paper in which the trio argued for the introduction of ‘fat bodybuilding’ as “a fat body is a legitimately built body.” (This was published in Fat Studies).

The group even received four invitations to peer-review for the journals that had accepted their work, despite their attempts to make the papers borderline unintelligible. In total, seven of their papers were accepted and four published online, one of which has since been retracted. Seven were still undergoing formal review at the time the team decided to go public.

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