Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

This blog is written by Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Posts appear Monday & Wednesday.

Why Academic Hoaxes are Deadly Serious

Tax dollars are being used to brainwash young people with arrant, dangerous nonsense.

Peter Boghossian and two colleagues recently showed the world that ethically disturbing, outlandish, nonsensical ‘research’ gets published in peer-reviewed academic journals. This matters because that’s how ideas are transformed into established, ‘official’ knowledge that then gets taught in classrooms, and used to promote certain kinds of public policies.

Boghossian’s employer, Portland State University, has showed the world that it lacks a sense of humour. When it began investigating him for academic misconduct, letters of support began flooding in.

An online press kit includes letters from a full dozen prominent academics. Alan Sokal, the godfather of academic hoaxes, declares that “Portland State University should take pride in having such a distinguished public intellectual on its faculty.”

Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker argues that these investigations represent

an attempt to weaponize an important principal of academic ethics in order to punish a scholar for expressing an unpopular opinion…it is reminiscent of dictators who abuse anti-corruption laws to imprison their opponents.

The letter from Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson perhaps does the best job of providing the important, wider context of the project, which resulted in seven hoax papers being accepted for publication:

The so-called “grievance studies” disciples whose utter lack of academic credibility was exposed by the satirical work conducted by Dr. Boghossian et al. are fraudulent at every level of analysis…They are peer-reviewed by small coteries of like-minded people – a process that in no wise bestows upon them academic credibility, much less scientific status. They are…unread and unreadable pseudo-philosophy and agit-prop. And it is for these very reasons that Professor Boghossian was able to publish his absurd and surreal satire so broadly without editorial objection or, indeed, notice.

Peterson then goes to the heart of the matter:

Those involved in such disciplines make it their life’s work not to educate and ennoble the young minds to whose care they have been entrusted, but to produce bitter political activists, ungrateful and historically ignorant, encouraged to turn against the very structures that have enabled them to emerge from the privation, tyranny and endless toil that has been the lot of mankind since time immemorial…They proffer to their students a bleak, resentful and nihilistic view of the contemporary West, undermining their confidence in the value of the societies they inhabit, precisely when they should be catalyzing confident and responsible adult identities.

Peterson warns that students who begin university in a “psychologically compromised” state, who are dealing with anxiety, dependence, and other issues, are particularly vulnerable. In his words, “truly malevolent” individuals who intended to produce weak and miserable individuals, would be hard pressed to come up with a more dangerous curriculum. In other words: The system is rotten. Tax dollars are being used to brainwash and enfeeble young people. Someone needs to blow the whistle:

Dr. Boghossian and his colleagues…did the academic world and the broader community that surrounds it a great favor by pointing out the embarrassing nakedness of the emperor.

Amen. Read the full thing here.

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This entry was posted on July 31, 2019 by in peer-review and tagged , .
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