Intelligent Design Peer review

A laugh from the world of predatory journals

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Our intrepid narrator had reason to wonder when the badly written letter soliciting papers had an odd attachment: “The editor who sent it to me had, inexplicably, attached a handbook on Covid-19 hospital protocols, a document that detailed at length the precise mechanism of sealing the dead in a “leak-proof corpse wrapping sheet.” So he decided to send the probably predatory journal an impossibly bad paper and see if they published it.

The paper was ridiculous. I claimed that New Mexico is part of the Galapagos Islands, that craniotomy is a legitimate means of assessing student learning, and that all my figures were made in Microsoft Paint. At one point, I lamented that our research team was unable to measure study participants’ “cloacal temperatures.” Any legitimate peer reviewer who bothered to read just the abstract would’ve tossed the paper in the garbage (or maybe called the police). That is, if they even got past the title page, which listed my coauthors as “Breaking Bad” lead characters Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. — Bradley Allf, “I Published a Fake Paper in a ‘Peer-Reviewed’ Journal” at Undark


Of course they did publish it. We also learn,

There are occasional attempts to stem the rise of predatory publishing. In 2017, researchers published an experiment in Nature outlining how they sent hundreds of bogus applications for a made-up scientist to serve as an editor at predatory journals — and found that dozens of journals were willing to hire someone with no relevant qualifications to review articles. And then there are the folks who do what I did: publish nonsense and then publicize that fact to prove that a journal is predatory.  — Bradley Allf, “I Published a Fake Paper in a ‘Peer-Reviewed’ Journal” at Undark


Sadly, a much bigger problem is the willingness of apparently sincere journals to publish claptrap, which causes them to fall for Sokal hoaxes.

The two of them together are not a good look for science today.

See also: Putting a respectable face on persecuting the social justice science hoaxers

Embattled “Social Sciences Hoax” Prof Is Not A Hero, He’s A Canary

Social Science Hoaxer’s Job At Risk For Revealing “Bias”

Sokal hoaxes strike social science again

Exposing gender studies as a Sokal hoax

Social Science Hoax Papers Is One Of RealClearScience’s Top Junk Science Stories Of 2018


Alan Sokal, Buy Yourself A Latte: “Star Wars” Biology Paper Accepted

2 Replies to “A laugh from the world of predatory journals

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Defending the “good” hoaxer from “bad” hoaxers is a very old trick among scammers and conmen. Best way of establishing trust.

    Scary part: the “predatory” journal was privy to the secrets of the biggest hoax in history, and Allf was also. He could have done a real service for real science by publishing the “protocols” verbatim. The biggest crime in history has been running for 9 months now, and so far NOBODY has broken the oath of demonic silence.

  2. 2
    Mac McTavish says:

    I get an unsolicited email at least once a month asking me to publish in their journal and referencing one of the two papers I published from my thesis. I still have no idea how they linked these papers to me as these papers were published shortly before the Commodore VIC20 was manufactured, and long before the internet.

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