Academics has long had a problem of being insular. Many papers are published on the basis of your status in academics, not the quality of the paper itself. This is not to say that the papers didn’t legitimately pass peer review (though that is questionable in some cases), but rather that the editor decides which papers are “worthy” of peer review based on the editor’s knowledge of that person’s prior work.
Here’s the deal: Journals live and die by their reputation, and no editor wants their journal to be Sokal’d. What does this mean? It likely means that journals will simply increase their desk-rejection (prior to peer review) of papers by newer researchers, especially of solo authorship. The effect of this will be to restrict ideas to only those which are currently fashionable and held by existing, well-known academics. If your paper has to be co-authored by someone already well-known for an editor to take you seriously, then that means that your ideas are probably really well-aligned with the mainstream.
There’s nothing wrong per se with mainstream thinking — it probably became mainstream for good reasons. However, when only mainstream thinking is allowed, this leads to insularity and an echo chamber mentality.Jonathan Bartlett, “Will the Sokal hoaxes worsen the academic echo chamber?” at Mind Matters News (December 13, 2021)
Echo chambers are not a recipe for progress.
Takehome: When only mainstream thinking is allowed, insularity and echo chambers are the result. In order to protect against Sokal hoaxes, journal editors may choose to pass on newer researchers, narrowing the diversity of opinions in their journals
In case you missed it:
Are Sokal Hoaxes Really Helping Reform Science? The evidence is mixed. The current prank on Higher Education Quarterly prompts some questions. Serious problems exist in today’s journals but the hoaxers seem so certain of their view that they don’t approach demonstrating it in a scientific way. (Jonathan Bartlett)
Be On the Lookout for More Sokal Hoaxes. If you spot a Sokal hoax, let us know by tagging @cnaintelligence on Twitter. One of the anonymous hoaxers said, “We plan to reveal the full extent of this hoax later. For now we recommend readers look for other fake papers.” (Jonathan Bartlett)