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Jonathan Bartlett: Are Sokal hoaxes really helping reform science?


The evidence is mixed. The current prank on Higher Education Quarterly prompts some questions:

… a proper hoax must illustrate more than just acceptance of falsified data. It has to illustrate acceptance of wrong reasoning about that data. Or, at minimum, the data must be so obviously wrong that any worthwhile reviewer would be able to spot it.

However, there are other requirements of a proper experiment that the “Sokal squared” hoaxers seem to have left out. In order to show that the social science journals they targeted are more problematic than science journals, they would have needed a control group. Note that none of the Sokal hoaxers tried submitting nonsense to a science journal.

Even other Darwinists often complain about “just-so” stories in evolutionary biology, and especially in evolutionary psychology. So why did the hoaxers not dream up an equivalently outrageous just-so biology story to see if it would pass peer review? Were they afraid to know the results? History says that, as long as you are proposing an evolutionary “just so” story, there is almost no idea that is too absurd to be published in even the topmost journals.

News, “Are Sokal hoaxes really helping reform science?” at Mind Matters News (December 2, 2021)

Takehome: In Bartlett’s view, 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.

You may also wish to read: Twenty years on, aliens still “cause global warming” Over the years, the Jurassic Park creator observed, science has drifted from its foundation as an objective search for truth toward political power games. Michael Crichton’s 2003 warning about corrupt peer review in science has proved true during the COVID-19 crisis. (Jonathan Bartlett)

No hoax or article can prove anything about the journals, or "teach a lesson" to the journals. Eliminating tenure is the only solution. As long as quantity is the ONLY thing that matters, there will be no possible way to sort out the good stuff. Quantity can overwhelm every imaginable filtering system. polistra
Are these hoaxes really showing anything? Yes, they show that the peer review process can be tricked. But any system based on trust can be tricked. Joe Schooner

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