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Latest Sokal Hoax is a beaut

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Look on the bright side. At least the money we spend supporting “higher education” is paying for entertainment:

Ever since Alan Sokal hoaxed Social Text more than 20 years ago, and Peter Boghossian and his two compatriots punked several postmodern journals with total gibberish just a couple years back, you’d think academic journal editors and reviewers would be on guard against similar hoaxes. But apparently not Higher Education Quarterly (a Wiley publication) which is just out with a howler entitled “Donor money and the academy: Perceptions of undue donor pressure in political science, economics, and philosophy.”

The study purports to demonstrate that “right wing” money is having a significant effect in pushing colleges to the right.

The first sign this is a hoax is that the article says the two authors, Sage Owens and Kal Avers-Lynde III, are on the economics faculty at UCLA, but I can find no record of their existence at UCLA or anywhere else, and no record of other publications by either author. I believe they do not exist. My suspicion is that the “authors” may be conservatives, or at least anti-leftists, who decided to see whether an article that flatters the deep biases of academia could get past peer review and into print.

Steven Hayward, “Latest Academic Hoax Is a Doozy ” at PowerLine (November 29, 2021)

Abstract: This paper uses a standardized, randomized survey instrument to investigate how whether faculty and professional staff at four-year universities and colleges perceive themselves to be subject to various kinds of illicit pressures, and then investigates how such perceived pressures correlate with donations from both right-wing and left-wing sources. receiving funding from right-wing sources has not only a statistically significant positive effect on perceived pressure to promote “right-wing” causes and candidates, but the effect size is large to very large. Right-wing money strongly appears to induce faculty and administrators—including those who self-identify as members of the right—to believe that they are pressured to hire and promote people they regard as inferior candidates, to promote ideas they regard as poor, and to suppress people and ideas they regard as superior. The paper is closed access. More.

Owens, S., & Avers-Lynde, K. (2021). Donor money and the academy: Perceptions of undue donor pressure in political science, economics, and philosophy. Higher Education Quarterly, 00, 1– 24. https://doi.org/10.1111/hequ.12360

Much more sleuthing at the link.

5 Replies to “Latest Sokal Hoax is a beaut

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    It’s hard to call this a hoax or a satire. When all institutions judge content solely on rigid adherence to verbal orthodoxy, an author who wants to get published knows what to write. It’s easy to get published and approved by putting together the approved combinations of phrases in any order, as the multitudes of Chinese students have proved with their AI-generated articles.

    If articles were judged on quality, a hoaxer would have to produce a real article containing real scientific value. In that case he wouldn’t be a hoaxer at all, he would be a real scientist by definition.

    Under the current rules, EVERY PUBLISHED ARTICLE MUST BE INTENTIONALLY FAKE, so there’s no reason to single out this particular intentional fake for disapproval.

    Editors are vastly more important than creators.

  2. 2
    johnnyb says:

    NOTE – look at the names! Look at the names!!!! “Sage Owens and Kal Avers-Lynde”.

    S.O.K.A.L.

  3. 3
    OldArmy94 says:

    NOTE – look at the names! Look at the names!!!! “Sage Owens and Kal Avers-Lynde”.

    S.O.K.A.L.

    Hahaha! GREAT catch!

  4. 4
    EDTA says:

    S.O.K.A.L. Very nice catch!

    And you have inadvertently run into a little bit of design _specification_ there: Information that matches another piece of information, where matching by chance is improbable. Not absolute proof that it’s a hoax, but certainly tilts the probabilities significantly in favor of it.

    Oh wait, you’re johnnyb. You knew exactly what you ran into.

  5. 5
    Fasteddious says:

    Let’s see how many citations the paper gets and who uses it to advance their own agenda – even (or especially?) after it becomes well known as a hoax. Could be fun.

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