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Social science hoaxer’s job at risk for revealing “bias”

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What’s hot? What’s not?/Niklas Bildhauer, Wikimedia

Well, really for revealing what kind of rubbish passes for social science today.

Back when Alan Sokal first did Sokal hoaxes on social science (= publish something intended to be meaningless and watch social scientists take it seriously), he wasn’t at much risk. Recently, some social scientists, hoping to spur reform, tried it again and were astoundingly successful. Reform? Are you kidding? In today’s world of the angry aggrieved and woke, they’re the ones who are feeling the pain:

A professor who fooled prestigious journals into running absurd hoax papers, as a test of their bias, says he may now lose his job because of his actions.

Peter Boghossian was one of three people who collaborated last year to test the standards of various university disciplines, submitting papers loaded with left-wing buzzwords to journals in fields like feminism, race studies, queer studies, and cultural studies.

Many prestigious journals fell for their absurd hoax papers. A leading feminist journal published a section of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf that had simply been re-written with fashionable buzzwords. Another journal published a paper about “rape culture and queer performativity” in dog parks…

The three hoaxers all say that they are liberals, but they feared some university disciplines had gone off the deep end and now value politics over truth. Maxim Lott, “Portland professor behind journal paper hoax fears he could lose his job” at FOX News

Being “liberals” is part of the problem. Liberalism doesn’t survive the world of 2+2=5. Liberals might come up with Incorrect findings. And it might matter to them that the Correct stuff is just junk.

Boghossian’s breach of ethics was that he was supposed to get the consent of the journal editors before hoaxing them because they are human subjects. No, really. That is the explanation.

From Aaron Mesh at the Willamette Week:

A public relations team working with Boghossian has already released statements of support from academic “free thinkers” including Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker and Jordan Peterson.

“If the members of your committee of inquiry object to the very idea of satire as a form of creative expression they should come out honestly and say so,” Dawkins writes. “But to pretend that this is a matter of publishing false data is so obviously ridiculous that one cannot help suspecting an ulterior motive.”

Boghossian’s papers—which claimed to study the rate at which Portlanders interrupted canine sex at dog parks, among other unlikely findings—were designed to mock gender studies, race studies and feminist theory by showing that the top journals in those fields had low standards for publication. The admission of the hoax sparked heated debate over whether Boghossian and his colleagues had demonstrated the absurdity of those disciplines or the ease of getting bad-faith research published. More.

The authorities here are as laughable as the journal editors. What’s the harrumph! about “the ease of getting bad-faith research published” supposed to mean? If you left the office cat in charge, you’d doubtless get the same result but whose fault is that?

If science of any kind survives,  the question will be not “Why are the journals allowed to be so debased?” but “Why is this field publicly funded?” Oh and, “Why do degrees in the subject matter?”

More on the Sokal hoax

See also: 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

and

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

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2 Replies to “Social science hoaxer’s job at risk for revealing “bias”

  1. 1
    krvaughan says:

    Hello, I am an evangelical Christian, politically conservative, and a sociologist. I would like to request that the writers of this blog do better to familiarize themselves with the social sciences. I’ve read a number of articles on here assessing our field, many of them based on a decades’ old hoax. Then there are hoax and outright poor articles trying to be serious published today, often in obscure journals in niche areas of sub fields within the social sciences and predator journals, which exist in every fields, and will publish literally anything.

    It’s a bit odd how representative of the social sciences the authors of this blog think these publications are, considering that they make up a fraction of a percent of what gets published in sociology. This statement would hold even if all of the articles in focus had been published in top journals. Yet somehow this represents “what passes for social science today.” Similar statements have been made in other articles. One even called for delegitimizing the social sciences. How much can you find from the top journals? The mid ranked ones? Considering the authors of this sites’ confidence in assessing the state of the field, do you know with these journals are off the top of your head?

    Another issue with these arguments is that methodologically, these arguments these papers all deviate from the norm. These hoax and ridiculous serious articles are methodologically in the minority, being qualitative, theoretical, and auto-ethnographical. Sociology is dominated by quantitative, statistical work. Qualitative scholars (many of whom do good work) feel marginalized, in fact. So how do methodologically deviant papers represent what passes for social science today and justify delegitimizing quantitative research based on representative data that looks nothing like them?

    This particular article (https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/social-sciences-the-war-on-empirical-fact-and-objectivity/) argues that the social sciences eschew the scientific method, yet the quantitative methods described above always follow the same formulas. Cite theory and previous empirical work, develop hypotheses, test them with quantitative data sets (usually using OLS, logistic regression, hierarchical linear modeling, or structural equation modeling),, reject or fail to reject the nulls, call for future research, and often times, make the data sets available for the public to replicate. In fact, unlike other fields, our most popular data sets are all publicly available. Also, that article cites Quillette citing White Logic, White Methods as if it’s somehow representative. I’ve read that book (have you?) and met one of the authors (nice guy!). The book explicitly frames itself as contrary to the norm—not representative of the field. It wants to be. That didn’t happen, though Bonilla-Silva maintains respect.

    Here’s the thing. Our field has a lot of problems. Bias, irresponsible teaching, reproducibility, journal turnaround times, political correctness run amok, hypocrisy, and a number of other things. There are bad theories and bad articles too. Just at a very different level than the authors of this cite seem to think is normal. Sometimes, we even see attacks on the faith. And as in other areas where we defend the faith, bad arguments and not knowing where our critics are coming from do us no favors. It seems very apparent by reading the number of articles on the social sciences from the site that the other seem to not know what is common in sociology departments vs area studies and other niche sub fields.

    Thanks for your great work on evolution, biology, and other related fields that are more of an area of focus on this site. This is why I read the site every day.

    – blame the typos on the iPad losing screen sensitivity.

  2. 2
    Querius says:

    As a benign fungus and a strong adherent to the Gaia hypothesis, I want to state my strong objections to any experimentation on my kin, the molds, based on our integration with all living systems, *many of them sentient*, without our explicit consent!

    We therefore demand that all papers published on the subject of antibiotics be withdrawn immediately and the culpable parties be terminated from employment due to their egregious breaches of ethics!

    -Q

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