The Peer Review Process Broken? Or Working as Intended?

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The Peer Review Process Broken? Or Working as Intended?

Postby Feydakin » Sat May 20, 2017 3:54 pm

Peer-Reviewed Journal Publishes Gender Studies Hoax Claiming Penises Cause Climate Change

A peer-reviewed academic journal published on Friday a hoax gender studies paper titled, “The Conceptual Penis As A Social Construct.”

Two academics, Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay, used pen names to successfully submit the hoax paper — which argued that “the penis vis-à-vis maleness is an incoherent construct” — to the peer-reviewed journal Cogent Social Sciences. Boghossian and Lindsay cited 20 sources, none of they say they read, and five of which are fake papers that were “published” in journals that don’t actually exist.

The paper — which the authors said was “actively written to avoid having any merits whatsoever” — opened by stating, “The androcentric scientific and meta-scientific evidence that the penis is the male reproductive organ is considered overwhelming and largely uncontroversial.” It went downhill from there.

The conclusion stated in part:

We conclude that penises are not best understood as the male sexual organ, or as a male reproductive organ, but instead as an enacted social construct that is both damaging and problematic for society and future generations. The conceptual penis presents significant problems for gender identity and reproductive identity within social and family dynamics, is exclusionary to disenfranchised communities based upon gender or reproductive identity, is an enduring source of abuse for women and other gender-marginalized groups and individuals, is the universal performative source of rape, and is the conceptual driver behind much of climate change.

“You read that right. We argued that climate change is ‘conceptually’ caused by penises,”
Boghossian and Lindsay wrote in a celebratory article announcing the success of their hoax.

They supported the argument that penises cause climate change by writing in part:

Toxic hypermasculinity derives its significance directly from the conceptual penis and applies itself to supporting neocapitalist materialism, which is a fundamental driver of climate change, especially in the rampant use of carbon-emitting fossil fuel technologies and careless domination of virgin natural environments. We need not delve deeply into criticisms of dialectic objectivism, or their relationships with masculine tropes like the conceptual penis to make effective criticism of (exclusionary) dialectic objectivism. All perspectives matter.

Some of the article’s paragraphs were just downright nonsensical. Like this one:

Thus, the isomorphism between the conceptual penis and what’s referred to throughout discursive feminist literature as “toxic hypermasculinity,” is one defined upon a vector of male cultural machismo braggadocio, with the conceptual penis playing the roles of subject, object, and verb of action. The result of this trichotomy of roles is to place hypermasculine men both within and outside of competing discourses whose dynamics, as seen via post-structuralist discourse analysis, enact a systematic interplay of power in which hypermasculine men use the conceptual penis to move themselves from powerless subject positions to powerful ones

“No one knows what any of this means because it is complete nonsense,”
the authors wrote afterwards of the above paragraph. “Anyone claiming to is pretending. Full stop.”

“The most potent among the human susceptibilities to corruption by fashionable nonsense is the temptation to uncritically endorse morally fashionable nonsense,” the authors wrote afterwards. “That is, we assumed we could publish outright nonsense provided it looked the part and portrayed a moralizing attitude that comported with the editors’ moral convictions.”

The paper, they said, “was rooted in moral and political biases masquerading as rigorous academic theory. Working in a biased environment, we successfully sugarcoated utter nonsense with a combination of fashionable moral sentiments and impenetrable jargon. Cogent Social Sciences happily swallowed the pill. It left utter nonsense easy to disguise.”

“‘The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct’ should not have been published on its merits because it was actively written to avoid having any merits whatsoever,”
the authors concluded. “The paper is academically worthless nonsense. The question that now needs to be answered is, ‘How can we restore the reliability of the peer-review process?’
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Re: The Peer Review Process Broken? Or Working as Intended?

Postby ghostdogg » Sat May 20, 2017 9:23 pm

What an amazing read; thanks Feyd!
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Re: The Peer Review Process Broken? Or Working as Intended?

Postby NaranjaRa » Sat May 20, 2017 10:31 pm

sorry but this is complete bollocks, ya'll. dig a tad deeper...

this spells it out (from pretty much the only Libertarian blog i enjoy reading /nod )

After the revelation that a paper on “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct” was submitted as a hoax to the journal Cogent Social Sciences there’s sure to be a lot of merriment at the expense of Gender Studies departments. But it turns out that the joke’s on the hoaxers themselves–both for failing to spot some very obvious red flags about this “journal,” and for their rather bizarre leaps of logic.

In brief, two academics, Peter Bognossian and James Lindsay, submitted an obviously silly article to a journal Cogent Social Studies. It was accepted after what seems to be very cursory peer review, and, from this, they’re claiming that the entire field of Gender Studies “is crippled academically by an overriding almost-religious belief that maleness is the root of all evil.”

It might be. But their hoax gives us absolutely no reason to believe this. First, let’s look at the “journal” that they were accepted at. Like all the digital, open-access journals run by Cogent (a house most people have never heard of before now) it charges authors fees to publish. No reputable journal in the humanities does this. Worse yet, it allows authors to “pay what they can”. This appears to signal that this journal publishes work from authors who can’t get institutional support to publish in it. (Or, if they could, don’t seek this as they would prefer it not be widely known that they’re paying to publish.) The journal boasts also that it is very “friendly” to authors (a clear sign of a suspect outlet) and notes that it doesn’t necessarily reject things that might not have any impact. (!) It also only uses single blind review. The whole thing just screams vanity journal.

Now, the hoaxers are aware of all of this. But they try to duck the “facile” objection that they submitted to a junk journal by noting that it’s part of the Taylor and Francis group, and that it’s “held out as a high-quality open-access journal by the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)”. Yet even a quick perusal of the journal’s website makes it clear that it operates entirely independently of Taylor & Francis, and that its publishing model is utterly different to theirs. And the DOAJ is a “community run” agency with (it seems) no official standing–and whose express criteria for something being a peer-reviewed journal with quality control is that it “must exercise peer-review with an editor and an editorial board or editorial review…. carried out by at least two editors”. As far as I know, most vanity presses meet this very minimal standard.

Having managed to pay for a paper to be published in a deeply suspect journal the hoaxers then conclude that the entire field of Gender Studies is suspect. How they made this deductive leap is actually far more puzzling than how the paper got accepted. (It’s thus more than a bit embarrassing that one of them’s a philosophy professor–who, ironically, teaches critical thinking.) I’ve no doubt that there are many things to criticize about Gender Studies. But that a suspect journal published a hoax paper whose topics was gender studies-ish isn’t one of them.

UPDATE: The first journal that Bognossian and Lindsay submitted their hoax paper to, and that rejected it, was NORMA: The International Journal for Masculinity Studies. This journal doesn’t even hit the top 115 journals in Gender Studies. So, what happened here was that they submitted a hoax paper to an unranked journal, which summarily rejected it. They then received an auto-generated response directing them to a pay-to-publish vanity journal. They submitted the paper there, and it was published. From this chain of events they conclude that the entire field of Gender Studies is “crippled academically”. This tells us very little about Gender Studies, but an awful lot about the perpetrators of this “hoax”…. and those who tout it as a take down of an entire field.


an even deeper analysis with additional historical context: https://ketanjoshi.co/2017/05/20/the-en ... ionalists/

but this is the bottom line:

Most people, whether they’re part of the skeptic community or not, can recognise that a single instance isn’t sufficient evidence to conclude that an entire field of research is crippled by religious man-hating fervour, and that anyone pushing that line is probably weirdly compromised.

Beyond that basic morsel of logic, academic hoaxes happen in the hard sciences, too:

* Andrew Wakefield, a British anti-vaccination campaigner, managed to publish a fraudulent paper in the Lancet in 1998.
* A US nuclear physics conference accepted a paper written entirely in autocomplete.
* A trio of MIT grad students created an algorithm that creates fake scientific papers – in 2013 IEEE and Springer Publishing found 120 published papers had been generated by the program.
* A paper entitled “Get me off your fucking mailing list” was accepted for publication by computer science journal.
* A 2013 hoax saw a scientific paper about fictional lichen published in several hundred journals.

These hoaxes are consistently presented in a meaningful context – as being valuable demonstrations of a worrying shift to predatory journals, and a consistent lowering of standards in these journals.

These hoaxes do not demonstrate the wholesale failure of biology, or computer science, or medicine. There is no ideological skew against mailing lists in the computer sciences; nor is there a anti-lichen religious fervour in biology. To suggest that this is the case, based on each of those instances alone, would be completely weird.
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Re: The Peer Review Process Broken? Or Working as Intended?

Postby Feydakin » Sun May 21, 2017 12:10 am

It's kind of like 4chan fooling the Left into thinking that the OK hand sign means "white power". It may not show that everyone is a gullible fucking idiot, but it definitely proves something...
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Re: The Peer Review Process Broken? Or Working as Intended?

Postby Feydakin » Sun May 21, 2017 12:55 am

Here's the original article for a lot more from the horses mouth context and analysis... http://www.skeptic.com/reading_room/con ... r-studies/
and another article talking about it; http://www.dailywire.com/news/16682/con ... es-barrett
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Re: The Peer Review Process Broken? Or Working as Intended?

Postby NaranjaRa » Sun May 21, 2017 8:12 am

i actually tend to like Boghossian a lot of times. but this stunt is disingenuous at the core. again, the ONLY thing it proves is that *some* people are gullible. and not just 'the left'...

i've seen plenty of literature from different angles on this including the original skeptic article.

and i've seen how of course one side is cheering it on to demonstrate some kind of vindication from a political standpoint instead of discussing the actual merits of the peer-review process. yet in this case it was not even truly applied - it was paid for. so why does everything always have to be turned into the ol' "left vs right" issue? cannot one just as easily provide a list of examples of stupid shit right-wingers believe in / fall for? this just becomes another sad little cog in the sad little wheel of constant superfluous ping-pong game distraction for people to lose their shit over momentarily that in the long run means absolutely nothing.

we are never going to get over the problems in this country until people stop seeing everything through "party-colored" glasses and start choosing the battles that really affect our lives.

look, as much as i cannot stand the term, the whole 'Social Justice Warrior' thing is often just a phase that really young (i.e. COLLEGE) kids go through and then grow out of. trust me, i went to the most liberal of liberal schools one can attend - an ART college - and i've seen it all. and now most of those same ultra-conscientious bleeding-heart barefoot granola-sweating artists are wearing suits at their corporate art director jobs.

i mean really, how much do Gender Studies, peer-reviewed literature and pompous, ostentatious university professors affect the majority of Americans' day-to-day?

if there is a valid answer to that question, then i will gladly stand corrected...
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Re: The Peer Review Process Broken? Or Working as Intended?

Postby Feydakin » Sun May 21, 2017 12:21 pm

NaranjaRa wrote:i mean really, how much do Gender Studies, peer-reviewed literature and pompous, ostentatious university professors affect the majority of Americans' day-to-day?

if there is a valid answer to that question, then i will gladly stand corrected...


It's only a matter of time, but it's already infecting the culture, and where the culture goes so does the totality of "majority" public consciousness, and then next it infects law and order. Take Bill C 16 in Canada as a recent example. They are thought policing up there now. It's already prevalent in every Western nation in the EU, and it WILL come here too. How can you not be worried that young, impressionable people in college are being indoctrinated into this culture, this way of thinking? It informs how they act for the rest of their lives... it's ruining them. The US will NEVER be this imaginary Socialist utopia that they want. Life is going to be the same harsh reality it's always been where you make it on your merits and pull yourself up... if they aren't being prepared for that they are going to fail, or fight tooth and nail to try and change the world to fit what they think it should be because of this bullshit they taught them in school. They are in for a lifetime of disappointment because it's going to get them nowhere fast.
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Re: The Peer Review Process Broken? Or Working as Intended?

Postby NaranjaRa » Sun May 21, 2017 6:38 pm

i do get that this is a major social & ideological battle between two extreme opposite points of view, but guess what - the US is also never going to be some ultra-right / libertarian fantasy world either. what makes this country great (*cough* or what USED to) is that between the two ends of the spectrum we've usually been able to come to a middle-ground and pull good from both ends. checks & balances, ya know? for instance, it's our young who traditionally have moved us towards GOOD social change. civil rights. women's rights. these movements sprung from liberal college campuses then distilled into our culture for the betterment of the entire nation.

but this particular battle treads the waters of hyperbole. i'm not talking about possible scenarios based on what's perceived to be going on in other countries.

it's also insulting to paint all young people as these impressionable sponges lapping up and then becoming the embodiment of every ridiculous thing they were taught in school. kids today are showing themselves to be SO much smarter than even we were at their age for one thing, so let's give our youth some credit. no, college does not always inform how they act & think the rest of their lives. sure, of course some will change their thinking towards a more left-leaning approach....plenty more simply will not. it's important to be exposed to all kinds of ideas...as many as possible...so that we are able to make INFORMED decisions about what we want to do and be in the world.

prime example - myself: i grew up in a conservative Catholic family, but then entered my ultra-liberal art school as somewhat-liberal. afterwards, i slowly started to veer way more conservative/libertarian and literally listened to talk-radio all day at work, every day. then, in my late-20's i started to veer more towards the center...liberal on some views, conservative on others...how a lot of America truly is. i've always been a registered Independent and have voted Democrat, Republican, and Green party through my life so far. but under your scenario, i should be a raving lunatic crying from my safe-space because of the things i was taught in college, right?

i do see that a lot of kids are growing up too soft, too protected, too babied in their protective shells of anti-bacterial lotion. that's been a rising issue for a couple of decades now. i remember the first thing that really struck me was when they stopped allowing kids to play dodge-ball in school and started giving everyone "participation medals" for field day so *boo hoo sniff* no one would feel left out. the whole super-PC movement has grown out of this. but that does not mean that these folks are ALL going to leave school with these blinders on. hell, i say throw them out into the world...they'll either get a rude awakening and start to work it out, or fail in their bubble. just like anyone else. it's a lot of reaction to a big 'maybe' and lumps everyone into one huge group which is not truly reflective of reality.

this also isn't the 50's, and our country has not seen a truly major war or had to struggle like our (older) parents & grandparents (though in some ways they also had it better than us now). the past couple of generations have had the luxury to increasingly indulge in some pretty disgusting, self-centered bullshit. but then guess what, so have many adults! our whole "ME FIRST" culture has arisen and infected BOTH political extremes and is in no way exclusive to just the liberals.

and in a way, this smells almost like 'thought-policing' but just from the opposite side of the spectrum: "you can't be allowed to learn about XYZ or believe these things or think these things or fight for the things you want - because i believe in my things and that my way is the right and only way."

that's not America either.
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Re: The Peer Review Process Broken? Or Working as Intended?

Postby NaranjaRa » Sun May 21, 2017 8:43 pm

i'm reading an essay right now called The Referendum (about a different topic) and this passage specifically illustrates my point about youth / students in college and how drastically their ideas can change once they leave:

...Young adulthood is an anomalous time n people's lives; they're as unlike themselves as they're ever going to be, experimenting with substances and sex, ideology and religion, trying on different identities before their personalities immutably set. Some people flirt briefly with being freethinking bohemians before becoming their parents. ...

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