A new academic hoax: a bogus paper on “the conceptual penis” gets published in a “high quality peer-reviewed” social science journal

Had to reblog this on joke academic papers . Some academics are dickheads or worse

 

https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/a-new-academic-hoax-a-bogus-paper-on-the-conceptual-penis-gets-published-in-a-high-quality-peer-reviewed-social-science-journal/

A new academic hoax: a bogus paper on “the conceptual penis” gets published in a “high quality peer-reviewed” social science journal

It’s been 21 years since physicist Alan Sokal submitted a bogus paper to a special “Science Wars” issue of the cultural studies journal Social Text. His paper, “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity“, maintained that quantum gravity was a social construct, using many bizarre quotes from postmodern scholars to make its case. Almost immediately after the paper was published, Sokal revealed it was a hoax in an article in Lingua Franca.

The “Sokal Affair” inspired a lot of debate, as well as accusations that Sokal himself was unethical in submitting the paper, but I thought it made its point superbly: much of the social sciences and “culture studies” in academia is intellectually vacuous—a repository for dumb ideas couched in bad prose.

Now we have another hoax: a piece on the “conceptual penis” published in the journal Cogent Social Sciences, self described as “a multidisciplinary open access journal offering high quality peer review across the social sciences: from law to sociology, politics to geography, and sport to communication studies. Connect your research with a global audience for maximum readership and impact.”

Here’s the article; click on the screenshot below to see it in the journal (though it will probably be removed very quickly!). The paper has, however, been archived, and you can find it here.

Have a gander!:

Like the Sokal paper before it, this one also deals with social constructs, but this time the construct is  “the conceptual penis”: a transformation of the male genital apparatus into a social meme that is harmful to nearly everyone.  You can read the paper for yourselves, and I recommend it so you can see how low the standards of some humanities journals are (this paper, unlike Sokal’s, was peer reviewed by two scholars). Here are a few choice bits:

Still, even as a social construct, the conceptual penis is hopelessly dominated by recalcitrant social constructions that favor hypermasculine interpretations of the penis as a notion unjustly associated with high male value (Schwalbe & Wolkomir, 2001). Many cisgendered hypermasculine males, for instance, seem to identify those aspects of their masculinity upon which they most obviously depend with the notion that they carry their penis as a symbol of male power, domination, control, capability, desirability, and aggression (The National Coalition for Men “compile[d] a list of synonyms for the word penis [sic],” these include the terms “beaver basher,” “cranny axe,” “custard launcher,” “dagger,” “heat-seeking moisture missile,” “mayo shooting hotdog gun,” “pork sword,” and “yogurt shotgun” [2011]). Based upon an appreciable corpus of feminist literature on the penis, this troubling identification results in an effective isomorphism linking the conceptual penis with toxic hypermasculinity.

But wait! There’s more!

Nowhere more does this problematic construction compare than with the “hegemonic masculinity and cultural construction” presented in the “essence of the hard-on” (Potts, 2000). Potts (2000) illustrates that the functioning (or lack thereof) of the [conceptual] penis “demonstrates the inscription on individual male bodies of a coital imperative: the surface of the male body interfuses with culture to produce the ‘fiction’ of a dysfunctional nonpenetrative male (hetero)sexuality.” This is clear power-dynamical repositioning to alleviate the internal psychological struggle of weakness via hypermasculinity and an essential fear of weakness that characterizes hypermasculinity itself. We therefore further agree with Potts that “by relinquishing the penis’s executive position in sex, male bodies might become differently inscribed, and coded for diverse pleasures beyond the phallus/penis,” and we insist that understanding the objective isomorphic mapping between phallus and (conceptual) penis is a necessary discursive element to changing the prevailing penile social paradigm. The constructed intersection of the anatomical penis and the performative conceptual penis defines the problematic relationship masculinity presents for male bodies and their impacts upon women in our pre-post-patriarchal societies.

And this is my favorite part:

2.2. Climate change and the conceptual penis

Nowhere are the consequences of hypermasculine machismo braggadocio isomorphic identification with the conceptual penis more problematic than concerning the issue of climate change. Climate change is driven by nothing more than it is by certain damaging themes in hypermasculinity that can be best understood via the dominant rapacious approach to climate ecology identifiable with the conceptual penis. Our planet is rapidly approaching the much-warned-about 2°C climate change threshold, and due to patriarchal power dynamics that maintain present capitalist structures, especially with regard to the fossil fuel industry, the connection between hypermasculine dominance of scientific, political, and economic discourses and the irreparable damage to our ecosystem is made clear.

Destructive, unsustainable hegemonically male approaches to pressing environmental policy and action are the predictable results of a raping of nature by a male-dominated mindset. This mindset is best captured by recognizing the role of the conceptual penis holds over masculine psychology. When it is applied to our natural environment, especially virgin environments that can be cheaply despoiled for their material resources and left dilapidated and diminished when our patriarchal approaches to economic gain have stolen their inherent worth, the extrapolation of the rape culture inherent in the conceptual penis becomes clear. At best, climate change is genuinely an example of hyper-patriarchal society metaphorically manspreading into the global ecosystem.

The reveal. Who are these scalawags who perpetrated this hoax? Well, “Peter Boyle” is none other than philosopher Peter Boghossian, and “Jamie Lindsay” is Peter’s frequent collaborator James Lindsay. And, like Sokal, they’ve revealed and explained their hoax in a paper at the Skeptic Magazine site called “‘The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct’: A Sokal-style Hoax on Gender Studies“. Here’s how Peter and James start their reveal:

“The androcentric scientific and meta-scientific evidence that the penis is the male reproductive organ is considered overwhelming and largely uncontroversial.”

That’s how we began. We used this preposterous sentence to open a “paper” consisting of 3,000 words of utter nonsense posing as academic scholarship. Then a peer-reviewed academic journal in the social sciences accepted and published it.

This paper should never have been published. Titled, “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct,” our paper “argues” that “The penis vis-à-vis maleness is an incoherent construct. We argue that the conceptual penis is better understood not as an anatomical organ but as a gender-performative, highly fluid social construct.” As if to prove philosopher David Hume’s claim that there is a deep gap between what is and what ought to be, our should-never-have-been-published paper was published in the open-access (meaning that articles are freely accessible and not behind a paywall), peer-reviewed journal Cogent Social Sciences.

Assuming the pen names “Jamie Lindsay” and “Peter Boyle,” and writing for the fictitious “Southeast Independent Social Research Group,” we wrote an absurd paper loosely composed in the style of post-structuralist discursive gender theory. The paper was ridiculous by intention, essentially arguing that penises shouldn’t be thought of as male genital organs but as damaging social constructions. We made no attempt to find out what “post-structuralist discursive gender theory” actually means. We assumed that if we were merely clear in our moral implications that maleness is intrinsically bad and that the penis is somehow at the root of it, we could get the paper published in a respectable journal.

This already damning characterization of our hoax understates our paper’s lack of fitness for academic publication by orders of magnitude. We didn’t try to make the paper coherent; instead, we stuffed it full of jargon (like “discursive” and “isomorphism”), nonsense (like arguing that hypermasculine men are both inside and outside of certain discourses at the same time), red-flag phrases (like “pre-post-patriarchal society”), lewd references to slang terms for the penis, insulting phrasing regarding men (including referring to some men who choose not to have children as being “unable to coerce a mate”), and allusions to rape (we stated that “manspreading,” a complaint levied against men for sitting with their legs spread wide, is “akin to raping the empty space around him”). After completing the paper, we read it carefully to ensure it didn’t say anything meaningful, and as neither one of us could determine what it is actually about, we deemed it a success.

That last sentence is a doozy, and is so true for the field at issue. What does it say that two reviewers were taken in by this? If the authors didn’t understand what they were saying, how could the reviewers? The reviewers didn’t even check the references, as fully a quarter of them were complete fakes: references to nonexistent journals and papers. One referee even said the references were “sound”! Finally, a bit of their rationale; why did Boghossian and Lindsay do this?

Sokal exposed an infatuation with academic puffery that characterizes the entire project of academic postmodernism. Our aim was smaller yet more pointed. We intended to test the hypothesis that flattery of the academic Left’s moral architecture in general, and of the moral orthodoxy in gender studies in particular, is the overwhelming determiner of publication in an academic journal in the field. That is, we sought to demonstrate that a desire for a certain moral view of the world to be validated could overcome the critical assessment required for legitimate scholarship. Particularly, we suspected that gender studies is crippled academically by an overriding almost-religious belief that maleness is the root of all evil. On the evidence, our suspicion was justified.

Well, you can read the rest of Peter and James’s explanation. Was it ethical to fool a journal this way? I think so—especially if the journal takes the article down. Further, it makes a point far more important than any paper in that journal: it shows that over the past 21 years since Sokal’s hoax, the social sciences remain rife with obscurantist nonsense—an academic miasma. Of course, not all people or areas in social science or the humanities are full of such nonsense, but cultural studies, including women’s studies, are particularly prone to the toxic combination of jargon and ideology that makes for such horrible “scholarship.”

Yes, 21 years on and cultural studies are just as bad as ever—or worse. I’m so glad I spent my career in science, where you can’t fob off craziness so easily—and hoaxes or made-up stuff inevitably gets found out.

Why Evolution Is True

It’s been 21 years since physicist Alan Sokal submitted a bogus paper to a special “Science Wars” issue of the cultural studies journal Social Text. His paper, “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity“, maintained that quantum gravity was a social construct, using many bizarre quotes from postmodern scholars to make its case. Almost immediately after the paper was published, Sokal revealed it was a hoax in an article in Lingua Franca.

The “Sokal Affair” inspired a lot of debate, as well as accusations that Sokal himself was unethical in submitting the paper, but I thought it made its point superbly: much of the social sciences and “culture studies” in academia is intellectually vacuous—a repository for dumb ideas couched in bad prose.

Now we have another hoax: a piece on the “conceptual penis” published in the journal Cogent Social Sciences, self described as “a multidisciplinary open access journal…

View original post 1,523 more words

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