Friday, January 11, 2019

Professor is facing dismissal after writing 20 fake scientific papers on 'dog rape culture', 'a conceptual penis' and re-writing a chapter of MEIN KAMPF

A professor faces losing his high-powered job at an American university after writing 20 fake scientific papers. Seven of these fake pieces of research were accepted and four were published online.

Peter Boghossian, an assistant professor of philosophy at Portland State University in Oregon now faces the sack after a widespread backlash from the scientific community.

Steven Pinker and Richard Dawkins, prominent academics and science communicators, have defended the controversial stunt.

Dr Boghossian claims he conducted the questionable experiment to challenge the 'nonsense' which features in many social science papers. Some of the works included convoluted papers on 'dog rape culture', 'a conceptual penis' and even a re-wrote a chapter of Mein Kampf.

Dr Boghossian and two collaborators said their aim was to expose how 'absurdities' get published in legitimate peer-reviewed academic papers due to a lack of critical review.

In total the team of three researchers wrote 20 hoax papers on a field of study loosely defined as 'grievance studies'. These papers were based on 'nutty or inhumane' ideas that featured 'a little bit of lunacy'.

Portland State University officials said Dr Boghossian had not received proper ethical approval for the exercise.

By challenging the protocols implemented by journal staff and peer-reviewers the university say the academic breached guidelines when he manipulated these 'human research subjects'.

He is also being reviewed for falsifying data and the penalty for this is dismissal from the institute.

The authors claim their prank shows that higher education's fixation with identity politics has created 'absurd and horrific' scholarship, according to an in-depth piece by Wall Street Journal. 

The other two researchers involved in the deception were mathematician James Lindsay and Helen Pluckrose, who is editor-in-chief of current affairs magazine Areol.

Their aim was to expose how easily morally fashionable political ideas are published as academic research. One paper, published in Gender, Place & Culture, claimed to be based on a year observing sexual misconduct among dogs in a US park.

The paper said that parks were 'petri dishes for canine 'rape culture'' and said people needed to be aware of the way dogs were treated depending on their gender.

The year before they had publised a paper called 'The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct,' in the journal Cogent Social Sciences. Another paper published in the journal Fat Studies claimed that body building is 'fat-exclusionary'.

They published a paper in the Journal of Poetry Therapy was about feminist spirituality meetings. It was written by an algorithm.

Another paper published in peer-reviewed journal 'Affilia' was a rewrite of a chapter from Mein Kampf which was accepted despite going through a double peer review.

The authors claim their prank shows that higher education's fixation with identity politics has created 'absurd and horrific' scholarship.

'I think that certain aspects of knowledge production in the United States have been corrupted,' Dr Boghossian told the Wall Street Journal.

The year before they had published a paper called 'The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct' in the journal Cogent Social Sciences. 

Their scribblings included the phrases 'gender-performative, high fluid social construct', 'exclusionary to disenfranchised communities', and 'isomorphic to performative toxic masculinity'.

They even associated male anatomy with climate change.

Talking about the hoax, Dr Lindsay said each paper 'combined an effort to better understand the field itself with an attempt to get absurdities and morally fashionable political ideas published as legitimate academic research'.

They believe that people are so keen on identity politics that they will accept papers despite 'outlandish' data.

Another paper – which was just a rewrite of a chapter from Mein Kampf – was published in the journal 'Affilia'. It was accepted despite going through a double peer review.

As well as having papers published, the team were also asked to peer-review journals.

Richard Dawkins, an outspoken atheist and Emeritus Charles Simonyi Professor at the University of Oxford, wrote to the university: 'Do your humourless colleagues who brought this action want Portland State to become the laughing stock of the academic world?

'Or at least the world of serious scientific scholarship uncontaminated by pretentious charlatans of exactly the kind Dr Boghossian and his colleagues were satirising?'

'How would you react if you saw the following letter: Dear Mr Orwell, It has come to our notice that your novel, Animal Farm, attributes to pigs the ability to talk, and to walk on their hind legs, chanting ‘Four legs good, two legs better’. 'This is directly counter to known zoological facts about the Family Suidae, and you are therefore arraigned on a charge of falsifying data…”

Steven Pinker, the Harvard psychologist, wrote of the false data charge: 'This strikes me (and every colleague I’ve spoken with) as an attempt to weaponise an important principle of academic ethics to punish a scholar for expressing an unpopular opinion.'    

This was not the first instance of academics have published fake papers. Twenty-two years ago, a respected New York University physicist called Alan Sokal published a hoax paper to the journal Social Text.

He wanted to prove people would publish 'an article liberally salted with nonsense' if it sounded good and flattered current ideological preconceptions.

The paper, which was titled 'Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity', was accepted.

The trio behind the latest hoax say their work was research in itself. 'For us, the risk of letting biased research continue to influence education, media, policy and culture is far greater than anything that will happen to us for having done this', Dr Lindsay said.


Are Universities progressive or regressive?

There is tons of evidence that in general American higher education has a strong left-of-center political orientation. Surveys show an overwhelming majority of faculty in disciplines with a strong public policy orientation are left of center. Political donations go mostly for Democrats. Polling by both Gallup and the Pew Research Center suggests that Democrats are far more supportive of universities than Republicans and, indeed, declining support by Republicans has been particularly pronounced in recent years.

Two goals historically cherished by most individuals and groups with a progressive orientation are the reduction in income inequality and the elimination of race-based discrimination against persons. How have universities fostered the achievement of these goals? A very good case can be made that higher education’s increased involvement over time has worsened achieving both of these goals.

Compare America of 1970 with that of 2018. In 1970, about 10% of adult Americans had bachelor’s degrees or more, compared with more than 30% today. In the past half century, college has become attainable by more than rich or even prosperous upper middle class individuals. Many liberals thought that by providing a ticket to good jobs, college education would reduce inequalities in America, furthering the achievement of the American Dream.

Yet the evidence suggests otherwise. The expansion of higher education has occurred almost in lockstep with rising income inequality as conventionally measured. Census Bureau data show that family, household or personal income has become more unequally distributed since the early 1970s, after having become more equal between 1929 and about 1973.

College diplomas have helped employers identify individuals who are smart, dependable, ambitious, and honest, characteristics often largely acquired even before entering college. Labor markets over the past two generations have generally favored those with superior mental qualities, disfavoring those with strong physical attributes like strength and endurance. Factory workers have lost ground to brainy computer programmers, accountants and scientists.

The “sheepskin effect” of the diploma is great, and Bryan Caplan’s The Case Against Education demonstrates that most of the income increment associated with gaining a degree has little to do with skills acquired while in college.

The diploma-granting status of universities has unwittingly promoted greater income inequality. High school graduates over the past half-century have had earnings decline relative to those with college degrees (although that is not so true in the past decade). Colleges have, in effect, encouraged young Americans to get a diploma so they can see their income increase relative to those failing to do so.

This has been exacerbated by colleges’ selective admissions policies. Although the more prestigious selective admissions schools whose graduates earn especially high incomes talk constantly about their commitment to diversity and serving a broad population, evidence accumulated by Harvard’s Raj Chetty and associates strongly shows that the probability of attending a top-quality school is dramatically greater for those from higher-income backgrounds. High-income parents invest in their children, sending them to the best public or private schools, financing all sorts of supplemental nurturing of their minds. Thus, the Ivy League and a few dozen other schools form an academic aristocracy, favoring rich kids over poor ones. Legacy preferences reinforce that tendency. Is it no wonder that income inequality has grown with increased college attendance?

Colleges are falling over each other to bring in racial minorities, creating vast “diversity” bureaucracies, showing blatant preferences towards people of color. This often promotes less “diversity” than it does old-fashioned race-based segregation, most obviously manifested in such things as buildings where only blacks (or some other favored group such as Hispanics) are welcome.

Colleges feel guilty because they are predominantly white, so they brag about their diversity and then often make decisions more on the basis of color or other group characteristics than on the basis of merit. Martin Luther King showed a truly liberal, progressive spirit in calling for a color-blind society. Today’s university “diversocrats” are doing the opposite. So many universities talk about being progressive and liberal, but often truly behave quite differently.


Honoring the Emancipation Proclamation with Educational Freedom

New Year’s Day marked the 156th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which guaranteed:

That on the 1st day of January, A.D. 1863, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free...

On this day, Booker T. Washington serves as a shining example of the importance of freedom and education. As Pepperdine University Economics Professor Gary M. Galles explained in a recent Foundation for Economic Education article:

Booker T. Washington...sought ‘the most complete freedom compatible with the freedom of others,’...born a slave, [Washington] was seven when the Emancipation Proclamation was announced. At 11, he got his first book and taught himself to read. He thought to ‘get into a schoolhouse and study...would be about the same as getting into paradise.’ At 16, he went 500 miles to the Hampton Institute, where he attended classes by day and worked nights to earn his room and board. After graduation, Hampton made him an instructor. In 1881, he founded the Tuskegee Institute. ...Washington recognized that for blacks’ advancement, starting from the legacy of government-enforced slavery, coercion of others was not the answer.

Today, a majority of African-Americans, as well as Americans in general, embrace Washington’s legacy of liberty as opposed to coercion regarding the education of their children.

Assigned public schooling has been on the decline since 1999 for students overall, but the decline is twice as high for African-American students compared to the general student population, down by 10 percentage points versus 5 percentage points.

Yet the proportion of African-Americans reporting that their children’s school was their first choice has remained stuck at around 10 percentage points below the overall population since 2012, the earliest year available from the U.S. Department of Education

Not surprisingly, African-Americans want more educational options that better meet their children’s needs.

According to the most recent EdChoice national survey, a majority of African-Americans believe American K-12 education is on the wrong track, 55 percent, the same percentage as the general population (p. 63). However, support for a variety of parental choice programs is noticeably higher among African-Americans compared to the general population:

Compared to 74 percent of the general population, 79 percent of African-Americans support universal education savings accounts (ESAs), which are programs that put parents in charge of their children’s education funding so they can buy the services and products that best meet their children’s unique needs, including private school tuition, tutoring, online courses, and special education therapies (pp. 47 and 64).

While 64 percent of the general population support government-funded voucher scholarships, 70 percent of African-Americans support them (pp. 51 and 65).

Likewise, two-thirds of the general population support donor-funded tax-credit scholarships, compared to 70 percent of African-Americans who do (p. 66).

Finally, 61 percent of the general population support public charter schools, jumping to 71 percent among African-Americans (pp. 52 and 67).

These results mirror findings from several other surveys, including those conducted by Education Next, Beck Research for the American Federation for Children, the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, Gallup, the Black Alliance for Educational Options, and even PDK’s annual survey of Americans’ attitudes toward public schools (in spite of their pollsters’ dubious framing of educational choice-related questions)

“The most complete development of each human being,” according to Washington, “can come only through his being permitted to exercise the most complete freedom compatible with the freedom of others.”

Full and unfettered parental control over the education and upbringing of their children is the ultimate exercise of freedom and perhaps the best way to fulfill the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation that “all persons held as slaves...shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”


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