The Grievance Studies Hoax

An interesting post from Jerry Coyne about the recent hoax that exposed the rot in some parts of the humanities.
The “grievance studies” hoax: a forum at the Chronicle of Higher Education

My own take on this is that while the hoax was duplicitous and deliberately so, it did expose the rot in some parts of the humanities in a way that would have been hard to do by other means.

But academics went wild with rage, for, unable to stand the idea that the humanities has been infected with tendentious pomo junk scholarship, they performed what animal behaviorists call “displacement behavior”: they ignored the message and tried to kill the messengers.


Thanks for linking to this Chris. It’s interesting to read Jerry Coyne’s take on it, and he’s quite right that it’s exposed a whole lot of rot in academic publishing in the humanities.

What Boghossian et al were doing here is standard practice in a whole lot of industries. It’s the same thing as trading standards officers taking cars with only minor faults (such as a loose spark plug cable) to car dealers and fining them if they start trying to pull a fast one by recommending work that doesn’t need to be done, for instance. It’s the same thing as police officers posing as children or teenagers to try and catch paedophiles or drug traffickers. It’s the same thing as cartographers putting trap streets into maps to detect copyright violations.

Basically, it’s a form of quality control.

It’s a source of very serious concern when academics start disciplining and punishing people such as Boghossian for things such as this, rather than cleaning up their own act. Academic research and publishing needs to put honesty, factual accuracy, rigour and quality control first and foremost above ideology or political correctness. When they’re unable or unwilling to do so, we have some pretty serious problems, because it will influence the decisions of policymakers one way or another. Either they will start accepting woo as if it were solid science, or else they will go the other way and start rejecting solid science as if it were woo. And the results will be damaging for everybody.


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