Academia: A hoax exposes ‘grievance studies’
Three academics have pulled off “a prank that is alternately hilarious, appalling, and disturbing,” said Charles Sykes in WeeklyStandard.com. Taking aim at what they called “grievance studies,” the trio produced 20 “shoddy, absurd, unethical” papers loaded with incoherent postmodern “gibberish”—seven of which were published in “respectable” academic journals. Among the most outrageous papers included a thesis claiming astronomy is a patriarchal construct that should be replaced by feminist astrology, another arguing “dog parks are rape-condoning spaces,” and still another that demanded that males who masturbate while thinking about a woman first obtain her consent. Their crowning achievement was getting a journal to publish a chapter from Mein Kampf that substituted feminist buzzwords for Hitler’s anti-Semitic rants. College students are our country’s future, said Sumantra Maitra in TheFederalist.com, yet they are being shaped and brainwashed by ideological dogma no less absurd that this faked scholarship. Is that what parents are paying for?
The hoaxsters found some real weaknesses in academic scholarship, said Daniel Drezner in WashingtonPost.com, but the brush they use to dismiss the humanities “is way too broad.” Not all “grievance studies” are absurd, and neither is the belief that there are “power dynamics” between people dictated by gender or sexual identification and race. Still, said Kevin Drum in MotherJones.com, liberals and academics should not defensively dismiss what this hoax has revealed about this field. The three authors, all self-described liberals, had “no formal background in the subjects,” but taught themselves how to produce ridiculous, jargon-filled papers that were greeted with praise by “blindly receptive” academic reviewers.
Not all fields of academia would publish such nonsense, said Yascha Mounk in TheAtlantic.com. All of the papers the hoaxsters submitted to mainstream sociology journals were rejected. But the findings were disturbing nonetheless. One of the fake papers suggested professors should enact “experiential reparations,” such as chaining white students to the classroom floor to redress their “privilege” and demanding they remain silent. Really? If we’re “serious about remedying discrimination, racism, and sexism,” then we have to admit that “some academic emperors—the ones who supposedly have the most to say about these crucial topics—have no clothes.”