Academics Expose ‘Grievance Studies’ Journals With Bogus Papers

Highly respected journals covering areas like feminist studies, gender studies, fat studies, etc., bite on papers that were intentionally written as nonsense.

Any scholarship that proceeds from radically skeptical assumptions about objective truth by definition does not and cannot find objective truth. Instead it promotes prejudices and opinions and calls them “truths.” For radical constructivists, these opinions are specifically rooted a political agenda of “Social Justice” (which we have intentionally made into a proper noun to distinguish it from the type of real social progress falling under the same name).


If you rewrote a chapter from Hitler’s Mein Kampf using current feminist jargon and submitted it to a respected feminist journal, would they agree to publish it? How about a paper suggesting dog parks are rampant sites for canine rape culture? Or one that explores the threat of “metasexual violence” from (private) masturbation? You can probably guess the answer but read on for the details.

A trio of academics decided to explore the current state of peer-reviewed publishing in the humanities by writing bogus papers to see if there were any limits to what was acceptable. Helen Pluckrose, James A. Lindsay and Peter Boghossian (I wrote about their discussion of intersectionality as a religion earlier this year) wanted to see if highly respected journals covering areas like feminist studies, gender studies, fat studies, etc. would bite on papers that were intentionally written as nonsense.

Their initial efforts were a failure. It turned out that creating a word salad of feminist jargon was not enough to be accepted in high profile journals. Rather than give up, the group decided to dig in and try to understand the field better. Once they had a grasp on what was already being published, they quickly wrote 20 bogus papers. Seven of those were accepted for publication by various journals and several others were pending rewrites and probably would have been accepted if the authors hadn’t been forced to call off the experiment early. For comparison purposes, seven papers is the average number you would need to publish over seven years in order to secure tenure at most universities. The authors estimate at least 10 of the 20 would have been accepted given more time. And they could have kept churning these out and had one or two new papers accepted for publication every month, for as long as they wanted to continue.

They key point here is that the papers themselves were written not as an attempt to expand knowledge but as pure sophistry. Each one started with an absurd premise and then used the contours of social justice thought, what the authors call “grievance studies,” to make the premise seem plausible. From Aero Magazine, here’s the author’s own summary of some of the papers in question:

Sometimes we just thought a nutty or inhumane idea up and ran with it. What if we write a paper saying we should train men like we do dogs—to prevent rape culture? Hence came the “Dog Park” paper. What if we write a paper claiming that when a guy privately masturbates while thinking about a woman (without her consent—in fact, without her ever finding out about it) that he’s committing sexual violence against her? That gave us the “Masturbation” paper. What if we argue that the reason superintelligent AI is potentially dangerous is because it is being programmed to be masculinist and imperialist using Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Lacanian psychoanalysis? That’s our “Feminist AI” paper. What if we argued that “a fat body is a legitimately built body” as a foundation for introducing a category for fat bodybuilding into the sport of professional bodybuilding? You can read how that went in Fat Studies.

Read More