A professor who engaged in an elaborate hoax with two colleagues to expose shoddy scholarship on gender, race and sexuality by publishing “intentionally broken” academic papers in peer-reviewed journals faces discipline from his university.
Peter Boghossian, an assistant professor of philosophy, is accused by Portland State University in Oregon of breaching the institution’s ethical guidelines, the Washington Times reported.
The professor already has gained the support of famed Oxford professor emeritus Richard Dawkins, who said his “first response on reading of the punitive investigation into Dr. Peter Boghossian’s brilliant hoax was to let out a howl of incredulous mirth.”
“Do your humourless colleagues who brought this action want Portland State to become the laughing stock of the academic world?” Dawkins asked. “Or at least the world of serious scientific scholarship uncontaminated by pretentious charlatans of exactly the kind Dr. Boghossian and his colleagues were satirising?”
One of the hoax papers accepted for publication examined rape culture through the study of dogs and their sexual habits in a Portland park. It was honored for its “excellent scholarship.”
Boghossian was joined in the plot by James Lindsay, a mathematics doctoral candidate, and Helen Pluckrose, an English literature professor. They describe themselves as left-wing supporters of gender, race and sexuality studies, the Times said. But they contend the fields have become corrupted by bogus scholarship.
In an essay explaining their hoax published by Aero magazine in October, they said that as a result of their work, “we have come to call these fields ‘grievance studies’ in shorthand because of their common goal of problematizing aspects of culture in minute detail in order to attempt diagnoses of power imbalances and oppression rooted in identity.”
The said they “undertook this project to study, understand, and expose the reality of grievance studies, which is corrupting academic research.”
“Because open, good-faith conversation around topics of identity such as gender, race, and sexuality (and the scholarship that works with them) is nearly impossible, our aim has been to reboot these conversations,” they wrote.
“We hope this will give people — especially those who believe in liberalism, progress, modernity, open inquiry, and social justice — a clear reason to look at the identitarian madness coming out of the academic and activist left and say, “No, I will not go along with that. You do not speak for me.”
Jordan Peterson, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto who has become a YouTube sensation, said in a letter to Portland State that “any ‘academic misconduct’ that is occurring is being perpetrated by those who are raising and pursuing the allegations, and most certainly not on the part of Dr. Boghossian.”
Peterson, known for his opposition to Canada’s law compelling the use of preferred gender pronouns, said Boghossian and his colleagues “did the academic world and the broader community that surrounds it a great favor by pointing out the embarrassing nakedness of the emperor.”
“The fact that he is now being pursued by your institution for ‘academic misconduct’ is nothing but further proof of the absolute corruption characterizing the very disciplines he so rightly satirized, pilloried and exposed.”