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Journal editor duped into publishing fake study that exposed 'biased academic left' defends move — and blames authors


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You might recall the trio of writers who last year said they got academic journals to publish ridiculous "fake studies" in order to expose the "biased academic left."


James Lindsay, Peter Boghossian, and Helen Pluckrose revealed in a USA Today op-ed that seven of their papers — among them an adaptation of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf," a look at "fat bodybuilding" for a discipline called "fat studies," as well as one that addressed "rape culture" by "monitoring dog-humping incidents at dog parks in Southeast Portland, Oregon" — were accepted by various journals.

Reason's John Stossel said he tried to talk to the journals' editors to find out how they got fooled, but none of them wanted to — except for Roberto Refinetti, editor in chief of Sexuality and Culture. His journal published the fake study titled, "Going in Through the Back Door: Challenging Straight Male Homohysteria, Transhysteria, and Transphobia Through Receptive Penetrative Sex Toy Use."

What did the editor have to say?

First off, props to Refinetti for stepping up and letting Stossel grill him on camera when the other six editors refused to endure the heat.

Refinetti told Stossel the trio of writers who pulled off the hoax are the ones at fault: "You're deceiving people without much of a reason." Stossel, however, disagreed and said they had quite a valid point: "Their hoax woke us up to the fact that some academic journals publish nonsense."

Underscoring Stossel's point was Refinetti himself, who noted that the premise of the trio's fake paper that made it into Sexuality and Culture is "nothing really absurd or unusual."

"What is the problem with [the subject of the paper]?" Refinetti asked Stossel. "I don't see a problem."

In other words, much of what passes for scholarship reads similarly to the fake study Refinetti was duped into accepting and publishing. Lindsay, Boghossian, and Pluckrose said "grievance studies" have been "corrupted by a form of political activism that puts political grievances ahead of finding truth." 


Looking for truth in the wrong places...

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