Academia Run Amok



By Sigrid Weidenweber

Nothing is more amusing than seeing semi-sophisticated academics bereft of their sham-learned clothes—their pretentious behinds exposed to the air of common sense.  My amusement knew no bounds, perusing a Wall Street Journal opinion piece in the October 6-7, 2018 edition.  It is a piece entitled Fake News Comes to Academia, by Jillian Kay Melchior.  I believe it is so insightful that it must be shared with the greater public.

She begins by stating: “that the existence of a monthly journal focused on “feminist geography,” is a sign of something gone awry in academia.  The journal, Gender, Place & Culture, published a paper online in May, whose author claimed to have spent a year observing canine sexual misconduct in Portland, Oregon parks.  In the article the author claims that dog parks are petri dishes for canine rape culture.”

Furthermore, the article avers that it is difficult to judge animal consent and that this necessitates a call for awareness into the different ways dogs are treated on the basis of gender and queering behavior, and the chronic and perennial rape emergency dog parks pose to female dogs.

Having arrived at this point, I was laughing so hard my eyes teared.  Reading the previous statements, I was inclined to believe that a product of Portland’s let’s keep “Portland weird” culture had actually produced such mental nonsense, but then I thought this ridiculous piece of purported science cannot be a true study.  And, of course, it was not.

The author of the hogwash, Helen Wilson, claimed to have a doctorate in feminist studies.  This could not be verified by anyone, but the academic website still kept the paper on view.

At this point Ms. Melchior, author of the WSJ article, decided to investigate both the academic journal and Helen Wilson, owner of the doctorate.  Her inquiries led her to James Lindsay, a man with a verifiable doctorate in math, who, with the collaboration of Peter Boghossian, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Portland State University (one of my alma maters, by the way,) and Helen Pluckrose, a London based scholar of English literature and history, and editor of   Melchoir concluded they had duped Gender, Place & Culture into publishing the dog rape study.

By now, I was in hilarity-heaven.  By Jove, there was kindred intelligence alive and well.  The three collaborators classify themselves as left-leaning Liberals who abhor what they call “grievance studies” that have taken over academe by their encroachment into the sciences.  With their hoaxes they demonstrate that many academic papers accept and publish rubbish without confirmation of authorship and authenticity of the published work.

The lively trio has written twenty hoax papers and submitted them to different Journals. Of those seven were accepted and four have been published. One of them was accepted by Affilia, a peer-reviewed journal of women and social work.  It ran under the title “Our Struggle Is My Struggle: Solidarity Feminism as an Intersectional Reply to Neoliberal and Choice Feminism.”  I don’t even know what this could mean!  For a kicker, let me make you aware that the second part of this paper is a rewrite from a chapter of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”

One example published in the Journal Cogent Social Sciences, was titled “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct.”  How conceptual was he, the penis I mean? There are many other examples in Ms. Melchior’s article. Her research is thorough.  I encourage you to find it on line and read it.  It is very funny.

So, why did these fine academicians resort to such extreme measures of exposure?  Besides hating the inane take-over of academic journals and the shallow peer reviews, they are criticizing the new academic sub-culture that ignores or disdains reasoned criticism from the outside.  Knowing the new halls of learning, I would suggest that even harsher measures are applied to keep critique at bay.

Sigrid Weidenweber grew up in communist East Berlin, escaping it using a French passport. Ms. Weindenweber holds a degree in medical technology as well as psychology and has course work in Anthropology.  She is co-founder of Aid for Afghans.  Weindenweber has traveled the world and lived with Pakistani Muslims, learning about the culture and religion. She is a published author and lecturer.

You can find her books on

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One Response to Academia Run Amok

  1. Rosemary Allison November 5, 2018 at 11:30 am

    Love this story – Sigrid you are the best!


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