Calvin and Hobbes and Cultural Studies

There’s been lots of pushback against Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay’s “conceptual penis” paper hoax, in which they submitted a meaningless (but ideologically correct) paper to the journal Cogent Social Sciences, where it was published. The main defenses are that the journal was a “pay to publish” open-access journal, and that one hoax by itself doesn’t prove that the entire fields of cultural and gender studies are afflicted with creeping obscurantism. Well, every journal I’ve ever published in has charged me (“page charges”, they’re called), and the second criticism is true, but there are plenty of other reasons to decry the way cultural studies have gone in universities (see here for a defense; others are on the way). A few people, whom I won’t name, have been driven into unhinged rage at the hoax, emailing and tweeting at Peter (and me!) repeatedly.

I won’t speak of this further now, but let an old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon stand for what many think:

h/t: Barry


  1. AlHunt
    Posted May 28, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    As a fellow graduate of the cartoonist’s alma mater, it appears that he much earlier realized the emergence of “studies” and “research” that, while methodologically correct, are actually nonsense and create a self-reinforcing congratulatory paradigm.

    • Filippo
      Posted May 28, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      ” . . . a self-reinforcing congratulatory paradigm.”

      Am reminded of Lewis Lapham’s turn of phrase describing pretentiousness and self-absorption in government and business (and I assume academia): “the hospitality tents of self-congratulatory cant.”

      • AlHunt
        Posted May 28, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

        Far more prevalent in academia, I believe. “Studies” and “research” into irrelevancies that shed no light and do not advance understanding other than into constructed minutiae that is read, and applauded, by a decreasing circle of like minded peers.

  2. Posted May 28, 2017 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    That is the perfect C & H cartoon for this occassion! If the jargon were updated to the current lingua opague, it could seriously be a paper in some of the peer reviewed journals.

    • rickflick
      Posted May 28, 2017 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      Speaking of lingua opaque, there should be a generator out there in the interwebs somewhere that can produce serious papers at the push of a button (maybe it’s called Lingua Opaque). It would be almost as easy, though, to take a random published article and simply shift around some words. 😎

  3. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted May 28, 2017 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    I believe I have previously posted here this quote from Friedrich Nietzche but it fits so well

    Those who know that they are profound strive for clarity. Those who would like to seem profound to the crowd strive for obscurity. For the crowd believes that if it cannot see to the bottom of something it must be profound. It is so timid and dislikes going into the water.
    — The Gay Science

    • nicky
      Posted May 28, 2017 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      IIRC one of the French POMO ‘philosophers’ (was it Derrida?) admitted he was obscure on purpose, as to appear more profound…

      • GM
        Posted May 28, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

        • Peter
          Posted May 28, 2017 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

          Thanks a lot for posting this.

          • Doug
            Posted May 28, 2017 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

            Another saying is “Muddying shallow water does not make it deep.”

  4. somer
    Posted May 28, 2017 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Thank you as always for highlighting and explaining these things. And the link to article by Helen Pluckrose who is brilliant on criticising post modernism. Lalo Dagach has just done a really good interview with James Lindsay on this too
    [delete as to prevent embedding]
    And Ive just seen an article from BBC online
    “the Invention of ‘heterosexuality'” by Brandon Ambrosino, 16 March 2017
    Apparently in more prudish times 100 years ago heterosexuality used to mean something akin to hyper sexualised or oversexed towards someone of the other sex. There was no term “homosexual” – because presumably that was illegal. So what! Supposedly there was less stigma outside the west except in my view, when you scatch these things – the pressures towards family takes other forms – e.g. before British Raj era in India homosexuality ok SO LONG AS between males AND NOT between equals OR not interfere with hetero marriage, which every man expected to do -and certainly not with the other man living with the family

    The article goes on at tortuous length about gender construction and then suggest scrapping terms for homo and hetero for attracted to sex with other genitalled person versus attracted to sex with same genitals person!

    • somer
      Posted May 28, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      I suspect homosexuality has become much more acceptable in modern times for similar reasons that women’s role and status has changed – economic reasons, medical advances saving young children and extending life expectancy of all, and contraceptive pill reliably spacing births because births too close together for poor mother/parents to support both simultaneously is a primary cause of children not surviving or even infanticide)

      • James Walker
        Posted May 28, 2017 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        I’m sure a lot of it also has to do with the increasing secularization of society. Are there any arguments against homosexual behaviour that don’t rely on religious teachings?

  5. Posted May 28, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink


  6. Stephen Barrett
    Posted May 28, 2017 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Watterson channeled a great deal of wisdom through that young lad and his pet tiger.

  7. Gareth
    Posted May 28, 2017 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Genuinely curious, but how long ago was that strip made?

    • James
      Posted May 28, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      The Web dates the comic strip to February 11, 1993.

    • Posted May 28, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      February 11, 1993.

    • GM
      Posted May 28, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      The roots of all this nonsense (both obscurantism and SJWism) are quite ancient. Bad writing has been around since Kant and Hegel, Heidegger was really horrible too, but at least they had some actual content (even if in the cases of Hegel and Heidegger it was some really bad content). In the mid-20th century the likes of Lacan and Derrida took it to another level producing prose that was not only obscure but meaningless too, borderline deliberate charlatanism in fact. And that was actually defended as a philosophical rebellion against the oppression imposed by the mandate to write clearly. It was criticized, but nevertheless it took over academia.

      And radical feminism was closely related to all of that, both in terms of philosophy and in terms of writing style. There used to be a bad writing award in the 1990s, Judith Butler won it once:

      Misandry and reverse racism are also nothing new, all of that was around as far back as the 1960s. There weren’t academic institutions built around it though, those came to be around the 1980s when most universities created gender and race studies departments. A big mistake in retrospect as it allowed the gangrene to fester in a self-enclosed bubble until it finally began to spread all over the patient’s body…

      The historic context did not help the situation.

      The Boghossian and Lindsay hoax is compared to Sokal’s from 1996. What I don’t see much discussion of is the context of Sokal’s hoax.

      There was such a thing as the “science wars” in the 1990s, in which people from the natural sciences took a stand against the nonsense going on in the humanities. The Sokal affair was part of it, but it was a much bigger movement than just one hoax paper. BTW, this is why the behavior of people like PZ Myers is so baffling — I am quite certain which side he would have been on in the 1990s had he had a blog back then, and it would not be the side of defending postmodernist nonsense that he taking now…

      Anyway, the problem is that the science wars were not conclusively won and that then the Bush administration and 9/11 came and people’s focus shifted onto religion, as the more immediate clear and present danger. Thus New Atheism in the mid-00s as a reaction to rising religious fundamentalism both among Christians and Muslims. Unfortunately the fight against postmodernism was forgotten as a result. But it had not gone away and we see the consequences of ignoring it today.

  8. dabertini
    Posted May 28, 2017 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    I had no idea that authors had to pay to get their work published. It seems counterintuitive.

    • Peter
      Posted May 28, 2017 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      Me neither. I would like PCC(E) to explain this further. How much did he usually pay, etc. ?

      • Derek Freyberg
        Posted May 28, 2017 at 11:17 am | Permalink

        When I was a grad student and postdoc in chemistry back in the 1970s, American Chemical Society journals – which were genuinely refereed and not pay-to-play – charged around $50-60 per page of printed article. As a result, the articles had to carry a little disclaimer at the bottom of each page describing them as “advertisements”. For that fee, you got 50 reprints, as I recall. As this was long before the Internet, and even copiers were pretty primitive back then, reprints were the way information was shared: people whose library didn’t carry the journal would read the abstract of a paper, say in Chemical Abstracts, and send a card/letter to the lead author asking for a reprint.

      • nicky
        Posted May 28, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

        I only had to pay if I wanted to include colour photographs.

      • Posted May 28, 2017 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

        As I recall, if you were a member of the Society (and I belonged to only two) you’d get a minimal number of pages free, but I published in many journals, and, as I recall, the charges were around $1000–a lot higher for color figures or complicated figures.

        • Peter
          Posted May 28, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

          I contacted a mid-career tenured social science professor in North America about publication charges. She has a doctorate from one of the top 15 departments in her discipline and has published in different social science journals (probably in around a dozen, most of them established before the event of internet publishing).
          Here’s her answer:
          “No, I’ve never had to pay to have anything published…
          When I was starting out, journals used to ask authors to pay for official off-prints of their articles that were intended for distribution. With the move away from print, I doubt that any journal bothers to even offer such off-prints. I know that I dismissed those offers whenever I received them.”

          Already the title of the journal Cogent Social Sciences is ridiculous. Whether any research report is cogent is for the readers with expertise to judge!

          So I count publication in a journal like Cogent Social Sciences against the hoax paper. Though I do not doubt for a second the point of Lindsay/Boghossian wanted to make. And the fact that some detractors of the two authors argued that their paper was correct says it all.

    • W.Benson
      Posted May 28, 2017 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      Scientific journals often (usually?) depend on society membership for their activities, including, mailings, publishing expenses, etc. Many professional societies assume that authors have research grants to pay page fees, but when poverty is attested sometimes (often?) waive these. At least this is the way it was in the old days.

    • GM
      Posted May 28, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      It seems counterintuitive.

      I’ve had this exact same conversation with my mom on multiple occasions.

      But in fact it makes sense and the laws of supply and demand operate as they’re supposed to in this case.

      On average any published paper is more valuable to its authors than it is to the publishers or any potential readers.

      So the authors are glad to pay the charges…

    • James Walker
      Posted May 28, 2017 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      I work in the humanities (no, not Gender Studies 😉 and I’ve never had to pay to have an article published. Publishers of journals get their revenues from subscribers, including (especially) university libraries. Because of this business model (taxpayers are funding research twice, once through research grants, again through library subscriptions), there’s been a move towards Open Access publishing. Under this model the author would pay a certain amount to cover the costs of editing and distribution

    • Posted May 29, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      Depends on the journal. Some journals have moved to pay to publish so that the resulting content can then be free.

  9. Sastra
    Posted May 28, 2017 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    The main defenses are that the journal was a “pay to publish” open-access journal, and that one hoax by itself doesn’t prove that the entire fields of cultural and gender studies are afflicted with creeping obscurantism. Well, every journal I’ve ever published in has charged me (“page charges”, they’re called), and the second criticism is true, but there are plenty of other reasons to decry the way cultural studies have gone in universities

    I think that if the main defenses (i.e. the complaints regarding the “hoax”) are fair points, then the hoax was indeed a failure even if the major charges against gender studies and/or postmodernism are valid (or at least true in some cases.) Plenty of people who complain about pomo obscurantism are wincing in embarrassment over the clumsiness of this inadequate attempt to expose what may or may not need to be exposed, but we sure can’t tell from the example. Poor execution at best, imo.

    • Peter
      Posted May 28, 2017 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      I agree that this hoax failed. And I dislike this obscurantist bullshit about as much as PCC(E).

      • Posted May 28, 2017 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

        Well, I’m not sure what it means for this hoax to “fail.” If it’s to call attention to and inspires discussion of the obscurantism and triviality of culture studies, it succeeded. After all, it shows you can get papers on your c.v. that are completely meaningless. Maybe by itself it didn’t show that gender studies are rife with this stuff, but others have totted up such papers, including over a thousand in 4 years cited by the Real Peer Review site. And Sokal and Bricmont, and others, have given plenty of examples as well as a deeper discussion of the issue.

        • Posted May 28, 2017 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

          “Well, I’m not sure what it means for this hoax to “fail.” ”

          Neither am I. It seems that the hoax would have been considered successful only if it had made the legions of Women’s Studies “researchers” repent and start to earn their paychecks by some real work. Which of course they would never do voluntarily.

          • Peter
            Posted May 28, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

            Okay, saying that the hoax failed is an overstatement (ie, strictly speaking, saying so is wrong). I wonder how much has really changed since the Sokal hoax which happened 21 years ago! Has the amount of post-modern BS increased, decreased, stayed the same? Does anybody know? I suppose wishful thinking in non-experimental sciences, careerism and laziness will always be with us.

            A quote from Lawrence Krauss:
            “the final arbiter of success [in science] isn’t people. In science, it’s experiments. It’s the ability to make it work. If it works, then people buy into it, whether they like it or not … That, and the oft-misunderstood fact that science doesn’t prove things to be true. Science only proves things to be false. That’s all it does. But that alone is something that doesn’t happen in almost any other area of human activity. The fact that you can say, ‘That’s garbage, don’t talk about it anymore.’ The earth isn’t flat. We don’t need to have critical thinking classes to debate or discuss it. You just go around it, end of story. And the ability to throw out ideas that aren’t productive is, to me, what makes science unique and what allows for progress.” (200-201)
            Interview with Lawrence Krauss. in:
            Adam Bly (ed.): Science is culture: Conversations at the new intersection of science + society. Harper Perennial, 2010

          • Sastra
            Posted May 28, 2017 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

            No, I think the hoax would have made its point (or made its point better) if it had been published, like the Sokol hoax, in a well-respected peer-review journal. Instead, it apparently failed to get into one of those and thus went to one of those journals which will basically publish anything for money. That IS a problem, sure, but not with the ideology which was being criticized. As far as we can tell they weren’t fooled. Maybe they would have been. Don’t know by this.

            Someone compared it to a Creationist getting something stupid about evolution accepted into a little known second rate pay-to-play journal and crowing about evolutionary biology having no standards.

            • Posted May 28, 2017 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

              Except the number of ridiculous papers published in social “sciences” journals is infinitely higher than creationist “hoax” papers published in evolution journals.

              • Sastra
                Posted May 28, 2017 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

                But both the evolutionary biologists and the experts in gender studies can point to the same reasons why the “hoax” fooled no one significant in the field and therefore doesn’t constitute a legitimate hoax. If/since there is a disparity between those two groups, something must have gone wrong with the hoax.

            • Posted May 29, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

              I am not sure it is “one of those journals which will basically publish anything for money”. In recent years, an increasing number of journals in my field require page charges. Some of them are quite good.

              But again, the problem is not that the hoax article was published, the problem is that, to my eye, it does not stand out.

      • Posted May 28, 2017 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know if it “failed.” But I think it was poorly done and pointless. If your response is “look at the real peer review Twitter feed,” I would ask: how does adding one fake ridiculous title to an endless stream of “real” ridiculous papers prove anything? I think they only embarrassed themselves with this. It does not seem to have been very well thought out.

        • Craw
          Posted May 28, 2017 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

          Quite wrong. We are talking about this topic more now than before. Publicity stunts that generate publicity are successes.
          Plus it’s funny. Mockery that makes its target look ridiculous is a success.

    • GM
      Posted May 28, 2017 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      This one wasn’t about obscurantism, Sokal covered that

      This one was about ideological bias

  10. nicky
    Posted May 28, 2017 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Well, in a sense it did succeed: some maintain it actually makes sense.

    • Posted May 28, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Indeed! People can’t even agree whether the paper says anything worthwhile.

  11. AlanF
    Posted May 28, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    I’ve long noted that the farther away you get from the hard sciences, the more obscurantism you see, apparently for the reason so nicely illustrated by the C&H cartoon. The ultimate in obscurantism is religious studies, I think.

    Some years ago I read Christopher Hitchens’ book “God Is Not Great”, then a ‘rebuttal’ book by a Catholic theologian (can’t remember his name). The ‘rebuttal’ was so obscure that I couldn’t finish it.

    It has become apparent to me that unclear and obscurantist thinking is behind similar writing. When I read a sentence that makes my eyes glaze over, no matter how many times I read it, I know that the author is either incompetent or deliberately trying to pull the wool over the readers’ eyes.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted May 28, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Kind of like anything from Deepak Chopra.

      • Posted May 28, 2017 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

        Speaking of Chopra, I kept seeing him around my neighborhood so I figured he must live near me. He does. In the most Chopra building imaginable. Look it up. It’s ridiculous.

        • Richard
          Posted May 29, 2017 at 2:29 am | Permalink

          I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

    • reasonshark
      Posted May 28, 2017 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think it’s a question of how hard or soft a scientific field is, since plenty of psychological and social work is still pretty good – it just gets overshadowed by a lot of parties piling on to deliver their own verdicts. Usually an ideologically driven one.

      The most obvious confounding factor is how close the subject is to humanity. I think it’s more that, the closer you get to humanity, the more distortion and irrationality is on display, because people with preconceived or traditional notions of huamnity – especially when it comes to the quote-unquoted “big questions” – have a far more personal stake in favouring one view over another. Sometimes it’s simply a view instilled early and hard, sometimes it’s an ideology that’s intuitively compelling rather than rationally compelling. And what looms largest in any ideology is its view of humanity, which both informs and is informed by the idea complexes of said ideology.

      For instance, biology is closer to human concerns than astronomy, which is why creationism is such a big deal, and social sciences are again closer to human concerns than biology, which is why dualistic free will and “your mind makes it real” pomo claptrap still exists in force. It’s why opinions about politics and economics are held far more vehemently and confidently than, say, opinions about biological body systems or how stars form. And on those historical occasions which seem exceptional – such as the heliocentric controversy centuries ago – it’s because the ideology has pinned those claims on an understanding of humanity and its place in the cosmos, not because of some freakish concern over astronomy in itself.

      • Posted May 28, 2017 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        “The most obvious confounding factor is how close the subject is to humanity.”

        Indeed, I agree, but my take is slightly different. What separates the hard sciences from the soft sciences is the ability to do randomized, controlled experimentation on sufficiently general objects of interest. Hard biology, chemistry, physics, etc. allow for rigorous, unconfounded analyses of phenomena. But whenever we deal with humans, this is not possible. Observational and pseudo-experimental studies rule the social sciences. The subsequent lack of rigour is a natural consequence of the analytical tools employed.

        This is by design, since there are many good reasons for not allowing sociologists, say, to run randomized, controlled experiments on, say, how people born into money or not succeed later in life. We can’t randomly assign babies to parents of various financial levels.

        Medicine is an exception (sometimes), but there are good enough reasons to suspend our moral objections to treating people as randomized objects in the interest of advancing medical knowledge.

        The hard/soft science distinction is by design most of the time. Sometimes, it is also born of necessity (e.g. much ecological work is necessarily “soft”).

    • bric
      Posted May 28, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      To be fair, theologians don’t really have any choice about being obscure. There is no other paradigm.

  12. Posted May 28, 2017 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Ah, nothing like a rousing game of Calvin Ball!

  13. Taz
    Posted May 28, 2017 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    In grad school one of my math profs insisted our proofs be “clear, concise, and correct” – a good requirement for any writing.

  14. Kevin
    Posted May 28, 2017 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Calvin…pure awesomeness.

  15. Posted May 28, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    The most recent SN (Science News) magazine I received had an article on page 28 titled “Science seeks to explain racism”. Musee d L’Homme in Paris has an exhibit, “Us and Them: From Prejudice to Racism” on display through January 8, 2018. You can check it out online if you choose at:

    The Penis vs. Vagina debate falls in this category IMO. Unless it comes to mating to produce children, there is no valid reason to discriminate between individuals or groups based on sex. Even then, we know that two males or two females can arrange to have children by other methods, if they so choose. Where there’s a will…In defining male vs female the range is great: DNA, hormones, sex organs, physical conformation, culture and a plethora of other factors determine whether an individual identifies as male or female. If we were able to treat every individual as human, and respond to each one’s unique composition and personality, the power struggle between owners of differing sex organs could be over.

    • GM
      Posted May 28, 2017 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      Even then, we know that two males or two females can arrange to have children by other methods, if they so choose.

      WTF did I just read????

      Those “other methods” involve bringing in another male or female, and the resulting offspring is the progeny of one of the males with a third part female or one of the females and a third party male. In other words, the two males/females can raise children but they cannot have them.

      At present it is impossible for genetic material from two females or two males to combine and produce a viable offspring, because of pesky epigenetic issues.

      Which might be resolved in the somewhat distant future with fancy technology, but if you have to rely on extremely complex science to reproduce, you are as good as dead in evolutionary terms.

  16. Dan
    Posted May 28, 2017 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    This hoax and the aftermath shows which members of the greater atheist/skeptic community are suckers for sloppy thinking and SJWism. Hemant Mehta, a nobody blogger whose claim to fame was “selling” his soul on eBay, is one defender of gender studies. Another is the podcast Serious Inquiries Only (formerly Atheistically Speaking). These are supposed skeptics who support post-modernist stupidity masquerading as scholarship.

  17. Posted May 28, 2017 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Well, every journal I’ve ever published in has charged me (“page charges”, they’re called)

    That is interesting. I am a biologist, and I’d estimate that page charges or publication fees were involved in less than 20% of the papers I have authored or co-authored, excepting colour figure charges, which apply also in all subscription-based journals.

    The main defenses are that the journal was a “pay to publish” open-access journal, and that one hoax by itself doesn’t prove that the entire fields of cultural and gender studies are afflicted with creeping obscurantism. … and the second criticism is true, but there are plenty of other reasons to decry the way cultural studies have gone in universities

    The problem here, as I see it, is that this line of argumentation could be seen a goal-post moving. If the question being discussed is, specifically, “did the hoax make sense and show what they claimed to show, or did the people celebrating the hoax behave in a way that appears ironically unskeptical and that they would immediately recognise as fallacious if a similar hoax were made with Cogent Biology to discredit the entire field of evolutionary biology”, then “plenty of other reasons” appear to be besides the point, even as they would be relevant to the very different question whether cultural studies are largely waffle.

    In previous threads here and elsewhere I wrote that I was a bit torn about this because the Cogent website looked surprisingly professional, and I had never seen them spam. Just now I checked my junk mail folder, and voila, there is a spam message from Cogent Biology. And it looks about as professional as those of many predatory journals, with randomly bolded, italicised or coloured text elements, and bragging about how it is “indexed” in the undiscriminating search engine Google Scholar. The only thing missing is “greetings of the day!”

  18. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted May 28, 2017 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    The purpose of writing papers in identity studies “scholarship” does indeed seem to be to impress the audience with one’s ideological correctness and command of obscurantist terminology.

  19. Posted May 29, 2017 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    By the time C&H above was published, Laudan, Bunge and Kitcher had all published their first anti-pomo-in-philosophy-of-science first salvos, and the targets had been around since at least 1985, with Evelyn Fox Keller’s _Reflections on Gender and Science_. (Sandra Harding’s _The Science Question in Feminism_, with the Newton’s law bullcrap, was the next year.) Of course, some of the earlier inspirations like Kuhn and Feyerabend had published their stuff in the 1960s and 1970s – and Bunge and Popper had criticized them at the time. (In fact, there’s a way in which one main goal of Bunge’s entire work in semantics is a rigorous refutation of Kuhn.)

  20. Matt Jenkins
    Posted May 29, 2017 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    As Woody Allen put it – “…the two were introduced by Nietzsche, who told Lou that Metterling was either a genius or an idiot, and to see if she could guess which”.

    The worse influence on ‘researchers’ I’ve ever encountered was one Emmanuel Levinas, whose writing resembles a very bad acid trip (eg ‘Totality and Infinity’). Academics who discover Levinas write some very unintelligible prose indeed.

  21. Rafael Andrade
    Posted June 5, 2017 at 5:02 am | Permalink

    Here are some facts about Cogent Social Sciences:

    – They have a “pay-what-you-want” policy. If that’s not a red flag, I don’t know what it is.
    – No Impact Factor. No H-5 index.
    – They send those spam emails inviting you to publish. Anyone who publishes in “real” journals and get their emails in those lists, know what I’m talking about. I clear about 4 or 5 per day from my inbox.
    – In the particular case of this submission, one of the reviewers accepted the manuscript with no changes!!! If you ever submitted anything to any reputable journal, you know what that means!

    How would you like, professor, to have one of your students publish a paper in an Evolution journal with these characteristics, with your name as a co-author? Exactly.

    It wasn’t a hoax because it wasn’t a real journal. It’s embarrassing for the authors, Michael Shermer and everyone jumping on the bandwagon.

    Yes, Gender Studies are permeated with bullshit. In a world with Climate Change, Neo-Fascism, Terrorism and etc., it’s a bit sad that people invest their time to tackle this as one of the most horrible things plaguing humanity. Yes, they publish bullshit, and read and cite among them. Let them be, ffs.

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