In The News : Pushing Limits

Portland State University is currently looking for a reason to sack one of its professors for making some people and / or himself (depending on your point of view) look a bit silly.

Peter Boghossian, James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose wrote 20 fake papers and attempted to get them published last year.  Seven of their articles had been accepted for publication by ostensibly serious peer-reviewed journals. Seven more were still going through various stages of the review process. Only six had been rejected.  However, it turns out that one publication needed to be paid for.

The plan was to write a load of rubbish, but fill it with buzz words, to expose politically correct “nonsense” in social sciences.

One of the papers was a rewrite of chapter 12 of Hitler’s Mein Kampf from a feminist perspective and one suggested that manspreading is “is akin to raping the empty space around him” as well as being a cause for global warming.

Another, entitled “Rubbing One Out: Defining Metasexual Violence of Objectification Through Nonconsensual Masturbation,” suggests that men who think about a woman without her consent are perpetrators of sexual violence:

By drawing upon empirical studies of psychological harms of objectification, especially through depersonalization, and exploring severel veins of theoretical literature on nonphysical forms of sexual violence, this articles seeks to situate non-concensual male autoerotic fantasizing about women as a form of metasexual violence that depersonalizes her, injures her being on an affective level, contributes to consequent harms of objectification and rape culture, and can appropriate her identity for the purpose of male sexual gratification.

The hoax papers have drawn criticism for humiliating the subject matter experts that they supposedly seek to open discussion with as well as discrediting journals.

Amongst all of it, I wondered if a point was being missed.  In one paper, the authors suggested that feminist interpretive dance could be more successful than “western astronomy”.  It’s extreme and silly, of course, but if you’re going to challenge something, how far to the logical extremes should you be able to go?

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