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Many fields of Humanities have been hijacked by a political ideology, latest hoax is the most recent confirmation

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K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

Three academics have a conducted a comprehensive expose of the propaganda that goes on in universities in the name of scholarship. They have managed to get reputed journals to publish absolutely absurd papers as part of a hoax. The academics, Helen Pluckrose, James Lindsay and Peter Boghossian, assert that the fact that these papers were published by reputed journals in the respected fields reveals the sheer crisis that academia is faced with.

The academics say, “Scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established, if not fully dominant, within these fields, and their scholars increasingly bully students, administrators, and other departments into adhering to their worldview. This worldview is not scientific, and it is not rigorous.”

They further go on to assert that the papers, which we will discuss soon, “blend in” very well with others in the disciplines that they were focusing on. The academics focused their attention on subjects such as Gender Studies, Cultural Studies, Fat Studies and the like. They use the term “Grievance Studies” to describe these fields collectively.

The academics claim that they wrote 20 such papers out of which 7 were accepted at various reputed journals and 4 of them had been published online. One such paper gained great appreciation from the reputed journal, ‘Gender, Place, and Culture’, and was honoured as one of the 12 leading pieces in ‘Feminist Geography’ as part of its 25th-anniversary celebration. The paper in question claims dog parks are “Petri dishes for canine ‘rape culture’ ” and issues “a call for awareness into the different ways dogs are treated on the basis of their gender and queering behaviours, and the chronic and perennial rape emergency dog parks pose to female dogs.”

Another paper titled ‘Who are they to judge? Overcoming anthropometry through fat bodybuilding’ that was published in the Journal ‘Fat Studies’ asserted that ‘Fat Bodybuilding’ should be introduced as a category in the sport of professional bodybuilding. The paper, which has been retracted after the author admitted it to be a hoax, states, “While fat activism has disrupted many dominant discourses that causally contribute to negative judgments about fat bodies, it has not yet penetrated the realm of competitive bodybuilding.

The author introduces fat bodybuilding as a means of challenging the prevailing assumptions of maximally fat-exclusionary (sports) cultures while raising fundamental ontological questions about what it means to “build a body.” Specifically, he advocates for imagining a new classification within bodybuilding, termed fat bodybuilding, as a fat inclusive politicized performance and a new culture to be embedded within bodybuilding.”

Another published paper asserts that men will be less transphobic and more feminist if they masturbate via anal penetration. The most atrocious, however, was the one where the authors rewrote a chapter from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. The paper, however, was published in a reputed journal.

The published hoax papers bring to mind the Sokal Hoax. Alan Sokal, a professor of Physics at New York University, submitted a paper in 1996 to Social Text, an academic journal of postmodern cultural studies where he argues that Quantum Gravity was a social and linguistic construct. The article declared that “it is becoming increasingly apparent that physical ‘reality'” is fundamental “a social and linguistic construct”.

It went on to state that because scientific research is “inherently theory-laden and self-referential”, it “cannot assert a privileged epistemological status with respect to counter-hegemonic narratives emanating from dissident or marginalized communities” and that therefore a “liberatory science” and an “emancipatory mathematics”, spurning “the elite caste canon of ‘high science'”, needed to be established for a “postmodern science [that] provide[s] powerful intellectual support for the progressive political project”. On the day of its publication, Sokal revealed that it was a hoax.

Thus far, we have discussed the hoax and content of the published hoax papers. Let us now explore some other papers which have been published by reputed journals in these fields that thus far have not been claimed to be hoaxes by anyone and therefore appear to be authentic.

In the paper, The Perilous Whiteness of Pumpkins, published by GeoHumanities, the author “examines the symbolic whiteness associated with pumpkins in the contemporary United States.” It says, “Pumpkins in popular culture also reveal contemporary racial and class coding of rural versus urban places.” And further asserts, “When considered vis-à-vis violence and activism that incorporated pumpkins, these analyses point toward the perils of equating pumpkins and whiteness.”

A paper was also published on ‘Viral Loads’, a homosexual pornographic movie was mired in controversy for its apparent glorification of contracting HIV AIDS. The abstract of the paper titled ‘Breeding futures: masculinity and the ethics of CUMmunion in Treasure Island Media’s Viral Loads‘ reads thus, “I examine his porn text Viral Loads to explore its implications for thinking future-orientated masculinities and community formations. I claim that Viral Loads forces us to rethink modern ideals of individual autonomy and bodily integrity, and alludes to alternative community formations enacted not by holding something in common but by relentlessly giving and exchanging foreign matter. By depicting ‘loads’ circulating between bodies posited as interfaces, Viral Loads gives us a porous and impure form of masculinity. In so doing, it breeds a queer future in which community ethics becomes an ethics of CUMmunion, a ‘cummoning’ with strangers that is offered as an alternative to the politics of self and other.”

Of course, there are hordes of other published papers that are deeply troubling to say the least and on occasions, downright absurd. One handle on Twitter that does a remarkable job of documenting such papers is @RealPeerReview.

Through @RealPeerReview, I became aware of another published paper which asserted that Milk is a symbol of and tool for White Superiority. The paper titled ‘Got Mylk? The Disruptive Possibilities of Plant Milk‘ states “milk has long had a sinister side, being bound up with the exploitation of the (human and nonhuman) bodies it comes from and being a symbol of and tool for white dominance and superiority.” The paper explores “plant milk’s potential as a “disruptive milk,” one that can break free from the exploitation and oppression long bound up in dairy milk, and argues that an act of verbal activism – replacing the “i” with a “y” to create “mylk” – may present plant milk advocates with an opportunity to reclaim and reinvent the word for the “post milk generation.”

There are countless other papers along the same lines which shows clearly that humanities as a field has been hijacked to further a particular ideology. More than the papers that are published, more concerning are the ones that are silenced due to ideological inclinations.

A paper on the ‘Greater Male Variability Hypothesis’ (GMVH) which asserts that there are more idiots and more geniuses among men than among women was made to “disappear” after formal publication. Another published paper is being subjected to a post-publication review due to research methodology apparently. However, concerns were also raised that “the conclusions of the study could be used to discredit efforts to support transgender youth and invalidate the perspectives of members of the transgender community.” Of course, the review could very well be because of the research methodology of the said paper but given the circumstances, politics appears likely to have played a part.

Coming back to the current hoax, Left-wing academics are now terming it a right-wing conspiracy. A professor of Gender Studies dubs the remarkable lack of intellectual rigour displayed by the journals as a coordinated attack from the right.

The field of Humanities is suffering a major crisis. The only reason academia continues to enjoy respect from society is because of the good work done by their predecessors and the fact that they hadn’t been subject to public scrutiny yet. But now, the public eye is turning towards their corrupt practices and unless they mend their ways, Humanities is threatened with losing its credibility completely.

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K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

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