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Hoax academic paper exposes gender studies

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Tim Dieppe comments on a hoax academic paper on gender studies that was published in a peer-reviewed academic journal. The paper is, by the admission of the authors, meaningless nonsense designed to expose the absurdity of gender studies as an academic field. How is it that expert academics can be fooled in this way? Tim argues that gender studies has become divorced from objective truth, and consequently accepting of nonsense.


A peer reviewed academic journal has published a hoax paper deliberately written to expose the problems with peer review and gender studies. The paper is titled: "The conceptual penis as a social construct" and was published in the academic journal Cogent Social Sciences.

Here is what the authors say about their paper:

"After completing the paper, we read it carefully to ensure it didn't say anything meaningful, and as neither one of us could determine what it is actually about, we deemed it a success."

To get a feel for the content, here is conclusion of the paper:

"We conclude that penises are not best understood as the male sexual organ, or as a male reproductive organ, but instead as an enacted social construct that is both damaging and problematic for society and future generations. The conceptual penis presents significant problems for gender identity and reproductive identity within social and family dynamics, is exclusionary to disenfranchised communities based upon gender or reproductive identity, is an enduring source of abuse for women and other gender-marginalized groups and individuals, is the universal performative source of rape, and is the conceptual driver behind much of climate change."

References faked too

Not only is the content of the paper intentional nonsense, but the references were also faked. The authors state:

"Most of our references are quotations from papers and figures in the field that barely make sense in the context of the text. Others were obtained by searching keywords and grabbing papers that sounded plausibly connected to words we cited. We read exactly zero of the sources we cited, by intention, as part of the hoax."


"Nearly a third of our references in the original paper go to fake sources from a website mocking the fact that this kind of thing is brainlessly possible, particularly in 'academic' fields corrupted by postmodernism."

The paper was blind reviewed by two academics in the field. They gave the paper high marks in nearly every category. One reviewer graded it "outstanding" in every category.

Not the first time

Back in 1996, physicist Alan Sokal managed to get a hoax paper published in the journal Social Text. The article was a deliberate parody of postmodernism, describing physical 'reality' as a social construct, and laden with intentional incomprehensibility. Sokal described his article as "self-indulgent nonsense", and complained that it should not have been lauded as scholarly in any way.

The revelation of the hoax caused a media storm, hitting the front page of the New York Times. Paul Boghossian, writing for the Times Literary Supplement commented:

"The conclusion is inescapable that the editors of Social Textdidn't know what many of the sentences in Sokal's essay actually meant; and that they just didn't care. How could a group of scholars, editing what is supposed to be the leading journal in a given field, allow themselves such a sublime indifference to the content, truth and plausibility of a scholarly submission accepted for publication?"

The same comments could be made of the editors and peer reviewers of Cogent Social Sciences.

Gender studies and 'fashionable nonsense'

This latest hoax exposes that contemporary academic gender studies is divorced from objective reality. Utter nonsense is lauded as scholarly research, providing of course that it is what Alan Sokal termed "fashionable nonsense."

The same issue of Social Construct that published Sokal's hoax article, also published a genuine article with the title: "Gender and Genitals: Constructs of Sex and Gender". This article reported that "transgender theorists and activists" are refuting the "Western assumption that there are only two sexes." As George Will wrote in the Washington Post, this article read like it could have been a parody too, except it wasn't.

That article was sadly prophetic. Twenty years later our society now accepts the false notion of multiple gender options. No matter that this is contrary to biological science, or reality, or the way we are created.

Another peer reviewed academic paper published in the last few weeks is titled "Ego Hippo: the subject as metaphor", and discusses the author's transspecies identity as a hippopotamus. Apparently, this one is not a hoax. It was published in the journal Angelaki: journal of theoretical humanities which was established in 1993.

Where next for academia?

Contemporary gender studies has been exposed as accepting of nonsense. It may well be 'fashionable nonsense', but nonsense never stays in fashion for very long. Once we lose sight of objective truth, including the truths that there is a God to whom we are accountable, and that this world is his creation, anything is possible and acceptable. How long will it be till we see a reform of academia that makes nonsense unacceptable? A recovery of these objective truths in the academy is what is required.


Related Links: 
The conceptual penis as a social construct - Skeptic
Gender ideology is a universal acid | Jonathan Saunders
ew study challenges claims about human sexuality