T Nation

White Privilege


Water under the bridge.

I think it’s funny. I don’t know why people get that impression, but it happens enough that there must be something to it.


You have fantastic selective memory.

What prompted me to say that?

A penchant for fanciful articulation does’t qualify you as being better at incivility. As if thats even relevant.

What offense did I commit that warranted such a response. I tongue in cheek called you a pedantic semantic.

I did not bring up education or income. That was solely you.

This is far from accurate.

So, again you want to bring up money and education. Lets compare. I am game.



Back to the topic of the thread.

If you have two hours to spend. Here is the latest episode of the Joe Rogan Experience.

Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay submitted 20 bogus scholars papers to try and illustrate the ridiculous bias in academia.

Such great titles as Human reactions to rape culture and queer performativity at urban dog parks
in Portland, Oregon.

Showing it doesn’t matter how ridiculous your research and articles are as long as you support their crusade against the heteronormative white patriarchal establishment.


I’m loath to participate in any discussion in this thread at all, but as this wanders its way into my general neck of the woods as one of those pencil-necked geek academics that publishes papers in peer-reviewed journals, I feel obliged to comment.

This shamockery got quite a bit of attention in many corners of academia, but probably not for the reason you’re thinking. Let me try to explain.

  1. We academics generally disseminate our work by publishing in peer-reviewed journals that are edited and reviewed by other scholars in our field.

  2. As one might expect, the number of journals has exploded over the last 20 or so years thanks to the Interwebz making it possible to have “online only” journals (many journals don’t even have a formal print edition any more)

  3. As many people are desperate to build their academic reputations, and it tends to be difficult to publish your work in the highest-quality journals, a lot of so-called “predatory” journals have arisen that will publish just about anything if you pay the “open access” fee (in theory, this is the journal saying “We don’t make any money from selling the print journals, so we need authors to pay so we can make all of our articles open access” - but that’s also a convenient smokescreen for fake journals to publish anything from anyone who will pay the fee).

  4. In response to the rise of these garbage/fake journals, some folks occasionally have done “sting” operations where they submit fake articles to the fake journals to show how easy it can be to get fake work published in fake journals. In truth, most real academics are not fooled by this - I know what the real journals in my field are and what they aren’t, and I frequently Tweet out screenshots of emails from the fake journals because I find them funny - but they can fool the general public into thinking an article published in the “International Journal of Innovative Research in Medical Science” (one of the fake-journal emails I received this morning - I get about 20 a day, I’d estimate) is a real research paper.

  5. This most recent effort is sort of a descendant of those sting efforts. But, they came at this with a specific agenda: prove that the journals are biased in one direction and will accept fake research of a certain brand, which “supports their crusade against the heteronormative white patriarchal establishment” to coin a phrase.

  6. The problem, however, is that they submitted all fake articles that were on the same side of the issue (“as long as you support their crusade against the heteronormative white patriarchal establishment”). In truth, the journals’ preference for such papers would only be convincingly proven if you could demonstrate that there was some asymmetry or bias - meaning, the authors should have submitted 20 more fake studies that took the opposite side of each of the 20 fake studies they submitted, and had they shown that only the ones crusading against the heteronormative white patriarchal establishment were accepted while those “crusading for the heteronormative white patriarchal establishment” were rejected, perhaps that would actually prove that there’s some asymmetry or bias.

My suspicion (truly) is that this reflects a generalized low standard of publication at the journals, not a specific bias/preference for a certain agenda, and also I believe they only got most of these published in pretty low-brow journals after rejection from higher-quality journals (I know some people who actually reviewed - and rejected - these articles in real/reputable journals).


I’ll check these videos. And thanks for your responses. I’ll try chiming in here tonight or tomorrow.

I used to like Stefan Molyneux’s content but in the recent year I started to intensely dislike some of it. I’ll try to explain later.

Again, thanks.


A few other points to add to my latest post:

The authors submitted 20 fake papers. To my knowledge, seven were eventually “accepted” by journals. So, with respect to this point:

Not quite true. All 20 papers weren’t swallowed whole. Seven of the 20 were eventually accepted. So most of this crap did get ferreted out by peer review before getting into print.

Plus, as I said, even a couple of the ones that were eventually accepted by some journals got rejected first by better journals before worming their way into a lower tier of journals. I know a guy that reviewed (and rejected) one of the seven that was eventually “accepted” somewhere.

The bigger point (IMO) is the asymmetry issue - to make their point convincingly they’d have to show these articles were easier to get accepted than those articles - but it’s another important point that most people who want to grab their pitchforks and rant about the attack on white males will happily ignore. Most of these articles were rejected. Several times, in fact.

EDIT: I know, it’s hard to accept, you bit HARD because these guys have fancy degrees and they were on Joe Rogan and they are just trying to bring DA REAL TRUTH, but seriously, wake the fuck up and check some facts. Do you really think these guys are any less biased or fake-newsy than the LIBRUL MEDIUH that you think promotes the destruction of white males?


You don’t look pencil necked to me.

I can’t attest to the prestige of all the Journals they submitted their hoax article to.

A cursory search shows that a few of them I would suspect are not low brow.

Gender, Place & Culture was one journal they were published in. It has been around for almost 25 years.

Affilia was another journal that publish their hoax article. They’ve been around since 1986.

Maybe they are low brow. Certainly they have low standards.

I didn’t bite hard. I just thought I would share an interesting podcast.

I can tell you are making certain assumptions about me. But thanks for the input and joining the conversation.


Thanks, @ActivitiesGuy!

That was a much-needed critique of all of the garbage out there…and how quickly people are to latch on to total bullshit as truth.

It really is frustrating wading through it all…and trying to convince someone that something that they hold to be true is in fact total and complete trash.


Is 7 out of 20 a bad rate, especially for completely made up papers with intentionally far out subjects and titles? I mean, these weren’t even as subtle attempts as they could’ve been. This was blatantly wacky stuff.

Edit: How often is the average well-intentioned paper rejected vs accepted,?



Sounds like you bit pretty goddamn hard to me - you swallowed this whole without checking the veracity or showing a moment’s critical thought. Most academics who understand the game saw this entire stunt as bullshit from the get-go. The only thing it “proved” is that you can publish fake work in crappy journals if you spend enough time working on it. It certainly doesn’t make any point about “grievance studies” being more likely to get accepted than other studies. That would have required a different study. Paradoxically, they’re committing exactly the sin they’re calling out journals and academia for - their macro / meta “study” is using shitty methodology to push an agenda and hoping that nobody is wise enough to catch them.

The other point worth making here - if you don’t like the idea of having to do actual work in academia, you can make a much more lucrative career turning yourself into a pariah and getting invited to speak by fanboys (the doctor who published the first KNOWN TO BE FAKE anti-vaccine study is still a hero that gets paid to speak all over the world). These guys have said things publicly like they expect to be fired for doing this - that’s exactly what they want. They pulled this stunt, can martyr themselves, write a book or two, hit the speaking circuit and rile folks up that won’t have the time or energy or mental acuity to catch onto the game. Meanwhile, poor schlubs like me will carry on trying to do actual research to improve human health and life in the world.


That’s a fair question for sure. I’ll try my best to answer/explain, and I will admit that underlying this whole stunt is a semi-reasonable point (although one that’s been made before) about the proliferation of crappy journals and ability to publish poor-quality work if you find the right journal and/or open access place that sounds credible. Here’s a past example that I found humorous:


And here’s one university librarians effort to keep a list of known scammer journals:

Moving on, putting the “7 out of 20” number in context requires a couple of pieces of information, not all of which I have or can be found easily:

  1. How many journals was each paper submitted to before acceptance? This work doesn’t represent 7 out of 20 on the first try.

  2. How high did they aim? I’ve been on reasonably good papers that were rejected by 4 or 5 journals before eventually being accepted because the authors aimed really high to begin with for a paper that probably belonged in a more topical journal (ex. if the paper deals with a niche or specialty problem in medicine, and the authors start by submitting the paper to the Journal of the American Medical Association, then try the New England Journal of Medicine, etc they may be rejected several times before eventually publishing in the specialty journal that they probably should have started with from the beginning).

For context, I’m on the editorial board of one journal and review regularly for a couple others & I know that lots of papers get rejected; sometimes because they’re not the right fit for the journal’s focus; sometimes because their methods and/or writing is simply not good enough; but it’s hard to put one number on the “acceptance rate” of academic studies for the reasons named above.

In truth, 7 out of 20 accepted on the first try at high-level journals would actually be a pretty good hit rate. From what information I’ve seen publicly on this story, though, I don’t think that was the outcome. As I said, they certainly have a legitimate underlying point that if you’re willing to work hard enough to get garbage published somewhere, you probably can get some of it published, eventually. I should try to find the Twitter thread from my one buddy that reviewed one of those which was rejected by the original journal but later accepted.


And I honestly didn’t know. Appreciate you chiming in and sharing your experience.


What they published was ridiculous. Even if only 7 out of 20 were actually published and even if they had to edit the ones that were published.

You are 100 % right though. They should have attempted to publish papers with claims representing the opposite conclusions.

I thought it was interesting because I thought it illustrated this trend I have seen of people being vilified if they don’t share the exact same values and ideals as the community of academics who seem to have a disproportionate amount of power on University campuses these days.

I took it that they were just trying to show how ridiculous these areas of study being offered in universities are. Some of the ridiculous courses and majors being offered in the humanities and social sciecnes. The same groups that demand safe spaces and try to ban guest speakers. Protest when they arrive.

I don’t think all journals would publish that garbage. I understand how difficult the process of being published can be. The hard work, the research and all the conferences presenting your work. Credibility is important. So I certainly can see why this stunt can be irritating to some.

I am right there with you man.


OK. Peace offering. Sorry for getting a little riled.


This is the mildly irritating part to me - if these guys really wanted to test their hypothesis, there was a very easy way to do it. Submit the “inverse” fake papers to journals and prove that it was easier to publish on one side of ideology than the other. As is, their experiment doesn’t really prove their point, although they’ve been happy to collect the plaudits from cheerleaders on their team as though it did.

EDIT: this is 100% my opinion/guess, but I suspect they didn’t do that because they know that it would have weakened their point. Even if it was less likely that some of those “opposite” papers would have been accepted, getting just one or two still would have countered their point. Much safer for them to go one-direction-only and then trumpet the acceptance of their fake papers as evidence that LIBRUL ACADEMIUH is biased to accept papers with specific ideological angles.


For sure. It’s inexcusable that any reputable journal could publish a few of these. But like I said, they aren’t even the original pranksters in that regard - a dude got a paper called “Deconstructing Access Points” that was just word-gibberish accepted in an open-access journal (which basically outed that journal as being totally fake).

To the authors’ credit, in this stunt, they claim (although I haven’t checked all the journals to be certain) that they submitted to journals that had an actual peer review process, and some definitely did (shamefully) make it through some degree of peer review despite being very poorly written - the sort of thing that absolutely should have been spotted as garbage.

No problem. Happy to try to offer something when I have a useful or relevant experience.

That’s a good question, like I said, it’s kind of tough to give one number for that. I’ll try and give a little more inside baseball into academics / journal processes, although admitting it’s a pretty serious thread derail, but may be useful for future reading of yours:

I’m the statistical editor for a journal called Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions, which lives under the American Heart Association family of journals. Circulation is the AHA’s main flagship journal; then there are a number of sub-specialty journals like Circ: Cardiovascular Interventions, Circ: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, Circ: Cardiovascular Imaging. People may submit directly to us, or they may submit to main Circulation and get routed down to us. We also may reject a paper but offer transfer to a different journal if it fits better there (i.e. a paper that doesn’t feel that interesting in the specialty of “interventional cardiology” but may be more interesting to the imaging specialists). So I think we ultimately accept something like 15% of the papers that are submitted to our journal, but that doesn’t mean only 15% of those are ever published in any journal.

Anecdotally, I’ve published just over 100 papers in the last seven years. I’d estimate that I was a co-author on another 50-75 that have been submitted to journals at least once but never made it into print for various reasons (poor quality; low impact; student / post-doc graduated and didn’t have the time to finish project; etc). Sadly, anyone that’s spent a little time as an early-career researcher in academia knows that you usually kiss a few frogs early in your career before getting really good data to work with. In my case, as a statistician, I’ve done a lot of what basically amounts to “service” work helping medical students or residents that are just trying to do a research project because they have to, but their mentor doesn’t have the time, effort, funds (or all three) to adequately support a really good project, so they show up with some Gawd-awful Excel spreadsheet and say “I want to do (X)” where I usually have to explain that their data can’t do (X), but we can do (Y, which is much less interesting and novel than X).


Maybe they weren’t trying to make a blanket statement about academia. Really it looked like they were just trying to showcase how ridiculous certain fields of study were. The very ones who are responsible for creating an environment where academics, students and everyone in between are forced to walk on eggshells lest they hurt someones feelings. The same kind of stuff that led to Brett Weinstein and his wife resigning at Evergreen.

So maybe they should have submitted equally ridiculous papers to journals that publish research outside of the humanities and social sciences. That could add weight to the point they are trying to make.

Also, I am not sure if they are looking to get fired so they can hit the speaking circuit. Only one of the guys who was on the podcast is teaching at a university. The other did previously but left.

Since you’ve been involved in academia have you noticed any shifts in regards to how certain research topics were pushed versus others?

Sex researcher Debra Soh was also on the JRE where spoke to greath lengths on the shift in academia in what sort of research could and couldn’t be down. How there wasn’t has much freedom for academic pursuit and she thought it was a consequence of the ideology coming out of those departments.

I swear I listen to other podcasts asides from JRE. Also a huge fan of Radiolab but I have to admit its a distant second to JRE.

Edit: I get the feeling you would consider the JRE low brow. Are you not a fan? He has some fantastic guests.


I think the first point and second are kind of divergent. I think they wanted to specifically target the feelz type of research that you’re alluding to and make their grandstanding point that if you publish something that hits the right feelz it will be accepted (I found another source, unverified, that claims all 20 of the papers were rejected by the first journal to which they were submitted; as @Sloth pointed out, it is normal for even good papers to be rejected by top-tier journals, but this doesn’t help their argument that submitting a popular feelz paper gets you a green light into any journal).

I think the latter bolded point would be testing something different (that peer review in general lets questionable papers into print, which anyone knows is true if you’re willing to hunt long enough and stoop low enough).

On that point, also, I work in a hard-ish science (medicine) and work mostly with hard-ish science people (biology, chem, etc) so my experience of academia is certainly different than professors of history, philosophy, economics, psychology, etc. I will also say that psychology in particular has seen some real progress & conversations about how to make methods more rigorous and less susceptible to bullshit; they’re leading the way in calls for open data, code, more transparency in how you arrived at your findings.

I have nothing to go on other than the one guy’s quote that he expects to get fired for this. That seems like classic “setting myself up to be a martyr” stuff to me. It can be a lucrative path if you get yourself fired but manage to make yourself a hero to the right sect of people in the process.

First, I’m young (32) and have only been on faculty for a few years.

Second, as alluded, I work in medicine, so I doubt I can provide insight re: the topics discussed here. I can speak to general academic practices, publication, etc but not a whole lot to the state of the field in something like gender or racial-equality studies, lol.

Certainly not intending to dismiss JRE out of hand - I’ve seen/heard several folks that like his podcast and his guest roster certainly seems interesting. I’ve never really gotten into podcasts (which is dumb, I spend 30 minutes driving to work and 45-60 minutes driving home every day, I really should get a couple reliable ones).

What cheeses me off (and I say this without having listened to Rogan interview those guys) is the overall public perception (deception, really) that those guys have created about their work. They submitted 20 papers. Most of them got rejected. Only a few slipped through, and they did so in relatively lesser-known/lower-tier journals. This work absolutely did not prove anything like “Just write a paper with the right ideological bent and it’s a shoo-in because of liberal academic bias” although that’s how it has been trumpeted. That has nothing to do with Rogan personally, but it illustrates the danger in bringing folks onto a podcast to speak on a topic without maybe having the time, energy, or expertise to verify that whatever they’re currently famous for doing or saying is warranted. Does that make sense?


And just to briefly lighten the mood a bit, while on the topic of verifying your guests before letting them on the air, here’s a favorite humorous story:

(one of the punked stations, channel 69/WFMZ, is my hometown news station…)


Rofl. That’s awesome.