SIO44: Debunking the ‘Conceptual Penis’ Stunt with Eli Bosnick

An embarrassingly unskeptical article appeared in Skeptic Magazine recently featuring a hoax paper published in a Gender Studies journal  by two authors: James Lindsay (past guest of the show) and Peter Boghossian.  Michael Shermer, the editor of Skeptic magazine, and several major figures in the skeptic movement like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins took the conclusion that Gender Studies as a field has been demolished by this hoax. This is incredibly irresponsible. The hoax paper accomplished no such thing, and Eli is here to explain in depth why.

Links:

Skeptic Magazine Article

Other sokal hoaxes:

  • A US nuclear physics conference accepted a paper written entirely in autocomplete.
  • A trio of MIT grad students created an algorithm that creates fake scientific papers – in 2013 IEEE and Springer Publishing found 120 published papers had been generated by the program.
  • A paper entitled “Get me off your fucking mailing list” was accepted for publication by computer science journal.
  • A 2013 hoax saw a scientific paper about fictional lichen published in several hundred journals.

Cogent OA FAQ

Lichen Paper published in 45% of DOAJ publishers

Gender Studies Journal Rankings

Excellent Debunk by Bleedingheartlibertarians

Other Excellent Debunk, with Source for Sokal Quote

 

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Episode 362: Waiting 4 Wrath - Cognitive Dissonance the PodcastActuallyyou'rewrongThomas LacroixSenor Major MustachePsychopompGecko Recent comment authors

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St. Ralph
Guest

You forgot to define “Gender Studies.” There are those of us so pre-modern that we don’t even know what that is, or what it’s supposed to be.

Daniel Missale
Guest
Daniel Missale

“You seem confused. Nobody is saying that the field is useless because it published this paper. We’re saying that it published this paper because it is useless.”–from the skeptic article. You’re entire podcast is arguing against a straw man.

Daniel Missale
Guest
Daniel Missale

Your

Andrew
Guest

I’m not sure it’s enough to write “we do not claim to have any evidence of our central thesis” in a comment at the bottom of an article.

Daniel Aikens
Guest
Daniel Aikens

That is just as stupid a statement considering the journal that published the paper was pay to play. They couldn’t get a real journal to take it from the sounds of things, kind of making exact opposite point.

Dan
Guest
Dan

The “real” journal recommended this journal instead of just rejecting it outright. At least 4 people reviewed this nonsense and it still was published.

The real problem is this study doesn’t sound too much different than other studies and it isn’t the only hoax out there. About a 100 studies site a study generated by the post modern generator as a legit source of info.

Mike Samsa
Guest
Mike Samsa

Hi Dan, It’s not true that the journal recommended Cogent and they didn’t peer review it. They deemed it too bad to even consider getting anyone in to review it and rejected it straight away. Then the PUBLISHER sent an automatic reply to the authors to advertise another journal. Basically they got spam in their email and interpreted it aa a recommendation from the journal. Here is the comment from NORMA: “International Journal for Masculinity Studies received a submission entitled ’The conceptual penis as a social construct’ in the manuscript system of our journal. After the routine technical check of… Read more »

kyle
Guest
kyle

I hadn’t seen this. Thanks for sharing it.

Thomas Lacroix
Guest
Thomas Lacroix

They should not have an automatic transfer system that does not allow for complete rejection of the paper. They should have to tick a box “transfer this to another journal” in order for the paper to be transfered. The fact they didn’t foresee that a bogus paper could be forwarded automatically is still a fault on their part.

Senor Major Mustache
Guest
Senor Major Mustache

No, the reason they published the paper was to prove that the field is useless. If you already know it’s useless then why conduct a test?

The whole point of this hoax was prove that you can get gibberish published along as it is anti-male and therefore prove that field is shit. Which they failed to do sense only a pay to publish journal published there study.

gou
Guest
gou
Dan
Guest
Dan

This is the moment Serious Inquiries Only jumped the shark.

Ballerd14
Guest
Ballerd14

It’s like… Can we take a joke, guys?

kyle
Guest
kyle

“Jokes start with ‘knock, knock’ or ‘what do you get when you cross a….'” As much as I want to view Boghossian and Lindsay as a couple of merry pranksters poking fun at the stuffy old boys’ club that is the field of modern Gender Studies, as mentioned in the episode, they, along with Shermer and any number of individuals retweeting this as “a well-founded takedown of Gender Studies,” are doing so in a particular cultural climate and acting as de facto representatives of the “skeptic/atheist/whatever you want to call it” community. By “a particular cultural climate,” I mean both… Read more »

Kirk Smith
Guest

Don’t forget the old “A guy, a palm tree and a desert island walk into a bar” trope. Bob Mankoff came up with 192 cliché cartoon setups.

Dan
Guest
Dan

I liked it better when we cared more about what is true.

kyle
Guest
kyle

Cryptic.

Feel like expanding on that?

Dan
Guest
Dan

Kyle, you are defending a field of study from ridicule instead of determining that the field of study is true and ridicule would just bounce off of it. Like when Kent Hovind makes fun of evolution, it falls flat because evolution is true.

kyle
Guest
kyle

Thanks for explaining that. I see what you mean, and I agree to some extent. Ultimately what Michael Shermer, James Lindsay, and Peter Boghossian think about Gender Studies is irrelevant to the validity of Gender Studies, and the fact that they’re embarrassing themselves as “skeptics” with this prank/article should speak for itself.

I’m less concerned about protecting Gender Studies from criticism than I am about representatives of a community I’m a part of making that community seem less respectful and accepting of trans people.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Gender studies has nothing to do with transpeople. Transpeople exist and have real issues whether gender studies is true or not. To be honest if gender studies is complete bullshit then they do a diservice to the communities you are trying to protect.

kyle
Guest
kyle

Respectfully, Gender Studies has a lot to do with people identifying as transgender, as well as the ways in which society reacts to expressions of gender, the ways in which mental health professionals provide care, the ways in which legislation is passed and challenged, and in many ways, having theories and conceptualization of what gender is in multiple contexts can be personally helpful to individuals trying to figure themselves out. I’m not sure what you think Gender Studies is, but as far as I can tell, it’s the study of gender and the ways conceptualizations and expressions of gender interact… Read more »

Ballerd14
Guest
Ballerd14

Made the mistake of commenting before I got to the part of the episode I was anticipating most: Eli’s self righteous rant.

Eli comes on the show every once in a while and gasses Thomas up on something he’s mad about.

Stephan Brun
Guest
Stephan Brun

Lol, there’s plenty of evidence that Gender Studies, formerly (pre-1995) Women’s Studies (basically radfem-in-academe), is bunk, not all of it anecdotal. First off, the anecdotes are of the untrue-for-me variety, which is quite a bit more powerful than the true-for-me ones. And @RealPeerReview and their predecessor on Twitter show the field is full of anecdotal “studies” based on that ideology, which is extra-academic and Marx-based. And Marxism was of course falsfied in 1922 (Mises), which means its existence in academe (as Critical Theory) is a scandal. Furthermore, insisting on using the NHST in place of science invalidates every field that… Read more »

Kirk Smith
Guest

That makes sense that “Gender Studies” would be the “Women’s Studies” of yore. Nowadays if you give a subject or a course a gender-specific title, you risk losing your junk.

Vladimir Krasny
Guest
Vladimir Krasny

Eli not Thomas disagree with you. Thay stated that.
All they did was argued about “publishing this paper => gender studies is bunk”

PsychopompGecko
Guest
PsychopompGecko

If all those so-called “anecdotal studies” are of the type that Lindsay himself cites, then it’s safe to say you’re not critically examining what someone on Twitter tells you. And if you’re going to disagree with Marxism, you’d do better to criticize Marx’s theory on history, which isn’t accepted by actual historians, instead of citing Ludwig von Mises. Mises is the archetypal non-scientific economist, to the extent that his work rejects the scientific method and any ideas of using empiricism in favor of his praxeology. You can’t debunk anything under that kind of ideology, the same that gave us Reaganomics… Read more »

Actuallyyou'rewrong
Guest
Actuallyyou'rewrong

Actually, you’re outright lying and parroting literal Nazi propaganda.
https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2003/cultural-marxism-catching

Mike Samsa
Guest
Mike Samsa

Hi Thomas! I haven’t had a chance to comment in a while even though I keep meaning to, but I just wanted to say that I’m really loving SIO. You always did a great job of providing a balanced view on topics but somehow it feels like you’ve stepped up your game and these episodes have been really fascinating. You and the research team have managed to provide some really high quality content. I loved this episode, I’m baffled that so many people are still trying to defend the “hoax”. I feel like all that’s happening here is that people… Read more »

tomackl
Guest
tomackl

What was the actual point of this episode? There was no argument, and even less proof regarding the debunking of the paper. Eli’s argument wasn’t one, it was a breathless piece of self justifying confirmation bias. Any attempt to take Eli seriously was rendered pointless with the ‘argument’ that since both his parents have doctorates he is therefore familiar with the peer review process. This suggests a Trumpian level of self delusion. Rage and vitriol does not make an argument, it makes you look like a ignorant fool. Why do Thomas and Eli consider themselves to be skeptics? I have… Read more »

Dan
Guest
Dan

This is why I won’t listen anymore. Treating Eli like an expert just loses the crumbling credibility Thomas has been tossing away.

kyle
Guest
kyle

It seemed to me like the point was to discuss a thing that happened in the atheist/skeptic community, involved guests of the show, and about which there is a lot of misinformation and unsubstantiated claims. If you took what Eli said to be “I know about this, because my parents were professors,” I’d suggest relistening, because what I heard was “I’m not even that qualified to detect bullshit on this issue, but the problems are so glaringly obvious, even I could see them.” You honestly listened to a whole episode of these two taking apart an article that makes unsubstantiated… Read more »

Actuallyyou'rewrong
Guest
Actuallyyou'rewrong

Any examples for your claims? All you’ve done is make vague assertions.

RHicks
Guest
RHicks

*I have no opinion about ‘Gender Studies’, and know virtually nothing about the field. I am not certain how the article in Skeptic would have been have published in a good journal too. It is nearly a rambling paper where their thesis is unclear, the methodology is flawed, and the coy foreword is seemingly unrelated, aside from a possibly bias conclusion that paper really doesn’t address in a meaningful way. They seem to make put forth their thesis at the end of their paper but for me what is most damning is the lack controls on the variables that they… Read more »

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