In 2017 and 2018, Portland State University philosophy professor Peter Boghossian set out to display the intellectual vacuity of women’s and gender studies as an academic endeavor. He, along with a few others, authored hoax research papers and submitted them to prominent academic publications.
It is impossible to overstate how nonsensical these papers are. From claiming that “manspreading… is akin to [a male] raping the empty space around him,” to a literal feminist rewrite of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, to a paper asserting that “dog parks are petri dishes for canine rape culture,” each paper submitted by Boghossian and his colleagues was, to any sane individual, open mockery of gender studies.
Yet, the lunacy fit right in with PhD’s and the world’s best “gender studies experts.” Hoax paper after hoax paper was accepted and published in prominent peer-reviewed academic journals.
After publicly revealing that the papers were hoaxes, bureaucrats and gender studies pseudo professors organized against Boghossian. He was accused of numerous counts of “research misconduct” by PSU and investigated. Among the charges were accusations of “violations regarding the ethical treatment of animals in research” based on the idea that Boghossian had abused the imaginary dogs in the hoax research paper about dog park rape culture.
In July, Mark McLellan, Portland State’s vice president for research and graduate studies, sent the results of the investigators’ findings to Boghossian, informing him that the charge of animal abuse, along with bogus charges of plagiarism had been dropped, but that he was being formally disciplined for “violations of human subjects’ rights and protections.” According to McLellan and the investigators, submitting a hoax paper is a violation of the rights of the recipients of the submission.
Boghossian’s punishment is that he is now “forbidden to engage in any human subjects related research” and “forbidden to engage in any sponsored research,” until he undergoes “protection of human subjects training.” The most overtly Maoist, Orwellian portion of the letter is the conclusion:
“I believe the results of this office’s review of your research behavior raises concerns regarding a lack of academic integrity, questionable ethical behavior and employee breach of rules. Therefore, a copy of this letter and its attachments are being sent to your supervisory ranks of department chair, dean, and provost. Additionally, as a part of the completion of this review, I am copying the president on this matter.”
According to Peter Wood and David Randall of the National Association of Scholars who wrote about the ordeal in The Federalist on Friday, Boghossian is still mulling over whether he will submit to the “training” of his political adversaries or possibly pursue legal action against the school.
Given that the charges against Boghossian lack any sense of a correspondence to reality and serious academic investigation, we can only gather that Portland State is fine with the public knowing that their harassment and punishment of Boghossian is pure political persecution for the purpose of intimidating any who would try to expose the field of women’s and gender studies again. That’s all the more reason to be thankful for Boghossian and his team exposing the pseudo-academics and higher education bureaucrats for what they are.