Too good to fact-check? Academic journal publishes hoax on conservative takeover of higher ed

Aprestigious academic journal has egg on its face for publishing a hoax paper that claimed to find widespread concerns about “undue” conservative influence in higher education.

“Right-wing money strongly appears to induce faculty and administrators … to believe that they are pressured to hire and promote people they regard as inferior candidates, to promote ideas they regard as poor, and to suppress people and ideas they regard as superior,” according to the abstract in Higher Education Quarterly.

Peer reviewers failed to perform basic due diligence on the paper submitted in April and approved in October, neglecting, for example, to verify that authors “Sage Owens” and “Kal Alvers-Lynde III” were UCLA professors as they claimed. Owens even used an encrypted email service for correspondence with the journal.

They didn’t check whether the conservative foundations named as active funders of higher education actually existed. The “Randy Eller Foundation” is made up, while the Olin Foundation shut down in 2005.

The author who goes by Owens told The Chronicle of Higher Education that the journal didn’t even ask to see their data: “Every page has some glaring errors.”

The authors’ stated names provide a clue when spelled as an acronym: “SOKAL III.” That indicates this is the second successful hoodwink tracing its inspiration to physicist Alan Sokal’s famous parody of leftist “gibberish” in the journal Social Text in 1996.

“We wanted to improve over previous hoaxes by publishing in what was supposed to be a reputable journal,” Owens wrote in an email to Just the News. 

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Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself. Veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I have seen the fnords. Deplatformed on Tumblr and Twitter.

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