Hoax “penis as concept” paper finally retracted

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It only took ten days, but the journal Cogent Social Sciences has finally retracted the hoax paper it published entitled “The conceptual penis as a social construct.”

In retracting the paper, the journal merely stated, “This article has been retracted by the publisher. For more information please see the statement on this article.”

That statement was filled with a lot of excuses and platitudes about “working closely with the academic editorial teams of all our journals to review our processes,” but little apparent recognition that the hoax demonstrated without question that quality of the gender studies field is simply crap. In fact, it appears the goal of their reviews isn’t to question the quality of the academic research, but to establish policies that will prevent another hoax. As far as they are concerned, it is okay to publish this exact same junk, as long as its authors sincerely believe it to be true.


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  • LocalFluff

    They should put the names of the peer reviewers on the papers they give green light to. How do I figure out who has reviewed this paper for example?

  • ken anthony

    Reality is simply anything you believe strong enough, doncha know. How dare you impose your reality on theirs. It’s all an evil white man plot anyways! Do I really need the /sarc tag?

  • wayne

    “names, and…. street address, with cell-phone number and email.”
    They need to publicly own all their “stuff.”

    I’m getting close to retiring…
    I’ll sign the Petition(s) demanding a Court ordered psychiatric evaluation on any one of these alleged people, if you promise to keep the Media off my lawn!

  • LocalFluff

    And the PIN code to the explosive charge which was surgically placed in the center of their skull at birth. We all want to be a Roman emperor for a day, and put our thumb down at the Colosseum. Maybe almost all peer reviewers do put their thumbs down and just sigh or laugh at the garbage papers they are given to review? Maybe it is the same handful of corrupt or incompetent colleagues who without scrutiny accept papers like this for any journal who hires them for it? I don’t know how this work, but if you get turned down by a hundred, and accepted by a few, is that enough to get published in a “respected” journal? However this peer review process works, it could be better.

  • Mitch S

    But don’t 99% of scientists agree “Penis constructs” are responsible for global warming.
    And I bet it could be shown that most deniers have penises.
    And there is even photographic proof!


    Of course the lesson is anything will get published if it meets the politically correct template.
    It’s sad. When I was a kid in school, the Vatican was criticized for attacking scientific thinking to bolster religious beliefs.
    Now it’s praised for the same thing.

  • Edward

    Apparently, the journal takes more care in retracting a paper than it does in accepting it.

    I am fascinated that one of the peer reviewer’s comments were cogent, indicating that he had read and understood the hoax paper.
    the one specialist reviewer who offered comments clearly knows the field better than we do (identified our failure to include poststructuralist discourse analysis, despite claiming to have used it in the abstract) and speaks the language of the field (described our thesis as capturing ‘the essence of hypermasculinity through a multi-dimensional and nonlinear process’).

    The problem may not be that the “quality of the gender studies field is simply crap.” It may be that the high quality papers are indistinguishable from crappy papers. It is a subtle distinction, but it points out that the “science” of gender studies is either already corrupted or easily corrupted, and that even the researchers cannot distinguish quality work from crappy work. It makes me wonder about the quality of the foundational work as well as the quality of all the work based upon that foundation.

    Even under a “publish or perish” system, the requirement for quantity can easily corrupt the quality.

    On the other hand, if a researcher generates pre-expected conclusions, meaning that if the gender studies field is biased toward particular conclusions and his papers come to one or more of those conclusions, then he is accepted no matter the quality of the crappy research. Just like in climate science. It is not so much that the quality of the field is crap as much as it is the bias degrades the reliability of the conclusions drawn. A distinction that makes very little difference.

    In climate science, the Cook paper is a classic example. The conclusion of a consensus was predetermined, thus — as described in the abstract — two thirds of the scientists were thrown out of the study in order to assure the appearance of the proper consensus. (There may have been other problems with the evaluation of the data, but that is a more complex discussion.)

  • wayne

    Good stuff.

    I’m no PhD scientist, but even my field of Behavioral Psych is more scientific than these made up “disciplines.” Where I went to school, the Psychology department was in the Biology building. I guarantee you I can get those rats to press lever’s, until their paws fall off, and it will replicate every single time.
    Humans, are generally more complex, but those will consistently replicate at a vastly higher rate than this sorta “stuff” ever would or could.

    (We can collectively be, an arrogant bunch of know-it-alls, but this “Social Justice New-Physic’s,” tripe, is outrageously dumb and just plain ignorant. The Emperor, has no clothing.)

    It was always drilled into me, I needed observable’s and functionally defined variable’s, or it was all just psychobabble.
    (The worst sin I could ever commit, would be to invoke mentalistic causes & babble, for action’s, no matter how I dressed it up and tried to sell it.)

    I must say, it does take a certain level of writing creativity, to totally corrupt the English language. Orwell and Hitchen’s comes to mind…

  • Edward

    “The Emperor, has no clothing.”

    Today, people no longer learn how to think but what to think. They will think whatever they are told to think. If they are told that the naked emperor walking down the street is dressed in the finest cloth available, they will cheer him rather than jeer him. If they are told that Comey is evil and should be fired, then they cheer at his firing, but once they are told that Comey was actually good and should not have been fired, they instantaneously change their minds and boo his firing.

    The lesson of that children’s tale has been lost on one or two generations of Americans.

  • Edward

    Taoday’s xkcd comic has something on the topic.

    Please notice that the roll-over text says that the journal is peer viewed, not peer reviewed.

    Bogus science can look ever so much like real science, which is why the peer reviewers must be actual scientists in the correct field who truly review papers prior to publication. As we have learned from climate science, however, even this is not enough.

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