What the ‘Conceptual Penis’ Hoax Does and Does Not Prove - The Chronicle of Higher Education
lterrat's bookmarks 2017-06-15
"Do the results of their little experiment vindicate their conclusion that "our suspicion was justified"? I would answer: yes and no, but mostly no.
It indeed seems likely that, at Cogent Social Sciences, the flattery of the editors’ moral and ideological preconceptions helped to dull their critical faculties and smooth the way to publication of a grossly deficient manuscript. To be sure, Boghossian and Lindsay did not carry out a controlled experiment, but suppose that they had: Imagine that they had selected a sample of lower-tier sociology or gender-studies journals and then sent, to a randomly chosen half of them, an article contending, with equally flimsy arguments, that toxic hyperfemininity is the conceptual driver behind much of climate change.
On the other hand, Boghossian and Lindsay’s experiment also shows that flattery of the editors’ moral and ideological preconceptions is not always sufficient to win publication. After all, they originally submitted the article to NORMA: International Journal for Masculinity Studies — a not particularly prestigious journal of gender studies — which rejected it as "unsuitable for publication in NORMA." By contrast, Cogent Social Sciences — whatever one may conclude about its overall merit — is a generalist social-sciences journal, not a journal of gender studies.
Finally, it seems even less likely that this paper would have been accepted at a more prestigious gender-studies journal, such as Gender & Society, Feminist Theory, Signs, Feminist Studies, or Men and Masculinities. The bias toward articles presupposing a particular moral and ideological orientation — and the associated dulling of the editors’ capacities for critical thinking — may well persist at this higher tier, but its effects will be more subtle than a hoax like this could demonstrate."