Academic Journal publishes article on hoax alleging influence of right-wing donors in universities

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(Lucia Gajdosikova / Getty Images)

The academic journal Quarterly on higher education published an article in October that appears to be a fake study by arguing that conservative donor groups routinely influence academics to promote right-wing professors and concepts.

The article was published online Oct. 25 in the journal’s “Early View” section, described as the “online version of the dossier before inclusion in an issue”, and was still available for download from the publishing company. Wiley Wednesday.

“Right-wing money seems to be a strong incentive for professors and administrators. . . to believe that they are forced to hire and promote people whom they consider inferior candidates, to promote ideas which they consider poor and to suppress people and ideas which they consider superior “, the newspaper says, apparently reversing the complaint many conservatives have filed against the universities.

However, the initials of the two alleged perpetrators, Sage Owens and Kal Alvers-Lynde III, spell “Sokal”, a nod to New York University physics professor Alan Sokal, who published an absurd study in the newspaper. Social text in 1996. After it was revealed that his study was bogus, Sokal explained that he submitted it for publication in order to expose what he called “absurd and sloppy thoughts”. The episode became known as the “Sokal hoax”.

“The initials were intentional,” said the person writing as Owens. National exam by email. This person did not reveal his identity.

While Alvers-Lynde is described as a professor of economics at the University of California, Los Angeles, neither Alvers-Lynde nor Owens are listed as professors in the department on the UCLA website.

The paper, titled Donor Money and the Academy: Perceptions of Undue Donor Pressure in Political Science, Economics and Philosophy, includes the Olin Foundation and the “Randy Eller Foundation” among “right-wing donor sources” being researched. However, the Olin Foundation was dissolved in 2005, and the “Randy Eller Foundation” does not appear to exist, a detail noted by Steven Hayward at Electric line.

The journal also lists the Federalist Society among donors to four-year universities and colleges. However, a Federalist Society spokesperson said National exam in an email that the organization “does not donate to undergraduate programs.”

National exam reached out to Quarterly on higher education and its editors for comments. The nature of the review process for the article was not immediately clear.

“We plan to reveal the full extent of this hoax later,” alleged perpetrator Owens told the Chronicle of higher education Tuesday. “For now, we recommend readers to look for other false papers.”

The person writing as Owens said National exam, “We wanted to see in this case whether [it] It would be possible to publish an article in an elite journal when the article is full of glaring and clear statistical errors. “

The news comes several years after three self-proclaimed “left liberal” academics attempted to run Sokal hoax articles from the summer of 2017 to the fall of 2018. Authors James Lindsay, mathematician, Peter Boghossian, then of the Portland State University, and Helen Pluckrose, a London-based culture critic, has authored 20 hoax articles, seven of which have been published in academic journals.

Editor’s Note 5:10 afternoon: This article has been updated with comments from a Federalist Society spokesperson as well as the person writing as Sage Owens.

Tip the press team at NR.

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National review online. He is a veteran of the Israel Defense Forces and a violist by training.


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