Being Right

Unbeknownst to many Filipinos, two quite significant developments in the academic world happened this month. One was the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings before the US Senate in relation to his appointment as Supreme Court justice, which revealed the deep leftist bias that many law schools have (including Kavanaugh’s own alma mater, Yale).
The second (and equally significant) was the “Grievance Studies” hoax.
Modern academia has lived by the “publish or perish” mantra, which by itself is not necessarily a bad thing. However, the drive to publish and the environment in which it’s done have made the entire exercise questionable.
The Federalists’ Sumantra Maitra illustrates to us the context: “There was a time when academia was controlled by pseudoscience. Ideas of phrenology and craniometry, alchemy, para-psychology, Lysenkoism, and other ideological gibberish used to be funded. A quarter-century since Richard Dawkins trashed and Alan Sokal hoaxed post-modernist academia, one might have assumed that those days of ideological and activist pseudoscientific nonsense were over.” But it isn’t.
As the three (Helen Pluckrose, James Lindsay, and Peter Boghossian) who undertook the hoax project put it: “Something has gone wrong in the university — especially in certain fields within the humanities. Scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established, if not fully dominant, within these fields, and their scholars increasingly bully students, administrators, and other departments into adhering to their worldview. This worldview is not scientific, and it is not rigorous. For many, this problem has been growing increasingly obvious, but strong evidence has been lacking.”
Inasmuch as the Philippines itself is asking if the Left has indeed infiltrated local academia, particularly in State-run universities, the findings of Pluckrose, Lindsay, and Boghossian are deeply disturbing.
(For a full account of their project, see Areo Magazine, “Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship.”)
What the three did, starting in 2017, was to publish several papers that were truly and intentionally rubbish (complete with sloppy methodology and obviously suspect statistics) but deliberately clothed in progressive-speak. Yet, tellingly, many of their papers were eagerly accepted by academia.
One paper was about how observing dry-humping dogs could lead to behavior modification of men from the feminist perspective. The paper’s title? “Human reactions to rape culture and queer performativity at urban dog parks in Portland, Oregon.” And this was published (with “special recognition”) in the feminist journal Gender, Place and Culture.
And it gets more ridiculous from there.
There was a paper on men, boobs, and Hooters (“An Ethnography of Breastaurant Masculinity: Themes of Objectification, Sexual Conquest, Male Control, and Masculine Toughness in a Sexually Objectifying Restaurant”), that men masturbating while thinking of women qualifies as sexual assault (“Rubbing One Out: Defining Metasexual Violence of Objectification Through Nonconsensual Masturbation”), of women fat bodybuilding as a form of protest (“Who are they to judge? Overcoming anthropometry through fat bodybuilding”), that astronomy is a patriarchal science and hence should be replaced by feminist astrology (“Stars, Planets, and Gender: A Framework for a Feminist Astronomy”), and one which needs no explanation: “Going in Through the Back Door: Challenging Straight Male Homohysteria, Transhysteria, and Transphobia Through Receptive Penetrative Sex Toy Use.”
For anyone wondering if academia’s responses to these papers are mere outliers, think again. Pluckrose, Lindsay, and Boghossian discovered that “just about anything can be made to work, so long as it falls within the moral orthodoxy and demonstrates an understanding of the existing literature.”
In short, what people have been wondering about for so long is true: the Left has infiltrated academia, where “secular” “liberal” “progressive” thinking is considered dogma, and “critical thinking” simply means being against traditional values, religion, marriage, family, or any established institution proven to have led to dynamic and developed societies.
The aforementioned papers were not even the worst of it; rather, they came at the latter part of the project. As Maitra narrates it:
“Finally, the most dangerous of all the published papers started to come out. One was about white males in classrooms made to sit in chains, as reparations for previous crimes. The authors were asked to revise and resubmit because the reviewers didn’t think it was harsh enough for the men. The second was when authors wrote a paper for the notorious feminist journal Hypatia, infamous for publishing papers about why feminists should be like viruses and join disciplines and institutions to disrupt and destroy Western societies from within. This hoax paper essentially rewrote Hitler’s Mein Kampf in feminist language. It got accepted in another feminist journal called Affilia.
These are the sort of Marxist, socialist, feminist, progressive nonsense university students are being exposed to, brainwashed even, not only abroad but quite possibly even in our local supposedly “elite” universities.
And here’s the kicker: you’re paying for it directly as parents or indirectly as taxpayers.
Jemy Gatdula is a senior fellow of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations and a Philippine Judicial Academy law lecturer for constitutional philosophy and jurisprudence.
Twitter @jemygatdula