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Snake Oil: The Busted Hucksters Of Academia

There are people who are mistaken, and then there are frauds.

Years ago John Stossel, former ABC News reporter and now Fox News contributor, shined a light on vodka snobs who claimed they knew what good Vodka should taste like, and could identify high-quality brands within a drink or two.

When Stossel performed a blind taste test, you can guess what happened: The vodka snobs were wrong about virtually everything and chose the swill known as Smirnoff as the blue-ribbon winner. Grey Goose was unavailable for comment.

In 2014 in a Prager University class, renowned artist Robert Florczak called out modern art, explaining why it’s so bad. Pointing to what happens when we have no objective measure for greatness, he described a scenario in his graduate school classes (emphasis mine):

Here’s a test I give my graduate students, all talented and well educated. Please analyze this Jackson Pollock painting and explain why it is good. It is only after they give very eloquent answers that I inform them that the painting is actually a close up of my studio apron. I don’t blame them; I would probably have done the same since it’s nearly impossible to differentiate between the two.

Speaking of graduate school, one of the phrases students learn early in their matriculation is “publish or perish.” This means that if you don’t do research and get it published in prestigious academic journals, your chances of success, including tenure, drop dramatically.

While no one should eschew scholarship, the problem with taking the hard line on this edict is that the fear of perishing drives many to publish what amounts to academic feces.

The result is students puff up their curriculum vitae (CV) without making their area of expertise better, and tenured professors – ostensibly wise through years of hard work and experience — pat them on the head for their “good work.” Is it any wonder someone – in this case, Helen Pluckrose, Peter Boghossian, and James Linsday — would call this out?

In a prank that is alternately hilarious, appalling, and disturbing, three puckish academics managed to place no fewer than seven “shoddy, absurd, unethical” articles in “respectable” academic journals that trafficked in the growing field of grievance studies—a field that includes gender and queer studies, critical race theory and a variety of post-modern constructivist theories now fashionable in the humanities and social sciences. If nothing else, they demonstrated that academic leftism is a target ripe for ridicule as well as outrage. As they note in their paper, “ Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship,” the seven fake papers were the “tip of the iceberg” of sophistry in the hyper-ideological swamps of academia.

Indeed, they would surely have gotten more fake pieces published if their article about “dog park culture” had not attracted so much attention for its obvious visibility. The “dog park” article, was published with some fanfare in the journal Gender, Place, and Culture, was titled “Human Reactions to Rape Culture and Queer Performativity in Urban Dog Parks in Portland, Oregon,” and argued that “dog parks are rape-condoning spaces and a place of rampant canine rape culture and systemic oppression against “the oppressed dog.” The study claimed that the observation of the dogs would provide “insight into training men out of the sexual violence and bigotry to which they are prone.” One peer reviewer gushed: “This is a wonderful paper—

incredibly innovative, rich in analysis, and extremely well-written and organized given the incredibly diverse literature sets and theoretical questions brought into conversation.” The authors note that the journal honored the article about dog parks and rape as “one of twelve leading pieces in feminist geography as a part of the journal’s 25th anniversary celebration.”

For a clear understanding of the fraud that is academia, please listen to Joe Rogan’s podcast with two of the three “sunlight manufacturers” (my term), #1191 with Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay.

But sure, play Russian Roulette with the values you worked hard to instill in your children by sending them to college. Let’s not forget the virtually insurmountable debt you both will go into for the sake of indoctrinating them into leftism. Makes sense.

By the way, Crystal Head Vodka is the best. Trust me.

Michael Cummings

Michael A. Cummings has a Bachelors in Business Management from St. John's University in Collegeville, MN, and a Masters in Rhetoric & Composition from Northern Arizona University. He has worked as a department store Loss Prevention Officer, bank auditor, textbook store manager, Chinese food delivery man, and technology salesman. Cummings wrote position pieces for the 2010 Trevor Drown for US Senate (AR) and 2012 Joe Coors for Congress (CO) campaigns.