Researchers Expose Discrepancy In The Peer Review Process With Hoax Study

Recently Dr. Peter Boghossian & James A. Lindsay, both notable professors and authors in their respective fields, set out to expose academia, specifically in the social sciences, of glaring discrepancies in the peer review process.

The story behind the hoax is explained by the authors here, and is rather compelling in their exposé of the peer review process.

What they have essentially done is come up with a 3,000 word paper of “utter nonsense posing as academic scholarship.”

This paper was then submitted and accepted for publication by Cogent Social Sciences, a peer-reviewed academic journal in the social sciences.

There are at least four reasons why this should come as no surprise.

First, the peer review process while trusted as absolute by most scholars, is in fact still flawed.

A recent study published in Science back in August of 2015, more than half of 100 studies published in 2008 by three top psychology journals could not be successfully replicated.

According to the study, “even research of exemplary quality may have irreproducible empirical findings because of random or systematic error.”

Replication is vital to prove reliability of any research. As such, any study that can’t be replicated is questioned in terms of its validity.

The authors further state that their findings may not be conclusive evidence of a flawed process, but they do however, highlight the possibility of error that academics tend to overlook, namely the appeal to authority. Just because someone credible says its valid doesn’t mean it is. Don’t be afraid to use that gooey, fleshy, labyrinth-looking thing between your ears.

The second issue comes with concern following a study which proves that people of generally lower intellect or rationality are more receptive to pseudo-intellectual bullshit. The study which took a more philosophical approach to defining bullshit came to accept one of the following conclusions:

“Those more receptive to bullshit are less reflective, lower in cognitive ability (i.e., verbal and fluid intelligence, numeracy), are more prone to ontological confusions and conspiratorial ideation, are more likely to hold religious and paranormal beliefs, and are more likely to endorse complementary and alternative medicine.” (p. 559)

Basically, the lower your IQ and the less logical you are in your thinking, the more likely you are to believe bullshit. (I will add that I a religious and somewhat believe in the supernatural, so my referencing this is kind of self-indicting).

Which ties into the third reason Dr. Boghossian and Lindsay’s study was accepted by a community of social scientists; they typically are less intelligent than other scientists, or sometimes as in the case of gender study scientists, just plain stupid.

Dr. Randy Olson is a Senior Data Scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, put together a comprehensive chart illustrating the average IQ students by their college major. Per the study, people who major in any of the social sciences typically have a lower IQ than those in other STEM fields.

The measure for IQ he later states, is done with reference to SAT scores on which males typically score higher.

This would also explain why more women choose these “lower IQ” majors (again because they don’t do as well on the SAT).

According to a study published by NCBI, addressing the sex differences in science and mathematics, the difference in intelligence comes in the form of a wider distribution for men than women, but overall balance out around a mean average that is the same.

Illustration reprinted from post on

Basically, more men are geniuses as well as complete idiots compared to women. Overall however, they average about the same in IQ scores.

This highlights why more men choose STEM fields which require high intelligence such as physics and mathematics. There are more geniuses among the male population than there is the female population.

Which brings us to the last point. The social sciences are dominated by women. They now outnumber men in degrees earned and in the field.

As such there is an inherent in group bias in the field in favor of all things female, particularly in the sub-field of women’s studies.

Dr. Boghossain also wrote about his experiences that illustrate this bias in the form of special liberties for women that men did not enjoy.

It also explains why studies that are female friendly are more readily accepted and published, even if they are complete bullshit.