This week, three professors—medieval religious scholar Helen Pluckrose, author and mathematician James Lindsay, and philosopher Peter Boghossian—revealed that they had pulled the greatest academic stunt in history. Over the course of ten months, they wrote 20 hoax papers in a field they termed "grievance studies," and then proceeded to seek distribution in the world's finest academic journals. Fully seven of the twenty were approved; four were actually published, and another three were in the process of publication. The authors were even asked to peer-review other papers based on the expertise they displayed in their academic papers.
So, what were the papers? Well, first there was "Going In Through The Back Door: Challenging The Straight Male Homohysteria, Transhysteria and Transphobia Through Receptive Penetrative Sex Toy Use." This masterpiece appeared in Sexuality and Culture. Its thesis: straight men should be anally penetrated by sex toys in order to become more receptive of feminism and transgenderism, and to fight rape culture.
Then there was "Human Reactions To Rape Culture And Queer Performativity At Urban Dog Parks In Portland, Oregon," as published in Gender, Place and Culture. This article theorized that heteronormativity was underscored by watching dogs have sex with each other. This piece received an award for excellence.
Perhaps more to your taste would be the paper, "Who Are They To Judge?: Overcoming Anthropometry and a Framework for Fat," published in Fat Studies, in which the authors argued that fat bodybuilding should be pursued.
Or how about "An Ethnography of Breastaurant Masculinity: Themes of Objectification, Sexual Conquest, Male Control, and Masculine Toughness in a Sexually Objectifying Restaurant," published in Sex Roles, in which the authors investigated why men visit Hooters restaurants.
The list goes on. And it's spectacular.
What was the goal of the hoax? The authors explained that they had amassed evidence that there is "a problem with bias in fields influenced by critical constructivist approaches and assumptions."
That's no shock. Constructivism is perhaps the most idiotic philosophy at work today in education, and it is also one of the most prominent. The authors of the hoax describe constructivism thusly: "an overarching (almost or fully sacralized) belief that many common features of experience and society are socially constructed. These constructions are seen as being nearly entirely dependent upon power dynamics between groups of people, often dictated by sex, race, or sexual or gender identification."
Universities are dominated by this philosophy. It is the philosophy that undergirds intersectionality and identity politics. It is the philosophy that undergirds postmodernism. It is the philosophy that undermines science in the name of subjectivism. It is, in short, the death of education, and more specifically, the liberal arts.
The liberal arts have always been prized in Western society because of their aim: truth. Ancient philosophers prized the liberal arts as gateways to wisdom; Christian scholars codified the so-called educational categories of the quadrivariam (music, arithmetic, geometry and astronomy) and trivium (grammar, rhetoric, and logic) on the same basis. The goal of the liberal arts was always the search for meaning and truth.
Constructivism turns all of that on its head. In the view of constructivists, meaning is assigned by the powerful; there is no such thing as truth to be discovered. That means that all language is malleable, all realities mere social constructions. And that means that education is all about tearing away at reality rather than learning about it.
That critical theory has undermined the value of education itself. Education has become about underscoring the preferred power politics of those who control the flow of information. Ironically, those who insist that reality is mere social construction insist that their alternative social construction be made reality. That means that politics become paramount, and truth becomes completely superfluous.
The authors of this latest hoax have done a real service to those in the general public who still believe that college liberal arts programs search for knowledge rather than reveling in power dynamics. Now the only question is whether parents and students will call for true power to be restored to those who wish to redirect education away from navel-gazing mental masturbation and toward a renewed intellectual search for knowledge.
Ben Shapiro is editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire and host of The Ben Shapiro Show, available on iTunes and syndicated across America.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own.