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From peer-reviewed hoax “The Conceptual Penis As A Social Construct” to biological evolution as a scientific construct | True Freethinker

Anatomical penises may exist, but as pre-operative transgendered women also have anatomical penises, the penis

vis-à-vis maleness is an incoherent construct

—Jamie Lindsay, PhD, and Peter Boyle, EdD

I consider this a styled follow up to How to publish science paper with a random word generator. In that case, random babble was published as scientific insights. In this case, carefully selected babble was published as socio-political insights.
Philosopher Peter Boghossian (writing as Peter Boyle) and mathematician James Lindsay (writing as Jamie Lindsay) coauthored a paper titled “The Conceptual Penis As A Social Construct” which underwent and passed the academic peer-reviewed process and was published in the journal Cogent Social Sciences. However, it was not an exercise in exposing the conceptual penis as a social construct but the conceptual academic peer-review process as a social construct—and, as we shall see, biological evolution as a scientific construct.

Their paper, which is surely the most famous (and infamous) one that Cogent Social Sciences ever published cites 20 sources, some of which are made up and the others which Boghossian and Lindsay did not read. Also, they claimed that the institution within which they function is the Southeast Independent Social Research Group which does not even exist. The “about the authors” section of the paper notes that “they incorporate careful reading of the relevant academic literature” and that “They “represent a dynamic team of independent researchers working for the Southeast Independent Social Research Group, whose mission is obvious in its name.”

FYI: the paper seems to have been removed from Cogent Social Sciences’ website, I wonder why, but I obtained a copy and posted it here.


For starters, the academic journal’s expert peer-reviewers did not seem to notice that Peter Boyle and Jamie Lindsay and their “Group” and many of their sources do not even exist. This is a catastrophic failure from the outset.
Yet, Boghossian and Lindsay are not exactly frauds but hoaxers or rather, they conducted a social (and academic) experiment “to expose” as it has been reported, “the absurdity of modern gender studies by arguing that the male reproductive organ known as the penis is a ‘social construct.’”

They stated that they “wrote an absurd paper loosely composed in the style of post-structuralist discursive gender theory” which was purposefully “ridiculous by intention, “We assumed that if we were merely clear in our moral implications that maleness is intrinsically bad and that the penis is somehow at the root of it, we could get the paper published in a respectable journal.”
In fact, they stacked the deck in the peer-reviewer’s favor due to the “paper’s lack of fitness for academic publication by orders of magnitude” to the point that they “didn’t try to make the paper coherent” but “stuffed it full of jargon (like ‘discursive’ and ‘isomorphism’), nonsense (like arguing that hypermasculine men are both inside and outside of certain discourses at the same time), red-flag phrases (like ‘pre-post-patriarchal society’).”

They even went to extremes (or further extremes) in that in making “allusions to rape (we stated that ‘manspreading,’ a complaint levied against men for sitting with their legs spread wide, is ‘akin to raping the empty space around him’).” Some social justice warriors (SJW) do not seem to realize that manspreading is the result of the anatomical fact that males/men have more than an abstract social construct between their legs but have an actual organ: an outie, as it were (although that appears to be an open question as “Anatomical penises may exist)—hey, I just got triggered by the term social justice warriors as “warrior,” like, denotes violence and stuff oh wait, I was then triggered by the term “triggered” since, like, it denotes guns and guns murder people: Nooooooooo!?!?!?!


…the “conceptual penis” and “hypermasculine dominance” causes climate change…the consequences of hypermasculine machismo braggadocio isomorphic identification with the conceptual penis…due to patriarchal power dynamics that maintain present capitalist structures, especially with regard to the fossil fuel industry, the connection between hypermasculine dominance of scientific, political, and economic discourses and the irreparable damage to our ecosystem is made clear.

They specifically sought to “ensure it didn’t say anything meaningful” so as “to test the hypothesis that flattery of the academic Left’s moral architecture in general, and of the moral orthodoxy in gender studies in particular, is the overwhelming determiner of publication in an academic journal in the field.” This is because they discerned “a desire for a certain moral view of the world to be validated could overcome the critical assessment required for legitimate scholarship” and they “suspected that gender studies is crippled academically by an overriding almost-religious belief that maleness is the root of all evil.”
In short, the paper “was rooted in moral and political biases masquerading as rigorous academic theory. Working in a biased environment, we successfully sugarcoated utter nonsense with a combination of fashionable moral sentiments and impenetrable jargon.”

Okay, so there is that: a well-earned black eye on the pseudo-scientific field of gender studies.

But what of biological evolution as a scientific construct? Well, as I read Boghossian’s and Lindsay’s purposefully preposterous intentions and specific tactics for putting forth poppycock as scholarly conclusions I could not help but think that they sounded like very much many science papers I have read: especially those seeking to provide evidence for “evolution.” Now, I quote the term “evolution” because one such problem with such papers is that they merely employ the term without defining it which turns it into as a blank canvas (and a mad canvas) upon which anything can be painted (sometimes literally painted such as the illustration of Nebraska man, and gal-pal, from one single tooth from what turned out to be an extinct pig).

Now, no one wants to hold a press conference so as to announce that a tax payer funded government grant resulted in finding yet another dead monkey—in that case, that would be the press conference that never was. Thus, bones are found, they are subjectively interpreted via worldview philosophies, schools of thought, seeking to evidence preferred theories, etc., and then come the peer-reviewed papers, books, NatGeo TV specials, etc.

Have you ever read a science paper and though, “It appears that the author(s) didn’t try to make the paper coherent and stuffed it full of jargon and red-flag phrases” and I do not mean solely because the subject matter may be outside of your field. A very, very common aspect of science papers (and I do not mean actual science but science so called or scientism) is what has come to be known as weasel words. Here is merely one sample from merely one paper, “A pessimistic estimate of the time required for an eye to evolve” by Dan-E. Nilsson, and Susanne Pelger:

plausible values had to be assumed

Assuming constant intensity, the upper curve is thus for an eye which is 100 times larger than that for the lower curve.

We assume that the patch is circular, and that selection does not alter the total width of the structure. The latter assumption is necessary to isolate the design changes from general alterations of the size of the organ.

we assume that the retinal receptive field

the retinal sampling density is assumed always to match the resolution of the optical image

The spherical lens is assumed to fill the aperture

the refractive index is assumed to follow a smooth gradient

The refractive index of the vitreous body is assumed

we have assumed that the receptor diameter is continuously modified such that the photon catch per receptor

assuming that values above

we deliberately ignored this and assumed

Assuming that selection operates on small but random phenotypic variations, no distribution of refractive index is inaccessible to selection.

Throughout the calculations we have used pessimistic assumptions and conservative estimates for the underlying parameters. Should one or perhaps even two of these assumptions or estimates in fact be optimistic, we can trust that the remaining ones will at least compensate for the errors made.

we assume a generation time of one year

For details, see Assumptions about eye evolution.

Robert Jastrow, who was an agnostic and the late Chief of the Theoretical Division of NASA and Founder/Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute; Professor of Geophysics at Columbia University; Professor of Space Studies-Earth Sciences at Dartmouth College:

Theologians generally are delighted with the proof that the Universe had a beginning, but astronomers are curiously upset. Their reactions provide an interesting demonstration of the response of the scientific mind-supposedly a very objective mind-when evidence uncovered by science itself leads to a conflict with the articles of faith in our profession. It turns out that the scientist behaves the way the rest of us do when our beliefs are in conflict with the evidence. We become irritated, we pretend the conflict does not exist, or we paper it over with meaningless phrases….[see In the Beginning…Cosmology, Part I – The Pre Big Bang Scenario]

Evolutionary biologist and geneticist, Prof. Richard Lewontin has noted:

We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [see “Billions and Billions of Demons”]

Stephen Jay Gould, who was an agnostic and the late teacher of biology, geology and history of science at Harvard University:

Science…is supposed to be an objective enterprise, with common criteria of procedure and standards of evidence that should lead all people of good will to accept a documented conclusion…But I would reject any claim that personal preference, the root of aesthetic judgment, does not play a key role in science…our ways of learning about the world are strongly influenced by the social preconceptions and biased modes of thinking that each scientist must apply to any problem. The stereotype of a fully rational and objective ‘scientific method,’ with individual scientists as logical (and interchangeable) robots, is self-serving mythology. Historians and philosophers of science often make a distinction between the logic and psychologic of a scientific conclusion-or ‘context of justification’ and ‘context of discovery’ in the jargon…

The myth of a separate mode based on rigorous objectivity and arcane, largely mathematical knowledge, vouchsafed only to the initiated, may provide some immediate benefits in bamboozling a public to regard us as a new priesthood, but must ultimately prove harmful in erecting barriers to truly friendly understanding and in falsely persuading so many students that science lies beyond their capabilities…the myth of an arcane and enlightened priesthood of scientists…. [see Scientific Cenobites, part 6 of 9]

Thus, overall, it will be nice to see everyone involved in peer-review publications tight up their game so as that is no longer a game but a science—yet, I will not hold my conceptual breath.


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