Academic Absurdity of the Week: Alan Sokal, Call Your Office

Our weekly feature about academic absurdities is drawn usually from the social sciences and humanities, because that’s where you find the most politicized work and the most tolerance for complete gibberish and nonsense. This would never happen in the hard sciences, right? Right?

From The Guardian:

Nonsense paper written by iOS autocomplete accepted for conference

By Elle Hunt

A nonsensical academic paper on nuclear physics written only by iOS autocomplete has been accepted for a scientific conference.

Christoph Bartneck, an associate professor at the Human Interface Technology laboratory at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, received an email inviting him to submit a paper to the International Conference on Atomic and Nuclear Physics in the US in November.

Bartneck explained it on his blog:

Today I received an invitation from the International Conference on Atomic and Nuclear Physics to submit a paper. Since I have practically no knowledge of Nuclear Physics I resorted to iOS auto-complete function to help me writing the paper. I started a sentence with “Atomic” or “Nuclear” and then randomly hit the auto-complete suggestions. The text really does not make any sense. After adding the first illustration on nuclear physics from Wikipedia, some references and creating a fake identity (Iris Pear, aka Siri Apple) I submitted the paper which was accepted only three hours later! I know that iOS is a pretty good software, but reaching tenure has never been this close.

And he offers this YouTube tutorial on how you, too, can get a paper accepted at an academic conference:

Shades of the great Sokal hoax.

(Hat tip: Wesley Smith.)

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