Academic Brownshirts March Again

Over the last few weeks we’ve offered various academic absurdities, drawn from the fine work of the Twitter account of RealPeerReview. The anonymous person behind this Twitter account posted abstracts from publicly available academic journals. And that was precisely the problem: the mere exposure of the mediocre and politicized “scholarship” that emerges from the campus dens of identity politics is all that is necessary for the wider world to see how preposterous it is.

Apparently even the academic crusaders against the neo-liberal cis-patriarchy don’t actually want people reading their junk either, because, as the Daily Caller reports, the RealPeerReview Twitter feed has been shut down amidst threats to expose the identity of the person behind it (who is apparently an academic social scientist). From the Daily Caller:

If the scholars believed their work had value, they would presumably appreciate wide distribution.

The account gained 10,000 followers in only four months by highlighting “research” papers based on low levels of academic rigor. Some were “autoethnographic,” meaning the author simply recounted how they felt when experiencing something. Other papers had tiny sample sizes with authors speaking only to a few friends — hardly a representative sample.

Low academic standards seemed to be especially accepted in the fields of “critical race theory” and feminism, making it prime fodder for tweeting, while prompting “social justice warrior” types to target the tweeter.

A source told TheDCNF the tweeter “is not optimistic about ability of the current tenure system (broadly) to protect people in similar situations, especially if the affected people work in humanities. When people in a position to significantly affect the research of [the tweeter] started asking really pointed questions and making veiled threats, the decision was made to shut it all down.”

But rejoice, because:

Soon after the account was deleted last week, nearly a dozen people, including five academics, responded by creating a new group account to pick up where the @Real_PeerReview left off.

One of them, Twitter user @okayultra, told TheDCNF she is a female in a non-Western country and is decidedly not a benefactor of the “patriarchy,” “whiteness” or the “hegemony,” but she thinks the public should be aware of the low level of cognitive activity that passes for serious academic work in certain enclaves of the humanities and social sciences.

So we’re still in business! And here’s this week’s academic absurdity, brought to you by NewRealPeerReview, from the journal Disability and Society:

‘We swam before we breathed or walked’: able-bodied belonging in popular stories of evolutionary biology

Author: Tuoko Vaahtera, Nordic Centre of Excellence: Justice through Education, AGORA for the Study of Social Justice and Equality in Education, The Institute of Behavioural Sciences (IBS), University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland


This article introduces the concept of ‘able-bodied belonging,’ and pays particular attention to the cultural mechanisms in which ableism intertwines with the forms of belonging. Taking a cultural studies viewpoint, the article focuses on present evolutionary biological accounts, and explores the ableist and speciesist assumptions that frame evolutionary biology. The article investigates how these accounts invoke a feeling of belonging to the animal world in ways which reinforce the idea that only a particular kind of body is species-typical of humans. First, the article explores how the cultural stories that emphasize the connection between human beings and non-human species eventually distance particular bodies from humanity. Second, the article shows how humans’ connection to the animal world could emerge in a way that contests the exceptionality of able-bodied humanity.

And it can be yours from Taylor and Francis online for the bargain price of $41. (Or you can buy the whole issue in which this “scholarly article” appears for $311.)

As the old saying goes, you can’t make up stuff this good.

Special Monday bonus: The Daily Caller’s list of the “13 Dumbest Academic Papers That Actually Got Published.”