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Portland State bans professor from research for getting ‘grievance studies’ hoaxes published

May be fired if he conducts more research

He brought “rape culture” in dog parks to the masses. The “research” may have been among his last published as a Portland State University professor.

Philosopher Peter Boghossian has been banned from both human-subjects and sponsored research by the public university, owing to his participation in a “grievance studies” project with two other academics, according to a PSU letter he posted Tuesday.

Along with Areo editor-in-chief Helen Pluckrose and mathematician James Lindsay, Boghossian got seven hoax academic papers accepted by prestigious peer-reviewed journals, four of those published.

When they admitted to the stunt, they claimed the project was intended to “reboot the conversation” on topics such as gender, race and sexuality.

MOREScholars blast PSU for punishing Boghossian – he’s just ‘stress-testing’ standards

Portland State had already determined that the untenured Boghossian had violated rules on human-subjects research by not getting permission to submit hoax research papers to journal reviewers, who were “human subjects” in the university’s view.

Mark McLellan, vice president for research and graduate studies, wrote in a July 17 letter that Boghossian had failed to take the “Protection of Human Subjects training” that McLellan had mandated this winter.

As a result, and in light of his failure to “respond to prior guidance and instructions,” Boghossian is banned from participating in the two forms of research as a “principal investigator, collaborator or contributor,” McLellan wrote. The ban will last as long as Boghossian stays at PSU or until he completes the training and meets with the assistant vice president for research administration “to assure your understanding.”

Boghossian may be fired by PSU if he’s found to have conducted further research, the official wrote. The results of the investigation raise concerns about the professor’s “lack of academic integrity, questionable ethical behavior and employee breach of rules,” McLellan wrote, adding that the president had been made aware of the investigation’s conclusion.

MORE: Students defend Boghossian after he’s disciplined


The philosopher actually lasted longer than PSU’s most recent president. Rahmat Shoureshi was forced out by the board of trustees in May for allegations of employee mistreatment, financial violations and destruction of public records.

He’s on paid administrative leave through mid-December, and will walk away with roughly $880,000 in severance, according to The Oregonian. Shoureshi had served less than two years when he was forced out.

Boghossian thanked several prominent academics, from evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins to Harvard linguist Steven Pinker, for their support.

Four days after the letter announcing Boghossian’s research ban, he and Lindsay published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times ahead of their coming book, How to Have Impossible Conversations.

They argued that talking to people with different moral and political beliefs is beneficial “not for utopian social reasons” but for personal and individual reasons:

You engage in dental hygiene not to bring insurance costs down for the masses, but because you don’t want cavities, pain and gum disease.

You should engage in belief hygiene for similarly selfish reasons: It’s an opportunity to reflect upon what you believe and why you believe it. If other social goods happen to occur as a byproduct — friendships, increased understanding, changed minds — that’s great. …

Let people be wrong. It’s OK if someone doesn’t believe what you believe. Far more often than not, their beliefs don’t present an existential threat — they’re just one person — and you’ll be just fine. Don’t even bother to push back or point out holes in their arguments. Listen, learn and let them be wrong. Conclude by thanking them for the conversation.


h/t Campus Reform

MOREAnonymous professors attack Boghossian as threat to PSU

IMAGE: The Rubin Report/YouTube

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg Piper served as associate editor of The College Fix from 2014 to 2021.