Darth Sokal and the Phantom Science

Not content with past exposes of predatory journals, Discover.com blogger Neuroskeptic tells the tale of hir own saga fighting the evil empire. In hir words,

I wanted to test whether ‘predatory‘ journals would publish an obviously absurd paper. So I created a spoof manuscript about “midi-chlorians” – the fictional entities which live inside cells and give Jedi their powers in Star Wars. I filled it with other references to the galaxy far, far away, and submitted it to nine journals under the names of Dr Lucas McGeorge and Dr Annette Kin.

The idea being that many hoaxes would be obvious to those with an understanding of the relevant field(s), but typically would not be obvious to those without expertise. The question, I suppose, was merely one of how brazen are the fraudulent and predatory journals in their ethical violations, not simply whether they are acting ethically. The results? Out of 9 publishers who received the manuscript:

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I Didn’t Know Historians Have Senses of Humor

Via Rawstory I saw a bit of writing on the political jeopardy to Trump’s presidency and how, in the author’s view, this jeopardy is greater even than what Nixon faced in the time period before impeachment proceedings began. I started reading and in the first full paragraph came upon one of the great historical jokes of all time:

Since George Washington Americans have taken pride in electing honest presidents. Whether the chief executive is rated by historians as great, average, or failure, there has been general agreement that honest men have occupied the White House.

I had to find the History News Network site to examine the quote at its source, it was so unbelievable. Slowly, slowly it dawned on me that in this piece of serious writing, this line must have been slipped in by an editor as a joke. I mean, Holy Historical Humor, Batman, could any student of history ever actually believe this?