Give it a rest, Boghossian and pals


You’d think they’d learn. When Boghossian and Lindsay published their phony “conceptual penis” paper, they were roundly mocked and ridiculed for concluding that academia was corrupt because they got a badly written paper published in an obscure journal, proving nothing. It’s the skeptical equivalent of p-hacking — yes, if you carry out a badly designed experiment, you will sometimes get a positive hit, but you can’t conclude anything from it. No one is surprised that, in the volume of papers submitted to the peer-reviewed literature, clunkers get through. We know the system is not perfect.

But now we learn that, after their initial ‘success’ with the “conceptual penis” article, they sat down and repeated the same thing, over and over again. They intentionally flooded journals with “fake news”, and when some of it leaked through, cried triumph.

Beginning in August 2017, the trio wrote 20 hoax papers, submitting them to peer-reviewed journals under a variety of pseudonyms, as well as the name of their friend Richard Baldwin, a professor emeritus at Florida’s Gulf Coast State College. Mr. Baldwin confirms he gave them permission use his name. Journals accepted seven hoax papers. Four have been published.

What I have learned from this is that the familiar trio of frauds — Peter Boghossian, James Lindsay, and Helen Pluckrose — have a real talent for writing garbage papers, which I’d actually kind of already known from their activities on social media. Now they’ve gone beyond their original efforts of making nonsensical interpretations to making up data, as in a paper about observations made at a Portland dog park, which made a number of people suspicious, and which led to an unraveling of their game.

All of this prompted me to ask my own questions. My email to “Helen Wilson” was answered by James Lindsay, a math doctorate and one of the real co-authors of the dog-park study. Gender, Place & Culture had been duped, he admitted. So had half a dozen other prominent journals that accepted fake papers by Mr. Lindsay and his collaborators—Peter Boghossian, an assistant professor of philosophy at Portland State University, and Helen Pluckrose, a London-based scholar of English literature and history and editor of AreoMagazine.com.

The three academics call themselves “left-leaning liberals.” Yet they’re dismayed by what they describe as a “grievance studies” takeover of academia, especially its encroachment into the sciences. “I think that certain aspects of knowledge production in the United States have been corrupted,” Mr. Boghossian says. Anyone who questions research on identity, privilege and oppression risks accusations of bigotry.

You know, if you’re a left-leaning liberal, there are plenty of gigantic targets you could be taking aim at: all you need to do is look at all three branches of the federal government, or police activities nation-wide, or the military-industrial complex, or the undermining of regulations by big corporations, or wealth inequality. We have no shortage of big, serious problems. But for some reason, these left-leaning liberals have decided that academia is too left-leaning, and must be exposed. And what have they exposed? A set of problems that Francis Bacon railed against in the 17th century.

Bacon was well aware that science had a weakness, that it was done by flawed humans who had their own biases (he was rather deeply flawed himself), and strove to make people self-aware of their own weaknesses and make efforts to use a rigorous methodology to circumvent those problems. Even the big name journals in technical fields occasionally publish terrible work because it meets pro forma conventions and is backed by lots of money (<cough, cough&> the ENCODE project), but you don’t see PluckBogSay going after those — instead, they have an agenda of conspiring against feminist and social science journals, which says something about their intent.

It might have been interesting if they’d chosen journals in their own fields, and written articles that satirized weaknesses in their own discipline…oh. Hey. I just realized — maybe Boghossian’s entire career has been a performance art piece criticizing how lackluster frauds can get academic jobs in philosophy. He may yet pull a valid criticism out of his hat.

But punching down at marginal journals because they have a soft spot for tendentious prattle ain’t it. It’s also exploiting a feature of academia that I rather like — trust. Even Alan Sokal has problems with what they’re doing.

This isn’t the first time scholars have used a hoax paper to make a point. In 1996 Duke University Press’s journal Social Text published a hoax submission by Alan Sokal, a mathematical physicist at New York University. Mr. Sokal, who faced no punishment for the hoax, told me he was “not oblivious to the ethical issues involved in my rather unorthodox experiment,” adding that “professional communities operate largely on trust; deception undercuts that trust.”

I could agree that many disciplines can be too trusting, and that more self-discipline is warranted. We do, however, have an ethical mechanism for addressing that problem: it’s called writing rebuttals and critical arguments that directly address bad work. It’s what I do with creationism, for instance. I’ll write a confrontational article pointing out why their claims are bogus, using knowledge of my own field to explain why they are wrong. I don’t sit down and write 20 garbage creationist articles (even though that would be trivially easy to do) and contribute to their body of work, which they’ll then use to justify creationism.

If you can find a bad article accepted for publication in a feminist journal, please do jump on it and tear it apart. That contributes to the strength of the discipline. Don’t write a bunch of bad articles of your own, which are clearly intended only to weaken the whole discipline and provide a set of easy, straw-man arguments that you can use to pretend you’re a smart guy.

They seem to know deep down that what they’re doing is wrong and unethical, and they have a rather fatalistic view of their future prospects.

Mr. Boghossian doesn’t have tenure and expects the university will fire or otherwise punish him. Ms. Pluckrose predicts she’ll have a hard time getting accepted to a doctoral program. Mr. Lindsay said he expects to become “an academic pariah,” barred from professorships or publications.

Interesting that they frame the anticipated consequences in terms of being punished or barred. That’s not the case at all. They’re going to have serious problems with a future in academia because they’re writing trashy papers that don’t further the knowledge in their disciplines at all, and seem to be more interested in policing people they don’t like than in advancing philosophy, mathematics, or literature. Maybe if there were a department of anti-feminist studies somewhere, they could fit in. Or maybe their real specialty is “grievance studies,” the very thing they are complaining about.

Otherwise, setting themselves up as martyrs is all the qualification they need to get a position in some right-wing think-tank, which is clearly the appropriate destiny for these “left-leaning liberals.”

Comments

  1. Jeremy Shaffer says

    When Boghossian and Lindsay published their phony “conceptual penis” paper, they were roundly mocked and ridiculed for concluding that academia was corrupt because they got a badly written paper published in an obscure journal, proving nothing.

    Wasn’t it also the type of journal that would basically publish any paper so long as the check cleared?

  2. raven says

    Maybe if there were a department of anti-feminist studies somewhere, they could fit in.

    There are.
    Right wingnut welfare is vast and generous.
    .1. Any right wingnut/GOP “think” tank will take them.
    .2. Right now, any department in the federal government would take them.
    The people Trump hired usually have zero qualifications for the jobs they end up in.
    The could end up at the EPA, NASA, State Department, FEMA, Health and Human Services, Betsy DeVos’s Education, National Security Council, National Parks, BIA, etc..
    .3. Any fundie xian bible college or glorified rightwing day care centers like Hilsdale college.
    .4. Right wingnut media outlets. Breitbart, Fox NoNews, Infowars, Talk Radio, The Blaze etc..
    .5. Any fundie xian churches or affiliated organizations would take them if they can babble on about jesus for a while.
    .6. The Nazis, Proud Boys, Stormfront and any number of white supremacists organizations would take them.

    PZ beat me to it here.

    Otherwise, setting themselves up as martyrs is all the qualification they need to get a position in some right-wing think-tank, which is clearly the appropriate destiny for these “left-leaning liberals.”

  3. says

    There’s quite a large number of “left leaning liberals” who spend a lot of time being chummy with the extreme right and spending most all their effort bashing, sorry “criticizing”, the anti-oppression left.

  4. says

    I don’t have access to the WSJ article, so I’m confused. What was the conclusion of this experiment? Are Boghossian et al. now announcing their “triumph” of having 7 articles accepted? Or is the story about how they were caught and disgraced?

    Jeremy Shaffer @1,
    Yes. Yes it was. And it was rejected from a real journal.

  5. Bill Buckner says

    raven #2,

    I don’t know about the other two, but Boghossian is an atheist who famously writes about deconverting the faithful. At least in his case, your nos. 3 & 5 are nonsensical.

    While this is despicable, especially given their un-Sokal-like history, lack-of-skill and grandstanding, I think one must pay some attention. I have no knowledge of the quality of the journals involved here. If they are indeed highly regarded, then they need to tighten up their processes. If they are low-quality journals, this this demonstrates the dangers of such journals–which exist, as far as I can tell, in all fields.

    Put differently, if someone published an intentionally absurd paper (see note, below) in Phys. Rev. Letters, I believe the physics community would be more concerned with how the paper go through than with the repulsive motives of the perpetrators of the hoax.

    Note: I haven’t thought through if that is the same as a non-absurd sounding paper (i.e., discussing recognized/mainstream theories and models) that “merely” presented fake data.

  6. Steve Bruce says

    So is this going to be Boghossian’s full time profession from now on? Is he going to target other disciplines like Evo Psych?

  7. Bill Buckner says

    #8
    Let me reformulate (and this even applies to the Sokal hoax–I didn’t then and I don’t now know enough about postmodernism to form an opinion.)

    Let me make a simple two dimensional discrete model.

    P (premise, or theory) which can be R (reasonable) or A (absurd)
    D (data) which can be L (legit) or F (fake — to include shoddy analysis).

    Any respectable journal is going to strive for P = R, D = L.

    I think every serious journal should catch and reject virtually all P = A submissions.
    I think we all know that even the most respected journals occasionally fall victim to P = R, D = F deceptions. These are much more insidious.

    The community response–in addition to the outrage over the tactics, should depend on whether the papers were of the P = A variety (and on the reputation of the journals.)

  8. raven says

    I don’t know about the other two, but Boghossian is an atheist who famously writes about deconverting the faithful. At least in his case, your nos. 3 & 5 are nonsensical.

    Hey!!!
    That is no problem!!!
    That is just a gift from the gods.

    A huge number of prominent fundie xians used to be atheists.
    We’ve heard their touchings stories over and over again. “I used to be an atheist and then I found jesus and…

    All Boghossian has to do is find jesus and he is set up for life.
    He already hates all the right groups of people. And fundie xians absolutely love a good conversion story. They are also getting desperate for credibility and a persecuted ex-college professor from a left leaning public university is ideal.
    In all seriousness, this would be worth many millions of dollars.

  9. emergence says

    When you hear Bogossian and co. blabbering about “grievance studies”, you’re hearing entitled, oblivious shitheads denying that social problems exist because those problems don’t affect them.

  10. raven says

    I’d barely heard of Boghossian.
    So many trolls so little time.
    A few minutes with Google and I’ve seen enough.
    Calling him a creepy weirdo or troll is inadequate but the English language has its limitations.

    Why is it that nearly every male who’s a 3rd wave intersectional feminist is physically feeble & has terrible body habitus?
    — Peter Boghossian (@peterboghossian) July 7, 2017

    I tried putting this into the Google translator from Troll to English. Got a one word translation. Gibberish.
    It’s not even at the level of a clever insult.

    I’ve seen enough. Peter Boghossian is simply taking up space on earth better used by cows or grass, until he dies and leaves the world a better place.

  11. Pablo Campos says

    PZ beat me to the punch. I was going to rant at how these bozos yell against the Humanities, feminism, minorities etc. while ignoring the evil disgusting things that Republicans and their elk are doing. Nothing to see there is apparently the mantra of these regressive Leftists when it comes the the Right and their destruction of America. I’ve noticed this weird persecution complex that these kind of people are developing. Republicans have it and now its a thing for people like Boghossian, Harris, Pinker, etc. In no time these regressives will become Republicans or if not, they’ll continue ranting against social justice while Conservatives dismantle the nation and start curtailed human rights. Man… these kind of people and their whining is getting old.

  12. unclefrogy says

    Man… these kind of people and their whining is getting old.,

    not fast enough
    uncle frogy

  13. marcoli says

    You know, I often don’t agree with you on matters concerning the left criticizing others on the left. But this time I vehemently do agree. Especially the part about academia relying on trust, and how these authors took advantage of that and set up an ambush to crow about trivial matters. Meanwhile we share a far bigger problem, which is that our house is burning from the right.

  14. says

    Otherwise, setting themselves up as martyrs is all the qualification they need to get a position in some right-wing think-tank, which is clearly the appropriate destiny for these “left-leaning liberals.”

    It occurs to me that this is a strange mirror version of the system of academic publishing. It’s performative and an attempt to get their names known and advance their careers, aimed at a different segment of elites – people who hold terrible views and have no problem with devious, dishonest, and dishonorable methods.

    Here’s a thread by (allegedly) a grad student who volunteered his precious time to serve as an anonymous reviewer of one of their articles.

  15. =8)-DX says

    @raven #12
    “body habitus” sheesh the dripping condescension and elitism. What a prat.
    =8(-DX

  16. bachfiend says

    I don’t have a problem with journals publishing rubbish, even peer-reviewed rubbish. Most articles published receive little attention or are ignored. Only about 10% of everything published is really first class. The rest is either confirming what is already known, trivial or just wrong.

    I remember a paper noting the presence of bizarre giant nuclei in epithelial cells in vasectomy specimens. The author of a very popular surgical pathology textbooks noted the finding in one sentence, and commented that the paper’s authors had vaulted their peers into obscurity.

    Most papers in journals are like junk DNA – largely useless gunk filling in the space between the good stuff. And existing for much the same reasons.

  17. Anton Mates says

    Mr. Lindsay said he expects to become “an academic pariah,” barred from professorships or publications.

    “Boy Who Cried ‘Wolf’ Anticipates Pariah Status In Local Wildlife-Spotting Community”

  18. Bill Buckner says

    #19,

    I don’t have a problem with journals publishing rubbish, even peer-reviewed rubbish.

    I am delighted that most scientists do not share that opinion.

    The rest [90%],is either confirming what is already known, trivial or just wrong.

    That is certainly not true in nuclear/high-energy physics. (I have no first-hand knowledge of other fields.) You could say that only a very small percentage of the papers will be ground breaking, but the others, many of which augment the world’s data on interesting processes by building better detectors and/or reconfiguring experiments, or test theoretical models in light of new data, are nevertheless important.

  19. chrislawson says

    bachfiend@19–

    I don’t have a problem with journals publishing rubbish, even peer-reviewed rubbish…Most papers in journals are like junk DNA – largely useless gunk filling in the space between the good stuff. And existing for much the same reasons.

    Publishing rubbish is bad for science. Even if most of it is ignored, it still dilutes the signal:noise ratio and makes it harder to identify important new findings amongst all the dross.

    As for junk DNA, it is worth noting that our DNA contains control sequences that tell our cells which bits of DNA are to be transcribed and which bits should be ignored. Scientific journals, not so much. The very act of publishing a paper is supposed to mean “this is a valuable piece of research.” Publishing junk science, by your DNA analogy, is like allowing introns into your protein sequence (a type of “splice site mutation” associated with several nasty diseases).

  20. says

    @ #9:

    I think every serious journal should catch and reject virtually all P = A submissions.

    i’m not so sure about that. i mean, part of this is the squishy nature of the word “absurd”. i can’t actually know what you were thinking of when you wrote that. there certainly be premises that are long-refuted, or completely untestable (e.g. trying to make religious arguments in a paper). but beyond that, “absurd” is a value judgement; it is the assessment by an individual, based on that individual’s range of knowledge and experience, that a particular premise is just “too far” out there. and that’s an opinion largely. an “absurd” premise that nonetheless holds up in light of the evidence presented shouldn’t be discarded outright; because maybe the problem is one’s notion of what is or isn’t absurd, instead.

    basically i agree with the dude in the twitter thread linked at #16

  21. DanDare says

    Interesting they target journals in a field and don’t include controls using journals in many other fields. What is their baseline for claiming those journals to be good or bad? Did they promote the journals that rightly rejected them? Did they again pay for publications?

  22. DanDare says

    I suppose you could create a system to test all publications by releasing junk papers across the whole spectrum and measuring out comes. Done honestly you would be looking to measure common weaknesses or errors with an eye to improving processes. All such papers would have to be instantly revealed if published. It would have to be acceptable to the journals involved apriori.

  23. Hj Hornbeck says

    Oh lordy, I just read their methodology.

    We wrote academic papers targeting (mostly) highly ranked, peer-reviewed journals in fields we are concerned might be corrupted by scholarship biased by “grievance studies.” These papers were submitted to the best journals we could find, given constraints of the journals’ aims and scopes, and then we used the feedback we received about them from editors and peer reviewers to improve them and our future papers. […]

    Each paper was submitted to higher-ranked journals first and then down a line of suitable alternatives until one of the following occurred: it was accepted; it was deemed too unlikely to succeed for reasons we came to understand to continue with it; or we ran out of time.

    They were juggling twenty different papers, but made 48 “new submissions;” on average, then, each paper was submitted a minimum of 2.5 times, and after each review they re-wrote it based on the feedback and tried publishing it in a less prestigious journal.

    And they’re amazed that seven papers were accepted for publication?! Personally, I’m amazed they can tie their own shoes…

  24. leerudolph says

    DanDare @27: “You would have to accept some fields are more fuzzy and difficult than others.”

    One reading of what you mean by “more fuzzy and difficult” is that you believe that ‘fuzziness’ and ‘difficulty’ often go together (perhaps because one causes the other, perhaps because some third quality causes both, perhaps just by chance). I am inclined to think that you do believe that, though only on the fairly weak grounds that you could have written instead “more fuzzy and more difficult”, a phrasing which does not seem (to me) that you believe there’s any particular correlation (or causal relation) between the two.

    So, just in case I’m right about your intentions, I want to register my disagreement with you (and, if I’m wrong about your intentions, with my strawman version of you). I don’t think that the difficulty of a field has anything to do with its fuzziness. Certainly several of the subfields of mathematics I run into most often are very difficult indeed (and mostly too difficult for me), but none of them are fuzzy.

  25. says

    Okay, so I got the story from The Chronicle of Higher Education instead.

    This makes me imagine a case of data fabrication, and when the scientist responsible gets caught, they say “It was a hoax! I was deliberately submitting nonsense papers in order to highlight the problems with peer review!” Buddy, you realize you are what you pretend to be?

    The Chronicle also has this bit:

    Meanwhile, Pluckrose and Boghossian are working on a book together, and Pluckrose is writing one on the 50-year development of grievance studies and the leftist academic culture of victimization.

    When they revealed the “conceptual penis” hoax, they were proudly proclaiming that they’ve never even read any of the scholarship they’re trying to criticize. Now they’re trying to write a history of it?

  26. jrkrideau says

    @Jeremy Shaffer

    Wasn’t it also the type of journal that would basically publish any paper so long as the check cleared?

    Difficult to say for sure but the publisher exhibits a lot of features of a bottom–feeder. Still an article in Salon https://www.salon.com/2017/05/22/why-the-conceptual-penis-hoax-was-a-bust-it-only-reveals-the-lack-of-skepticism-among-skeptics/reports that . First, the open-access journal that published their article requests that authors pay to publish. In the case of Cogent Social Sciences, the recommended fee is a whopping $1,350. I have affirmed that Boghossian and Lindsay were, for unknown reasons, asked to pay less than half of this, namely $625, but the journal apparently never got around to actually requesting the money. so I would be highly suspicious of the journal.

    Strangely enough, I have heard of authors not paying and still getting published before. Either a) there were so few submissions that the journal would take anything as a filler or b) the administration was so messed up that they forgot to ask for the money.

  27. DanDare says

    Leerudolph I’ll elaborate.
    Physics hard to tease out but concepts discovered are not hard to grok.
    Chemistry is on par with the physics is built on.
    Biology or climate start to get us into systems and feedback loops.
    Sociology has systems and feedback loops in spades. The number of variables is mind boggling and ethics considerations strongly impede experiment.
    My view on each of these may be wrong but regardless some fields are going to have more pieces to consider, more interactions and difficulties. In any field sub fields will also be harder to nail down.

  28. photoreceptor says

    I realise the aim of the discussion is to underline the wrong approach of these guys, but more generally speaking the reviewing of scientific papers is a big problem for several reasons. What other profession would ask (demand) that people devote hours to working for free (ask my lawyer)? I am on the editorial board of four journals, and often solicited to perform paper reviews. Doing them well takes a lot of time, and more and more scientists are not prepared to do it. So we are drawing from a dwindling pool of reviewers, at the same time fearing to aggravate them by over-burdening them with reviews. It is not uncommon to see published papers that contain obvious crap, and I put it down to reviewers not doing their job. But who can blame them? It is a system of trust as PZ says, but how about recognizing the value of doing reviews? Publishers make a ton of money from the academic system, maybe they could fork out a little.

  29. says

    Mr. Boghossian doesn’t have tenure and expects the university will fire or otherwise punish him.

    You know, I was wondering about that. Boghossian looks mighty old to be an assistant professor still. One wonders if the reason that he didn’t get tenure is that he isn’t that good. (Yes, I know tenure is such a cutthroat thing, especially in the humanities, making it possible that Boghossian is just one of the unlucky talented academics who didn’t get tenure, but his pulling stunts like this make me think otherwise.)

    As for Lindsay, why on earth does he think he’ll be an academic pariah for this? He has a doctorate in mathematics. Mathematicians are unlikely to care much about his involvement in this hoax, other than to wonder why he’s spending so much time on stunts like this rather than…oh, you know…doing math.

  30. says

    They were juggling twenty different papers, but made 48 “new submissions;” on average, then, each paper was submitted a minimum of 2.5 times, and after each review they re-wrote it based on the feedback and tried publishing it in a less prestigious journal.

    And they’re amazed that seven papers were accepted for publication?! Personally, I’m amazed they can tie their own shoes…

    Exactly. If you throw enough shit at the wall, some of it will stick. In reality, this looks as though the peer review system worked reasonably well, at least at the higher ranking journals.

  31. says

    Hmm. Kind of of two minds here. 1. As we know, sometimes the only way to get someone to stop being a fool is to point out that they keep putting on clown shoes and a rubber nose. Journals need to be a tad less “trusting”, for everyone’s sake, especially in a world in which we have literally allowed, via bad, fake, and misleading studies, the resurgence of bloody snake oil sales, complete with the “traveling entertainment” that went with them. That said, 2. The problem isn’t going to be solve by publishing more crap. The real problem, frankly, seems to be the unwillingness of almost all journals to publish papers that actually say, “We studied the same thing, and found total bupkis. So, you get a few horrible papers, of the same vein as the nonsense these people pushed, which then get repeated by con artists, and Trump “experts”, over and over again, for decades, and you are lucky if even one of the 40 papers that get written on why the original is complete gibberish gets published at all, and even one of them finds its way into the public awareness.

    Maybe what these jokers “should have been doing”, is finding absurd, but effective, ways to hype up, and make “exciting”, articles which show negative results for prior studies. Dress those up as “major breakthroughs”, and bury the original bad science, or intentional cons. That would be actually useful. Because, unfortunately, I suspect every single one of the journals they scammed, to no profit, other than their own egos, where already well aware that the occasional set of over sized shoes where making their way past the supposed “filters” that they had in place, to keep garbage science out of their journals, and we all, already, know just how much they care, sadly, about publishing the “best” information possible, instead of just the “most interesting”. Pointing out that someone snuck a handful of squirting flowers through legit journals… doesn’t mean much, when there have been whole clown cars driven through less (cough) “rigorous” journals, which don’t even try to properly review things.

    Now, if they have tried to shove through 20 papers and all 20 got through… that would be a true condemnation, instead of just a bloody annoyance. That they still need to do a bit better isn’t a condemnation of the process.

  32. Bill Buckner says

    Orac #34,

    As for Lindsay, why on earth does he think he’ll be an academic pariah for this? He has a doctorate in mathematics. Mathematicians are unlikely to care much about his involvement in this hoax, other than to wonder why he’s spending so much time on stunts like this rather than…oh, you know…doing math.

    Things are not so simple. I don’t know of Lindsay is trying to get tenure somewhere, but if he is then this stunt might indeed hurt his chances. The first hurdle in getting tenure is that your department actually wants you as a colleague. If they do not, for example if they view your notoriety as an embarrassment, then in most cases they can write a lukewarm review that will seal your fate, independent of the quality of your work. (Up to a point.) I would say that he has, at a minimum, raised the bar for getting tenure.

  33. Pierce R. Butler says

    I propose we confer verbal immortality on Dr. B. by changing the spelling of an established and necessary term:

    Man, that whole project is totally boghoss!

    Alternatively, we might credit this intrepid trio as the founders of a new field, tarso-morsusianics (yes, the Latin comes out wrong – sorta the point, innit?)!

  34. leerudolph says

    Orac@34:

    As for Lindsay, why on earth does he think he’ll be an academic pariah for this? He has a doctorate in mathematics.

    He publishes his ‘skeptic’ books under the name James A. Lindsay. The American Mathematical Society’s “Mathematics Genealogy” database, which is pretty comprehensive, lists three mathematics Ph.D.s with given name James and family name Lindsay; none have middle initial A. The most recent, granted in 2010 by the University of Tennessee (the state where James A.’s author biographies say he lives), has “Jim” as the middle name. Meanwhile the University’s own database of theses says the middle name is “Stephen”. I suppose they’re both him. If so, there’s no record of his ever having published any mathematical research papers (again, the AMS has a pretty comprehensive database).
    By way of contrast, James “Jim”/Stephen’s advisor’s most recent previous Ph.D. student has published 129 papers (he got his Ph.D. in 2005); one of the eleven other members of James “Jim”/Stephen’s UT-K 2009 mathematics Ph.D. cohort has 23; another has 7; another has 5; another has 2. If James “Jim”/Stephen fears being “barred from professorships”, his mathematical publication record is going to be a much worse problem than any of his non-mathematical publications. As to be “barred” from publications…well, maybe all the Politically Correct Combiniatorialists out there have been blackballing submissions of extracts from his thesis on “Combinatorial Unification of Binomial-Like Arrays”. But maybe he hasn’t submitted any!
    I wonder what “A.” stands for.

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