Academia: When internet mobs strike

I stumbled on the link while following a link trail on freedom of speech. It is easy to label individuals as conservatives or liberals depending on their point of view. I’d rather desist from the eventual politicisation of “freedoms” because they are different socio-cultural contexts. Whatever defence I may mount for it, would eventually fall short anyway. Still, the focus on purpose of the blog isn’t to explore these myriad abstract layers.

I came across the retraction of a paper on gender dyphoria forced by a lynch mob. I wouldn’t be able to comment on specifics- right or wrong as it is beyond my domain expertise. However, if a journal claims that everything’s kosher after a “double blind peer review” and has followed “accepted norms” before publishing, it should stick to it’s stand.

Here’s the retraction watch blog post:

We can’t comment on the merits of Gliske’s paper as a work of science. But we do feel comfortable saying that the journal appears to have badly botched this case. It admitted reviewing Gliske’s manuscript and accepting the article as a “theory/new concept” piece — one “not based on novel” data but which “serves to question existing dogma.” In other words, it can’t fairly hide behind the claim — which it now seems to be making — that it had inadvertently accepted a poorly-done study. 

There was a petition started to remove it.

The author’s response is on a medium post.

Here’s something on the defence of the author and the role of academic “lynch mobs”.

It seems that Gliske’s main “crime” was trying to theorize on this. He provides his own response to the situation in this article published on Medium.In it, the scientist defends against the attacks on his theory, that’s trying to delve into the cause of gender dysphoria, by pointing out to the fact that so far – no theory regarding that cause has actually been proven true.

I think this merits a deeper look at the “business of academic publishing”, Twitter’s echo chamber, and the so-called “democratisation” and group-hive mentality.