On any given day, the Twitter account of New Real Peer Review features the latest in wacky, abstract liberal research, from feminist glaciology to the racism of Pilates and pumpkin spice lattes.
The account, which has some 23,000 followers, is shrouded in secrecy — its moderators unknown to those reading the satirical tweets mocking what it considers outlandish theses, like a Ph.D. dissertation titled: “‘Wow, that bitch is crazy!’ Exploring gendered performances in leisure spaces surrounding reality television.”
Anonymity is required, say moderators of the account, which has been threatened by hackers looking to shut it down.
In an email to Fox News, one of the moderators — known only as Machine Priestess, with the Twitter handle @okayultra — said the group receives research topics from “contributors of all walks of life,” including students and professors.
The group’s purpose, Machine Priestess said, is to “provide a lighthearted, satirical view of most questionable specimens of modern academic peer review process.”
Such academic research includes a widely-ridiculed study on “gender and glaciers” that was funded by U.S. taxpayers.
Researchers at the University of Oregon published a scientific study in January 2016 examining the “relationship between gender and glaciers” as part of a federally-funded government grant from the National Science Foundation.
The paper, titled “Glaciers, gender, and science” and authored by University of Oregon professor Mark Carey, found that “ice is not just ice” and called on scientists to take a “feminist political ecology and feminist postcolonial” approach when researching glaciers and climate change. The study was part of a nearly $500,000 federal grant.
Other kooky projects mocked by the moderators of New Real Peer Review are: Pilates and pumpkin spice lattes are racist; 2017 is a “construct”; Doctors telling obese people to lose weight is discriminatory and white students supporting Trayvon Martin are exercising their white privilege.
The account posted excerpts from a paper, titled “White Tears,” in which the authors claim: “…Whites who do know, intellectually, about the depths of racism are so accustomed to exercising their race privilege that an explicit refusal of this privilege causes barely repressed guilt to surface — in tears. Those tears are themselves a re-assertion of privilege, a performance of privilege.”
“Some scholars are so funny that they’ve spent their whole careers on writing funny hoax papers,” the group tweeted.
Critics of the account, meanwhile, blast it for being “intellectually shallow” — comprised of nameless moderators who judge academic papers by only their titles.
“I find the whole exercise of just reading titles & abstracts to be intellectually shallow,” tweeted one such critic, identified as Jeet Heer.
“Oh, so you can read an abstract. Real genius,” Jeet Heer tweeted. “No writing from the thesis was quoted.”
But supporters of the account — which is growing in popularity — express both amusement and shock at the tweets spotlighting nutty research papers from academics, many of whom receive public and private funding for their projects.
“At first I didn’t believe your tweets were real. It seemed too outlandish. Now I don’t even check. How is this real life?” tweeted a follower with the handle @plujoenium.
Machine Priestess told Fox News the account became a group project when the original Real Peer Review — operated by a single person — was shut down after harassment and threats of doxing.
“We decided that’s not right and decided to keep the project alive,” Machine Priestess wrote in an email.
In order to avoid a similar fate, Machine Priestess said, the group account is run by “somewhat pseudonymous contributors.”
“So far we’ve had several attempts at socially engineering contributors to reveal themselves, and a few rather inept attempts at hacking the account,” Machine Priestess wrote. “We’re holding up rather okay so far.”