April 21, 2005

Yay MIT

Here we go again . . .

Three MIT graduate students set out to show what kind of gobbledygook can pass muster at an academic conference these days, writing a computer program that generates fake, nonsensical papers. And sure enough, a Florida conference took the bait.

The program, developed by students Jeremy Stribling, Max Krohn and Dan Aguayo, generated a paper with the dumbfounding title: "Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy." Its introduction begins: "Many scholars would agree that, had it not been for active networks, the simulation of Lamport clocks might never have occurred." . . .

The offer accepting a paper and inviting the students to present it in person in Orlando was rescinded after word of the hoax got out, and the students were refunded the $390 fee to attend the conference and have the paper published in its proceedings.

[Full Story]

Another bunch of pomo pseudo-intellects get their comeuppance. You might also remember the most infamous example of this prank, Alan Sokal's con of the "cultural studies" journal Social Text. More recent, and much funnier, is the Atlanta Nights sting carried out by a cadre of professional authors against PublishAmerica, a "vanity press" claiming to be a traditional publisher. I have located and read the sting manuscript. Never was writing this bad so hysterically funny.