Academy for Retribution

NAS

In 2018, Dr. Peter Boghossian, along with two other academics made public a successful hoax of several journals intended to prove that these fields' scholarship' cannot be distinguished from self-evident nonsense. Since the uncovering of this hoax, Dr. Boghossian's peers and students have accused him and his colleagues in the study of "research misconduct." Portland State University has begun investigating these accusations, many of which are obviously absurd and equate to harassment. 

Read the full letter below.


            January 22, 2019

President Rahmat Shoureshi
Portland State University
PO Box 751—POF
Portland, OR 97207-0751

Dear President Shoureshi,

Dr. Peter Boghossian, an assistant professor of philosophy at your university, has been wrongfully subjected to disciplinary procedures at Portland State that are intended to punish him for exercising his academic freedom in pursuit of the truth. I urge you to issue a statement that Dr. Boghossian properly exercised academic freedom, and stating that Portland State University’s academic disciplinary procedures should not be used to harass scholars.

I write as President of the National Association of Scholars (NAS). NAS is a network of scholars and citizens united by our commitment to academic freedom, disinterested scholarship, and excellence in higher education.

In 2018, Dr. Boghossian made public a successful hoax against several journals in what are polemically called “grievance studies,” intended to prove that these fields’ ‘scholarship’ cannot be distinguished from self-evident nonsense. He thereby provoked retaliatory accusations of “research misconduct.” Portland State has begun to investigate him for “fabricating” data, for improper research on human subjects (the hoaxed editors), and, with reference to a made-up paper about ‘canine rape culture,’ for improper “research into animal behavior.”

Eminent scholars have written to defend Dr. Boghossian on the substance of these attacks, and to urge the investigating bodies at Portland State to abandon these harassing investigations.[1] The NAS unequivocally endorses these substantive defenses of Dr. Boghossian’s conduct. We also believe that Portland State University should publicly vindicate Dr. Boghossian’s good character.

Dr. Boghossian has not been subjected to these disciplinary procedures because of good-faith worries about his research procedures. Dr. Boghossian embarrassed members of the ‘grievance studies’ complex; these misconduct accusations, transparently, are meant to persecute Dr. Boghossian for exposing ‘grievance studies’ to ridicule. Dr. Boghossian’s opponents wish to expel him from academia—and, at the very least, to subject him to punishing harassment by forcing him to endure this investigatory process. The persecution of Dr. Boghossian is also intended to intimidate into silence any other member of Portland State University who considers embarrassing the ‘grievance studies’ complex. The real issue is how the persecution of Dr. Boghossian chills academic freedom—both at Portland State and nationally.

The NAS respects and cherishes the principle of university neutrality in scholarly disputes, and does not believe that university presidents should lightly intervene in university administrative procedures. Yet universities as a whole, and their presidents, also have a duty to champion the cause of academic freedom. Your predecessor, President Wim Wiewel, admirably committed Portland State University to providing an “environment that promotes free expression.”[2] University presidents also should vindicate the reputation of their members when they have been falsely accused of unprofessional conduct. I believe it is proper for you to build upon Portland State’s existing commitment to academic freedom by a public endorsement of Dr. Boghossian.

I urge you to declare publicly that Dr. Boghossian’s professional character meets the standards catalogued by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in its Statement on Professional Ethics (https://www.aaup.org/report/statement-professional-ethics). I urge you further to affirm that Dr. Boghossian’s conduct falls fully within the protections to academic freedom described in the AAUP’s 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure (https://www.aaup.org/report/1940-statement-principles-academic-freedom-and-tenure). I finally urge you to announce publicly that Portland State University will begin the revision of its code of academic discipline to prevent its abuse as an instrument of retaliatory harassment.

The NAS believes that Portland State University made an excellent choice when it decided to admit Dr. Boghossian to its faculty. We would be delighted if you would affirm the university’s continuing confidence in Dr. Boghossian.

                                                                                                Respectfully yours,

                                                                                                Peter Wood
                                                                                                President
                                                                                                National Association of Scholars

 

[1]  E.g., “Defend Dr. Peter Boghossian of Portland State University,” Oregon Association of Scholars, 9 January 2019, https://www.oregonscholars.org/wp-content/uploads/OAS_8January2019_Boghossian.pdf.

[2]  Wim Wiewel, “Free speech is a bedrock principle at PSU,” https://www.pdx.edu/president/free-speech-is-a-bedrock-principle-at-psu.

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