How Windschuttle swallowed a hoax to publish a fake story in Quadrant
Keith Windschuttle, the editor of the conservative magazine Quadrant, has been taken in by a hoax intended to show that he will print outrageous propositions.
This month’s edition of Quadrant contains a hoax article purporting to be by “Sharon Gould”, a Brisbane based New York biotechnologist.
But in the tradition of Ern Malley – the famous literary hoax perpetrated by Quadrant’s first editor, James McAuley – the Sharon Gould persona is entirely fictitious and the article is studded with false science, logical leaps, outrageous claims and a mixture of genuine and bogus footnotes.
In accepting the article, Keith Windschuttle said in an email to “Sharon Gould”:
I really like the article. You bring together some very important considerations about scientific method, the media, politics and morality that I know our readers would find illuminating.
“Gould’s” article, which is blurbed on the front cover of Quadrant and reproduced online, (subscribers only) argues for the insertion of human genes in to food crops, insects and livestock.
It contains the bogus claim that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation planned to commercialise food crops engineered with human genes, but abandoned the projects because of “perceived moral issues”.
The hoaxer, who intends to remain anonymous, has provided details of how the hoax was constructed, including a blog-style Diary of A Hoax, liberally studded with ironic quotations from Ern Malley’s poetry.
Diary of a Hoax is published here, and the article submitted to Quadrant is here but, unless it is taken down, can also be read by subscribers on Quadrant’s website here or in the print edition, which hit newsagents in the last few days.
I rang Keith Windschuttle this morning seeking comment. He said that claims the article was a hoax were “news to me” and said he wanted to see the material the hoaxer had provided to me before commenting. A copy of Diary of a Hoax and his own correspondence with “Sharon Gould” was emailed to him this morning.
He rang back a short while ago, and said that he would respond to these events in full on the Quadrant website shortly. More on Windschuttle’s conversation with me below.
“Gould’s” article uses a mélange of fact, misconstrued science and fiction masquerading as science to argue that science research, such as that behind genetically modified foods, should be above scrutiny by the media and the public. It criticizes the Rudd Government for “shameless populism” for inviting “ordinary” Australians to be part of the 2020 Summit. The article says:
What has become unspeakable is that journalists and their publics, like small children reaching for the medicine cabinet, do not always understand what is best.
In a ruse designed to lampoon Windschuttle’s historical research, which began by checking the footnotes of leading historians, the article contains some false references.
In Diary of a Hoax, the hoaxer writes:
Some of the footnotes are completely fabricated. Others are genuine references to science articles, but have nought to do with what’s asserted in the essay.
(The footnotes have not been included with the published version of the article. In keeping with Quadrant practice, a note at the end says that they are available from the Quadrant office.)
The Gould hoax is designed to be a companion and a counter to the famous Sokal hoax, in which the physicist Alan Sokal submitted a paper to a postmodern cultural studies journal to show that post modernists would “publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions.”
Page 1 of 3 | Next page