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April 14, 2005 11:17 PM   Subscribe

MIT students pull prank on conference. "In a victory for pranksters at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a bunch of computer-generated gibberish masquerading as an academic paper has been accepted at a scientific conference." The paper's title? "Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy."
posted by adrober (24 comments total)

 
OMG. This is *sooo* yesterday's news..

Sorry to be snarky, but I've never seen so much 'friendly spam' about the same meme. As if I didn't already get excessive spam from WMSCI itself....
posted by simra at 11:36 PM on April 14, 2005


Seems like just the day before yesterday I read about this on Boing Boing. How time flies! I'm happy to see the story about that bogus conference land on CNN, though, if it makes the WMSCI conference people look bad.

*reads article*

Oh, damn. No, it busts the hoax and makes it look like a tiny loophole at WMSCI. DAMMIT
posted by sninky-chan at 11:44 PM on April 14, 2005


On preview: what preview button? *oops*
posted by sninky-chan at 11:47 PM on April 14, 2005


It's the Sokal affair all over again...
posted by PenDevil at 12:27 AM on April 15, 2005


The Bogdanoff Affair is another Sokal type incident, in which a physics journal published a gibberish paper.
posted by bobo123 at 12:38 AM on April 15, 2005


worth a read, extract on the Sokal hoax on Wiki for those unfamiliar, and an interesting rebuttal by Steve Fuller
posted by trinarian at 2:19 AM on April 15, 2005


Maybe this explains what giblish is!
posted by sohcahtoa at 4:46 AM on April 15, 2005


I hate that this became such a huge meme. Their plan was "...to go [to WMSCI] and give a completely randomly-generated talk, delivered entirely with a straight face." But all you email-forwarders and double-posters ruined the joke, and they'll probably be uninvited.
posted by Plutor at 5:08 AM on April 15, 2005


Also related:

How to Deconstruct almost anything.

Combining the Literary and the Technical.
posted by exlotuseater at 5:14 AM on April 15, 2005


another also related:

an engine to produce PoMo essays that mean nothing, but sound very clever.
posted by exlotuseater at 5:18 AM on April 15, 2005


This was talked about a couple of days ago.

http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/41143
posted by procrastination at 5:43 AM on April 15, 2005


Post-Postmodernism.
posted by spazzm at 6:00 AM on April 15, 2005


But all you email-forwarders and double-posters ruined the joke, and they'll probably be uninvited.

Trying to keep a secret on the internet? Surely you jest.
posted by spazzm at 6:13 AM on April 15, 2005


Didn't anybody notice the fact that this paper was accepted without review? That means it wasn't read, so there's frankly not too much to crow about here, is there? All this means is that the paper looked vaguely academic at first glance. They didn't fool anybody if nobody actually read it. And reading the paper itself, i can promise you that it wouldn't fool anybody that actually read it. The paper seemed fairly substandard as far as MIT pranks go.
posted by jnthnjng at 7:05 AM on April 15, 2005


jnthnjng:
The point is that a conference that accepts papers without reviewing them is not a real scientific conference.
For all practical purposes scientific == peer-reviewed.

It's not a matter of fooling anyone, it's a matter of showing that nobody read the paper before it was accepted.
posted by spazzm at 7:30 AM on April 15, 2005


Are people still surprised that academics are full of shit?
posted by bardic at 9:02 AM on April 15, 2005


The point is that a conference that accepts papers without reviewing them is not a real scientific conference

Varies by field. In political science, papers are accepted or rejected to conferences on the basis of their abstract, and are only very rarely completed when the abstract is submitted. "Reviewing" happens to bad papers when the discussants rip them to pieces.

On the other hand, a conference presentation does not normally count as a publication with us. Conference presentations are a way to get feedback on an early draft, and provide an excuse to get funding to get to the conference for more schmoozular purposes.

I gather that econ works similarly. At least, Public Choice meetings do.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:20 AM on April 15, 2005


Are people still surprised that academics are full of shit?.
I doubt it, but I'd also wager they are less full of shit then a majority of other fields.
posted by edgeways at 12:23 PM on April 15, 2005


Ditti ROU_X: Almost every scientific conference I've ever been to ---chemical, physical, environmental---has operated by abstract aceptance only. Papers aren't often collected until after the conference is over. The talks are far more important than the paper at a conference---you expect the author to be floating an idea at a conference, then six months later, after they've had some feed back, they submit the work to a journal, to go on record, as it were. I'd be very surprised is the students would get away with submitting this to one of the ACM journals, for instance.
posted by bonehead at 12:38 PM on April 15, 2005


This is not like the Sokol affair. When the clever boys and girls at MIT get a fake paper published in Physical Review Letters or Nature, give me a call.

The standard of acceptance at conferences is much lower than for journals, and for the most part it probably shold be. The idea is that one should be less strict with conference presentations, since people are coming to pitch their new ideas/research--stuff that is not yet ready for prime time--to a wider audience and get feedback. It's more inclusive than the journal review process.
posted by mondo dentro at 12:46 PM on April 15, 2005


Papers aren't often collected until after the conference is over

In my world, papers aren't even collected formally. There's no Proceedings of the Umpty-Fourth Meeting of the American Political Science Association or other conferences that I'm aware of, and if there are any exceptions they're Proceedingses that nobody in their right mind gives a damn about.

The most you'll see in that regard are small "conferences" where the participants are putting together an edited volume, and the papers morph into the chapters.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:31 PM on April 15, 2005


The standard of acceptance at conferences is much lower than for journals, and for the most part it probably shold be.

That's not usually true in computer science. Conference publications can be even more prestigious than many journals. It seems like their prank was an attempt to discredit a conference in the field that doesn't live up to the usual standards, unlike the Sokol hoax, which was an attempt to discredit a whole field.
posted by transona5 at 9:09 PM on April 15, 2005


this sort of thing has been going on since the 1940's.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 10:57 PM on April 15, 2005


Many posters here don't seem to realize the basic point of this particular conference, which is to obtain registration fees from the gullible. That's why this "prank" sucks, but will suck much much more if these students pay to go deliver this paper at the conference. "Oh dear, I guess the joke's on me" says the organizer, crying on his way to the bank. (The vast majority of academic conferences are not of this type, and don't resort to spam to solicit speakers.)

In that way it's quite incomparable to the Alan Sokal affair, in which he performed a valid experiment, the results of which proved something about the journal "Social Text". The experiment above proves nothing of any surprise.
posted by Aknaton at 11:26 AM on April 19, 2005


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