A picture of graduates in their graduate caps and gowns, now of whom is wearing a groucho marx disguise. From Nick Byrd's blog post about academic fake news.

Academic Fake News?

I was just on the I Can’t Believe It’s Not News podcast talking about fake news, academic fake news (e.g., fake conferences, scam publishers), open access publishing, and what it’s like to look like Neil Patrick Harris. I had a great time. The hosts, Beth and Elizabeth, are very fun and resourceful. You can preview and listen to the podcast below.


You can listen to the podcast in the player below. (In case you care, I join the podcast somewhere around 4:10 and leave around 52:30.)

You can also listen to I Can’t Believe It’s Not News with Beth and Elizabeth from their website (podcastfakenews.libsyn.com), from Apple Podcasts (here), or from wherever you get podcasts.

And you can find Beth and Elizabeth’s podcast online via TwitterFacebook, or email. Beth and Elizabeth are great about this. We’ve emailed back and forth a few times now. In fact, I was one of the people who recommended that Beth and Elizabeth do an episode about the psychology of conspiracy theories with Dr. Dan Jolley. And that has turned out to be one of my favorite episodes so far. If you’ve got ideas or questions about fake news, let them know.

I’ve liked the very idea of this podcast since the beginning. And I say why in this episode. I also explained why in my review on Apple Podcasts. If you like the podcast and/or you want to help the podcast grow its audience, then

  • write a review explaining why you like it.
  • share the podcast with your friends and family.


We talked about a few things. Here are some of the questions that we discussed.

  1. Fake news. Why did I become interested in fake news? And why did I blog about it?
  2. Research. How is my research about human reasoning related to fake news? And what do I think we can do about fake news?
  3. Academic Fake News. What is an example of academic fake news? Why is there academic fake news? What can academics do about it?
  4. Scholarly Hoaxes. What is a scholarly publishing hoax? Have you heard about the hoax paper titled, “The Conceptual Penis…“? What does that hoax tells us about the journal that published it? And what does it tell us about the field of gender studies? What does this tell us about open access publishing?
  5. Doppelgängers. What is it like looking like Neil Patrick Harris? How do I make it fun? How can I make it more fun?

Related Posts

If we want to stop fake news, we need to do some fact-checking. But is that enough? I don’t think so. I explain why in “Fact-checking is not enough. We need argument-checking.

And do people even care about facts or arguments? What does psychology tell us about this? I explain in “Is post-fact reasoning redeemable?

There are a lot of podcasts related to my research in philosophy and psychology. Here’s a list: “40+ Cognitive Science and/or Philosophy Podcasts“.


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Nick Byrd

Nick is a cognitive scientist at Florida State University studying reasoning, wellbeing, and willpower. Check out his blog at byrdnick.com/blog

6 thoughts on “Academic Fake News?”

  1. Nick,

    May be a little off topic here, but have you noticed the increasing snarkiness and sophist tendencies in the lib media re Trump? I didnt vote for Trump, and dont necessarily like him, but it seems the lib media will stop at nothing to smear his reputation. Ex: calling him racist for expressing dislike for both (nazi+antifa) extremist groups during Charolletsville riot. He could be racist, but you can’t logically infer racism from his remarks. Media seems to have little respect for its readers’ logical autonomy.

    Is media using avail heuristic to manip ppl? News or sophistry?

    1. Hi again Nick! I share some of these observations. Nonetheless:

      First, plenty of journ-als/-ists (liberal or otherwise) are sufficiently careful to not make claims so strong that they cannot support them. But sure: some aren’t.

      Second, until we define ‘racist’, ‘supremacist’, etc., we cannot properly assess claims about Trump, racism, etc. E.g., is it possible to be prejudiced against one’s own group(s)? Must racism be intentional? Hateful?

      Third, Trump is far from immune to criticism about racial (and other) prejudice. He’s repeatedly made problematic statements about race and refused or else hesitated to denounce racism.

      1. Thanks for the reply, Nick. I think the irresponsible attribution of ambiguous terms to political figures is part of what leads to poor news quality (your 2nd point). It stoops to Trump’s anti-intellectual level and not only serves as a distraction to productive public discussion, but in many cases, hinders it. Poor arguments further deter your adversaries from taking your viewpoints seriously. The overt attack on Trmp in Salon article may indirectly pull some voters further left, but to take its content seriously actually helps Trump by spoiling more nuanced and substantive cases against him. True, plenty of journalist are fair, but the mainstream lib readership is politically important and deserves to be better armed.

        1. One more thing…

          to your first point: I agree that plenty of journalists are fair. But even if more were fair than unfair, the stories that will ultimately affect the way the most people think are the ones that gain the most traction. I’m thinking in terms of how info is shared online and how it can gain exponential traction through social media and IPhone news app exposure. Also, by function of the availability heuristic, provocative political stories (like the Salon article) may have more of a lasting impact on its readers because they are easier to recall than fairer but more boring stories. These provocative articles may also be shared more than truthful articles because of this.

          1. I agree with your responses. But I would add only that it is the liberal person’s responsibility to consume and share journalism in a way that doesn’t undermine their liberal goals. If they accept and share poorly crafted articles, then that is at least partly their fault.

            In defense of the liberal authors and consumers we’re mentioning. Their errors are human and therefore common. And I am not immune to them. So it’s not as though my criticisms apply only to liberals.

          2. I agree. It’s ultimately up to the individual to judge the quality of the news they’re consuming–you can’t argue with that. Also, my above claims were not thoroughly researched and could be a product of my own ‘availability heuristic’ fallibilites.

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