Ethics Quiz: The Good Hoax?

A scholarly journal called “Sex Roles” published what t thought were the results of  a two-year study involving “thematic analysis of table dialogue” to uncover the mystery of why heterosexual men like to eat at Hooters. A journal of feminist geography, whatever that is, featured research om “human reactions to rape culture and queer performativity” at dog parks in Portland, Oregon. Another paper was deemed worthy of publication in a journal of feminist social work:  titled “Our Struggle Is My Struggle,” it merged current feminist cant into passages lifted from Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”

Last week, the three authors of these and many other hoax papers  revealed in an article for the online journal Areo explaining that their fakery was part of a project to expose the lack of integrity in academia. “Scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established, if not fully dominant, within these fields,” they wrote. James A. Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose and Peter Boghossian  (above) said that they wrote 20 fake scholarly papers and had several accepted and published in journals. The embarrassed publications rushed to retract the fake scholarship…

…while many scholars praised the hoaxers. for casting a harsh and revealing light on the “peer-reviewed research” scam.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz Of The Day:

Was the hoax project ethical?

I’ll give my answer now: emphatically not. This is a pure “the ends justify the means” abuse episode. The hoaxers punished readers, who wasted their time reading these silly papers because they trusted the publications. This is like swindling someone, keeping the money, and piously lecturing the victims about how they should be more careful in the future.

This is just a more extensive, more elaborately rationalized version of the fake news hoaxes on cheesy websites like The News Nerd and others. There are always more ethical methods of alerting the public to a problem than lying to it.

But as readers here know, I detest all hoaxes, even funny ones. Maybe you can convince me that this is the exception: https://ethicsalarms.com/2017/05/25/the-good-hoax/

 

83 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Quizzes, Research and Scholarship

83 responses to “Ethics Quiz: The Good Hoax?

  1. PennAgain

    As far as hoax articles appearing in either reputable journals or popular publications (rarely the same thing), if I weren’t an atheist, I would damn them all to hell. What I have in mind as an example that should need no further elucidation here is the piece knowingly published by Rolling Stone that included the false rape stories and statistics responsible for poisoning much of a culture, not to mention its politics.

    • As far as hoax articles appearing in either reputable journals or popular publications (rarely the same thing), if I weren’t an atheist, I would damn them all to hell. What I have in mind as an example that should need no further elucidation here is the piece knowingly published by Rolling Stone that included the false rape stories and statistics responsible for poisoning much of a culture, not to mention its politics.

      A hoax article, or as someone said a ‘sting article’, should not be seen as the same category as ‘fake news’ or yellow journalism. Nor deliberate deception.

      The statement about the poisoning of culture is an interesting one. Can culture be *poisoned*? and if so what poisons it?

      It is not a useless metaphor by any means since a poison brings on death. One can voluntarily take in poison, or one can be poisoned through trickery and deviousness.

      Obviously, in our present, today, a serious undercurrent when people express what is doing harm to society is their assertions about what poison is, and what the poisons are that are circulating in the social body.

      It is a very good question really. But terribly problematic.

      • PennAgain

        The court disagrees with you, Alizia, about both the author and publisher of the article: “In November 2016, a federal court jury found Samantha Erdely was liable for defamation with actual malice” and that “Erdely and Rolling Stone failed to engage in “basic, even routine journalistic practice”

        Her background reveals a start in college, when her colleague Stephen Glass ‘threw a righteous fit’ after she and a another student “concocted a funny and obviously made-up travel story” for the school magazine.” [Glass, you may not know, later became nationally notorious for inventing false stories published as factual journalism in the highly respected The New Republic, seriously harming its reputation.] Erdely was obviously already toxic before she left school. If you’re curious, her Wikipedia bio contains descriptions of six other major rape stories she invented out of whole cloth and used to smear real people and institutions, articles that in at least two cases went up for major journalism awards. As a self-appointed expert in rape and bullying, her work went into GQ, The New Yorker, Mother Jones, Glamour, Men’s Health, Philadelphia, among other lesser magazines. She was believed. The more she got away with, the greater the lies she invented … until, after twenty wonderful years of conning millions of people, she got over-confident and lazy, and plagiarized a previous article of her own. Until someone finally noticed that the Rolling Stone piece bore too many similarities to another one to be coincidental.

        For twenty years, from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, Seattle to Florida, she built a reputation for being the go-to journalist on the subject of rape. No one doubted her. Witnesses later spoke out using her writing as statistical evidence — women (and so many men who had been falsely accused) and feminists in particular — had absorbed every precious word – even against the evidence of their own knowledge and experience in the times and places Erdely was writing about.

        A month ago, September 21, 2018, Rolling Stone was also found “liable for defamation.” It was noted in the case against Erdely that the magazine hadn’t been doing too well before they glommed onto that gem of Samantha, aka “Jackie,” the fictional rapee.

        Last week’s headline:
        WaPo Reporter Is Tired of Being Reminded He Fell for Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s Hate Hoax So Badly He Called for Burning Down UVA Frat Houses

        I now amend my description of the poisonous piece: It is a “hate hoax.”

        No, Alizia, poisons do not, in general, lead to death. They lead to minor discomfort in some, and major permanent damage in others; some knock you on your ass right away, and some creep insidiously into your brain over months or years. The public remembers things they read and hear. They (I won’t say “we” because I became skeptical reader at the age of 12 after a defamatory article was published in a local newspaper concerning a friend of my family concerning something that happened while I was present and knew to be a lie. I had been visiting one of their children, a classmate, at the time the incident took place, or rather, didn’t take place. My testimony was taken down, along with his, not discounted, but the editor of the paper would not print a retraction because, he said, “we don’t want to confuse our readers; they expect the truth, and that is what we give them.” Our parents wanted that in writing; naturally, he refused.

        I am convinced that what is presented in a plausible manner from an authoritative source (which could be the 10 o’clock news or a magazine with a reputation for having its journalistic thumb on the pulse of young America) is frequently taken in without the auditor, viewer or reader later recalling the source. If they didn’t question it in the first place, they not only don’t question it later, but, when challenged, they will deny or dismiss any correction out of sheer embarrassment, egotism, mental laziness or, in the case under discussion, because they want to believe it.

        As has been pointed out in Ethics Alarms before, the left, on the whole, has taken the anomalous position of being at once both victim and dictator. Thus, the concept of a Rape Culture is heaven for them: they are, collectively, the injured parties … and the ones who injure, including any who are capable of doing injury, are now at their mercy — via 30-year-old wisps of memory, anonymous join-the-conga-line #MeToo-ers, a casual touch on the shoulder, or a dirty-dirty word in their ears. They feed on lies more than on facts – the truths are painful, but the lies are more … emotional, memorable, dramatic, arousing . . . . They need to feed the addiction even when they know it is poison.

        • PennAgain, I think you may have misunderstood. On the other hand you may believe, and you would have some justification for the belief, that any sort of hoax or (so-called) ‘sting’ which takes the form of a kind of trick or ironic deception, is wrong. I would respect your view but I would disagree to some degree.

          There is no doubt in my mind that in regard to Samantha Erdely’s case, as you have presented it (I only knew generally about it and have never looked into it in depth) was clearly not an ironic hoax but a deliberate slander: defamation with actual malice as you quoted. It was not ever intended to be seen through; to be seen as a *joke* or a *trick*. It was intended to condemn and to harm. (And what her interest was, in the sense of cui bono, requires analysis. I reckon there were various levels to it).

          In my view, that differs a great deal from the sort of hoax that is the subject of this Blog post. I did not bother to read the hoax papers and only read the titles of them as others quoted them. But I did read nearly every response-essay by the people who write here. I think I understand their concerns.

          You wrote:

          What I have in mind as an example that should need no further elucidation here is the piece knowingly published by Rolling Stone that included the false rape stories and statistics responsible for poisoning much of a culture, not to mention its politics.

          And you brought forth a very good example. But I would argue that the obviously ironic nature of the hoax articles mentioned here stands in definite contrast to knowingly false accusations of rape. The latter is criminal and the other is … spoof [Spoof, a hoaxing game invented by Arthur Roberts †1933 English comedian].

          It is true, it seems to me, that a spoof could cross a line and become overtly unethical and harmful. But in the examples cited in this Blog post I did not discern that level of intent, nor was there a truly harmful result. There seemed to have been though a sort of *lesson* in having fallen for the spoof, but I will admit that it was attained through questionable means.

          The larger issue of social cultural spiritual moral and ethical poisons also interests me a great deal. I have used the word *contagion* to describe the hysteria that seems to be moving through the social body. If you have read anything that I have written you would know that I do have some ideas about it, or rather a group of questions really about what is the origin of it.

          While I do agree that The Left and The Democrats — a defined sector of the American population — seem to be captured by what I can only describe as hysteria, there is a rhyme to their reason (or is it reason to their rhyme) which I feel I understand pretty well. I understand it because I have read a great deal of the material that *they* have read. My views on *what is going on* and *why* become problematic because I see all of this as the functions of a System, and it is the American System, and it all relates to ‘the tenets of the American civil religion‘. I would not say that these ‘democrats’ do not seem to be manifesting the contagion in an overt manner — I do think that — but I also see the contagion as ‘part-and-parcel’ of something uniquely, and quite specially, American. (I do make efforts to explain this and, more often than not, get nowhere).

          In my view, all ‘pathology’ has cause, and all causes can be traced back to their *roots*. If there is a manifestation of *sickness* in our present, and if one is truly interested in correcting it, there are two levels or locales where the work of rectification must take place: inside one’s own person (I call this *spiritual work*) and outside of oneself (*social, intellectual and political work*). They are part of the same work though.

          Thus, if ‘poisons’ and ‘contagions’ exist, we know them because they have infected us in one degree or another. We are not immune.

          • PennAgain

            We differ, I believe, on connotations rather than definitions. Thus, for all your excellent logic, Alizia, the facts fade into the background while an essentially subjective argument takes over …. or it would be an argument if I were arguing with you, which I’m not. The fact in this matter is that Erdely, falsely or idiotically or crazily or not, believed she was doing something fine and high-minded “for women,” and to alert a deaf public (and via that route influence authorities) that there was “a rape problem” that needed to be addressed. In her mind, the ruining of a single man (or a whole college fraternity) was insignificant in terms of getting her message “out there.”

            In other words, her cover (if you will) was in presenting these gross exaggerations as hoaxes. I may have taken you in the wrong direction by quoting the court decisions concerning malicious intent. The articles undoubtedly did “malicious” damage. So where am I? What Erdely believed (and apparently still does) has been shown to be shared by much of the public touched by it — including a proportion of men who don’t understand they are simply seeing themselves as heroic exceptions, or else thinking they are disguising themselves to live in the midst of an Amazonian tribe that wants to cut their balls off (that was an irrelevant side-bar, sorry, I do that a lot, letting off steam). Here’s what happens when someone with a cause and a vague concept of how bad the situation is gets hold of what she thinks are solid statistics, intended as a righteous hoax:
            https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2014/12/06/msnbc_panelist_we_live_in_a_culture_that_hates_women.html

            I rest my case.

            • The fact in this matter is that Erdely, falsely or idiotically or crazily or not, believed she was doing something fine and high-minded “for women,” and to alert a deaf public (and via that route influence authorities) that there was “a rape problem” that needed to be addressed. In her mind, the ruining of a single man (or a whole college fraternity) was insignificant in terms of getting her message “out there.”

              I definitely agree with your description of an issue — certainly one of the major issues going on today, in our (strange) present.

              Katie Roiphe pointed toward the same issue in her book The Morning After. So, it has been with us for some time.

              Recently, a similar sort of incident occurred with Brock Turner and the supposed Stanford rape. Everyone — including people on this Blog — believed the *surface story* and saw Brock Turner as guilty of some derivation of rape.

              Thus, they participated in the hysteria which goes on in our present. Quite easy to fall into, I think. While I have no absolute certainty, I did look more into the issue, read the police report, and got additional information about how the *victim* was counselled by a *rape councillor* to describe events in a certain way, and thus implicate Brock Turner.

              There is that aspect of it, as you say: the sense that they are *serving women* and some greater, larger cause.

            • PS: I wonder if some part of it comes down to a strategy to displace men and replace them? See this Times article:

              • PennAgain

                It’s an interesting fantasy to see that as a deliberate, seditious act. But I doubt it was the first-response motive for the flood of accusations. Could anyone have imagined that there would be almost no push-back at all? And it would have been near impossible to orchestrate.

                There is no doubt, however, that feminists and job-hungry women (a meeting of classes, so to speak) — with the reluctant collusion of employers via their media-sensitive so-called Human Resources departments (which are themselves rapidly becoming “feminized”) — took full advantage of it. And will continue to do so: witness the myth that the women and their resumes themselves could not be responsible for the “lower wages for the same jobs,” if indeed they were actually lower, or exactly the same (both ranges being problematically accessible information).

                • It’s an interesting fantasy to see that as a deliberate, seditious act. But I doubt it was the first-response motive for the flood of accusations. Could anyone have imagined that there would be almost no push-back at all? And it would have been near impossible to orchestrate.

                  Hmmm, it is interesting that you’d say that. Let me clarify a little: I think that there is a deliberateness to the Marxian ‘Alinsky-style’ and (if you’ll permit me) Frankfurt School of Criticism, and all the activism in our present, and it has to do, very deliberately, with the undermining of hierarchies and established structures. But the origins of this (according for example to Richard Weaver) go back a number of centuries.

                  We are living in a time when things are breathtakingly rapidly coming to a strange head. A crisis seems imminent. I cannot visualize where things are heading, and this indicates to me that there are profound psychic elements in play. (But my views of the social world are sometimes too *Jungian*).

                  Thus, feminism is a political and social movement that arose not only in ideology — and clearly (often) a Marxian ideology — but within the emotions of women. Rage, dissatisfaction, rebelliousness, revenge. And I think here we must recognize something about human beings and the way they operate: there is the logical and rational side of their acts and hopes and designs, but then there is the raw power-desire. I would also mention the unconscious aspect: a will-to-destruction. It seems to me that people are infusing events with so much unprocessed inner content that it all gets terribly distorted and very fast. It can’t be sorted out except through a cathartic event.

                  So, I would not say that the Me-Too Movement and the toppling of men was a deliberate and pre-conceived manoeuvre, yet it fits into a cultural and social and also historical pattern which is quite deliberate. To discern what *that* is and how and why it arises seems to me the Question of the Day.

                  I believe that many who write on these pages see where it is going, and we are all tremendously alarmed, but we do not seem to know what is the cause of *all this*. And what is the cause and what are the causes? I do not think this is at all a vain question.

                  There is no doubt, however, that feminists and job-hungry women (a meeting of classes, so to speak) — with the reluctant collusion of employers via their media-sensitive so-called Human Resources departments (which are themselves rapidly becoming “feminized”) — took full advantage of it. And will continue to do so: witness the myth that the women and their resumes themselves could not be responsible for the “lower wages for the same jobs,” if indeed they were actually lower, or exactly the same (both ranges being problematically accessible information).

                  Obviously, they did. And obviously they are. And that is one of the objects of the Feminist Revolution, it seems to me. It was stated as such *way back then*, and it has been slowly acted on, and now, for different contributing reasons, it seems to be coming to fruition in our present. There is nothing, or very little, to oppose *it* and so it will have to continue until, at one point or another, it produces a crisis. Hard to say what will happen then. That is why it is difficult I think *to see* the future. It is sort of veiled obscure and misty…

      • “Can culture be *poisoned*? and if so what poisons it?”

        Everything which takes away from being a high trust society towards becoming a low trust society poisons the culture. Hoaxes are part of that since they punish trust and encourage distrust (as do “practical jokes”).

        To justify this hoax you would have to assert that these branches of academia are too trusting, and need a dose of mistrust to set them right.

        • Everything which takes away from being a high trust society towards becoming a low trust society poisons the culture. Hoaxes are part of that since they punish trust and encourage distrust (as do “practical jokes”).

          I think that I understand what you are saying and I agree with it. I see why you would say that a hoax is, therefor, a sign about lack of trust or a breakdown in trust.

          To justify this hoax you would have to assert that these branches of academia are too trusting, and need a dose of mistrust to set them right.

          I would not *justify* the hoax necessarily, but I would try to explain it, and its logic. I would then be forced to process to make an analysis of the corruption that has taken place in intellect and also in intellectual culture within our country. And doing that, I would necessarily have to bring in many different bits and pieces of evidence and observation to support an interpretation of *what went wrong and why*.

          I would not attempt to say that these branches of academia are *too trusting*, I would be forced to attempt to explain how it is that people generally have gone off the rails or lost their way. I would struggle to encapsulate it in a phrase that you he she and any other would understand and agree to. And (speaking generally, and in the context of the Culture Wars) no agreement would be arrived at!

          If there is no agreement, it shines some light as to why there is (degraded) trust. And why is that? Why?

          To answer that question turns the investigation, and the conversation, toward difficult topics.

          You’d have to consult with the ‘angels dancing on the heads of pins’ and do a certain amount of profound ‘navel gazing’ in order to begin to outline why what is going on in our present is going on . . . 🙂

          We all could remain, however, staring at the images as they play on the wall in front of us, chained to seeing only surface, with no regard to previous causation (the projectors) and the loooonnngggg causal chain that has brought us to this bizarre location.

          [Ooops. I just engaged irony which is, I suppose, a manifestation of lack of trust. Therefor Socrates is the origin of our present quandary! 🙂 I knew that guy was up to no good!]

        • Can culture be poisoned???? Don’t we have the clearest examples imaginable in world history: pre-WWII Germany and Japan, Maoist China, Soviet Russia, Revolution era France?

  2. So what separates this from a test or quiz put by a teacher? A job interview riddle? A credential exam? Undercover journalism work? If this is like swindling someone then the teacher, the interviewer, the examiner, or the journalist are like swindlers too.

    Think of it this way, you pointed out:

    The hoaxers punished readers, who wasted their time reading these silly papers because they trusted the publications.

    The question is, why do they trust the publications? What makes them trustworthy?

  3. [The authors of the hoax wrote: “Scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established, if not fully dominant, within these fields.”

    Since the articles had a certain purpose, but did not involve a specific interest or gain (monetary), it seems to me that though operating in a gray area, they cannot be said to be strictly unethical. They have a definite ethical purpose but it was carried out semi-unethically.

    What interests me more is the larger issue: how culture self-deceives itself, and the structures that undertake this and carry it out.

    Scholarship (that is, ideation, thought assertion) that is not focussed on truth but rather on social grievance surround us. We swim in it. It interpenetrates us.

    It is one thing to have it pointed out — as with a slap in the face — and to make our perspectives appear foolish. Quite another to go through difficult and demanding processes of determining what is true and false.

  4. People can rationalize this hoax and others all they want – your wrong if you justify these kinds of public hoax’s in any way!

    Here is what I wrote In Jack’s previous The Good Hoax blog…

    I remember having one of those topic wandering study group conversations with a small group in the fall of 1996 when I was auditing another advanced physics class just for “fun”. One of the 20 something students started talking about something they had read from what turned out to be the Sokal’s Quantum Gravity piece that Jack referenced above, the student was trying to explain what they had read and another student (peas in a pod) chimed in trying to help explain; I got the idea that they had both read and had at least briefly talked about it. I hadn’t heard of the paper, knew nothing about it, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the heck they were trying to explain, so me being the person I am, I naturally said it sounds like nonsense to me. Since I was the old fart in the small group of five, the rest of them ganged up on me and delivered an onslaught of rationalizations about the academic achievements of Sokal including stuff like how dare I call his work nonsense, he’s a professor and something to the effect of you’re just old and you just don’t understand. I blew off their childishness and got the study group back on track on what we were supposed to be studying; although I didn’t know what it was at the time, I guess I was using the Julie Principle.

    The next day was a discussion day with the professor; I brought the Sokal subject up and I said that what the other students were trying to explain sounded like nonsense and asked the professor if they just hadn’t explained it very well. The professor had the two students try to explain what they were talking about and the others from the group chimed in again with the same rationalizations; they were obviously irritated that I brought it up in class discussion and they sounded like they were hell bent to make me look like the idiot they thought I was. The professor let the students go on and on about it for a few minutes and then he interrupted with an explanation; luckily the professor knew what they were talking about and the professor explained that the paper was nonsense, it was written as a hoax, and the and the old fart in the room out reasoned the young whipper snappers. You coulda heard a pin drop in the room when the professor said that.

    What happened next likely changed the perspective of some of the younger students in the class. The entire discussion that day was focused on why the younger students fell for a scientific hoax even though they really didn’t understand it, why they resorted to assumptions and rationalizations to support an argument that they couldn’t understand, and why the old fart wasn’t willing to bow to the scientific nonsense, the rationalizations, or the peer pressure. It was a really interesting class.

    That professor told the class that he thought this was such an important learning experience for the class that he was going to somehow fit it into future classes. There was an extra credit question on the final that touched on the discussion from that day.

    Reflecting back on that resurrected memory for a while this morning rang a bell, I think we are seeing that same blind willingness to fall in line without using critical thinking to evaluate what’s presented across the board in our society these days and it’s really disturbing. The dumbing down of our society is not non-existent.

    Any kind of hoax presented to the public is intentionally trying to deceive the public and is both unethical and in some cases may be dangerous. The presentation of a hoax to deceive has a terrible terrible backlash, many may never learn after the presentation that it was intended to be a hoax and outright reject the claim that it’s a hoax. In today’s world where people use magical thinking that they can find something (anything) in print, digital, or video that agrees with them, then it’s considered absolute fact and anyone that opposes it is an idiot. Remember the girl in the French Model State Farm TV commercial saying “they can’t put anything on the internet that isn’t true” is a perfect representation of how this magical thinking works – in today’s society this French Model can’t fix stupid characterization isn’t far from the truth.

    There is a serious lack of critical thinking skills in the public in today’s society and any hoax is unethical and a very bad idea.

    • I feel like this comment needs a little bit of context. Just so we’re all aware, four of the twenty pieces were:

      “Who are they to judge? Overcoming anthropometry through fat bodybuilding” AKA “Smashing the patriarchy by eating yourself to morbid obesity.”

      Figuring out “human reactions to rape culture and queer performativity” by watching dogs hump in the park.

      “Main Kampf” I mean…. “Our Struggle Is My Struggle”

      And a “thematic analysis of table dialogue” to delve into the conundrum of why straight men like Hooters. Although, I think even the premise here is wrong. I like Hooters. Their wings are awesome.

      Frankly, anyone who chose to read any of these pieces after reading the abstract probably already believes some genuinely fucked up things to begin with. Feminist papers aren’t for critical thinkers, they’re tools for the reinforcement of dogma.

      It’s funny, over at Barry’s blog, a commenter actually made the point that as opposed to making a bad paper to prove that peer review doesn’t work in identity studies departments, that the people in question created something that so closely resembled scholarship that it should have passed a brief overview, they just made up the results.

  5. Jake_Al

    I’m not sure it’s not ethical. I’ve heard the arguments about it but I think what people are missing is that this is merely a preliminary experiment highlighting there is a problem which needs to be looked at more closely. The best argument I think I’ve heard is that is was one-sided and biased, but I think that is part of the evidence of where the bias problem lies, meaning conservative ideology isn’t not given a pass out of political correctness. Having said that, I think what it comes down to is how we approach science, and the best example I can think of that all academia should be modeled after is mathematics, which treats pure mathematics (the hypothetical) separate from applied mathematics (the real). The social sciences seem to lack such a clear distinction, mixing in theory with application and coming to the conclusion that correlation = causation way too often, and I think it would help (though I haven’t sorted out how it work beyond linking it to a hard science such as evolutionary biology).

  6. Michael R.

    I am going to go out on a limb and call this ETHICAL. I say this because I do not view this as a hoax. Everyone is looking at this and claiming that these are ‘fake’ articles. As such, this injures people reading the journal who might take these peer-reviewed articles seriously. I don’t think this is an issue. Most people think this experiment is proving that peer-reviewers in these fields can’t tell garbage from their ‘legitimate’ research. I think they are missing the point.

    I view this as an exposé on how such ‘research’ is actually done. People are pretending that these researchers just ‘made up’ this stuff and the rest of the articles in those journals are somehow different. I don’t think so. I think the researchers in question followed basically the same methodology as the other researchers in those fields. A ‘serious’ researcher in these fields may have looked at dog parks and seen an example of ‘rape culture’ and written a very similar article, which is why it passed peer-review. The only difference is that the ‘serious’ researcher actually believes it and these researchers were showing how ridiculous this is. In other words, I suspect the ‘research’ and writing method used to create the ‘hoax’ and ‘legitimate’ articles was virtually the same, only the motivation differed. As such, I feel it is an ethical documentary on this type of research.

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