IN OTHER WORDS : Say what?

Three MIT graduate students invented a computer program that can spit out randomly selected words to create grammatically correct research reports that make absolutely no sense. Now they have had one of those papers accepted for presentation at a July scientific conference. Jeremy Stribling, Max Krohn, and Dan Aguayo call their paper “Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy.” But the four-page send-up, laced with confounding graphs, was accepted by an international conference that itself sounds like a spoof: “The Ninth World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics.” Stribling said in an interview that the conference “sends out a lot of spam” asking for papers, and he and his colleagues wanted to show that research is accepted without being read carefully.

Their spoof echoes what has become known as the “Sokal Hoax,” perpetrated in 1996 by Alan Sokal, a professor of physics at New York University. He lampooned Duke University’s left-wing cultural criticism journal “Social Text” by positing in 11 pages of text and 30 pages of footnotes that the physical world did not exist. The journal published the paper. The reason

something like that can slip by editors without an eye blink is that a lot of people in academia think, speak, and write that way. — The Boston Globe