Ever since Kellyanne Conway, counselor to U.S. President Donald Trump, used the term “alternative facts” on Meet The Press earlier this month, the term — an awful euphemism for falsehoods, as many have pointed out — has become a meme. And like every new field, alternative facts needs its own journal. Enter the Twitter feed for the Journal of Alternative Facts, featuring such gems as Scientistonce, I.A. (2017), “We Have All the Best Climates, Really, They’re Great.”
We spoke to the founding editor to find out more about how they became the greatest overnight:
Retraction Watch: What made you decide to create the journal?
Journal of Alternative Facts: It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of alternative facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists, or from fake news sources like The New York Times or the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In fact, this is such an important mission to us that not only are we an open access journal, but we are taking steps to ensure that we are the ONLY open access journal.
RW: Tell us about your editorial board. We assume they’re the greatest, just terrific.
JAF: Our editorial board consists of the greatest minds of American scientific thinking, primarily politicians. They are indeed the greatest. Terrific. Tremendous. We also have all the best peer reviewers, by which we mean PR reviewers.
RW: Do you plan to apply for an Impact Factor, or can we just assume that it’s the highest Impact Factor ever, despite the fact that no one has ever cited any papers in the journal?
JAF: You must be mistaken; we have the greatest citation counts. In fact, we have more citations than there were participants in the Women’s March. Perhaps your metrics are skewed because you are not properly counting tweets as citations. As you know, the government is moving towards conducting the majority of their business on Twitter, so it is appropriate for the academe to follow their example. If our impact factor is lower than it should be, it is clearly the result of rigged citations.
RW: Does the journal have a retraction policy?
JAF: Absolutely not. Here at the Journal of Alternative Facts, we do not believe in retraction. In the field of alternative facts, there are no mistakes or falsehoods, only facts that are appropriately alternative. In fact, we encourage submission of retracted papers from other venues to the Journal of Alternative Facts.
RW: Would you consider a submission called “Alternative Facts: They’re Politically Correct?”
JAF: We do not believe in political correctness at the Journal of Alternative Facts. Alternative facts are not politically correct… which… would make that statement an alternative fact… Does not compute… ::robot whirring sound::
So who’s behind the account? That would be Casey Fiesler, who tells Retraction Watch:
Like many people, I was distressed and disheartened by the silencing of public communications from scientific agencies. Science is not a partisan issue, and neither is empirical fact. As academics and researchers we are sometimes at the mercy of government funding for our work, and I think there has always been a concern that politicians who may not have a good understanding of science might be making decisions that could impact the direction of scientific inquiry. This, combined with the realization that “alternative facts” may be part of how many people are starting to see the world, has led to a great deal of justified distress among my friends and colleagues. And sometimes the best way to make a statement about something is to point out the absurdity. It seems ludicrous that we would accept “alternative facts” as part of science, so why should they be part of policy? And I learned the last time that something I did went kind of viral (a remix of a book about Computer Engineer Barbie) that creative critique can be particularly effective. Besides, there are some times when you just have to laugh to keep from crying!
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