A massive academic hoax has taken a surprising twist. Peter Boghossian, an assistant professor of philosophy, faces disciplinary action at Oregon’s Portland State University. The accusations against him raise constitutional questions about federal regulation of academic research. They also implicitly acknowledge that the prank had a serious point.

Mr. Boghossian—along with two confederates, neither of whom has an academic affiliation—set out to expose shoddy scholarship in what they call “grievance studies.” They concocted…



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