James A. Lindsay

James Stephen Lindsay (born June 8, 1979),[1] known professionally as James A. Lindsay,[2] is an American mathematician,[3] author, and cultural critic. He is known for his involvement in the grievance studies affair with Peter Boghossian and Helen Pluckrose, with the latter of whom he co-authored the nonfiction book Cynical Theories (2020).

James A. Lindsay
Lindsay in 2020
Lindsay in 2020
Born (1979-06-08) June 8, 1979 (age 42)
Ogdensburg, New York
  • Author
  • mathematician
  • cultural critic
EducationMaryville High School
Alma mater
Subjectcriticism of critical social justice
Notable worksCynical Theories (2020)

Early life and careerEdit

James Stephen Lindsay was born in Ogdensburg, New York. He moved to Maryville, Tennessee at the age of five, later graduating from Maryville High School in 1997. Lindsay attended Tennessee Technological University, where he obtained both his B.S. and M.S. in mathematics; he later obtained his Ph.D. in mathematics[4] from the University of Tennessee in 2010. His doctoral thesis is titled "Combinatorial Unification of Binomial-Like Arrays", and his advisor was Carl G. Wagner.[5]

Lindsay began using the middle initial "A." in order to pseudonymously write books about atheism and leftism in the predominantly conservative and Christian South.[2]

Lindsay, along with Peter Boghossian, is the co-author of How to Have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide,[6] a nonfiction book released in 2019 and published by Lifelong Books.[7] In 2020, Lindsay released the nonfiction book Cynical Theories, co-authored with Helen Pluckrose and published by Pitchstone Publishing. The book became a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestseller upon release.[8][9][10] Harvard University psychologist Steven Pinker praised the book for exposing "the surprisingly shallow intellectual roots of the movements that appear to be engulfing our culture".[11] Tim Smith-Laingit charged it with "leaping from history to hysteria" in a Daily Telegraph review.[12]

Lindsay has also appeared twice[13] on comedian Joe Rogan's podcast The Joe Rogan Experience.[14]

He is registered as a director of New Discourses[clarification needed] LLC.[15]

Grievance studies affairEdit

In 2017, Lindsay and Boghossian published a hoax paper titled "The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct".[16] In writing the paper, Lindsay and Boghossian intended to imitate the style of "poststructuralist discursive gender theory". The paper argued that the penis should be seen "not as an anatomical organ but as a social construct isomorphic to performative toxic masculinity".[16][17] After the paper was rejected by Norma, they later submitted it to Cogent Social Sciences,[18] an open access journal that has been criticized as a pay-to-publish operation, where it was accepted for publication.[16][19][20]

Beginning in August 2017, Lindsay, Boghossian, and Pluckrose wrote 20 hoax papers, which they submitted to peer-reviewed journals using several pseudonyms as well as the name of Richard Baldwin, friend of Boghossian and professor emeritus of history at Florida’s Gulf Coast State College. The project ended early after one of the papers, published in the feminist geography journal Gender, Place and Culture, was criticized on social media, and then questioned in its authenticity by Campus Reform.[21]

The trio subsequently revealed the full scope of their work in a YouTube video created and released by documentary filmmaker Mike Nayna, which was accompanied by an investigation by The Wall Street Journal.[22] By the time of this revelation, seven of their twenty papers had been accepted, seven were still under review, and six had been rejected. One paper, accepted by feminist social work journal Affilia, was a rewrite of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf in feminist language.[16]

Tom Whipple of The Times wrote that academic reviewers had praised the hoax studies of Lindsay, Boghossian, and Pluckrose as "a rich and exciting contribution to the study of ... the intersection between masculinity and anality", "excellent and very timely", and "important dialogue for social workers and feminist scholars".[23]


Lindsay has named "critical social justice" – which he describes as his preferred name for the contemporary "Social Justice Movement" – as his "ideological enemy", and is a critic of wokeness, which he analogizes to religious belief.[24][25] In 2020, columnist Cathy Young described Lindsay as "an author with a large 'anti-woke' online following".[26] Despite opposing Donald Trump in the 2016 United States presidential election, Lindsay announced his intention to vote for Trump in the 2020 election, citing illiberalism on the left as the reason.[27]


  • God Doesn't; We Do: Only Humans Can Solve Human Challenges (ISBN 978-1475063974). 2012.
  • Dot, Dot, Dot: Infinity Plus God Equals Folly (ISBN 978-0956694898). Onus Books. 2013.
  • Everybody Is Wrong About God (ISBN 978-1634310383). Pitchstone Publishing. 2015.
  • Life in Light of Death (ISBN 978-1634310864). Pitchstone Publishing. 2016.
  • How to Have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide (with Peter Boghossian) (ISBN 978-0738285337). Hachette Books. 2019.
  • Cynical Theories (with Helen Pluckrose) (ISBN 978-1634312035). Pitchstone Publishing. 2020.


  1. ^ @conceptualjames (June 8, 2019). "So, I'm 40 now" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  2. ^ a b @conceptualjames (August 1, 2020). "Oh, yeah. The A. I was writing atheist leftist books in the conservative Christian South and decided a thin veneer of pseudonym might help keep me safer at the time. The A stands for 'next to S on the keyboard.'" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  3. ^ Beauchamp, Zack (October 15, 2018). "The controversy around hoax studies in critical theory, explained". Vox. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
  4. ^ Lindsay, James (2010-05-01). "Combinatorial Unification of Binomial-Like Arrays". Doctoral Dissertations.
  5. ^ Lindsay, James (2010-05-01). Combinatorial Unification of Binomial-Like Arrays (Doctor of Philosophy). University of Tennessee.
  6. ^ Boghossian, Peter G. (2019). How to have impossible conversations : a very practical guide. James A. Lindsay (First ed.). New York, NY. ISBN 978-0-7382-8532-0. OCLC 1085584392.
  7. ^ "How to have impossible conversations". spiked-online.com. Retrieved 2020-11-07.
  8. ^ Pluckrose, Helen; Lindsay, James A. (2020). Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity – And Why This Harms Everybody. ISBN 9781634312028.
  9. ^ "Bestselling Books Week Ended August 29". The Wall Street Journal. 2020-09-03. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2020-10-01.
  10. ^ "US-Best-Sellers-Books-USAToday". The Washington Post. Associated Press. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2020-10-01.
  11. ^ Paul Kelly (12 September 2020). "Tracing the dangerous rise and rise of woke warriors". The Australian. Retrieved 2020-10-01.
  12. ^ Smith-Laing, Tim (2020-09-19). "'Postmodernism gone mad': is academia to blame for cancel culture?". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  13. ^ Episode #1191 on 5 Nov 2018 and Episode #1501 on 2 July 2020
  14. ^ Peters, Justin (2019-03-21). "How Joe Rogan's Hugely Popular Podcast Became an Essential Platform for "Freethinkers" Who Hate the Left". Slate. Retrieved 2020-11-07.
  15. ^ "New Discourses LLC". OpenCorporates. Retrieved December 26, 2020.
  16. ^ a b c d Schuessler, Jennifer (October 4, 2018). "Hoaxers Slip Breastaurants and Dog-Park Sex Into Journals". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-10-08. ...a third paper, published in a journal of feminist social work and titled 'Our Struggle Is My Struggle,' simply scattered some up-to-date jargon into passages lifted from Hitler's 'Mein Kampf....' They set out to write 20 papers that started with 'politically fashionable conclusions,' which they worked backward to support by aping the relevant fields' methods and arguments, and sometimes inventing data.
  17. ^ Jaschik, Scott (May 22, 2017). "Hoax With Multiple Targets". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  18. ^ "Cogent Social Sciences". Campaign Page Builder. Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  19. ^ Tillberg, Anneli (12 June 2017). "Attack on gender studies despite rejection of hoax article". genus.se. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  20. ^ "Statement regarding hoax article". normajournal.wordpress.com. NORMA: International Journal for Masculinity Studies. 26 May 2017. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  21. ^ "Academic journal duped by author of 'dog rape culture' article". Campus Reform. 2018-07-25. Retrieved 2018-10-08.
  22. ^ Melchior, Jillian Kay (2018-10-05). "Opinion | Fake News Comes to Academia". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-10-08.
  23. ^ Whipple, Tom (October 4, 2018). "Journals publish hoaxers' absurd gender studies". The Times. p. 19. Retrieved January 27, 2019 – via EBSCOhost Newspaper Source Plus.
  24. ^ Romano, Aja (2020-10-09). "How being 'woke' lost its meaning". Vox. Retrieved 2020-11-07.
  25. ^ "Naming the Enemy: Critical Social Justice". New Discourses. 2020-02-28. Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  26. ^ "Young: Trump no answer to left's excesses". Newsday. Retrieved 2020-11-07.
  27. ^ Mounk, Yascha (October 26, 2020). "Trump Is the Best Candidate for the Illiberal Left". The Atlantic. Retrieved January 11, 2021.