James Stephen Lindsay (born June 8, 1979[1]), known professionally as James A. Lindsay,[2] is an American author. He is known for the grievance studies affair, in which he, Peter Boghossian and Helen Pluckrose submitted hoax articles to academic journals in 2017 and 2018 to test scholarship and rigor in several academic fields.[3] Lindsay has written several books including Cynical Theories (2020), which he co-authored with Pluckrose. He has promoted right-wing conspiracy theories such as Cultural Marxism and LGBT grooming conspiracy theories.[4][5][6][7]

James A. Lindsay
Lindsay at Turning Point USA's 2022 AmericaFest conference
James Stephen Lindsay

  • Author
Years active2017–present
Known forGrievance studies affair
Academic background
ThesisCombinatorial Unification of Binomial-Like Arrays (2010)
Academic work
School or traditionConservatism, New Atheism
Main interestsCriticism of religion, postmodernism, critical race theory
Notable worksCynical Theories (2020)

Early life and career

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 Tech, where he obtained both his B.S. in physics and M.S. in mathematics; he later earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Tennessee in 2010.[1] His doctoral thesis is titled "Combinatorial Unification of Binomial-Like Arrays", and his advisor was Carl G. Wagner.[8] After completing his degree, Lindsay left academia and returned to his hometown, where he worked as a massage therapist.[9][10][11]

Lindsay, along with Peter Boghossian, is the co-author of How to Have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide,[12] a nonfiction book released in 2019 and published by Lifelong Books.[13] 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.[14][15][16] 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".[17] Tim Smith-Laing charged it with "leaping from history to hysteria" in a Daily Telegraph review.[18]

Lindsay is the founder of the website New Discourses, which is owned by Christian nationalist commentator Michael O'Fallon.[19][20][10][21] Lindsay's video series is also hosted by Sovereign Nations, O'Fallon's Christian nationalist website.[10] According to theologian and author David W. Congdon, "framing the left as an alternative religion has made Lindsay popular among the Christian Right".[22]

Lindsay has also appeared four times on Joe Rogan's podcast The Joe Rogan Experience.[23]

In August 2022, Lindsay was permanently suspended from Twitter.[24] His account was reinstated in November 2022 after Elon Musk's acquisition of Twitter.[25]

Grievance studies affair

In 2017, Lindsay and Boghossian published a hoax paper titled "The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct".[26] 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".[26][27] After the paper was rejected by Norma, they later submitted it to Cogent Social Sciences where it was accepted for publication.[26][28][29][30]

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, a 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 & Culture, was questioned by investigative journalist Toni Airaksinen of Campus Reform who suspected the article was not real due to its lack of adherence to academic journal publishing standards. This resulted in widespread interest in the incident, which was written about by several journalists.[31]

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.[32] 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, contained passages copied from Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf with feminist language added,[26] though sociologist Mikko Lagerspetz [fi] has contended that the paper only contained similarities in structure, and did not contain material "historically specific in Hitler's text (racism, references to the First World War, and so on)".[33]

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".[34]


Lindsay has supported Democratic Party candidates, including volunteering for Barack Obama, and was part of the New Atheism movement.[35] In 2023, Lindsay published an article on New Discourses in which he set out to defend the philosophical basis of classical liberalism, which he summarized as "the project of organizing our society from a position of political equality with certain rights that are inalienable, among these life, liberty, property, capacity for their use toward our happiness and purposes, and a reasonable expectation of privacy in which we can maintain their sanctity".[36]

Lindsay is a critic of "wokeness", which he analogizes to religious belief.[37] He describes "the Social Justice Movement" as his "ideological enemy".[38] Though he opposed Donald Trump in the 2016 United States presidential election, Lindsay announced his intention to vote for Trump in the 2020 election, arguing that the danger of "wokeness" is much greater than that of a Trump presidency.[39]

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler looked to Lindsay to understand critical race theory[10][40] because, in Mohler's words, few have "given sustained attention to critical theory from a conservative viewpoint".[10]

Conspiracy theory promotion

Lindsay has promoted several prominent conspiracy theories.[4][7]

He is a proponent of the right-wing LGBT grooming conspiracy theory and has been credited as one of several public figures responsible for popularizing "groomer" as a slur directed at LGBTQ educators and activists by members of the political right.[25][41][42] Lindsay has referred to the Pride flag as "the flag of a hostile enemy."[5][24]

In 2021, Lindsay wrote on Twitter that "there will be" a genocide of whites if critical race theory "isn't stopped."[43] His statement was met with widespread criticism, including from founder of libertarian anti-identity politics magazine Quillette Claire Lehmann who wrote: "James Lindsay is now peddling White Genocide Theory. Implying that a genocide against whites in the U.S. is imminent has the potential to inspire racist violence. Such comments are extreme, reckless, and irresponsible. They should be denounced."[43][44]

Lindsay has promoted the far-right Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory,[45][35][6][46][better source needed] which alleges a concerted effort by Marxist critical theorists to undermine Western civilization using Marxism.[6][45]


  • God Doesn't; We Do: Only Humans Can Solve Human Challenges (ISBN 978-1-4750-6397-4). 2012.
  • Dot, Dot, Dot: Infinity Plus God Equals Folly (ISBN 978-0-9566948-9-8). Onus Books. 2013.
  • Everybody Is Wrong About God (ISBN 978-1-63431-038-3). Pitchstone Publishing. 2015.
  • Life in Light of Death (ISBN 978-1-63431-086-4). 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 978-1-63431-203-5). Pitchstone Publishing. 2020.
  • Counter Wokecraft (with Charles Pincourt; ISBN 979-8-5368-1503-8). Independently published. 2021.
  • Race Marxism: The Truth About Critical Race Theory and Praxis (ISBN 979-8-7958-0908-3). Independently published. 2022.
  • The Queering of the American Child: How a New School Religious Cult Poisons the Minds and Bodies of Normal Kids (with Logan Lancing) (ISBN 979-8-9897-4169-4). New Discourses. 2024.


  1. ^ a b Lindsay 2010, p. 93.
  2. ^ @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. ^ Mounk, Yascha (October 5, 2018). "What an Audacious Hoax Reveals About Academia". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on October 7, 2018. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Counterweight, and the continued enabling of bad faith 'anti-woke' actors". The Skeptic. July 5, 2021. Retrieved January 10, 2023.
  5. ^ a b Moyer, Josh (April 22, 2023). "Two events featuring controversial right-wing speakers at Penn State are canceled". Centre Daily. Retrieved January 1, 2024.
  6. ^ a b c Skopic, Alex (December 1, 2022). "James Lindsay's "Race Marxism" is Ignorant About Both Race and Marxism". Current Affairs. ISSN 2471-2647. Retrieved January 16, 2023.
  7. ^ a b Conway, Philip R. (June 1, 2021). "Critical international politics at an impasse: reflexivist, reformist, reactionary, and restitutive post-critique". International Politics Reviews. 9 (1): 213–238. doi:10.1057/s41312-021-00111-3. ISSN 2050-2990. S2CID 256552762. [Lindsay] has also taken to promoting the conspiracy theory that global elites are enacting a vast, diabolical "plan" to reduce "world population to under 2B[illion], perhaps by the end of the decade" (2021a) – a task to which the insidious grievance-mongering of critical academics is apparently essential. Only one 'Enlightenment'-loving conspiracist among many others, these views are propounded from the bully's pulpit of a 201,000-follower Twitter account (at the time of writing).
  8. ^ Lindsay, James (May 1, 2010). Combinatorial Unification of Binomial-Like Arrays. Doctoral Dissertations (Doctor of Philosophy). University of Tennessee.
  9. ^ Davis, Joel (May 7, 2012). "Maryville man walks path of healing and combat". The Daily Times. Archived from the original on April 25, 2022. Retrieved May 16, 2022.
  10. ^ a b c d e "Why grievance studies hoaxer and atheist James Lindsay wants to save Southern Baptists". Religion News Service. May 18, 2021. Retrieved July 3, 2022. The hoax got the attention of Michael O'Fallon, a conservative activist and president of Sovereign Nations, a conservative Christian nationalist group.
  11. ^ "James Lindsay". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved July 12, 2023.
  12. ^ Boghossian, Peter G.; Lindsay, James A. (2019). How to have impossible conversations: a very practical guide (First ed.). New York: Life Long. ISBN 978-0738285320. OCLC 1085584392.
  13. ^ "How to have impossible conversations". spiked-online.com. Retrieved November 7, 2020.
  14. ^ Pluckrose, Helen; Lindsay, James A. (2020). Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity – And Why This Harms Everybody. Pitchstone. ISBN 978-1634312028.
  15. ^ "Bestselling Books Week Ended August 29". The Wall Street Journal. September 3, 2020. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  16. ^ "US-Best-Sellers-Books-USAToday". The Washington Post. Associated Press. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  17. ^ Paul Kelly (September 12, 2020). "Tracing the dangerous rise and rise of woke warriors". The Australian. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  18. ^ Smith-Laing, Tim (September 19, 2020). "'Postmodernism gone mad': is academia to blame for cancel culture?". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  19. ^ "New Discourses :: Florida (US)". opencorporates.com. Retrieved May 16, 2022.
  20. ^ "James Lindsay". New Discourses. Retrieved May 16, 2022.
  21. ^ "2021 FLORIDA LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY ANNUAL REPORT". Secretary of State for the State of Florida.
  22. ^ Congdon, David W. (2024). "Weaponizing the Rule: Making Christianity (and America) Great Again". Who Is a True Christian? Contesting Religious Identity in American Culture. Cambridge University Press. pp. 176-229. ISBN 9781009429047. OCLC 1416677772.
  23. ^ Peters, Justin (March 21, 2019). "How Joe Rogan's Hugely Popular Podcast Became an Essential Platform for "Freethinkers" Who Hate the Left". Slate. Retrieved November 7, 2020.
  24. ^ a b Fisher, Anthony L. (August 9, 2022). "The Banned 'OK Groomer' Guy Is Not a Free-Speech Martyr". The Daily Beast. Retrieved August 30, 2022.
  25. ^ a b "Elon Musk's 'amnesty' pledge brings back QAnon, far-right Twitter accounts". NBC News. December 2, 2022. Retrieved January 14, 2024.
  26. ^ a b c d Schuessler, Jennifer (October 4, 2018). "Hoaxers Slip Breastaurants and Dog-Park Sex Into Journals". The New York Times. Retrieved October 8, 2018. …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.
  27. ^ Jaschik, Scott (May 22, 2017). "Hoax With Multiple Targets". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  28. ^ Tillberg, Anneli (June 12, 2017). "Attack on gender studies despite rejection of hoax article". Genus. Archived from the original on May 12, 2019. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  29. ^ "Statement regarding hoax article". Norma: International Journal for Masculinity Studies. May 26, 2017. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  30. ^ Beauchamp, Zack (October 15, 2018). "The controversy around hoax studies in critical theory, explained". Vox. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
  31. ^ Toni Airaksinen (July 25, 2018). "Academic journal duped by author of 'dog rape culture' article". Campus Reform. Archived from the original on October 9, 2018. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  32. ^ Melchior, Jillian Kay (October 5, 2018). "Fake News Comes to Academia". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  33. ^ Lagerspetz, Mikko (May 5, 2020). ""The Grievance Studies Affair" Project: Reconstructing and Assessing the Experimental Design". Science, Technology, & Human Values. 46 (2): 402–424. doi:10.1177/0162243920923087. ISSN 0162-2439.
  34. ^ Whipple, Tom (October 4, 2018). "Journals publish hoaxers' absurd gender studies". The Times. p. 19. Retrieved January 27, 2019 – via EBSCOhost Newspaper Source Plus.
  35. ^ a b Joyce, Kathryn (February 17, 2022). "Meet James Lindsay, the far right's "world-level expert" on CRT and "Race Marxism"". Salon. Retrieved February 23, 2022.
  36. ^ Lindsay, James (November 10, 2023). "The Basis of Classical Liberalism". New Discourses. Archived from the original on November 10, 2023. Retrieved November 11, 2023.
  37. ^ Romano, Aja (October 9, 2020). "How being 'woke' lost its meaning". Vox. Retrieved November 7, 2020.
  38. ^ Lindsay, James (February 28, 2020). "Naming the Enemy: Critical Social Justice". New Discourses. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  39. ^ Mounk, Yascha (October 26, 2020). "Trump Is the Best Candidate for the Illiberal Left". The Atlantic. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  40. ^ Mohler, R. Albert (September 2, 2020). "Critical Theory and the Cynical Transformation of Society: A Conversation with James Lindsay". albertmohler.com.
  41. ^ "Right-wing 'groomer' attacks target suicide prevention service for LGBTQ youth". News. Yahoo. May 4, 2022. Retrieved May 16, 2022.
  42. ^ "How the Intellectual Dark Web Spawned 'Groomer' Panic". The Daily Beast. April 27, 2022. Retrieved May 16, 2022.
  43. ^ a b Woodruff, Chase (June 12, 2021). "Ousted Space Force commander defended by Rep. Lamborn advanced white 'genocide' theory in book". Colorado Newsline. Retrieved October 31, 2022. James Lindsay, a well-known right-wing academic whose work Lohmeier cites in his book, faced criticism from many of his fellow conservatives last week after writing on Twitter that "there will be" a genocide of whites "if this ideology isn't stopped." Earlier this month, Lindsay was a featured panelist at the annual retreat of the Leadership Program of the Rockies, a conservative networking organization, at The Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs. "James Lindsay is now peddling White Genocide Theory," Claire Lehmann, founder of the right-leaning website Quillette, wrote on Twitter on June 9. "Implying that a genocide against whites in the U.S. is imminent has the potential to inspire racist violence. Such comments are extreme, reckless, and irresponsible. They should be denounced."
  44. ^ Lehmann, Claire [@clairlemon] (June 9, 2021). "James Lindsay is now peddling White Genocide Theory. Implying that a genocide against whites in the US is imminent has the potential to inspire racist violence. Such comments are extreme, reckless, & irresponsible. They should be denounced" (Tweet). Archived from the original on May 1, 2022 – via Twitter.
  45. ^ a b Weigel, Moira (October 29, 2023). "Hating Theory: "Cultural Marxism," "CRT," and the Power of Media Affects". International Journal of Communication. 17: 21. ISSN 1932-8036.
  46. ^ "James Lindsay". splcenter.org. The Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved February 2, 2024.