I do peer review all the time. And while I check the citations and I read the paper carefully and I check for the integrity of the data and the analysis as best I can if you just lie about the data entirely there’s not a whole lot I can do to catch you.
However, the point of this is that these journals—top in their subfields—will publish howlers provided they fit within the accepted orthodoxy. It’d be like sending a really well-cited, well-written, well-formatted paper to Nature claiming you violated the conservation of energy using a slinky and an escalator. Even if the paper is immaculate any journal would ask for more data, replication, and so forth before letting loose with something like that.
These journals didn’t. This is to their discredit and the academic disciplines they lead in. Was this hoax politically motivated? Sure. Like the Sokal hoax it seems to be done by Old School leftists who persist in not seeing how X studies help the working class. But even if the author were A. Hitler, J. Goebbels, and H. Göring—veritable acmes of human evil that they are—the discredit remains. It should have been caught. It wasn’t. This is really bad. It’s particularly bad for all the scholars who exhibit rigor and discipline in the subfields because there is no quick way to differentiate their work from fashionable nonsense. Publication in leading journals—one of two golden standards in science and the only one available to the humanities since societies are hard to run experiments on—now means very little.
A journal is just an opinionated blog with a sterling reputation. Remove the reputation, which this now did, and what you are left with is no longer worth citing. This is why top-flight journals do all that double-blind five-reviewers multiple-rounds nonsense that slows down publication so goddamn much.