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Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science
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Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  183 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
With the emergence of "cultural studies" and the blurring of once-clear academic boundaries, scholars are turning to subjects far outside their traditional disciplines and areas of expertise. In Higher Superstition scientists Paul Gross and Norman Levitt raise serious questions about the growing criticism of science by humanists and social scientists on the "academic left. ...more
Paperback, 348 pages
Published November 6th 1997 by Johns Hopkins University Press (first published January 1st 1994)
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Bukk
Dec 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Imagine you held a belief so fervently that it superseded everything else in your life, came above every other value, principle, or claim that you were exposed to, for this almighty worldview and belief system was of utmost importance. And imagine that the subject of your unyielding faith was, unfortunately, built upon faulty ideas, flawed understanding, irrational concepts. And imagine, then, that sometime around the 17th century, a highly rational, reasoned, and logical system of thought had b ...more
DoctorM
Dec 17, 2011 rated it did not like it
Another dreary attack by physics cultists on the humanities. Gross wants to defend "science", and though the enemies of science these days are on the Right--- climate change deniers, anti-evolutionists ---his targets are postmodernist and post-structuralist thinkers of the "academic Left". He seems to be terrified of studies that look at science in a cultural context, or of critical theory that asks who gets to define and impose "knowledge" in society. Any discipline that asks simple humanities- ...more
Dfordoom
May 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
The Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science by Paul R. Gross and Norman Levitt reveals the terrifying irrationality of the left-wing elites that control the universities and the bullying tactics they use to enforce political correctness.

Silly French intellectual fads such as postmodernism have of course done much of the damage and Gross and Levitt have a good deal of fun demolishing thier follies. They were also among the first to draw attention to the lies being to
...more
Dovie
Sep 08, 2015 rated it liked it
I'm pulled in two quite different directions by this book, so any endorsement comes with significant reservations. First, I must say that I largely agree with the primary thesis of this book- postmodernists, cultural constructivists, radical environmentalists, and other ideological groups in academia have put forth distressing, inaccurate, and poorly informed critiques of science or else have co-opted science when it conveniently supports an agenda and then deny the legitimacy of science when it ...more
Emanuel Landeholm
May 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-nonfiction
This is a really good book. Academia is really full of crap these days. Case in point: quackademic medicine. So called "alternative" medicine "taught" by reputable (?) medical institutions. ( http://doctorrw.blogspot.com/2008/01/... ) There are pockets of real science being done here and there but the rest of it is all sell out, fads and ideology. And that's coming from a dyed in the wool lefty, mind you!
Benjamin
Mar 23, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Skip this one. I am biased in favor of the overall thesis, but the presentation is exceedingly dry. The authors are aping the puffed up language of those they are attacking, and 250 pages is far too long for that particular joke. When the authors simply summarize work they waded through while they were preparing the book, the reader is treated to such gems as Hunter Adams, an apparently respected academic who, in his zeal to promote African culture, has made claims that ancient Egyptian science ...more
Andres Sanchez
Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Necesario si uno quiere entender cómo "disciplinas" del calibre de los "estudios" "culturales" (que no son ni una cosa ni la otra) han contaminado y prostituido el discurso científico, y cómo la ciencia trata de resistir este ataque que, en aras de ser más correcto, resulta ser dañino y peligroso para la ciencia y la civilización.
John
Mar 03, 2011 rated it did not like it

Two smug conservatives go yah boo sucks at leftie straw men. That's not quite an accurate summary of this book, but it conjures up perfectly my feelings all the while I was reading it: revulsion at the abominably orotund and self-congratulatory writing style, profound irritation that -- despite a half-hearted attempt in the introductory pages to claim non-partisanship -- the authors were framing their very justified criticisms of sloppy, antiscientific thinking as a political left-right battle. 
...more
Scott Smith
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
This was a fairly interesting read. Basically written in response to what many scientists view as an attack on the foundations of science from the "academic left" which is generally identified as post-modernism. Right off the bat they authors make clear their distaste of when social schools of thought interfere and attempt to put a spin on the scientific method. Some culprits include multiculturalism, feminism, and environmentalism. They clearly did a lot of research into this and do a good job ...more
Gregory
Dec 03, 2014 rated it did not like it
If you want to understand how ridiculous the "postmodern" critique of science is, read about Alan Sokal's prank article in Social Text, and the ensuing debate. Skip this turgid, bloated diatribe.

Hundreds of pages of minute exegesis of ridiculous social and literary criticism, of the kind that would fall over from the weight of its own silliness. The less said the better. And the authors - real scientists, mind you! - offer only lame speculation as to why such fads have spread through Academia. T
...more
Jrobertus
coauthor: leavitt, norman. this is a fierce attack on perspectives pc deconstructionism. a bit too long, but these anti-intellectual leftists are worthy targets.
Max Nova
This is the hardest I've laughed for any book in my 2017 reading theme. "Higher Superstition" is a wickedly perceptive takedown of the absurdities of the "academic postmodern left" and their "perspectivist" critique of science. Gross and Levitt defend the epistemological integrity of science from the relativist onslaught with a biting wit and a cavalier disregard for political correctness. The book is a useful conservative counterbalance to Otto's generally liberal "The War on Science".

Originall
...more
Mark Isaak
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
The target of this book, postmodernism, has thankfully dwindled in quantity and influence as its absurdities became undeniable. Much of the book's relevance, thus, is past. Still, many of the arguments still apply to today's "post-truth" attitudes. Plus, the take-downs are fun to read.

However, Gross and Levitt seriously fail with one of their arguments. In arguing about extremist claims of the environmental movement, they consider probability of the threat coming to pass, but they neglect the ma
...more
James
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Social Constructivist, feminist and ppstmodern theories of science dealt a fatal blow.
Peter
Jun 06, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The authors have something to say. It isn't right that when you disagree with a specific environmental issue you are cast as hating the planet. Or that not agreeing with every measure designed to help minorities makes you sexists and/or racist. But despite the authors protests to the contrary, this book only bases one end of the spectrum, there are extremes on the right that get a pass.

Also the books says the same thing over and over. Not my ideal way to make a point.
Mark
May 28, 2012 rated it liked it
The authors make some very good, very important points. The book, however, is not particularly well-written. It is needlessly difficult to read and is perhaps twice as long as it needs to be. The book is also slightly dated as it pre-dates the rise of anti-scientism from the political and religious right...a sinister bookend to the ongoing attack from the so-called "academic left."
Christoph
rated it really liked it
Oct 19, 2011
Chris Estrada
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Rick Deibler
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“We believe that the health of a culture is measured in part by the vigor with which its immune system responds to nonsense.” 2 likes
“Muddleheadedness has always been the sovereign force in human affairs—a force far more potent than malevolence or nobility. It lubricates our hurtful impulses and ties our best intentions in knots. It blunts our wisdom, misdirects our compassion, clouds whatever insights into the human condition we manage to acquire. It is the chief artisan of the unintended consequences that constitute human history.” 2 likes
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