Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science” as Want to Read:
Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Higher Superstition, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Higher Superstition

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
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Imagine you held a belief so fervently that it superseded everything else in your life, came above every other value, principle, or claim that you were exposed to, for this almighty worldview and belief system was of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
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
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
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. ( ) 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!
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.
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. 
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
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
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".

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
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Social Constructivist, feminist and ppstmodern theories of science dealt a fatal blow.
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.
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."
rated it really liked it
Oct 19, 2011
Chris Estrada
rated it did not like it
Aug 19, 2013
Rick Deibler
rated it liked it
Jul 03, 2015
Gabriel Devenyi
rated it it was amazing
Mar 03, 2013
Leecars Carlos
rated it it was amazing
Feb 19, 2016
bradley s bankston
rated it really liked it
Mar 09, 2016
rated it really liked it
Jul 24, 2017
Robert Johnson
rated it it was amazing
Nov 16, 2014
rated it liked it
Sep 24, 2014
Ahmad Shidki
rated it it was amazing
Mar 31, 2015
Steve Dewey
rated it really liked it
Apr 08, 2013
rated it really liked it
Jun 22, 2017
Kevin Brown
rated it really liked it
May 21, 2009
Gethyn Dylan Jones
rated it it was amazing
Oct 28, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy and Culture
  • The Third Culture: Beyond the Scientific Revolution
  • Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution
  • The Killing of History: How Literary Critics and Social Theorists Are Murdering Our Past
  • The Two Cultures
  • Dawkins vs Gould: Survival of the Fittest
  • Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them
  • Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior
  • The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture
  • Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited
  • Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach
  • Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq, and the Left
  • Should We Burn Babar?: Essays on Children's Literature and the Power of Stories
  • How Brains Think: Evolving Intelligence, Then And Now
  • Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design
  • Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women
  • Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction
  • Adaptation and Natural Selection: A Critique of Some Current Evolutionary Thought

Nonfiction Deals

  • Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany
    $15.99 $3.99
  • The Monster of Florence
    $10.99 $2.99
  • The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob
    $9.99 $1.99
  • April 1865 (P.S.)
    $11.74 $1.99
  • Jesus Is ______: Find a New Way to Be Human
    $7.99 $0.99
  • Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Lab 257
    $8.74 $1.99
  • How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Girl in the Woods: A Memoir
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype--and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More
    $14.99 $2.99
  • The Last Lecture
    $10.99 $2.99
  • Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived
    $12.74 $1.99
  • Not Tonight, Honey: Wait 'Til I'm A Size 6
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Feast: True Love in and out of the Kitchen
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest Diseases
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology
    $12.99 $2.99
  • An Appetite For Wonder: The Making Of A Scientist
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience
    $27.99 $2.99
  • Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip-Confessions of a Cynical Waiter
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Dakota: A Spiritual Geography (Dakotas)
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Restless: Because You Were Made for More
    $7.49 $1.99
  • Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and The Dawn of the Modern Woman
    $10.24 $1.99
  • The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions
    $16.99 $2.99
  • Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After
    $13.99 $3.99
  • Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Pukka: The Pup After Merle
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Buddhist Boot Camp
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Flour: A Baker's Collection of Spectacular Recipes
    $21.99 $3.99
  • The Longest Day: The Classic Epic of D-Day
    $12.99 $3.99
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Van Gogh
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Church of the Small Things: The Million Little Pieces That Make Up a Life
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Woman's Worth
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Do the Work
    $4.99 $1.49
  • The Lost Tribe of Coney Island: Headhunters, Luna Park, and the Man Who Pulled Off the Spectacle of the Century
    $4.99 $1.99
  • I Suck at Girls
    $10.74 $1.99
  • Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems
    $11.99 $3.99
  • The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women
    $14.99 $2.99
  • Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Peace Is Every Breath: A Practice for Our Busy Lives
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now--As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It, and Long for It
    $7.24 $1.99
  • The World's Last Night: And Other Essays
    $7.99 $1.99
  • A. Lincoln
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Tracks: One Woman's Journey Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman's Awakening
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Hell's Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Life
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society
    $13.24 $2.99
  • Grace, Not Perfection (with Bonus Content): Celebrating Simplicity, Embracing Joy
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Promise and the Dream: The Untold Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. And Robert F. Kennedy
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Through the Eyes of a Lion: Facing Impossible Pain, Finding Incredible Power
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Why We Run: A Natural History
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Living
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple
    $12.99 $2.99
“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
More quotes…