David's Reviews > Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science

Fashionable Nonsense by Alan Sokal
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's review
Sep 12, 2008

it was amazing
Read in September, 2008

This is a very interesting follow-up to the famous "Sokal hoax", wherein physicist Alan Sokal wrote an spoof article, "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity", and then submitted it to Social Text, a leading postmodern journal that publishes articles in the area of "science studies". As he suspected, the journal accepted the article, and what's more selected it for a special upcoming issue on the topic. In this book, Sokal discusses the background of the hoax in detail, describing how that in recent years the science studies field has become rife with: (1) engaging in lengthy discussions of mathematical or scientific principles about which the author has only a hazy familiarity; (2) applying highly sophisticated concepts from mathematics or physics into the humanities or social sciences, without justification; (3) displaying superficial erudition by peppering the text with sophisticated technical terms or mathematical formulas; and (4) employing lengthy technical passages that are essentially meaningless. This is a must-read for anyone who has wondered what to think about postmodern critiques of modern science.
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