Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy and Culture

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OUP Oxford, Feb 11, 2010 - Science - 488 pages
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In 1996, Alan Sokal, a Professor of Physics at New York University, wrote a paper for the cultural-studies journal Social Text, entitled 'Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a transformative hermeneutics of quantum gravity'. It was reviewed, accepted and published. Sokal immediately confessed that the whole article was a hoax - a cunningly worded paper designed to expose and parody the style of extreme postmodernist criticism of science. The story became front-page news around the world and triggered fierce and wide-ranging controversy. Sokal is one of the most powerful voices in the continuing debate about the status of evidence-based knowledge. In Beyond the Hoax he turns his attention to a new set of targets - pseudo-science, religion, and misinformation in public life. 'Whether my targets are the postmodernists of the left, the fundamentalists of the right, or the muddle-headed of all political and apolitical stripes, the bottom line is that clear thinking, combined with a respect for evidence, are of the utmost importance to the survival of the human race in the twenty-first century.' The book also includes a hugely illuminating annotated text of the Hoax itself, and a reflection on the furore it provoked.
 

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Contents

Preface
Bibliography
PART IThe Social Text Affair
1The parody annotated
Additional bibliography cited in annotations
Bibliography 142
An afterword
3Truth reason objectivity and the Left
Bibliography
PART IIScience and Philosophy
6Cognitive relativism in the philosophy of science
7Defense of a modest scientific realism
PART IIIScience and Culture
Antagonists or fellowtravelers?
9Religion politics and survival
Epistemology and ethics

Less than meets the eye
5What the Social Text affair does and does not prove

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About the author (2010)

Alan Sokal is Professor of Physics at New York University and Professor of Mathematics at University College, London. His main research interests are in statistical mechanics and quantum field theory. Among non-physicists, Sokal is probably best known for his famous parody of postmodern science criticism, known as the 'Sokal Hoax', which aroused fierce debate in cultural circles, and received widespread coverage in the media, including front-page stories in the New York Times, the International Herald and Tribune, the Observer, and Le Monde. Alongside many publications in physics, Sokal's previous books include Intellectual Impostures (with Jean Bricmont, Profile Books, 1998; published as Fashionable Nonsense by Picador in the US).

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