This Friday Sokal’s hoax was the theme. It’s now around ten years ago that Alan Sokal published a nonsensical text in a journal to expose the postmodern sensefree jargon to the intelectual world.
It is a good example for explaining to students that they should not believe in “holy” authorities: Science is not a religion, it is science. And there are no sacred, holy texts. A good friend started to study (again) in the beginning of the ninties and in the sociology-seminar they were meditationing about texts by French heavy-weight Lacan. Lacan once wrote, that the aim of his writing is not be understood – well, he made it.
The postmodern nonsense became unbearable – at least for Sokal – when they started to put mathematical or physical theories in their theories as explanations for human behavior and other humanities. To make it worse, these mathematical and other theories were not understood by the people that borrowed them. Recommended literatur is Sokal/Bricmont, Fashionable Nonsens. The german edition is not longer available.

7 thoughts on “Sokal

  1. Smart. takes major gumption to label gibberish. But I could not understand the reaction, the defense of the scientists.Maybe the entry has to be written in clean english, like a, b,c…

  2. I don’t really care how intelligent someone is, if they cannot make an effort to write in a concise manner, I will find it very hard to take them seriously.

  3. Austere, AmandaHow dare you! How oldfashioned! You believe in form, in structure, in sense, meaning and style! In the end it comes down to you believing in facts that exist outside your imagination!? Postmoderism has shown that there is nothing outside your head – it is all imagination.Exaggerated, I know, but in the end, that is the position.Sokal simply was very offended by this and when he realized that people like Lacan, Irigaray, Baudrillard, Virilio (to name just a few) used math and physics not just as illustrations or as metaphers, but as theoretical justifications for sociological or historical theories, without understanding it, than it was enough. The behavior or the historical doings of human beings can not be explained with a theory about movements of atoms.So he collected material and threw together “Transgressing the boundaries …”. They printed it and afterwards they refused to print the explanation.This is Professor Sokal’s own site about the hoax and teh discussion: you see the man:

  4. Clear language in a text indicates that the person who wrote it might actually know what he’s talking about. Because all too often people use abstracts to hide the fact that they know nothing.

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