Re: the arrogance of postmodern mumbo jumbo

Susan (
17 Sep 1996 14:53:27 GMT (Robert Snower) wrote:
>Stephen Barnard <> wrote:
>>In May, 1996 Alan Sokal, a physicist at NYU, published a paper in
>>_Social_Text_, a leading journal of cultural studies. The title of this
>>paper was "Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative
>>Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity."
>>It was transparent bullshit, or a brilliant parody, depending on your
>>point of view. Sokal's intention was to see whether such a journal
>>would accept this parody at face value, just because it parroted the
>>required postmodern jargon and reached the politically correct
>>conclusions that the editors liked.
>>That this journal could be taken in by such a broad parody, which was
>>obviously a parody to any reasonably intelligent undergraduate in
>>physical science, reveals a lot about the arrogance of the postmodern
>>campus left. The editors never even considered sending it for review to
>>someone who might be able to understand the technical "arguments."

>Thanks for guiding me to this. Informative and interesting. It added
>to my conviction that the postmodernist cultural studies movement is
>an odd alliance of having something important to say on the one hand,
>and on the other, a leftist collectivist movement that is a loser, and
>dead wrong, in my opinion.
>Best wishes. R. Snower

Careful! You don't want to fall into the same trap that creationists
attempt to set, by citing Piltdown as a way of invalidating evolution in
general. While I loathe the over use of jargon, and recognize that it is
a convenient way to disguise total lack of content in some cases, I
wouldn't use this incident to say that therefore all postmodern critiques
are barren of content. Any more than I would say that the fact that a
lot of anthropologists were fooled by Piltdown is a good reason to reject
evolutionary principles!




"Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps."
-- Emo Phillips