Re: the arrogance of postmodern mumbo jumbo

Stephen Barnard (
Wed, 18 Sep 1996 21:36:15 -0800

Susan wrote:
> 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!
> Susan

Jargon is only a small part of it. The really embarassing aspect of
Sokal's article, for the editors of Social Text, is that they swallowed
his technical references hook, line, and sinker. Why wouldn't they at
least have run this by someone who was qualified to make a judgement?
Sokal says that he encouraged editorial criticism in the review process.

The only conclusion I can draw is that they were so delighted to have a
physicist with excellent physics credentials apparently endorsing their
political agenda that they didn't really care. They were, in the end,
so awed by Sokal's white-coat physics reputation that they took him as
*the* authority, which makes their compemptuous PM stance toward the
physical sciences ridiculous.

Steve Barnard