Re: the arrogance of postmodern mumbo jumbo

Stephen Barnard (
Thu, 19 Sep 1996 13:57:45 -0800

Len Piotrowski wrote:
> In article <> Stephen Barnard <> writes:
> >[snip]
> >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.
> On the contrary, the ethics behind scientific "authority" are what has
> suffered the most from this hoax. If science can fake "technical reference"
> in support of a false agenda, how does this example differentiate science from
> any other socially-constructed, narrowly contingent, and politically arbitrary
> view of the world?

There were no faked references. All his citations were accurate, so far
as I know. I was using "reference" in the common sense -- that he
"referred" to technical things, such as Einstein's general theory of

Furthermore, it was a hoax in only a gentle sense. There was no actual
attempt to deceive the editors about anything other than his intentions,
which were made clear as soon as the article was published. As Sokal
put it, the article was an experiment, and the outcome confirmed his

The extreme gullibility and credulousness of the editors, who pose as
sophisticated skeptics, is delicious.

Steve Barnard