FACTOID # 13: New York has America's lowest percentage of residents who are veterans.
 
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 
   
 
WHAT'S NEW
 

SEARCH ALL

FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:

 

 

(* = Graphable)

 

 


Encyclopedia > Sokal Affair

The Sokal affair was a hoax by physicist Alan Sokal perpetrated on the editorial staff and readership of the postmodern cultural studies journal Social Text (published by Duke University). In 1996, Sokal, a professor of physics at New York University, submitted a paper of nonsense camouflaged in jargon for publication in Social Text, as an experiment to see if a journal in that field would, in Sokal's words: "publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors' ideological preconceptions."[1] A hoax is an attempt to trick an audience into believing that something false is real. ... A magnet levitating above a high-temperature superconductor demonstrates the Meissner effect. ... Alan David Sokal (born 1955) is a physicist at New York University. ... Postmodernity (also called post-modernity or the postmodern condition) is a term used by philosophers, social scientists, art critics and social critics to refer to aspects of contemporary art, culture, economics and social conditions that are the result of the unique features of late 20th century and early 21st century... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... Social Text is a postmodernist cultural studies journal published by Duke University Press. ... Duke University is a private coeducational research university located in Durham, North Carolina, United States. ... Year 1996 (MCMXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display full 1996 Gregorian calendar). ... New York University (NYU) is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational research university in New York City. ...


The paper, titled "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity"[2], was published in the Spring/Summer 1996 "Science Wars" issue of Social Text, which at that time had no peer review process, and so did not submit it for outside review. On the day of its publication, Sokal announced in another publication, Lingua Franca, that the article was a hoax, calling his paper "a pastiche of left-wing cant, fawning references, grandiose quotations, and outright nonsense", which was "structured around the silliest quotations I could find about mathematics and physics" made by humanities academics. Hermeneutics may be described as the development and study of theories of the interpretation and understanding of texts. ... Quantum gravity is the field of theoretical physics attempting to unify quantum mechanics, which describes three of the fundamental forces of nature, with general relativity, the theory of the fourth fundamental force: gravity. ... The Science wars were a series of intellectual battles in the 1990s between postmodernists and realists (though neither party would likely use the terms to describe themselves) about the nature of scientific theories. ... Social Text is a postmodernist cultural studies journal published by Duke University Press. ... Lingua Franca was a magazine about intellectual and literary life in academia. ... A hoax is an attempt to trick an audience into believing that something false is real. ... The word pastiche describes a literary or other artistic genre. ... Left wing redirects here. ... Cant is an example of a cryptolect, a characteristic or secret language used only by members of a group, often used to conceal the meaning from those outside the group. ...


The resulting debate focused on the relative scholarly merits or lack thereof of sociological commentary on the physical sciences and of postmodern-influenced sociological disciplines in general, as well as on academic ethics, including both whether it was appropriate for Sokal to deliberately defraud an academic journal, as well as whether Social Text took appropriate precautions in publishing the paper.

Contents

Claims in the paper

Arguing that quantum gravity has progressive political implications, the paper claims that the New Age concept of the "morphogenetic field" (not to be confused with the developmental biology use of the same term) could be a cutting-edge theory of quantum gravity. It concludes that, since "physical 'reality' ... is at bottom a social and linguistic construct", a "liberatory science" and "emancipatory mathematics" must be developed that spurn "the elite caste['s] canon of 'high science'" for a "postmodern science [that] provide[s] powerful intellectual support for the progressive political project". Quantum gravity is the field of theoretical physics attempting to unify quantum mechanics, which describes three of the fundamental forces of nature, with general relativity, the theory of the fourth fundamental force: gravity. ... For other uses, see Progressivism (disambiguation). ... New Age describes a broad movement characterized by alternative approaches to traditional Western culture. ... Morphic field is a term introduced by British biologist Rupert Sheldrake, the major proponent of this concept, through his Hypothesis of Formative Causation in the early 1980s. ... Views of a Foetus in the Womb, Leonardo da Vinci, ca. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Morphic field. ... Quantum gravity is the field of theoretical physics attempting to unify quantum mechanics, which describes three of the fundamental forces of nature, with general relativity, the theory of the fourth fundamental force: gravity. ...


Footnotes contain more obvious jokes, such as one that comments:

Just as liberal feminists are frequently content with a minimal agenda of legal and social equality for women and 'pro-choice', so liberal (and even some socialist) mathematicians are often content to work within the hegemonic Zermelo-Fraenkel framework (which, reflecting its nineteenth-century liberal origins, already incorporates the axiom of equality) supplemented only by the axiom of choice. Liberal feminism is a form of feminism that argues that equality for women can be achieved through legal means and social reform, and that men as a group need not be challenged. ... Issues of discussion Pro-choice describes the political and ethical view that a woman should have complete control over her fertility and pregnancy. ... Socialism is a social and economic system (or the political philosophy advocating such a system) in which the economic means of production are owned and controlled collectively by the people. ... The Zermelo-Fraenkel axioms of set theory (ZF) are the standard axioms of axiomatic set theory on which, together with the axiom of choice, all of ordinary mathematics is based in modern formulations. ... In logic and mathematics, a binary relation R over a set X is reflexive if for all a in X, a is related to itself. ... In mathematics, the axiom of choice, or AC, is an axiom of set theory. ...

Fallout

Asserting that such concepts are blatantly absurd, Sokal thus concluded that the journal ignored intellectual rigor and "felt comfortable publishing an article on quantum physics without bothering to consult anyone knowledgeable in the subject." In their defense, the editors of Social Text stated that they believed that the article "was the earnest attempt of a professional scientist to seek some kind of affirmation from postmodern philosophy for developments in his field" and that "its status as parody does not alter substantially our interest in the piece itself as a symptomatic document."[1] They charged Sokal with unethical behavior and suggested they only published the article as it was because Sokal refused to make changes they suggested and because it was of relevance to a special issue they happened to be preparing. For the medical term see rigor (medicine) Rigour (American English: rigor) has a number of meanings in relation to intellectual life and discourse. ... Fig. ... For other uses, see Ethics (disambiguation). ...


Sokal argued that this was the whole point — the journal published articles not on the basis of whether they were correct or made sense, but simply because of who wrote them and how they sounded.

My goal isn't to defend science from the barbarian hordes of lit crit (we'll survive just fine, thank you), but to defend the Left from a trendy segment of itself. ... There are hundreds of important political and economic issues surrounding science and technology. Sociology of science, at its best, has done much to clarify these issues. But sloppy sociology, like sloppy science, is useless or even counterproductive. Literary criticism is the study, discussion, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. ...

In an interview with National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" Alan Sokal said that he was prompted to conduct his "experiment" after reading Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels With Science.[2] NPR redirects here. ... All Things Considered (ATC) is a news radio program in the United States, broadcast on the National Public Radio network. ... Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels With Science is a book by biologist Paul R. Gross and mathematician Norman Levitt. ...


In 1998, Sokal co-authored Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science (known outside the US as Intellectual Impostures) with Jean Bricmont. The book contains a long list of extracts of writings from well-known intellectuals containing what Sokal and Bricmont allege are blatant abuses of scientific terminology. Finally, Sokal and Bricmont give a hostile summary of postmodernism and finish by criticizing the strong program of social constructionism in the sociology of scientific knowledge. Year 1998 (MCMXCVIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display full 1998 Gregorian calendar). ... Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals Abuse of Science (ISBN 0-312-20407-8; French: Impostures Intellectuelles, published in the UK as Intellectual Impostures, ISBN 1-86197-631-3) is a book by professors Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont. ... Jean Bricmont is a Belgian theoretical physicist and a professor at the Catholic University of Louvain. ... Literati redirects here. ... Postmodernism is a term applied to a wide-ranging set of developments in critical theory, philosophy, architecture, art, literature, and culture, which are generally characterized as either emerging from, in reaction to, or superseding, modernism. ... The Strong Program/Programme is a variety of the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge (SSK) particularly associated with David Bloor, Barry Barnes, and Bruno Latour. ... For the learning theory, see Social Constructivism (Learning Theory). ... The sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK), closely related to the sociology of science, considers social influences on science. ...


The affair spilled out of academia and into the mainstream press, and commentators are divided on the level of its consequences. Anthropologist Bruno Latour, one of those singled out by Sokal in his later book, has described the whole affair as a "tempest in a tea cup." Mathematician Gabriel Stolzenberg, however, has written a number of essays with the stated purpose of debunking the claims made by Sokal and his allies. He argues that Sokal and company do not possess a sufficient understanding of the philosophical positions that they criticize and that this lack of understanding renders their criticisms meaningless. Bruno Latour Bruno Latour (born June 1947, Beaune, France) is a French sociologist of science best known for his books We Have Never Been Modern, Laboratory Life, and Science in Action, describing the process of scientific research from the perspective of social construction based on field observations of working scientists. ...


The controversy also had implications for peer review. Social Text was not a peer-reviewed journal at the time, believing that this would promote more original, less conventional research, and trusted authors of prospective articles to guarantee the academic integrity of their work. Social Text's editors argue that, in this context, Sokal's work was a deliberate fraud and betrayal of that trust. They further note that scientific peer review does not necessarily detect fraud either, in light of the later Schön scandal, and many other instances in the history of science. Peer review (known as refereeing in some academic fields) is a scholarly process used in the publication of manuscripts and in the awarding of funding for research. ... Jan Hendrik Schön Jan Hendrik Schön (born 1970) is a German physicist who briefly rose to prominence after a series of apparent breakthroughs (recipient of Otto-Klung-Weberbank Prize for Physics in 2001, Braunschweig Prize in 2001 and Outstanding Young Investigator Award of the Materials Research Society in...


Similar affairs

A recent event which has been compared to the Sokal affair involved a paper randomly generated by the SCIgen program, which was accepted as a non-peer-reviewed paper for presentation at the 2005 World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (WMSCI). The conference announced the prank article's non-reviewed acceptance even though none of the article's three assigned reviewers had submitted a response. The three MIT graduate students responsible for the hoax said they were unaware of the Sokal affair until after they had submitted the article. SCIgen is a program that randomly generates nonsense in the form of computer science research papers, including graphs, figures, and citations. ... SCIgen is a program that randomly generates nonsense in the form of computer science research papers, including graphs, figures, and citations. ... WMSCI is the acronym of the World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics, a computer science and engineering conference that has occurred annually since 1995, although prior to 2005 it was called simply SCI. WMSCI is organized by the International Institute of Informatics and Systemics. ... “MIT” redirects here. ...

  • Purgathofer

A prior event which may also be compared to the Sokal affair involved the VIDEA 1995 conference, organized by the Wessex Institute of Technology. Professor Werner Purgathofer (Vienna University of Technology), a member of the VIDEA 1995 program committee, became suspicious of the conference's peer review standards after not receiving any abstracts or papers for review. To confirm his suspicions, he wrote four absurd and/or nonsensical "abstracts" and submitted them to the conference. All were "reviewed and conditionally accepted."[3] He subsequently resigned from the program committee. The Wessex Institute of Technology (WIT) is located in New Forest National Park in England. ... Front view of the main old building of the Vienna University of Technology towards the Karlskirche Vienna University of Technology is one of the major universities in Vienna, the capital of Austria. ...

The Bogdanov Affair is an academic dispute regarding a series of theoretical physics papers written by French twin brothers Igor and Grichka Bogdanov (or Bogdanoff). ... Theoretical physics employs mathematical models and abstractions of physics in an attempt to explain experimental data taken of the natural world. ... The Rosenhan experiment was a famous experiment into the validity of psychiatric diagnosis conducted by David Rosenhan in 1972. ... The Report From Iron Mountain was a hoax written by Leonard C. Lewin in 1967 and published by the Dial Press. ... Project Alpha was a hoax orchestrated by the magician, and skeptic of the paranormal, James Randi. ... James Randi (born August 7, 1928), stage name The Amazing Randi, is a stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. ... Atlanta Nights is a collaborative novel created by a group of science fiction and fantasy authors, with the express purpose of producing an unpublishably bad piece of work and testing whether publishing firm PublishAmerica would still accept it, which they did. ... The Ern Malley edition of Angry Penguins Ern Malley, fictional poet, was the central figure in Australias most celebrated literary hoaxes, and has become one of the best-known names in the history of Australian poetry. ... Disumbrationism was a hoax masquerading as an artistic school that was launched in 1924 by Paul Jordan-Smith, a novelist, Latin scholar, and authority on Robert Burton from Los Angeles, California. ... Please wikify (format) this article or section as suggested in the Guide to layout and the Manual of Style. ... Nat Tate is a fictional artist created by author William Boyd. ... William Boyd, CBE (born 7 March 1952 in Accra, Ghana) is a contemporary Scottish novelist and screenwriter. ... This article is about the Australian comedy team. ...

See also

A false document is a form of verisimilitude that attempts to create in the reader (viewer, audience, etc. ... Fictitious entries, also known as fake entries and Mountweazels, are deliberately wrong entries and articles in dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps and directories. ... A journal club is a group of individuals who meet regularly to critically evaluate recent articles in scientific literature. ... Obscurantism in its current usage can imply one of two separate concepts, sometimes distinguished by capitalization: // The older sense of the term Obscurantism refers to a class of philosophies that favor limits on the extension and dissemination of scientific knowledge, believing it to be the enemy of faith. ... Politics and the English Language (1946) is an essay by George Orwell wherein he criticizes ugly and inaccurate contemporary written English, and asserts that it was both a cause and an effect of foolish thinking and dishonest politics. ... George Orwell is the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903[1][2] – 21 January 1950) who was an English writer and journalist well-noted as a novelist, critic, and commentator on politics and culture. ... The Science wars were a series of intellectual battles in the 1990s between postmodernists and realists (though neither party would likely use the terms to describe themselves) about the nature of scientific theories. ... In the history of ideas, the continuity thesis is the hypothesis that there was no radical discontinuity between the intellectual development of the high Middle Ages, and the developments in the Renaissance and early modern period. ... Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals Abuse of Science (ISBN 0-312-20407-8; French: Impostures Intellectuelles, published in the UK as Intellectual Impostures, ISBN 1-86197-631-3) is a book by professors Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont. ...

References

  1. ^ Sokal, Alan (May 1996). A Physicist Experiments With Cultural Studies. Lingua Franca. Retrieved on April 3, 2007.
  2. ^ Sokal, Alan (1994-11-28, revised 1995-05-13, published May 1996). Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity. Social Text #46/47 (spring/summer 1996) pp. 217-252. Duke University Press. Retrieved on April 3, 2007.
  • Sokal, Alan D. and Bricmont, Jean. Impostures Intellectuelles. Editions Odile Jacob, 1997.
  • Sokal, Alan D. and Bricmont, Jean. Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science. Picador USA: New York, 1998. ISBN 0-312-19545-1
  • Gross, Paul R. and Levitt, Norman. Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels With Science. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994. ISBN 0-8018-4766-4
  • Editors of Lingua Franca. The Sokal Hoax: The Sham That Shook the Academy. University of Nebraska Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8032-7995-7
  • Callon, Michel 1999 "Whose Impostures? Physicists at War with the Third Person", Social Studies of Science 29(2): 261-86.

Alan David Sokal (born 1955) is a physicist at New York University. ... Lingua Franca was a magazine about intellectual and literary life in academia. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era in the 21st century. ... Alan David Sokal (born 1955) is a physicist at New York University. ... Social Text is a postmodernist cultural studies journal published by Duke University Press. ... Duke University is a private coeducational research university located in Durham, North Carolina, United States. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era in the 21st century. ... Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals Abuse of Science (ISBN 0-312-20407-8; French: Impostures Intellectuelles, published in the UK as Intellectual Impostures, ISBN 1-86197-631-3) is a book by professors Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont. ... Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels With Science is a book by biologist Paul R. Gross and mathematician Norman Levitt. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Sokal Affair: Information from Answers.com (1168 words)
The Sokal Affair was a hoax by physicist Alan Sokal perpetrated on the editorial staff and readership of a leading postmodern cultural studies journal called Social Text (published by Duke University).
Sokal argued that this was the whole point—the journal published articles not on the basis of whether they were correct or made sense, but simply because of who wrote them and how they sounded.
The Sokal Hoax: The Sham That Shook the Academy.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

COMMENTARY     


Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
Your name
Your comments

Want to know more?
Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:

 


Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m