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Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy, and Culture  
Author Alan Sokal
Language English
Publisher Oxford University Press
Publication date 2008
Pages 448
ISBN 0199239207
OCLC Number 181926017
Dewey Decimal 501 22
LC Classification Q175 S6395 2008
Preceded by Fashionable Nonsense

Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy, and Culture is a book by Alan Sokal detailing the history of the Sokal affair in which he submitted an article full of "nonsense"[1] to Social Text, a critical theory journal, and was able to get it published.

Contents

Fashionable Nonsense

Beyond the Hoax is Sokal's second book on this topic, the first being the 1997 Fashionable Nonsense, in which Sokal and coauthor Jean Bricmont examine two related topics:

  • the allegedly incompetent and pretentious usage of scientific concepts by a small group of influential philosophers and intellectuals;
  • the problems of cognitive relativism, the idea that "modern science is nothing more than a 'myth', a 'narration' or a 'social construction' among many others"[2] as seen in the Strong Programme in the sociology of science.

Reception

The Times wrote that “Sokal's essays - and his hoax - achieve their purpose of reminding us all that, in the words of the Victorian mathematician-philosopher William Kingdon Clifford, ‘It is wrong, always, everywhere and for any one, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.’” [3]

Michael Shermer praised the book as “an essential text” and summarized the argument, writing that “There is progress in science, and some views really are superior to others, regardless of the color, gender, or country of origin of the scientist holding that view. Despite the fact that scientific data are "theory laden," science is truly different than art, music, religion, and other forms of human expression because it has a self-correcting mechanism built into it. If you don't catch the flaws in your theory, the slant in your bias, or the distortion in your preferences, someone else will, usually with great glee and in a public forum — for example, a competing journal! Scientists may be biased, but science itself, for all its flaws, is still the best system ever devised for understanding how the world works.” [4]

See also

References

  1. ^ Sokal, Alan (May 1996). "A Physicist Experiments With Cultural Studies". Lingua Franca. http://www.physics.nyu.edu/faculty/sokal/lingua_franca_v4/lingua_franca_v4.html. Retrieved March 5 2008.  
  2. ^ Sokal, Alan; Jean Bricmont (1998). Fashionable Nonsense. New York: Picador. ISBN 0312195451.  
  3. ^ The Book of the Week: Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy and Culture,13 March 2008, Robert Matthews on a parody with a purpose, [1]
  4. ^ "Fight for the Life of the Mind," by Michael Shermer, New York Sun, May 21, 2008, [2]
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