What the Sokal hoax ought to teach us

In the autumn of 1994, New York University theoretical physicist, Alan Sokal, submitted an essay to Social Text , the leading journal in the field of cultural studies. Entitled Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity ," it purported to be a scholarly article about the "postmodern" philosophical and political implications of twentieth century physical theories. However, as the author himself later revealed in the journal Lingua Franca, his essay was merely a farrago of deliberately concocted solecisms, howlers and non sequiturs, stitched together so as to look good and to flatter the ideological preconceptions of the editors. After review by five members of Social Text 's editorial board, Sokal's parody was accepted for publication as a serious piece of scholarship. It appeared in April 1996, in a special double issue of the journal devoted to rebutting the charge that cultural studies critiques of science tend to be riddled with incompetence
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