Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy and Culture by Alan Sokal

By Alan Sokal

Famed for his 1996 hoax that parodied the extraordinary postmodernist feedback of technological know-how, Alan Sokal the following exposes many different examples of charlatanism, deflating the postmodernists of the left, the fundamentalists of the perfect, and the muddle-headed of all political and apolitical stripes. Sokal does revisit his notorious hoax--the unique article is incorporated within the ebook, with new explanatory footnotes--to light up matters which are with us much more pressingly this day. however the booklet levels a ways past this one well-known case, to bare for example how conservative politicians and executives are fortunately manipulating the vaporous tenets of postmodernism to imprecise the medical consensus on worldwide warming, organic evolution, second-hand smoke, and a number of alternative matters. Written with infrequent lucidity, a full of life wit, and a prepared appreciation of the real-world outcomes of sloppy pondering, Beyond the Hoax bargains an attractive argument for the important significance of evidence-based technological know-how, displaying that transparent considering, mixed with a recognize for proof, are of the maximum significance to the survival of the human race.

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For a brief analysis of Latour's misunderstandings, see Chapter 5 below; and for more details, see Huth (1998) and Sokal and Bricmont (1998, chapter 6). #49 Amusingly, one favorable reviewer of our book Intellectual Impostures cited this statement of mathematician Hermann Minkowski (1864-1909) as an example of poststructuralist gobbledygook (see Applebaum 1998). In fact, this sentence is an elegant and scientifically impeccable summary of Einstein's relativity. THE PARODY, A N N O T A T E D #23 19 24 Finally, Bell's theorem and its recent generalizations show that an act of observation here and now can affect not only the object being observed — as Heisenberg told us — but also an object arbitrarily far away (say, on Andromeda galaxy).

For example, the functions f{x) = 2x and f(x) = - 1 7 x : are linear, while f(x) = x and f(x) = sin x are nonlinear. In terms of mathematical modeling, a linear equation describes a situation in which (here I am oversimplifying a bit) "the effect is strictly proportional to the cause". On the other hand, one may speak of a linear order (also called total order): this means that one orders a set in such a way that for each pair of elements a and b one has either a < b or a = b or a > b. Thus, the real numbers (or points on a line) carry a natural linear order, while the complex numbers (or points in a plane) do not.

22 A half-century later, the expression "quantum leap" has so entered our everyday vocabulary that we are likely to use it without any consciousness of its origins in physical theory. 17 Froula (1985). 18 Honner (1994). 19 Plotnitsky (1994). This impressive w o r k also explains the intimate connections with Godel's p r o o f of the incompleteness of formal systems and with Skolem's construction of nonstandard m o d e l s of arithmetic, as well as with Bataille's general e c o n o m y . For further discussion of Bataille's physics, see Hochroth (1995).

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