Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science
Author: Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont
In 1996 physicist Alan Sokal published an essay in Social Text--an influential academic journal of cultural studies--touting the deep similarities between quantum gravitational theory and postmodern philosophy.
Soon thereafter, the essay was revealed as a brilliant parody, a catalog of nonsense written in the cutting-edge but impenetrable lingo of postmodern theorists. The event sparked a furious debate in academic circles and made the headlines of newspapers in the U.S. and abroad.
In Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science, Sokal and his fellow physicist Jean Bricmont expand from where the hoax left off. In a delightfully witty and clear voice, the two thoughtfully and thoroughly dismantle the pseudo-scientific writings of some of the most fashionable French and American intellectuals. More generally, they challenge the widespread notion that scientific theories are mere "narrations" or social constructions.
In The News
“In Fashionable Nonsense, Sokal and Bricmont give us the background information that should convince any reasonable person that the hoax was earnestly needed and richly justified. A splendid book.” —Richard Dawkins, author of Climbing Mount Improbable
“An excellent discussion . . . The present book is a plea for a sensible understanding of science and a welcome antidote to irrationality.” —Simon Moss, Houston Chronicle
“Sokal and Bricmont's book should have an impact at least on the next generation of students . . . Although Sokal and Bricmont focus on the abuse and misrepresentation of science by a dozen French intellectuals, their book broaches a much larger topic-the uneasy place of science and the understanding of scientific rationality in contemporary culture.” —Thomas Nagel, The New Republic