465 pages, no illustrations
In 1996, Alan Sokal, a Professor of Physics at New York University, wrote a paper for the cultural-studies journal Social Text, entitled: "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity". It was reviewed, accepted and published. Sokal immediately confessed that the whole article was a hoax – a cunningly worded paper designed to expose and parody the style of extreme postmodernist criticism of science. The story became front-page news around the world and triggered fierce and wide-ranging controversy.
Sokal is one of the most powerful voices in the continuing debate about the status of evidence-based knowledge. In Beyond the Hoax he turns his attention to a new set of targets – pseudo-science, religion, and misinformation in public life. "Whether my targets are the postmodernists of the left, the fundamentalists of the right, or the muddle-headed of all political and apolitical stripes, the bottom line is that clear thinking, combined with a respect for evidence, are of the utmost importance to the survival of the human race in the twenty-first century." Beyond the Hoax also includes a hugely illuminating annotated text of the Hoax itself, and a reflection on the furore it provoked.
PART I: THE SOCIAL TEXT AFFAIR
1. Transgressing the boundaries: Towards a transformative hermeneutics of quantum gravity [annotated version]
2. Transgressing the boundaries: An afterword
3. Truth, reason, objectivity, and the Left
4. Science studies: Less than meets the eye
5. What the Social Text affair does and does not prove
PART II: SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY
6. Cognitive relativism in the philosophy of science
7. Defense of a modest scientific realism
PART III: SCIENCE AND CULTURE
8. Pseudoscience and postmodernism: Antagonists or fellow-travelers?
9. Religion, politics and survival
10. Epilogue: Epistemology and ethics
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