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I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Monday, 14 March 2016

"Fashionable Nonsense; Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science" by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont

Sokal in 1996 sent a spoof article to "Transgressing the boundaries: Toward a transformative hermeneutics of quantum gravity" a cultural studies journal; they published it in a special issue dedicated to rebutting the attacks on postmodernism by scientists. Following the success of this hoax, this book is dedicated to chronicling the absurdities written by postmodern writers such as Jacques Lacan, who asserts "This sort of torus really exists and it is exactly the structure of the neurotic"; Luce Irigaray who claims that Einstein was interested in "accelerations without electromagnetic reequilibrations", whatever they are and the E=mc2 is a sexist equation because it "privileges the speed of light over other speeds that are vitally necessary to us"; Jean Baudrillard who talks of "Our complex, metastatic, viral systems, condemned to the exponential dimension alone (be it that of exponential stability of instability), to eccentricity and indefinite fractal scissiparity, can no longer come to an end."; and of course Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari who assert among many other things that "a function is a Slow-motion".

In between these dissections of the bizarre assertions of these writers (why do they all seem to be Francophone?) these authors make some excellent points about the Scientific method, undermining the strict Popperian falsification thesis, whilst denying the Duhem-Quine underdetermination thesis with some sound common sense.

"There are several ways to swim, and all of them have their limitations, but it is not true that all bodily movements are equally good ... There is no unique method of criminal investigation, but this does not mean that all methods are equally reliable (think about trial by fire)." (p 80)

The analyses of daft postmodernists tend to get a bit boring but the understanding of these writers about how science really works seems to be spot on.

March 2016; 279 pages

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