Fashionable Nonsense

By Alan Sokal, Jean Bricmont,

Book cover of Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science

Book description

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…

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Why read it?

1 author picked Fashionable Nonsense as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This is, first, a jeremiad against the cheerful scientific ignorance on display in so much postmodernist philosophy. I admit to having enjoyed the critique—it’s razor sharp and often funny. But you don’t have to be interested in postmodernism to enjoy what emerges from this: a wonderfully clear, readable, undogmatic discussion of what characterizes good (and bad) scientific practice in a wide variety of disciplines. The authors usefully compare science to a criminal investigation. Science, they say, is simply “a rational response to investigation under complex uncertainty”—but detective work is an art, and (a jab at Karl Popper here) “no one…

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