Fashionable Nonsense

Alan Sokal, Author, Jean Bricmont, Joint Author Picador USA $23 (272p) ISBN 978-0-312-19545-8
The authors of this audacious debunking apparently want nothing less than to embarrass some of the foremost academic stars of the postwar period--including Jacques Lacan, Luce Irigaray and Paul Virilio, among other luminaries in the humanities--for their ""abuse of science."" Sokal, a professor of physics at NYU, and Bricmont, a theoretical physicist with the Universite de Louvain in Belgium, offer an argument that's an offshoot of Sokal's notorious 1996 prank in which he submitted an article, high in jargon and low in logic, to a cultural studies journal, which accepted it immediately. After Sokal revealed the hoax, bitter debates raged within academia. Here, he and Bricmont continue where the hoax left off, waging a war of wits with thinkers who, they say, adopt science as a metaphor for their own more literary purposes. The authors also attack critics who fabricate pseudoscientific theories of their own, and much of their book is dedicated to building methodical cases against the academics' principles and logical flaws. The authors fervor and the precision of their writing makes this a most engaging read. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998
Release date: 12/01/1998
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-312-20407-5
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-4668-6240-1
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