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Posted: July 10th, 2007, 5:43 am
by e_dog
Shall i count the ways in which the Sokal incident is over hyped and indeed simply reveals the idiocy of Sokal('s fans)?

Myth 1. The piece was published in the most important and prestigious academic journal for postmodernists and/or cult-studs.

Fact 1. There is no such thing as a prestigious journal.

Myth 2. It shows that the editors in charge were duped.

Fact 2. No, it shows that they were open-minded enough to allow a scientist to publish with them, even though what he said was crap..

Myth 3. From a single incident, you can generalize about a whole journal, an institution, an intellectual movement, etc.

Fact 3. The latter is clearly a fallacy of over-generalization. Not very scientific.

Myth 4. From the fact that a particular article is false or a fake, the rest of published articles are discredited.

Fact 4. Really? So, we shouldn't read the NY Times , or any newspaper for that matter, b/c of Judith Miller, etc.?

Myth 5. Sokal's stunt shows he stands for the standards of modern science and respectable scholarship.

Fact 5. If someone were to write a fake article for a science journal, they would not be celebrated but condemned as an impostor, a plagiarist, or a fraud.

Myth 6. The fact that Sokal was published by Sozial Text is a serious thing because now no one can regard everything that that or similar journals publish as the Truth.

Fact 6. In cultural studies (or any discipline with skeptical inquiry and thinking as its modus operandi), no one ever assumes that a given piece is even partially true unless and until one has read it and assessed it for oneself.

Who gives a fuck what and whether anything Sokal writes gets published? To regard it as a big deal implies some notion of the editors as Guardians of the Absolute Truth and the readers as passive receptables of learning. Only an idiotic philistine could think that's how cultural studies work. I.e. only a worship of science, and science text books.

Posted: July 10th, 2007, 7:05 am
by stilltrucking
My point had more to do with Two Cultures than post modernism.

But maybe it is related, i think you said postmodernism is more about Culture than anything else.

But you don't want to talk about that.

Here is another one you don't want to talk about ... =generator

How many times I have asked you a question and you dodge.

But like I said I am a dodger too.

Sorry e-dog I did not mean to throw rocks.

I was just joking like you do when I ask you a question.

I think we are in deep do do culturaly speaking, and it has to do with language. But so much of what you say is over my head and some of what is written about post modernism seems like gibberish to me because a lot of it is.

What ever happened to peer review?

Judging by your reaction I seemed to have got on your nerves. I can understand that, I get on every one's nerves sooner or later.

Who cares? It seems like you do a bunch.

Posted: July 10th, 2007, 10:43 am
by e_dog
what is the question i'm dodging?

Questions are sentences typically ending with a questionmark like "What is the question i'm dodging?"

Posted: July 10th, 2007, 12:28 pm
by stilltrucking
I mock you not.

Have you read Two Cultures?

Just curious, that is all.

It seems to me that if those editors were fooled because they were so scientificaly ignorant.

Posted: July 10th, 2007, 12:35 pm
by Totenkopf
Given your assumption that all values (and "Truth") are relative, you seem pretty worked up, e-d. I reallly don't know all the details of the parody: I read about it, and found it amusing that some high-ranking lit. academics and/or "kultur" people fell for the parody. The fact that they had fallen for it sort of indicated that many people are taken in by jargon, and the appearance of scholarship, regardless of what it "means," etc. And that doesn't mean I support Sokal's ideas, whatever they are (he's a physicist, right? I have heard he is a marxist as well, however).

Bricmont, however, I have read and he is a very powerful writer (scientist as well as philosopher), and while Bricmont may be opposed to humanists and postmods, he's no rightist. He worked with Chomsky on some political projects, I believe. I would venture to state that Bricmont (not sure of Sokal) is closer to orthodox marxism (materialist, empirical, and scientific in a sense) than most of the belle-lettrist sorts of postmods. Marx always insists his economic theories are empirically sound, scientific, etc.

Posted: July 10th, 2007, 2:06 pm
by e_dog
I read about it, and found it amusing that some high-ranking lit. academics and/or "kultur" people fell for the parody. The fact that they had fallen for it sort of indicated that many people are taken in by jargon, and the appearance of scholarship, regardless of what it "means," etc.
the problem is the asumption that there are "high-ranking lit. academics" as if it were some military estblishment.

"that many people are taken in by jargon, and the appearance of scholarship" is a banality hardly in need of experimental confirmation, let alone uncontrolled pseudo-experiments.

Sokal's no rightist? Musolini started out a socialist, didn't he?

one can be an unwitting servant ofv the right, say a Soviet Commie of the old mid-twentieth cent. style. Sokal serves the technocapitalist machine, enough said.

Posted: July 10th, 2007, 2:19 pm
by Totenkopf
The Ivy League and UCs are a type of establishment. But that is beside the point: I simply disagree with your assumption that scientists are "more fascist" than say literary people. Yes technology and the physical sciences can be put to all sorts of heinous uses; so can belle-lettres. Shakespeare was, if not an actual fascist, at least an apologist for the Crown. Ezra Pound stumped for Il Duce: Bertrand Russell, mathematician and logician (and friend of Einstein, etc.), on the other hand, opposed the fascists as well as stalinists.

Clerics and scholars opposed experimental science from the beginning. It was the Church and the upholders of the Classics who burnt scientists as heretics (recall Bruno, as well as Galilleo, Kepler, etc.). The muslim imams still view most of western science as a type of heresy. While science may serve the techno-capitalist machine, belle-lettres serves the, shall we say, remnants of the ancien regime, the Church, the monarchy. I'd hang with Russell and his fabian pals (sort of pro-science) before I'd sip tea with TS Eliot and EP.

Posted: July 10th, 2007, 2:32 pm
by stilltrucking
Thanks for another good answer e-dog
I will leave you alone now.

I read that book a long time ago.

As I remember it C P Snow was a member of the Hitler youth.

He was definitely a Fascist.

Posted: July 10th, 2007, 3:12 pm
by e_dog
i agree that men of lettres can be heinous (ex. Heidegger). my point is simply that those who claim to be, say, Marxists can be actually unwitting servants of counterrevolution. that is the case with Sokal if indeed he claims to be a leftist.

science can occasionally do some good. usually that amounts to clean up its prior inflicted damage, sayu viz. global climate change -- only science can save us ... from science past.

Posted: July 10th, 2007, 9:44 pm
by Totenkopf
Don't many of the postmods claim Herr Heidegger as their Big Vati, er Daddy? Weirdness. Heidegger might have been opposed to men such as Sokal, but I strongly doubt he ever would have lent his support to a Derrida. Actually I enjoy a bit of Sein und Zeit, however obscure; I think even Carnap respected Heidegger to some extent. The greek-Hegelian Heidegger I find interesting to some degree (the historicity of Dasein, man): it's his gestaltist, and somewhat crypto-theological aspects that I don't enjoy. Translating the neo-logisms is a real pain too.

I think he misreads the big guns of philosophy, including Kant and Nietzsche (tho' I have not as of yet read all of his material on FN). But even the analytical types--and one dares say big Science--don't really have some objective definition for "time," or time perception, or "process" for lack of a better term. Kant's writing on space, time, the Categories and synthetic a priori, however dated, still worth a read. Heidegger sort of idealizes Kant (and other philosophy) according to my reading. It's not entirely clear whether Kant was as otherworldly as some make him out to be: there is a tradition of Kantian empiricism (Carnap in that tradition to some degree). Postmods follow the more idealist aspects of continental thinking, it seems, though there are marxist aspects as well (but then is Marx as materialist as some claim? Not sure). Either way, Kant pretty much kicked the can with the supreme metaphor of the 3rd Antinomy--even Hegel dialectic flows from that, really---and thus marxism as well. Perhaps Kant is the real daemon then---

Posted: July 12th, 2007, 4:10 pm
by e_dog
i agree wit most of that.

of course contemp. phil. is revisions of / reactions to Kant. and all the hist. o phil. is footnotes to Playdough. So what?

Heidegger was a brilliant bag of shit.

Ruddy Carnap no fan o' he.

Posted: July 12th, 2007, 9:38 pm
by Totenkopf
It's amusing how some continental people react to a Carnap, whose weltanschauung consists of a sort of a value-free semantics, which leaves little room for religious dogma. So is it the implications of amorality that you/they object to? On occasion even the leftist postmods start to resemble clerics or religious people. It's the dogmatic insistence that there is nothing of value in the work of a Carnap or Quine that amuses me: it sounds nearly like a fundie denouncing evolution or heathens. And of course many have noted that marxists often seem driven by a sort of religious fervor.

I don't idolize a Carnap (nor have I mastered his "system"),. but I hesitate dismissing all of his writing, or that of other "analyticals"--or, for that matter, a Sokal--- because their politics offend me or something. Shouldn't even anti-academic leftists or progressives be required to demonstrate what is wrong and misguided about the ideologies they criticize? I would say yes.

Posted: July 13th, 2007, 8:10 am
by jimboloco
intellectual standards:?:
you're right
good luck! :shock:
at least i believe in objective reality to a point
facts vs opinions
happy swimming!
wouldn't it be nice if science enlightened a compassionate sentiment

the stock market is brimming an extended bull market
so tax cuts for the wealthy increase revenues

what's the answer to that

why did pinellas county schools lose 20 million dollars in funding for this next year
with free market revenues so bullish

i read a summation of sokol's self flattering description of his intended satire on the relationship between science and an evolution of leftist social standards, right?

entertainment of this sort would be nice, but i gotta mow the lawn and get ready for work over the weekend

i do want to peruse your dialogues as it is unbelieveable how you banter about with names and curious phrasings

looking for clues

they say that the buddha had insight into hyper-reality
and apply his non-dualism to arithmatic
and falling apples

quantum leap right on along now
i gotta find that book
value free semantics for dummies!
What does not kill me, makes me more strong-
i don't know if i will survive

an elemennt of kindness somehow suffuses all of you
with a glow that welcomes
and the vulnerable

Posted: July 13th, 2007, 10:44 am
by stilltrucking
peasant power
to paraphrase Fredierick Nitzke the great german philosopher and linebacker for the greeen bay packers.
who has the fucking time for experience
jimbo said:
wouldn't it be nice if science enlightened a compassionate sentiment
During the anti vietnam war protests
some of the most compassionate people I met on campus were the returning veterans and the cats from the physics department.

talk about you superanuation of political catagories.
looking for clues on the left or right?

I wish I was a mother fucker
don't mind me
I am just rabid
the world needs more tom foolery
I suppose

Science is rapidly becoming a religion, priests in white lab coats some of them would be

I think this is a good summation of where Sokal went wrong.
Letter from Evelyn Fox Keller
Alan Sokal's prank was a brilliant strategy for making an extremely important point, but what exactly is this point, and for whom is it important?

First, the point. Is it that the academy houses scholars who have the audacity to question the meaning of objectivity, or to challenge the immunity of science from social forces? Or that some literary scholars have begun to write about scientific texts wi thout first seeking the approval of scientists? Not only does Sokal seriously weaken his case with such suggestions, but he helps fuel the media's enthusiasm for the outlandish idea that a left anti-science conspiracy is perpetrating the claim that the world is not real. I wish he had let his ruse speak for itself, for its point is quite simple: The editors of Social Text have been shown to be unable to distinguish a hilarious jargon-ridden spoof from real argument. Or perhaps the editors were so eager to count a physicist as one of their own that they chose to publish an article they themselves regarded as "hokey".

Now, to whom should this matter? For many scientists, this episode will only bolster their fear that postmodernism (and science studies more generally) threatens the integrity and well-being of their own disciplines. But it is not science that is threaten ed by the hapless publication of gibberish; it is science studies itself. And the embarrassing defense offered by Ross and Robbins (not to mention the many counter-attacks) just makes the problem worse. Scholars in science studies who have turned to postm odernism have done so out of a real need: Truth and objectivity turn out to be vastly more problematic concepts than we used to think, and neither can be measured simply by the weight of scientific authority, nor even by demonstrations of efficacy. Yet surely, the ability to distinguish argument from parody is a prerequisite to any attempt at understanding the complexities of truth claims, in science or elsewhere. How can we claim credibility for responsible scholarship -- for the carefully reasoned and empirically founded research that makes up the bulk of science studies -- if we do not recognize a problem here?

It saddens me that my scientific colleagues so readily confuse the analysis of social influence on science with radical subjectivism, mistaking challenges to the autonomy of science with the "dogma" that there exists no external world. And it alarms me to see the politicization of legitimate intellectual argument as a "left anti-science" movement vs. a defense of traditional values mounted by the "right." But neither condones the failure of my colleagues in science studies to acknowledge so blatant a compromise to the integrity of their own discipline.

Evelyn Fox Keller, Professor of History and Philosophy of Science, MIT

Posted: July 13th, 2007, 12:02 pm
by e_dog
" but I hesitate dismissing all of his [Carnap's] writing, or that of other "analyticals"--or, for that matter, a Sokal--- because their politics offend me or something. Shouldn't even anti-academic leftists or progressives be required to demonstrate what is wrong and misguided about the ideologies they criticize? I would say yes.
sure. but, of course it is exactly the opposite of what you suggest-- it is the so-called analytic philosophers who just dismiss "continental" phil. as nonsense without trying to understand it. Carnap started that trend with his ignorant mockery of Heidegger. I have little taste for either of the two, by the way. Searle, e.g. resorted to trying to smearing Derrida's name. Derrida, however true or false the reading was, made an honest attempt to understand Austin and indeed did so very well. How many Derrida-haters have seriously read him? They just resent him or parrot those who do. (Not saying that's you. Maybe you've studied thoroughly, who knows.)

Quine is brilliant AND also very easy to criticize. He is a science worshiper who gives lipservice to pragmatism without understanding its implications. Quine is a master of elegant and ingenious logical games that miss the big picture. E.g. the meaning of a statement is the whole of science. Problem: there is no such thing as the whole of science. All supposedly analytic phil. after Ludwig the Wit has been atavistic.