The “Sokal Affair” (1996) was an expose pulled off by Alan Sokal, a physics professor at New York University when he submitted for publication, a grand-sounding spoof article “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity.” He claimed in the article that postmodern science based on theories by Jacques Lacan and Iris Irigaray demonstrates that quantum gravity within the framework of reality as a social and linguistic construct and its multidimensional manifolds topological space, transgresses the concept of objective truth and thus provides “powerful intellectual support for the progressive project, understood in its broadest sense: transgressing of boundaries, the breaking down of barriers. the radical democratization of all aspects of social, economic, political, and cultural life.”* The article was accepted and published by the postmodern cultural studies journal Social Text (Duke University Press) in 1996. The publication of a spoof article laced spurious physics by an established journal became a scandal. It also confirmed that much of postmodern theories is just academic nonsense or in the words of Sokal, “intellectual impostures.”
Fast forward 22 years, we have a Sokal Redux or the “Grievance Studies Affair.” Three writers, magazine editor Helen Pluckrose, mathematician James Lindsay and philosopher Peter Boghossian wrote and submitted 20 articles under false names to a variety of peer-reviewed journals, of which 7 were accepted for publications. The acceptance rate would have been higher (this includes an article based on a chapter of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf rewritten in feminist language) except for the fact that these writers were eventually exposed as they themselves expected.
The three writers came out to explain their deliberate hoax. They simply cooked up fake papers and presented them as serious research on rape culture based on 10,000 hours of fake observation on the sexual aggression of dogs at dog parks and recommended that men who penetrate themselves with dildos will likely be less homophobic and less transphobic. That their spoof articles were accepted for publication proves that much of the academic programs in the humanities departments which focus on identity studies is ideological nonsense and corrupt to their core.
James Lindsay gives an account of their expose in the following interview – James Lindsay on “Cynical Theories.”
The interview gives fascinating & alarming insights into the fakeness and fashionable nonsense of contemporary feminist & gender studies, social justice studies & critical race theory in the intellectually warped/woke departments of humanities of Western Universities, evidenced by the ideological nonsense taught in the classrooms and published in the peer-reviewed, high impact journals today.
I have been suspecting for some time that such nonsense has taken over the humanities departments of the Western universities but I have to admit that I still find myself feeling shocked and laughing in despair as I listened to the expose carried out James Lindsay and Friends.
The Western academia once shone like a city on a hill, but it has evidently crossed over to the dark side. The consequence is the current campus corrupt craziness that rages through most of their top universities and colleges today. If I have to make a choice today, I will certainly not send my children to study humanities in these Western universities.
* Alan Sokal and Jean Brickmont, Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ abuse of Science (Picador, 1998), p. 240.