What the New Sokal Hoax Reveals About Academia - The Atlantic
Further reading: It’s surprisingly easy to get a fake paper published in an academic journal Next, Sokal sent off this jabber to Social Text , a peer-reviewed academic journal that was, at the time, a leading intellectual forum for famous scholars including Edward Said, Oskar Negt, Nancy Fraser, Étienne Balibar, and Jacques Rancière. It was published. In the eyes of his supporters, what came to be known as the Sokal Hoax seemed to prove the most damning charges that critics of postmodernism had long leveled against it.
Postmodern discourse is so meaningless, they claimed, that not even “experts” can distinguish between people who make sincere claims and those who compose deliberate gibberish. In the months after Sokal went public, Social Text was much ridiculed. But its influence—and that of the larger “deconstructivist” mode of inquiry it propagated—continued to grow. Indeed, many academic departments that devote themselves to the study of particular ethnic, religious, and sexual groups are deeply inflected by some of Social Text ’s core beliefs, including the radical subjectivity of knowledge. That’s why Lindsay, Pluckrose, and Boghossian set out to rerun the original hoax, only on a much larger scale.
Call it Sokal Squared. Generally speaking, the journals that fell for Sokal Squared publish respected scholars from respected programs. For example, Gender, Place and Culture , which accepted one of the hoax papers, has in the past months published work from professors at UCLA, Temple, Penn State, Trinity College Dublin, the University of Manchester, and Berlin’s Humboldt University, among many others. Further reading: The research pirates of the dark web The sheer craziness of the papers the authors concocted makes this fact all the more shocking. One of their papers reads like a straightforward riff on the Sokal Hoax.