Picture of author.
8+ Works 1,294 Members 23 Reviews 2 Favorited

About the Author

Works by Alan Sokal

Associated Works

Quick Studies: The Best of Lingua Franca (2002) — Contributor — 111 copies, 3 reviews
Theory's Empire: An Anthology of Dissent (2005) — Contributor — 100 copies, 2 reviews

Tagged

Common Knowledge

Birthdate
1955
Gender
male
Nationality
USA

Members

Reviews

تيار ما بعد الحداثة هو اتجاه فكري بدأ في الظهور أواخر القرن العشرين وما زال آخذاً في الانتشار، خصوصاً بين مدعي العلم والثقافة في الجامعات ومراكز السلطة في جميع أنحاء العالم.
تقول هذه الحركة في أساسها أن كل أشكال المعرفة هي تصور وتركيب مجتمعي، ولا وجود لحقائق موضوعية أو نظريات مثبتة، بل يمكن لأي معتقد أو وجهة نظر أن تصحّ.
يستخدم بعض فلاسفة ما بعد الحداثة المؤثرين والمشهورين تكتيكات مريبة تسيء استخدام الحقائق العلمية وتعمل على طيّها، وهنا تكمن خطورتها على العلم والمجتمع.
من وسائل مدّعي العلم والثقافة من أتباع هذا التيار هو استخدام اللغة الغامضة المنمقة المحشوة بالكلمات البليغة والمصطلحات الفخمة، وهي في حقيقتها كلام فارغ خالٍ من أي معنى أو دلالة، فيصفّق لهم من يخافون الاعتراف بعدم الفهم ومن يرغبون بالظهور بمظهر الأذكياء، ويعملون على تقليدهم.
في محاولة لكشف هراء ما بعد الحداثة وأثرها على البحث العلمي، عمد المؤلف إلى كتابة ورقة بحثية مستخدماً ذات الأسلوب، مستعيناً بأسماء واقتباسات معروفة في الوسط العلمي ليعطي بحثه مصداقية وهمية، وقدم الورقة لمجلة علمية ذات أهمية. بعد قبول ورقته ونشرها في المجلة صرّح المؤلف أنه ليس لما كتبه أي قيمة علمية أو معنى، وما هو إلا رطانة خالصة وهراء مستتر تحت غطاء من التكلّف اللفظي والتنميق الإنشائي.

وهكذا، يسلط الكتاب الضوء على مخاطر فكر ما بعد الحداثة على الطريقة العلمية بشكل خاص، مورداً عدة أمثلة في هذا السياق.
أمتعني جداً وزادني اطلاعاً على ظاهرة ألاحظ تفشيها منذ زمن.
… (more)
 
Flagged
TonyDib | 16 other reviews | Jan 28, 2022 |
So people don't like being told what to do, yet they don't have a problem listening to pseudoscientists and homeopaths? The problem is a lot simpler: people like to feel smart. Smarter than those around them. And science, real science is difficult to understand, which makes people feel dumb.

So the solution comes when the media and pseudoscientists dumb it down and add their very own spin on it. "Resveratrol, a chemical found in red wine, has slight beneficial effect in vitro" suddenly becomes "A glass of red wine a day keeps cancer away" and then "Wine cures your cancer! No need for those "expert" doctors". This makes people feel smart because they "understand" science and at the same time gives them the impression that they can take control of their health by following a set of simple, cheap steps. People don't want to hear "whatever you do, however healthy you are, you may still get cancer one day", they like to believe that they are in control. So as long as pseudoscientists offer simple (although ultimately useless) solutions to people's worries, they will pay attention to them, instead of doctors and scientists who have to work within the confines of reality and evidence.

At heart we simply do not spend enough money on communication. Local authorities, governments, scientists, etc. no-one really values communication. We are suspicious of its power and view it as the first thing to cut when budgets are tight.

The bigger part of the EU's problems have been to do with effective communication of what it does, how it works, how it benefits individuals and communities across Europe. All institutions involved in helping to move humanity towards a better, fairer, greener place need to be working 24 hours a day to inform and to work with the communities they serve to ensure that everyone understands why public policy is as it is, and to ensure there is a living and constructive dialogue taking place.

The biggest gift that education can give anyone is the ability to know when you are being bullshitted. With the internet, social media, and the great global subconscious this is more important than ever. If we want to avoid returning to the Dark Ages, as demagogues exploit ignorance and cynicism to their own advantage, we need to invest in peer to peer communication.

Why should we just accept what scientists say is good for us when they lie and change their minds? We've been told for years that if you have marginally high blood pressure, you should take medicine to reduce it. Now it turns out it will only prolong your life for less than a week. The consensus in the medical world is still that high cholesterol is bad for you, but now it turns out that people with high cholesterol live longer and that statins only help 1 in 128 people and their side-effects affect 1 in 10.

(I'm not saying that one is right and the other wrong, just that it's contradictory. And by the way, there aren't two types of cholesterol - one good, one bad - there is only one cholesterol.)

Same with GMO foods. When we will people see that it's all about what will make money for the big corporations - it's not for our good at all.

When scientific research is independent of Monsanto, Pfizer etc. and all the information is freely available, I'll begin to trust it. Until then, I'll be sceptical of every so-called expert and want to know what kickbacks he/she is getting.
… (more)
 
Flagged
antao | 5 other reviews | Aug 27, 2020 |
Although this is an important book, it is not a very enjoyable one to read, for the simple fact that the authors felt compelled to quote at length from some of the most disfigured and meaningless jumbles of words that I have ever seen sewn together in the guise of sentences.

A major portion of the book is given over to reproductions of original 'postmodernist' sources that ramble for pages on end, with trifling comments by the authors on how the different scientific concepts have been misinterpreted or misused. However, the long barrage of academic verbiage is such manifest nonsense to begin with that there is little left for the sagacity of Sokal and Bricmont to say.

If a reader is not convinced of the absurdity of the postmodern examples within the first two sentences of a quotation, they probably so completely lack of the discriminating facility that another twenty pages will not do them any more good.

There are only so many ways to call a fraud a fraud, so many ways to point to a syntactic confusion of adjectives and say, 'this is gibberish.'

Much more instructive were the sections between the criticisms of the individual postmodern authors, that dealt more broadly with the roles of science and reason in the humanities and politics. Despite what other reviewers have said, there is nothing in these parts which does not seem to me to be thoroughly reasonable and correct.

Most incomprehensible is how anyone could have ever taken these postmodernist authors seriously in the first place - how entire segments of the academic world could have so completely taken leave of their senses as to give even one of these imposters an academic post - let alone legions of them spanning several generations.

By sheer chance, I recently ran into this comment by Jonathan Swift which seems to have some bearing on the situation:

"There are certain common Privileges of a Writer,
the Benefit whereof, I hope, there will be no Reason to doubt;
Particularly, that where I am not understood, it shall be concluded,
that something very useful and profound is coucht underneath." (1704)
… (more)
 
Flagged
the_lemur | 16 other reviews | Nov 9, 2017 |
Battle vs. Nonsense Makes Strange Bedfellows

My political and social views are very, very different from Sokal's and Bricmont's (and I really don't care how much postmodernism damages the Left), but I have to appreciate their attempt to call on the carpet those who have misappropriated the terminology, ideas, and results of math and physics in their work.

The lengthy quotes from French intellectuals that Sokal and Bricmont present in their book remind me of a weird combination of Mad Libs, the nonsense-talking inmate Damon Wayans played on "In Living Color", and a Babelfish translation attempt gone awry. (But, of course, translators can't be blamed for the nutty things these French(wo)men say, because their words apparently don't make any more sense in the original. _Fashionable Nonsense_ itself was originally published in France as _Impostures Intellectuelles_.) If my math students wrote like this, I'd probably not only fail them but also arrange for them to receive psychiatric treatment.

Why only 4 stars? While the book starts out fun, after a couple hundred pages it gets a little bit tiresome. You only have to read so many page-long excerpts of gibberish followed by commentary on the order of "Well, that didn't make any sense" to get the point. Sokal and Bricmont's attempt to be patient, fair, and scholarly is understandable and laudable, but I have to say I that I found myself longing for the poison-pen approach that Norman Levitt took in _Prometheus Bedeviled_.
… (more)
 
Flagged
cpg | 16 other reviews | Oct 17, 2017 |

Lists

You May Also Like

Associated Authors

Statistics

Works
8
Also by
3
Members
1,294
Popularity
#19,839
Rating
3.9
Reviews
23
ISBNs
35
Languages
13
Favorited
2

Charts & Graphs