George Will "The Chronicle of Higher Education, which is a window on the sometimes weird world of academia, recently revisited a hilarious intellectual hoax from 20 years ago. Reading the recollections of the perpetrator and of some who swallowed his gibberish is sobering.
"In 1996, Alan Sokal, a New York University physicist and self-described “academic leftist,” composed an essay that was a word salad of solemn academic jargon. He said he strove to be “especially egregious,” by maundering on about “the dialectical emphases” of “catastrophe theory” becoming a “concrete tool of progressive political praxis.” His essay’s gaudy title was: “Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity.”
"He sent it to the left-leaning “cultural studies” journal Social Text, which swooned, perhaps in part because Sokal larded his nonsense with political tropes that are catnip to lettered leftists — “emancipatory mathematics,” “demystify and democratize the production of scientific knowledge,” “the crisis of late-capitalist production relations.” Soon after Social Text published his faux scholarship, Sokal revealed in another journal, Lingua Franca, that it was a parody.
"This would have been obvious to anyone whose intelligence had not been anesthetized by the patois of “deconstructionist” and “poststructuralist” professors. They move on to Nietzsche’s assertion that there are no facts, only interpretations, which he wrote shortly before going mad at age 44." . . .