Alan Sokal is best known for the Sokal Affair. In 1996, Mr. Sokal sent a paper containing mostly
gibberish to the journal Social Text in an attempt to demonstrate the general sloppiness of Post-Modern thinking. The journal published "Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity", and all hell broke loose.
As someone who spent too many of my University years studying the likes of Lyotard, Derrida, and etc., it was a point well made. Though one of my favorite Literary Critics, Stanley Fish, wrote an eloquent response to Sokal here , it was generally ignored.
In any case, if anyone is wondering what Sokal is up to these days, he is still pounding away at what he perceives to be irrationalism and Pseudo-Science, and recently published "Taking Evidence Seriously", which turns out to be quite apropos in light of the recent Ontario Election. He writes:
Here's another example: The Government under former Prime Minister Tony Blair assiduously promoted state subsidies for "faith-based schools". Of course, "faith" is here being used as an ecumenical-sounding euphemism for "religion", but the word is still revealing. For what is "faith", if not the pseudo-justi cation that some people trot out when they want to make claims without adequate evidence?
After it was reported that a publicly funded Christian school in Gateshead had been teaching creationism, Blair was asked in Parliament whether he was "happy to allow the teaching of reationism alongside Darwin's theory of evolution in state schools". Blair (always the consummate politician) avoided a direct answer, but defended the school in question and said that "in the end, a more diverse school system will deliver better results for our children." Shall we also, in the name of "diversity", subsidize schools teaching that the moon is made of green cheese?
Of course, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Jewish Britons can rightly complain that the state has long funded Church of England and Roman Catholic schools. But the proper remedy is not to extend state patronage from Christianity to other superstitions; rather, it is to implement a complete separation of church from state, and more generally to insist that taxpayer-funded institutions have no business propagating dogmas unsupported by evidence.
Moreover, segregating children of Muslim parents from children of Christian parents
for separate indoctrination is woefully misguided. Instead, why not bring together students of both backgrounds in a high-school history class to examine the historical evidence bearing on the composition of the New Testament and the Qur'an?
Good stuff up until the end. But seriously, he wants to get Muslims and Christians together in one room and teach them that their holy books are merely historical documents? What if they team up the way Dinesh DaSouza suggests? They might nail him to a cross and fly an plane into it.
Much of "Taking Evidence Seriously" appears in this longer piece by Sokal: "What is Science and Why Should We Care".