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In 1996, NYU physicist Sokal published a paper entitled Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity in an academic journal. Shortly thereafter, and to great furor, Sokal reported that his paper was a parody of postmodernism. This collection of 10 essays, six of which have been previously published, expands upon the central ideas of that academic joke. Sokal demands a respect for evidence and attacks postmodernists, fundamentalists and the muddle-headed of all political and apolitical stripes. The opening chapter presents the original hoax paper in its entirety, with the addition of annotations describing how he came to write it and explaining all the inside jokes. In subsequent chapters, Sokal explains how postmodernists confuse truth with claims of truth, fact with assertions of fact, and knowledge with pretensions to knowledge, and demonstrates how pseudoscientists have adopted a similar perspective. In biting prose, he analyzes the concept of therapeutic touch being promoted in nursing and Vedic science being advanced by Hindu nationalists. Though he concludes with his weakest argument—that religion is simply another form of pseudoscience—Sokal consistently asks the reader to think clearly and follow the evidence, regardless of where it may lead, and for that alone he deserves respect. (May)
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Review from previous edition: "If you're concerned about the role of science in making sense of our world, you need to read it." --BBC Focus, Robert Matthews 01/04/08
"Most scientists will be highly appreciative of and deeply fascinated by what Sokal has to say in this remarkable book." --Chemistry World 01/08/2008