Talk:Alan Sokal

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I removed the following:

Mr. Sokal perished on January 26, 2004, from a lengthy illness.

Since I couldn't find any confirmation of this (important) detail. Of course, re-add this is you find a reputable source. Maximus Rex 02:26, 27 Jan 2004 (UTC)

-Haha, glad to hear, since I just listened to a presentation from the man himself earlier today. (4/5/6)RSimione 05:17, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

I removed the following sentence:

Nonetheless, Sokal's fellow scientists generally consider the "Sokal affair" as having demonstrably shown cultural studies and related fields to be "bunk".

This is certainly not Sokal's opinion, and it's a gross overgeneralization of what scientists think. A more detailed discussion about what scientists think and what they don't think about cultural studies might be added to Science wars, but here it sounds like a strawman argument against Sokal. -- Zumbo 08:52, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

I'm going to add that Alan Sokal is also a member of New York University's Math Faculty. RSimione 05:17, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

I am removing Noam Chomsky's name on the page since there is absolutely no mention of him in the Lingua Franca journal article, as is currently claimed


About the bit:

"Sokal followed up by co-authoring the book Fashionable Nonsense with Jean Bricmont in 1998 (originally published in French, a year before, as Impostures Intellectuelles)."

It sounds really odd to me. You cannot co-author a book wich has already been published, can you? I think its intention is:

"Sokal followed up by co-authoring the book Impostures Intellectuelles with Jean Bricmont in 1997 (published in English, a year later, as Fashionable Nonsense)."

Any objection to the change? --euyyn 00:29, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Embarassing quote[edit]

"Anyone who believes that the laws of physics are mere social conventions is invited to try transgressing those conventions from the windows of my apartment. (I live on the twenty-first floor.)" Is it really necessary to mention this embarassing quote of the otherwise sensible Sokal? He must've had a bad day when saying this. He clearly confused the notions of physical phenomenon and physical law describing a physical phenomenon. The phenomenon is "an object falls faster and faster" while the law is "an object will fall according to Einstein's Theory of Relativity" (or Newton's etc). Not even the most bonehard postmodernist will claim that the physical phenomenon of faster and faster falling bodies is a social convention. I'll try to find the source where he regrets the quote. // Jens Persson ( (talk) 15:25, 6 August 2008 (UTC))

I don't quite comprehend; "falls faster and faster" is a rule which can be used as an axiom for a theoretical system, perhaps you mean the observation of any given falling thing. At any rate, science is the making of generalizations as pertains to observations, thus, if you can talk about "objects falling faster and faster" as truth, you can talk about other theoretical systems as truth; so, if you want to say science is convention, then that you die when falling out of windows is also a convention. Of course, you might mean that "falling faster and faster" is what Einstein's theory is explaining, but you could also say "faster and faster" is an explanation for the trajectory that the object took. Ultimately, anything beyond pointing in the direction of a falling object involves some sort of abstraction, velocity etc are abstractions, so if you want to go the postmodern route, everything is literally convention.

On an unrelated note, did anyone ever get the impression that the whole postmodern social convention thing was just a fancy way of saying, "we're basically taking the formalist philosophy of mathematics and assuming it covers everything else." If you really think about it, it amounts to the same thing... Phoenix1177 (talk) 12:01, 27 February 2009 (UTC)