THE SOKALIAN CONNECTION: vanity prank and argument by aura

I have established in my preceding posts that Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay’s hoax paper is not a meaningless pseudo-text but a sophomoric prank parodying an academic field based on a cherry-picked decontextualised hodgepodge of poorly understood ideas. The authors do not speak in the name of science and critical thinking, but in the name of a form of scientistic populism.

Gender Studies was chosen not out of any familiarity with the literature or care for the field, but for the predicted popular appeal in doing a takedown of a field that dares to be skeptical about our entrenched categories and beliefs regarding gender and sexuality. The goal was anti-skeptical and anti-critical.

The authors come out in favour of folk-ideology, protecting it from critical inquiry. The authors’ true aim is a nostalgic attempt to perpetuate, or to re-activate, the Science Wars of the nineties under the guise of an engagement for clarity and critical thinking against obscurantism and political correctness.

Critics were quick to point out that the hoax was worthless in itself. Paying to publish an already rejected article in a crappy journal does not refute in any way the field targeted by their parody, but merely shows up cynical business practices in academic publication. Boghossian and Lindsay do not engage with this cynicism so much as partake of it, and profit from it.

Behind the clamor, serving as horizon, model and reference, there lies the memory and the aura of the “Sokal affair”. Even the critics of the new hoax refer back to this incident as a model of how a real hoax should be carried out and analysed.

But the real Sokal hoax was not the prank paper, but the successor book FASHIONABLE NONSENSE, which already practiced the strategy of uncomprehending cherry-picking of decontextualised quotes supposed to prove the abuse of scientific jargon and theories by postmodern intellectuals. Fortunately for us Boghossian and Lindsay have produced no such book.

Boghossian and Lindsay seek validation and indirect support by aura and association by means of the Sokalian Connection, to prop up their vanity prank.

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