The war continued

The boat had an engine so it wasn’t sailing. Jay A. Labinger and Harry Collins explain:

“Collins then at Southampton University, was organizing the so-called Southampton Peace Workshop which took place in July 1997. Sokal was unable to come but the participants included Labinger, Mermin, and Pinch as well as several other scholars representing diverse fields: physics, history of science, literary theory. For two days, one of which was spent cruising round Southampton water in a small motorboat, the eight conferees were closeted together for intense discussions” (p.x)

It was watersports for peace and it worked. Labinger and Collins’s book seemingly proclaimed an armistice in the Science Wars. But there was still Alan Sokal, the hoaxman who had missed the boat trip. Refusing the terms of the settlement Sokal has a new book replaying the mid-1990s and his hysterical defense of science. David Mermin reviews it for Nature with commendable good sense and taste, calling the book a “small step backwards.”

I cannot be so contained. My suggestion is to throw Sokal in the water.

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2 thoughts on “The war continued

  1. Ten years ago, I used to be utterly enthusiastic about L’Imposture Intellectuelle… and now I am much measured. Are these science wars really still raging? Were they not settled by the boring, but so true, “The wise opinion lies probably somewhere between the extreme positions of both sides?”

    On a more personal note, I really like what Donna Haraway writes. For example, she has the most sensible analysis of the history of sociobiology. So, as she is quoted quite often in the fake article that launched the Sokal and Briquemont affair in Social Text, I was curious to read her reaction. Well, her reply (Social Text, 1997) was a bit of introspection on how she came to embrace a “social studies of science” perspective, at the time when she was a biology student in the Viet-nam war. Very nice to read, you can find it easily on J-Stor if you are interested.

  2. Thanks for the reference, I will look it up, it seems to touch on many points of my interest.
    Haraway writes about cyborg bodies, right? Such a nice idea!

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