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Sokal hoax perpetrated on theologians

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posted on Sep, 25 2012 @ 05:20 PM
A sokal hoax is a work of drivel someone accepts as serious.

In this case anti-religious philosopher Martin Boudry put together a work of gobbledygookthat appeared to be a criticism of Darwinian evolution, and got it accepted at a couple of theology conferences.

As an example:

In the Darwinian perspective, order is not immanent in reality, but it is a self-affirming aspect of reality in so far as it is experienced by situated subjects. However, it is not so much reality that is self-affirming, but the creative order structuring reality which manifests itself to us. Being-whole, as opposed to being-one, underwrites our fundamental sense of locatedness and particularity in the universe. The valuation of order qua meaningful order, rather than order-in-itself, has been thoroughly objectified in the Darwinian worldview.

As the commentary states:

This shows once again the appeal of religious gibberish to the educated believer, and demonstrates that conference organizers either don’t read what they publish, or do read it and think that if it’s opaque then it must be profound.

Hard to argue with!!

This is an example of how not to do it to everyone of course - it is probably possible to do this to anyone who has an ideaological penchant - somethign that sems to be more and more comon these days!!
edit on 25-9-2012 by Aloysius the Gaul because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 25 2012 @ 10:06 PM
Actually, ATS is FULL of such gobbledygook... and not just from the religious types.
All this proves is that people are eager to hear things that reinforce what they already think and feel... to the detriment of their own wellbeing.

posted on Sep, 28 2012 @ 12:50 AM
reply to post by Aloysius the Gaul

It's sad that some of the most interesting thread topics never get their due on ATS.

No surprise that theologians, gibberish-spouters par excellence, should fall for a Sokal hoax. But perhaps it would interest ATS members to learn exactly what a Sokal hoax is.

Alan Sokal is a physics professor at NYU. In 1995 he submitted a paper to the post-modernist culture magazine, Social Text. In it, he appeared to espouse a 'postmodernist' approach to developing theories of quantum gravity. In fact, the article, entitled Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity, was utter gibberish (postmodernist gibberish as well as scientific gibberish). However, the editors of Social Text were so delighted to find a real scientist apparently endorsing their nonsensical ideas (and incapable, as postmodernists by definition are, of telling dung from deuterium), they happily printed it in full.

They were furious when Sokal blew the whistle on them, and their subsequent antics and contortions in attempting to justify their own gullibility made them look more foolish than ever.

The Sokal affair should be a lesson (as the poster above me implies) to many who frequent this site. Many ATS members are only too happy to believe high-flown bollocks as long as it sounds good or comes out of the month of someone they consider an authority. The ones who bleat 'do your own research' and 'keep an open mind' are usually the worst offenders; they never practise what they preach, but swallow the most ridiculous whoppers without blinking an eye and then refuse to accept any arguments against them.

The world needs more Alan Sokals, as well as fewer postmodernists, theologians and woo merchants. Merci, Aloysius.

edit on 28/9/12 by Astyanax because: of a typo.

posted on Sep, 29 2012 @ 01:55 PM
Regardless of what I believe, I do my best to follow this one piece of advice:

Listen to everything, read everything, believe in nothing unless you can prove it in your own right.
--Milton William Cooper

In other words, check everything out to the best of your ability before you come to a conclusion.

posted on Sep, 30 2012 @ 03:02 AM
reply to post by EvilSadamClone

Listen to everything, read everything, believe in nothing unless you can prove it in your own right. -- Milton William Cooper

This prescription may have been workable 150 years ago, but anyone who tries it nowadays is going to end up living in a small, crazy world of their own. The worlds and societies we now inhabit are so fiendishly complicated, and constructed out of so many different fields of specialised knowledge, that it is impossible for anyone to live a halfway normal life without taking a very large part of it on trust.

People who know me will testify that I am an unusually knowledgeable person. I know a lot about a great many things, because I've always been curious and I have a good memory. Despite this, I recognise that I have not a hope of understanding most of the world around me, or of proving its assumptions from first principles.

Like it or not, there are things we all have to take on trust. They range from believing that the sun will rise tomorrow to believing that the traffic lights at the intersection will not go crazy and direct you into the path of an oncoming truck. There are huge fields of science and technology whose principles and observations we are obliged to take on trust because we cannot verify them for ourselves. Does the planet Neptune exist? I have never seen it through a telescope (far less with my unaided eye) so I have no option but to trust the astronomers. The phenomenal world is full of such examples.

The trick is not to bring an attitude of scepticism or disbelief to everything you see, hear and read, but to equip yourself with a functioning intellectual testing-kit that will allow you to make sound judgements about what is true and what is not. Having a good fund of general knowledge is useful; so long as what you know is correct, you can test new information against facts you already know are true; if cognitive dissonance results, that's a red flag telling you the new information may be false.

The other important thing to have is a good understanding of human nature, one that is not distorted by idealistic beliefs or unrealistic expectations. This is much harder to achieve than becoming generally knowledgeable. For a start it means being able to look at yourself with a bit of objectivity; it also means accepting that the things you want to believe (whatever they are) are probably not true, or not wholly true, simply because you want to believe they are. This is a rabbit-hole down which few conspiracy theorists ever dare look, far less venture. George Orwell once remarked that the acid test of a person's honesty was whether or not they believed in life after death. We don't have to go as far as that, but we should always keep in mind that it is precisely our pet theories and beliefs that we should be most suspicious of, because they are most likely of all to be wrong.

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