Tag Archives: humor

The Sokal Affair

From Wikipedia:

The Sokal affair, also called the Sokal hoax,[1] was a publishing hoax perpetrated by Alan Sokal, a physics professor at New York University and University College London. In 1996, Sokal submitted an article to Social Text, an academic journal of postmoderncultural studies. The submission was an experiment to test the journal’s intellectual rigor and, specifically, to investigate whether “a leading North American journal of cultural studies – whose editorial collective includes such luminaries as Fredric Jameson and Andrew Ross – [would] publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions”.[2]

The article, “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”,[3] was published in the Social Text spring/summer 1996 “Science Wars” issue. It proposed that quantum gravity is a social and linguistic construct. At that time, the journal did not practice academic peer review and it did not submit the article for outside expert review by a physicist.[4][5] On the day of its publication in May 1996, Sokal revealed in Lingua Franca that the article was a hoax.[2]

The hoax sparked a debate about the scholarly merit of humanistic commentary about the physical sciences; the influence of postmodern philosophy on social disciplines in general; academic ethics, including whether Sokal was wrong to deceive the editors and readers of Social Text; and whether Social Text had exercised appropriate intellectual rigor.

I get that he was trying to expose poor practices in the publishing industry. I still find it unethical that someone would use their own reputation and credentials to publish information they personally know is fake or deceptive.

Sokal also created a Postmodernism Generator, which generates a random article using postmodern buzzwords each time you refresh it. I don’t find this unethical, because it is not pretending to be something it is not. Just for fun, I’ll refresh it just now and give you the first paragraph. But you really should try it for yourself.

Neotextual structuralism in the works of Rushdie

The main theme of Werther’s[1] essay on dialectic
postsemanticist theory is the common ground between class and society. If
Sontagist camp holds, we have to choose between dialectic postsemanticist
theory and neodialectic construction. It could be said that the subject is
interpolated into a neotextual structuralism that includes consciousness as a

The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct

Two academics wrote a joke paper called “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct“, submitted it to a peer reviewed social science journal, and got it published. While are a couple excerpts. And I want to say that while I am amused by this, I don’t find it remotely ethical.

We conclude that penises are not best understood as the male sexual organ, or as a male reproductive organ, but instead as an enacted social construct that is both damaging and problematic for society and future generations. The conceptual penis presents significant problems for gender identity and reproductive identity within social and family dynamics, is exclusionary to disenfranchised communities based upon gender or reproductive identity, is an enduring source of abuse for women and other gender-marginalized groups and individuals, is the universal performative source of rape, and is the conceptual driver behind much of climate change…

Destructive, unsustainable hegemonically male approaches to pressing environmental policy and action are the predictable results of a raping of nature by a male-dominated mindset. This mindset is best captured by recognizing the role of [sic] the conceptual penis holds over masculine psychology. When it is applied to our natural environment, especially virgin environments that can be cheaply despoiled for their material resources and left dilapidated and diminished when our patriarchal approaches to economic gain have stolen their inherent worth, the extrapolation of the rape culture inherent in the conceptual penis becomes clear.


the chicken and the egg

This video purports to answer the question of the chicken and the egg once and for all. But really, it’s silly. Of course there were eggs of some sort long before chickens existed. The real question is what came first, the chicken or the chicken egg. And even that might seem obvious – at some point something that was not quite a chicken laid an egg, and the thing that came out was a chicken. But was that egg a chicken egg? You could say that if a chicken came out, it was a chicken egg. But imagine this – if you took an egg laid by a duck, I think we could all agree that would be a duck egg. But now imagine you use some genetic technology to change the duck embryo inside the egg from a duck to a chicken. Now is it a chicken egg or a duck egg. See, it is still ambiguous.

Time Chicken from Nick Black on Vimeo.

Death of Hard-Line Jurist Throws Regime Into Chaos

With apologies to the recently deceased, I like this Slate parody of how the U.S. media might cover the death of Antonin Scalia if it happened somewhere else.

The nine unelected justices who sit for lifetime terms on the Supreme Court are tasked with ensuring that laws passed by the democratically elected government don’t violate the ancient juridical texts upon which the country’s laws are based. As such, they wield immense powers and have the ability to overrule even the president himself. The aged, scholarly jurists, cloaked in long black robes, conduct their deliberations behind closed doors, shielded from the scrutiny of the media, and their most important decisions are often released to the public with great drama but little warning…

Both sides of America’s traditional political divide are under more pressure than usual this time around. Any compromise by the conservatives in the legislature could benefit the surging ultra-nationalist, far-right campaign of television performer Donald Trump, considered a threat to the establishment across the political spectrum. Obama is likely hoping to hand power to his former foreign secretary Hillary Clinton, a member of the powerful Clinton clan, but radicals within his own coalition have broken off to support the far-left populist campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders, known for his scathing attacks on the political influence of America’s ruling oligarchs. The court has abetted this influence with some controversial recent decisions, which Sanders has vowed to overturn…

But American legal scholars disagree on what the ancient texts say should be done in this situation, and the confrontation is likely to drag on for some time.