Review: Fashionable Nonsense

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(Originally posted on Blogger site.)

Title: Fashionable Nonsense

Author/Editor: Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont

[Call it sloven or lazy, I am simply going to copy my own review from Goodreads into this section. So there.]

To put it briefly, I think this book is doing something that is incredibly important, and should probably be read by everyone in higher ed.

The authors’ arguments are laid out in a very understandable, even-handed way. They go to some lengths to address precisely what it is they are criticizing, what it is they are not trying to criticize, and how the theorists they discuss have misused scientific concepts in their writing.

I say all of this as someone who very much enjoys a discussion of theoretical ideas, who can sometimes become enamored of abstraction, and who is a fan of confusion and ambiguity. It’s for this reason that a book like this is so important — it acts as a balancing force, something to remind us of the concrete, and how abstract thinking can get carried away, if left unchecked.

In meditation, there’s the idea that you move your concentration back towards focus each time it drifts; that this is a vital point of meditation, this redirecting back. I feel that this book works in the same kind of way. It brings our attention back, re-grounds, lets us take a calming breath, and reminds us to pay attention to the things that have meaning

Final Rating: 10 out of 10


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