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Monday, April 11, 2011

Alan Sokal Revisited???


Wow! A somewhat fascinating case of a math paper in a legitimate serious journal being recently retracted, as most likely a hoax...
I link in my right-hand column to physicist Alan Sokal's deliciously-famous parody/hoax article he submitted to an academic journal (and had accepted) to show how some nonsensical postmodernistic verbiage could be passed off to an unwitting editor (and referees) as scholarly work. This new instance almost seems like a 'Sokalism' in reverse... someone passing off nonsense math jargon well enough to have it accepted by a mathematics journal editor (not usually known for being swayed by jargon).

http://retractionwatch.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/faked-data-unsubstantiated-claims-and-spirituality-add-up-to-a-math-journal-retraction/

"CTK Insights" blog originally reported on this another paper from the same author back in October:

http://www.mathteacherctk.com/blog/2010/10/a-computer-application-in-mathematics/

Still not totally clear to me if this is a case of a flat-out hoax, or some form of postmodern mathematical crackpottery, but either way rather entertaining... except for those suffering embarrassment.

(Addendum: as a side-note I might mention that I consider Sokal's book, "Beyond the Hoax: Science Philosophy and Culture, though it won't suit everyone's taste, one of the greatest, thought-provoking academic reads out there, especially if you're at all interested in the philosophy of science.)

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