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A House Built on Sand

Cultural critics say that 'science is politics by other means,' arguing that the results of scientific inquiry are profoundly shaped by the ideological agendas of powerful elites. Physicist Alan Sokal recently poked fun at these claims by foisting a sly parody of the genre on the unwitting editors of the cultural studies journal "Social Text", touching off a still-unabated torrent of heated discussion. This hard-hitting collection picks up where Sokal left off. The essayists offer crisp and detailed critiques of case studies offered by the cultural critics as evidence that scientific results tell as more about social context than they do about the natural world. Pulling no punches, they identify numerous crude factual blunders (e.g. that Newton never performed any experiments) and egregious errors of omission, such as the attempt to explain the slow development of fluid dynamics solely on the terms of gender bias. Where there are positive aspects of a flawed account,or something to be learned from it, they do not hesitate to say so. Their target is shoddy scholarship. Comprising new essays by distinguished scholars of history, philosophy and science (including Sokal himself), this book raises lively debate to a new level of seriousness.
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About the Author

Noretta Koertge is Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University.


This book is the latest and most explosive bomb to be launched in the "science wars." Recently, a cadre of historians and philosophers of science have attempted to deconstruct the scientific process by examining its underlying social metaphors. Many scholars, especially practicing scientists, view these efforts with undisguised disdain. The essays here, which are by scientists and philosophers, debunk postmodernist science studies by exposing their purported biases, errors, and fallacies. Essentially, they deconstruct the deconstructionists. For example, Michael Ruse asks, "Is Darwinism Sexist?" while Alan Sokal tackles "What the Social Text Affair Does and Does Not Approve." Although some olive branches are extended, the overall tone is aggressive. Academics on both sides of the debate will need this book. Expect a counterattack.‘Gregg Sapp, Univ. of Miami Lib., Coral Gables, FL

Noretta Koertge describes with humorous effect how widely the participants at a seminar on the science wars roamed. * The Economist * this book contributes significantly to the current debate over science. * Gary Gutting, Brit Jnl for the Philosophy of Science, Vol.51, No.1. * The strenght of the book is that it provides a good transcendent critique of the excesses of a relativistic ontology, feminist critiques of science and the strong programme ... it is an important addition to the literature. * Steve Bishop, Science and Christian Belief, Vol. 13, No.1 April 2001 *

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