Whenever someone starts to quote post-modernism / social construction theory to me, I point them in the direction of Alan Sokal. In the 1990s a physicist called Sokal wrote a spoof paper on the subjectivity of science and forwarded it to a leading peer-reviewed social constructionist journal who printed it without question. Sokal wanted to highlight the poor quality of these journals, and especially their weak grasp of the science they continually criticized. His book "Intellectual Impostors" is a fantastic read and should be on all social science degrees reading lists.
Since the Sokal Hoax things have got worse. Not only is more inanity being published than ever, it also appears in lectures fused with Neomarxism. There is a fantastic Facebook page called "Film My Marxist Professor" which would be hilarious if it were not genuine. Please check it out for classes on subjects like The Social Construction of Incest.
So three researchers have repeated the exercise, sending out 20 hoax articles to various social constructionist peer-reviewed journals with the same results. Even though the hoax research papers were more outlandish than Sokal's original, six were accepted for publication ans seven were under review before journalist revealed the hoax. My favourite submission was the paper on the sexual oppression of dogs in parks in Portland. The social construction of the penis causing climate change is a close second.
The main reason Sokal wrote his paper, and why the experiment was repeated, and why I reprint it was for the genuine concern for marginalized groups in our society. All too often, the incoherent writing of social constructionism simply detract, undermine and pillory the important work so many people do. And the complete disregard for evidence, data or the idea of objective reality is stupefying. As they say, you can deny reality, but not the consequences of reality.
To read an article about Sokal Squared in the Atlantic, click here.
To read a wider ranging article on the hoax in the the Big Think click here.
To access the the hoax articles click here.