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A House Built on Sand: Exposing Postmodernist Myths about Scienceby Noretta Koertge
Synopses & Reviews
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. They base their claims on historical case studies purporting to show the systematic intrusion of sexist, racist, capitalist, colonialist and/or professional interests into the very content of science. 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 editorials, articles, and heated classroom and Internet 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 us 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 emission, such as the attempt to explain the slow development of fluid dynamics solely in 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 a lively debate to a new level of seriousness.
Cultural critics argue that the results of scientific inquiry is shaped by ideological and political agendas. This hard-hitting collection of essays offers crisp and detailed critiques of case studies as evidence that scientific investigation today tells us more about social context than about the natural world. This book raises a lively debate to a new level of seriousness. 17 linecuts.
About the Author
Noretta Koertge is Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University. A former chemist, she studied philosophy of science at the University of London and is the author of numerous articles on the methodology of both the natural and social sciences. She co-wrote (with Daphne Patai) Professing Feminism: Cautionary Tales from the Strange World of Women's Studies.
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