Beyond the Hoax

Beyond the Hoax

Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy, and Culture
Cover of the first edition
Author Alan Sokal
Language English
Publisher Oxford University Press
Publication date
Media type Print
Pages 448
OCLC 181926017
501 22
LC Class Q175 S6395 2008
Preceded by Fashionable Nonsense

Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy, and Culture is a 2008 book by Alan Sokal detailing the history of the Sokal affair in which he submitted an article full of "nonsense".[1]


The Times writes that "Sokal's essays - and his hoax - achieve their purpose of reminding us all that, in the words of the Victorian mathematician-philosopher William Kingdon Clifford, ‘It is wrong, always, everywhere and for any one, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.’” But it also notes that Beyond the Hoax, "fails to reflect the fact that Sokal's concerns are now widely shared - and that progress is being made in addressing them, the emergence of evidence-based social policy being an obvious example. His critique would also gain more credibility from encompassing his own community: the failure of scientific institutions to address the abuse of statistical methods or promote systematic reviews is no less of a threat to progress than the ramblings of postmodernists or fundamentalists."[2]

Michael Shermer[3] praised the book as “an essential text” and summarized the argument, writing that:

There is progress in science, and some views really are superior to others, regardless of the color, gender, or country of origin of the scientist holding that view. Despite the fact that scientific data are "theory laden," science is truly different than art, music, religion, and other forms of human expression because it has a self-correcting mechanism built into it. If you don't catch the flaws in your theory, the slant in your bias, or the distortion in your preferences, someone else will, usually with great glee and in a public forum — for example, a competing journal! Scientists may be biased, but science itself, for all its flaws, is still the best system ever devised for understanding how the world works.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ The Book of the Week: Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy and Culture,13 March 2008, Robert Matthews on a parody with a purpose, [1]
  3. ^ "Fight for the Life of the Mind," by Michael Shermer, New York Sun, May 21, 2008, [2]