PRINT October 1996


The Sokal Text Scandal

HISTORICAL COINCIDENCES CAN HARDLY compare with the strange synchronies Nature sometimes throws up. Think back to last spring and summer, try to take a binational view, and wonder aloud why, suddenly, on both sides of the Atlantic the air is heavy with the unpronounceable words and mystifying acronyms of the Science Wars. March in London, and even the crocuses are going crazy. There is something rotten in the beef of Olde England (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or BSE, more prosaically known as Mad Cow Disease), and while the politicians are desperately hiding behind the latest scientific “evidence” and the media are going for broke busily stoking instant panic, the scientists themselves are quite undecided about the links between BSE and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, known to rot the human brain. Now, look across the water. . . . May in New York, the early blossom barely breaking out, and

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