Just the other day I was conversing with a biochemist friend of mine who works in R&D. We were discussing the entrenched attitude to science that still seems to prevail 12 years on from the so-called “Science Wars” of the mid-90s. On the one hand, there is a schizophrenic attitude emanating from the humanities and the social sciences:
1. that the truth-value of science is “merely” relative, generated by an uncritical constructivist viewpoint.
2. the incorporation of a low grade understanding of science that is appealed to almost as a form of intellectual “penis envy”.
On the other hand, it doesn’t of course help that scientists’ self-promotion in the perpetual chase for funding, is characterised by hyperbole of enormous proportion, further vitiated by journalists who then in turn embarrass any genuine research by coming up with snappy headlines that bare only faint resemblance to what was being claimed.
Anyway, I notice that Alan Sokal (he of the so-called “Sokal Hoax“) has a new book just about to come out. I look forward to getting his take with the passing of the interim years. Indeed, one of the motivations behind my setting up of the journal of social epistemology, EPISTEME, was motivated by Sokal – I wanted to create a forum that could take the heat out of this bitterest of debates.