Alan Sokal, professor of physics and mathematics, is known for his criticism of postmodernism. So heads were turned when, in 1996, he published a paper in Social Text, Duke University's academic journal with a postmodern slant.
The article was titled "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity". It was a complex look...
No. Sokal's paper was utter nonsense. In fact, Sokal knew it was nonsense. He published it to prove a point: that as long as the article "sounded good" (and agreed with the "editors' ideological preconceptions"), it can get printed. It didn't matter that it was complete hogwash.
Needless to say, many did not take it well. The Sokal Hoax, as it became known, swept through academic circles, with opposing camps warring over its implications. Was Sokal right in sullying academics just to prove a point? Or was the publishing of his nonsense a clear sign that something is not right in the scholarly world?
People are still arguing about it to this day. Yet one thing sticks in our mind: for all of Sokal's criticism of postmodernism, couldn't his own act be called... postmodern?