IT IS NOW more than twenty years since Sokal and Bricmont hoaxed the leftwing academic world with their fake paper, “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Theory” (“transformative” is a touch of brilliance there). As scientists, both had grown sick of scientific concepts being misused by postmodernist academics to discredit the very basis of objectivity. They knew that the authors of these papers had no knowledge of understanding or the sciences but would nevertheless be accepted as creditable as long as they showed themselves to be bona fide leftists. This included references to the gods of the postwar pantheon of “fools, frauds and firebrands”, as Roger Scruton so aptly called them — Foucault, Derrida, etc.
Sokal and Bricmont thus concocted a paper out of the meaningless verbiage that typified such research at the time and submitted it to a journal called Social Text, who had it peer-reviewed and published as authentic. A furore followed the revelation that the academic world had fallen for such obvious fakery. Despite the laughter and scorn of many, there were still plenty of defenders of nonsense within academia willing to claim the hoax meant nothing at all. Eventually the waters of discord settled, the academic idiocy continued and the Sokal hoax was gratefully forgotten by its critics and left unmentioned to a new generation of left wing scribblers.
Freedom Week is an annual, one-week seminar which teaches students about classical liberal, free market, neoliberal and liberal perspectives on economics, politics, history and society. It is open to over-18s who are currently attending or about to start university. The week is entirely free to attend: there is no charge whatsoever for accommodation, food, tuition or materials. Freedom Week 2017 will be held from Monday the 3rd to Friday the 8th July.
EVEN WHEN IT IS making one of its generally excellent documentaries on art or history the BBC these days cannot help but have its presenters slip in a bit of propaganda promoting multiculturalism, diversity or mass immigration. In the first episode of a recent series, Art of France, Andrew Graham-Dixon took us through Seine-Saint-Denis, a northern suburb of Paris, to view the “truly varied faces of this modern nation”, ie, the mainly Muslim faces of North Africa. France, he later said, has always been “a nation of mongrels,” which is just a version of the “nation of immigrants” mantra repeated by those who usually don’t live in areas populated by immigrants but are happy for others to do so.
DURING MY THIRD year at grammar school our English teacher once asked us to prepare a short presentation on any subject we chose. Being a bookwormish little swat at the time I did a piece on Socrates. When it came to my turn to read it out I had only got into about a minute of it before the class idiot and his friend interrupted indignantly, complaining that they thought I was going to talk about soccer teams. It was my fault for not enunciating clearly, I have to admit, but it was also my fault for thinking that talking about a long-dead Greek philosopher to a class of generally intelligent boys, but one that included the year idiot, was anything but casting pearl before swine. Most of them would indeed have preferred a talk on soccer teams, or the Jaguar E-Type, or the space race.