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Two Letters in the New Republic

Mark Halpern

Two letters on the Sokal hoax
printed in the The New Republic
for July 29, 1996.

Letter 1, from Mark Halpern:

To the editors:

Your June 24 Notebook item shows you to be deeply confused about Alan Sokal's hoax article. You deride Roger Kimball's "failure" to detect that Sokal's article was a hoax, and imply that conservatives on the "social construction issue" were as much taken in, and as much at fault, as the sorry editors of Social Text who accepted the piece for publication. But why should conservatives be expected to detect such a hoax, when in their view all such studies are profoundly silly? It is only the true believers in such arcana who should be held responsible for detecting imposture; to Kimball and like-minded readers, the only difference between a hoax and the real thing is that the author of the former knows he is playing the fool.

Letter 2, from Alan Sokal

To the editors:

Roger Kimball's political views are diametrically opposed to mine, and it would indeed have been delicious to catch him falling for my parody article in Social Text. Alas, it didn't happen that way. Two weeks after the publication of Social Text and about ten days before the appearance of my article in Lingua Franca revealing the hoax, Kimball received an unauthorized leak from a third party. When I learned of this, I asked Kimball to refrain from using this information until my Lingua Franca article had become publicly available, and he agreed. As the May issue of The New Criterion shows, he kept his word. =================================================

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Last Modified: 24 November, 1997