Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Before going out, I went to a talk at the philosophy department. It was catchily entitled Science Wars, quoting the name of the issue of Social Text, in which Alan Sokal's controversial article appeared a couple of years ago. The main topic of the talk was Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and it's influence on the discourse between the scientific community and the people in science studies.

In particular, the speaker pointed out he disagreed with the claims of some people that in Kuhn's picture there doesn't remain any distinction between (natural) science and humanities or arts in principle. The talk was well done and the discussion afterwards was interesting - time well spent.

Hearing about the Sokal affair again was particularly interesting, as I read the recent report on doubtable articles in physics in The Register and later on the more detailed and - no offence to The Register - trustworthy account by John Baez on that 'affair'. While it's not entirely clear whether or not there is some hoax happening, the whole thing smells a bit fishy at least.

This probably raises a couple of interesting questions on how well the review-process in science is working and how even in a 'hard' science like physics people can come up with papers of which people cannot decide whether they're proper contributions or hoaxes. I'll keep an eye on this.

November 7, 2002, 12:08

Tagged as uni.

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