Okay, I just can’t resist after watching a documentary on this story this evening. Check out the bizarre story of Jan Hendrik Schön who, for a while, was a rock star in the field of condensed particle physics. After it was discovered by accident that a number of his papers, including one in Nature, were based on fabricated data, he was sent packing from both his job and the world of science. I breathlessly anticipate Sokal’s next book revealing how the world of condensed particle physics is based on a series of incoherent sophistries and denouncing Nature as a second rate academic rag with no scholarly standards.
Okay, that’s not happening. However, next time some reactionary academic trots out the whole Sokal affair on you because you happen to appreciate some French or German thinkers, be sure to have the name Schön and the journal Nature quick on your lips. Oh, and incidentally, no, it was not the peer review panel of Nature that discovered the fabrication, but independent scientists who noticed that two of Schön’s papers had exactly the same graphs for very different experiments. This is not, of course, to impugn Nature, but rather the ridiculousness of Sokal’s so-called hoax. And yes, I am a bit bitter about having to deal with assholes who cite Sokal’s book without knowing a damned thing about the philosophers they’re talking about.