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Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science Paperback – November 6, 1997
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An original, brilliant, and important book. The authors clarify the impact, mostly malign, of postmodernism―at least postmodernism in the hands of the second-rate―on the evolving curriculum in higher education.(Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University)
We should be thankful that Gross and Levitt have provided a wake-up call. Their significant overview of the thinking of those who teach our lawyers, journalists and teachers should be read by all who are concerned by the decline of the status of science in our times.(Physics Today)
At last, somebody has performed the invaluable service of exploding the pretentions of those who think every equation derived this century undermines the fabric of western thought.(New Statesman)
The authors' shredding of such luminaries of postmodernism and feminism as Stanley Aronowitz, Sandra Harding, and Evelyn fox Keller, among others, is not always charitable, [but] it is invariably compelling and frequently devastating.(Elizabeth Fox-Genovese Washington Times)
"An original, brilliant, and important book. The authors clarify the impact, mostly malign, of postmodernism -- at least postmodernism in the hands of the second-rate -- on the evolving curriculum in higher education." -- Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
A movement that started as a deconstructionist method of literary criticism, postmodernism is now a way of thinking that is proposed by some proponents as an explanatory method for everything, including science. Briefly, post-modernism proposes that science is nothing more than a cultural construct, and has no more objective validity than any other form of knowledge. While natural sciences have remained untouched by this movement, it is taking over the social sciences, spurred over by the latter's failures at establishing its scientific basis as firmly as the former has done.
The subtitle of this book is "the academic left and its quarrels with science", and suitably, the first two chapters discuss politics. While politics should, ideally, be informed by science, it is a sad fact that science is also often informed by politics. The Academic Left demands that, rather than using science to inform the political process, the reverse should happen : feminist postmodernism demands "a complete overthrown of traditional gender categories", racial justice entails a society which prioritizes "black values" (in this case, Afrocentrism - the idea that Africa and black people are inherently superior), and environmental postmodernism "envisons a trancendence of the values of Western industrial society and the restoration of an imagined prelapsarian harmony to humanity's relations with nature".Read more ›
The book has, however, one serious shortcoming: The authors' justified impatience with the academic left too often seems to make them forget - repeated assurances to the contrary notwithstanding - that a good many honest scholars within the humanities departments are just as hostile to postmodernism as any scientist. Eager to disclose the nonsense behind the empty rhetoric of the "scholars" of postmodernism, Gross and Levitt simultaneously discloses what seems to me to be a far from praiseworthy disdain of the humanities in general.
I am educated in the humanities, but my attitude is very much pro science. I was therefore frequently frustrated when I read "Higher Superstition", because I felt stabbed in the back by the authors' propensity to treat humanities scholars as of all of the same kind - e.g. as mathematically "illiterate". Gross and Levitt ought to know that even though humanities scholars rarely know anything about avant-garde mathematical and physical research this does not in itself betoken a lack of abilities, skill or intelligence on the part of those scholars. Reality has many different and fascinating aspects and no one can be an expert within every field of research. We pick the subject that interests us the most, and Gross and Levitt should accept that not all intellectuals find mathematics or quantum mechanics as interesting as e.g. history, anthropology or psychology.Read more ›
Gross and Levitt perform a valuable service in three parts. They take the time and trouble to wade through the more obviously idiotic postmodern anti-science drivel, they refute it, and they remind us that the purveyors of it are firmly ensconced in the faculties of major universities.
The authors of "Higher Superstition" are academics themselves, and write elegantly in prose laced with vocabulary-stretching words like hermeneutics, conspective, auspicating, tatterdemalian and weltanschauung. While not a particularly easy read, the book makes its main point clearly and simply enough: the postmodern science-bashers are aiming their largely spurious complaints at subjects they secretly resent and barely comprehend. Science has produced edifying, useful, beneficial results with more regularity and less ambiguity than any other field of human endeavor. To claim otherwise is deeply dopey. If academia tolerates a clique where such claims resonate, something is seriously out of whack and we must thank Gross and Levitt for providing fair and frightening warning. Self-styled progressives who berate science with politically correct non sequiturs are no less goofy than the religious zealots they so pointedly disdain.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Although somewhat dated this is an impeccably written book. It provides a full background to the "science wars" that raged academia in past decades, and covers most of the... Read morePublished 19 days ago by Ronald Fernandez
In a world of unbridled ideology and emotion, this is a refreshing book. One of the most well-researched, well-reasoned books on this subject. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Marvelous Mal
A book of interest to me and was delivered in a timely fashion, Thank you.Published 7 months ago by Joseph Estrada
Great book. Pretty unnecessarily wordy at the beginning but it gets better.Published 8 months ago by Brandon
I am a conservative, or at least a libertarian, so their analysis of the whole subject was very welcome to me. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Larry W. Sheldon
I am enjoying this book very much. The two authors, gifted with erudition and a sometimes comic style, often get long winded but it's high quality wind.Published on October 28, 2012 by roborob
When I read this book in the late '90s sometime, it had a profound impact on me. Their exposé of post-modern abuses was sharp and devastating, and the many examples they... Read morePublished on March 3, 2011 by Gene H. Bell-Villada