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Science Wars Paperback – November 11, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (November 11, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822318717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822318712
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,815,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Andrew Ross is Professor and Director of the Graduate Program in American Studies at New York University and coeditor of Social Text.


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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Roberto Torretti on March 1, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The editor, Andrew Ross, describes this book as "an expanded edition" of a special issue of the journal "Social Text". Potential readers should be warned however that it is also an expurgated edition, from which Alan Sokal's celebrated parody of recent socio-cultural jargon has been suppressed. One understands Professor Ross's chagrin at the cruel and unusual joke that Professor Sokal practised on him. However, the unadvertised deletion of Sokal's contribution is a hoax on the buyers of "Science Wars" who naturally expect to find in it the one item of the original publication that has received worldwide attention.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ryan J. Jonna on June 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
For those of you so bemused by the exclusion of Sokal's piece, take a look at his website. You can access it easily (ever try google?), and more importantly, you can get the article in which he explains his reasoning for the hoax. After all, the hoax piece is rambling nonsense (like much in Social Text, unfortunately); why would you want to read it anyway? It is his reasoning, which I disagree with, that is most important.

As for the rest of the pieces, I think several represent an excellent contribution to the debate, which many may see is trite, but others, I feel, could gain quite a bit. As for "Marxist biology," a phrase displaying wondrous ignorance, Levin's "Ten Propositions" are likely followed by most genuine scientists, thus quite important to read in my opinion. Not necessary to buy the whole book though, just read some Stephen Jay Gould, etc. to get a taste of critical scientific praxis in action :)
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12 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Keith on May 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
Imagine a book comprised of 19 contributors (mostly scientists and a few literary scholars) called 'Literature Wars' where the scientists--who have, at best, a cursory understanding of literature from their high school days--debate controversial claims about authors or interpretations about works of literature. What would one think of this collection? Probably not much. So one has to wonder why comparative literature academics, sociologists and rad feminists should be taken seriously when they make pronouncements on science.

I won't deal with the editor's excuses as to why Sokal's spoof wasn't published in their special science issue of Social Text or why it is not in the book--which is a reprint of this special issue. (Since science illiteracy seems high among the editors, ironically, they have to take Sokal's word for it that it is a spoof!) After all the apologies and constructionist/relativist diatribes about science, are there any empirical claims or credible arguments in the book worth taking seriously? From the 19 contributors to this volume, three have legitimate science backgrounds; and of those three, two present 'Marxist biology' arguments which I simply consider irrelevant to biology and to science. (Since there is no such thing as Nazi science, likewise for Marxist science.) So from the one biology professor contributor, we get one example from the field of primatology that supposedly supports the feminist claim regarding androcentric bias in science--where a male researcher, supposedly influenced by his patriarchal culture, asks what happens when the alpha male is removed from a monkey troop.

This claim is fallacious. One really can't unambiguously causally establish that primatologist 'A' from society 'Y' causes him or her to ask question 'X'.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Democritus on January 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
Andrew Ross is a charlatan. This book is a collection of vile postmodern rubbish: already dated, though undoubtedly some pretentious/deluded fools will resurrect the folly that was the "strong program" some day.
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9 of 22 people found the following review helpful By cbj on June 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
The subsequent reviewer found the current tome missing in scholarship, merely by not having reprinted Sokal's piece from the social text issue of the same name (science wars). If one cared to read through the book, however, one would notice a number of quite specific reasons for this: among these that the book is meant as a counter argument to Sokal, Levitt & Gross's readings of their fave foe: pomos and other dangerous 'leftists' (what does this mean?). It is no secret that these authors are fired by a profound hostility and unwillingness to engage with the material with which they are dealing. This has already been shown ad nauseam in the litterature (see for instance Callon's review in social studies of science). Nevertheless this book stands as a nice response to some of the worst nonsense that has come out of the sokal/gross tradition. Specifically one should not miss Hart's devastating analysis of Gross et al's 'scientific neutrality' and their analytical abilities in Higher Superstition. Other pieces such as Mike Lynch's are good too; some however, are merely perpetuating the current stand off in a nasty 'war' (among these both of Ross's pieces). So is this review, I presume. That said, I should stop. Read both sides before you judge, you might get to know a good bit about rhetorical wars from the putatively neutral and objective scientists (sokal, gross, koertge etc).
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