Sokal affair

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In hmolscience, Sokal affair (TR:25), aka “Neumann affair” (Neumann, 1940) or “Elias parody” (Elias, 1958), refers to the trick, method, joke, or scam of employing a language or conceptual scheme, to make an argument or sell some idea, to another person or group of people, in a seeming genuine, official, or scientific manner, wherein the language or conceptual scheme being sold, which is bunk in basis, is “outside of the field” of study or “above the head” of the person or group the idea or argument is being sold too.



In 1940, John Neumann pulled the original and grandest Sokal affair, which continues to hoodwink people to this very date, when he advised Claude Shannon to rename his formula for the communication of “information” by telegraphy, via ones and zeros, by the name of “entropy” per reason that, according to Neumann, “no one really knows what entropy is, hence you will win in any debate, should one erupt”.[1]


In 1958, Peter Elias, to parody the inside joke of a mess that the “Neumann affair” had produced, published an article entitled “Two Famous Papers”, wherein he mocked the overflowing, in published literature, nonsense that the Neumann-Shannon interaction had produced, by critiquing or reviewing two famous fake articles: “Information Theory, Photosynthesis, and Religion”, on one hand, and “The Optimal Linear Mean Square Filter for Separating Sinusoidally Modulated Triangular Signals form Random Sampled Stationary Gaussian Noise with Applications to a Problem of Radar”.[2]


In 1996, Alan Sokal, penned the fake article “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”, to Social Text, an academic journal of postmodern cultural studies, in which he proposed that quantum gravity is a social and linguistic construct. He then published a second article, claiming that his original article, after it had bee "peer-reviewed", was a fake. The intellectual world erupted into grand debate, in the decade to follow.


  1. Thims, Libb. (2012). “Thermodynamics ≠ Information Theory: Science’s Greatest Sokal Affair” (pdf) (annotated review: pdf, by Robert Doyle, 2020), Journal of Human Thermodynamics (Ѻ), 8(1): 1-120, Dec 19.
  2. Peter Elias – Hmolpedia 2020.

Further reading

  • Sokal, Alan. (1998). Intellectual Impostures: Postmodern Philosopher’s Abuse of Science. Publishers.
  • Bricmont, Jean. (2017). Quantum Sense and Nonsense. Springer.

External links

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