Steve Fuller shows us what he's made of
By Nick Matzke
Posted October 29, 2009
Norm Levitt has just passed away. He was coauthor with Paul Gross of the 1994 book Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science
(the book which first called BS on the more ridiculous assertions of
the postmodernist/social constructivist critique of science). Higher Superstition so annoyed the mandarins of science studies that they assembled a special issue of the journal Social Text to rebut it. Unfortunately for them, that issue contained Sokal's famous parody article
-- Sokal had been inspired by Levitt & Gross -- and the revelation of
the hoax effectively deflated the community of academics who advocated
strongly relativist views of science.
Back in 1996, Steve Fuller -- that's Steve "affirmative action for intelligent design" Fuller, for those of you who followed the Kitzmiller case -- wrote one of the "serious" articles in Social Text,
and, I learned today, apparently also read Sokal's article when it was
submitted, somehow without catching the obvious signs of parody.
Others in the science-studies movement took the critiques with some
sense of humor and humility and made some adjustments -- notably, Bruno
Latour has admitted that the tools of science-critique were very easily
turned against progressive causes like environmentalism, and
that science studies had to admit that science had some actual solidity
in comparison to your run-of-the mill social phenomenon (see his "Why Has Critique Run out of Steam?", 2004)
But not Fuller. Apparently, Fuller has hated Levitt ever since the
beginning of the "Science Wars." And now that Levitt is safely dead, Fuller is calling Levitt a fascist.
And comparing postmodernists to the Jews, and their critics to
anti-Semites...presumably fascist anti-Semites (gee, I wonder who they
could be). It's really a piece of work.
Never mind that Levitt was not just a liberal, but a straight-up
socialist. We all know how popular that position is in the U.S. these
days. Oh, and his memorial service on Nov. 1 will be at the Plaza
Jewish Community Chapel in New York.
For those who think that Levitt's passing should be treated with a bit more class, I note this in the announcement:
It is with
much sadness that we report the death of Norman Jay Levitt on Saturday,
October 24, 2009, due to heart failure. His wife of 38 years, Renee
Greene Levitt, reported the news to friends and colleagues of Norman,
and announced that a memorial service will be held on Sunday, November
1 at 1:30 PM at Plaza Jewish Community Chapel, 630 Amsterdam Avenue at
91 St. She also asked that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions
be sent to the National Center for Science Education, 420 40th Street, Suite 2, Oakland, CA 94609.
Originally posted at the Panda's Thumb blog.