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This article is taken from PN Review 128, Volume 25 Number 6, July - August 1999.

Sokal and Bricmont: Is This the Beginning of the End of the Dark Ages in the Humanities? Raymond Tallis

When I was a boy, I was friendly with a lad who lived a few doors away. We used to take bicycle rides together and have gunfights on the waste land and light fires and play scratch cricket. Our ways parted as our interests evolved in different directions. There were no hard feelings and, indeed, much residual good will. Roger (this is not his true name, which I shall withold for the sake of his family) did not share any of my own developing intellectual interests and I felt none of his love for sailing. I was surprised, therefore, when one evening my mother came across an interview with Roger in the Liverpool Echo in which he declared that his real passion was 'cybernetics'. I felt that I had misjudged him and wondered whether, after all, we did have more in common than I had thought. The next time I ran into Roger, I asked him about his interest in cybernetics; more particularly, I asked him what 'cybernetics' was. My ignorance was genuine, rather than assumed. To our embarrassment, we both discovered that Roger, too, was ignorant about the nature of cybernetics. For him, it was just a word. It had something to do with science and technology and the future and seemed rather glamorous and was much talked-about then. It was clearly just the thing to impress the readers of a provincial newspaper. I didn't pursue the matter and we saw little of each other subsequently. The last ...


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