Have you heard of the Sokal hoax?
Twenty years ago a physicist wrote an article “liberally salted with nonsense.”
The paper argued that quantum gravity was a social construct.
He then submitted it to a scholarly journal for publication.
He wanted to test his assumption that they’d publish it, if:
a. It sounded good; and
b. It flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions.
The academic journal, Social Text, published it.
Because if something sounds right and feels right, then it must be right.
The philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau stated this view classically:
“What I feel to be good—is good. What I feel to be bad—is bad.”
Donald Trump is following the same playbook.
His speeches are liberally salted with nonsense.
But they sound right and feel right to a lot of people.
They sound right because he’s speaking their language.
Plainspoken, unscripted, and imperfect.
And they feel right because he’s pandering to their beliefs.
Calming their fears and stoking their desires and identities.
Their “ideological preconceptions.”
In 1996, Dr. Alan Sokal wrote and submitted his paper with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.
Social Text’s intellectual laziness caused them to receive the brunt of Sokal’s joke.
If Donald Trump is doing the same thing in 2016.
And if we allow him to win.
The joke may be on all of us.