Many readers will be aware of Alan Sokal's famous hoaxing of the postmodernist journal Social Text (as well as the revenge of the humanities scholars some time afterwards).
Now, in an amusingexperiment, scholars at Imperial College have taken the hoaxing one step further:
What would happen if we took Sokal’s broad premise and turned it around onto scientists? Could we make scientists believe a hoax TV news story because it (a) employed familiar TV conventions and (b) it presented a flattering narrative of a lone scientist battling corrupt authority?
We set about constructing a four-minute TV news item about a visiting Japanese scientist called Shigeyuki Kagoshima, whose important climate-saving research had been thwarted by a cynical Chinese corporation. We studied science news clips on television to mimic common devices such as lab presentations and interview conventions. We presented our film to science undergraduates at Imperial College as a genuine news piece – and tested whether our audience could detect the content as fake. Finally, we revealed our hoax – and asked them for their reactions.
Find out what happened here.