Saulson replies: It is pretty funny to read Alan Sokal’s complaint that my review is not an accurate summary of his book and that I failed to respectfully engage his arguments. After all, he has made his second career by quotation out of context and by failure to respectfully engage with what others were trying to say.

Sokal claims that he has now given up all of that. The truth is that it has become so much his second nature that he no longer notices when he does it—even when he misquotes those with whom he has collaborated.

I did read all of Beyond the Hoax, and I tried to find a positive argument. The best I could find was this bit from the preface: “The essays in this book are all animated by a common concern—namely, for the centrality of evidence in all matters of public debate.” But that pious standard is one that Sokal ignores as soon as it becomes inconvenient. For example, when he attempts his own positive statement of a moral code that need not be grounded in religion, the best he can do is to provide a list of failings of the Bush administration and then assert (without evidence, but in ital ics) that they are each “immoral.” One can’t argue with a false prophet; all one can do is to laugh at him.

Who could live up to Sokal’s standard? The list of “all matters of public debate” is very broad and contains many important issues in which the habits of mind of physical science simply don’t apply. Sokal seems not to understand that. The sole diagram in Beyond the Hoax shows a one-dimensional graph of the “continuum from genuine science to pseudoscience,” with atomic theory on one end and astrology, creationism, and all of the world’s religions lumped together on the other end. But that is not even wrong. Our human approach to the world is not one-dimensional, with physics at the pinnacle and everything else simply beneath it. Neither religion nor politics nor poetry is solely about, or even mainly about, truth claims that can be evaluated by evidence in the way that we physicists go about our work. We are justly proud of what physics has to offer to world culture. Let’s just not make the mistake of insisting that all of culture fit its mold.