Calling for a "liberatory postmodern science" and an "emancipatory mathematics," Sokal wrote of the alleged deep connection between quantum theory and postmodern criticism. After lamenting that science and mathematics had fallen short of liberation because of "the crisis of late-capitalist production relations," Sokal concluded that "physical 'reality,' no less than social 'reality,' is at bottom a social and linguistic construct." The spurious but meticulously footnoted essay was laced with quotes from cultural-studies luminaries such as Jacques Lacan and Luce Irigaray, and included many pseudoscientific pronouncements that, he figured, any competent scientist reviewing the article for publication would instantly recognize as a spoof. Sokal loaded up the essay with non sequiturs and other fallacious rhetorical devices, but discovered that though he tried hard to produce syntactically correct sentences that have no meaning whatsoever, "I found that, save for rare bursts of inspiration, I just didn't have the knack."
Editors of the quarterly were not at all amused by the episode. Cofounder Stanley Aronowicz told the New York Times that Sokal, a full professor of Physics at a respected university, was "half-educated." Stanley Fish, a leading figure in postmodern literary theory and executive director of the Duke University Press, which publishes Social Text, charged Sokal with undermining "the foundation of trust on which science is built." (In his New York Times op-ed article on the matter, Fish also compared scientific laws to the socially constructed rules of baseball.) Editors also issued an official statement that said, "from the first, we considered Sokal's unsolicited article to be a little hokey," and that his "adventures in PostmodernLand were not really our cup of tea," begging the question of why they published it in the first place.