I feel like I've read that complaint about the perpetration of a hoax being an unethical act somewhere before. Oh, yes:\n\n"This means that it is Alan Sokal, not his targets, who threatens to undermine the intellectual standards he vows to protect. [...] In a 1989 report published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, fraud is said to go 'beyond error to erode the foundation of trust on which science is built.' That is Professor Sokal's legacy, one likely to be longer lasting than the brief fame he now enjoys for having successfully pretended to be himself."\n\n? Stanley Fish, asking for cheese with his whine about l'affaire Sokal, in 1996\n\nSuch complaints miss the mark because, among other reasons, they confuse fraud with the intent to aggrandize oneself with tests designed to probe the integrity of the publication system. Yes, trust is part of the social structure of science, but trust is earned. If we regarded all publications which called themselves "scientific journals" as equally worth our time, we'd be almost as bad off as if we had no journals at all. When publications have the appearance of scientific rigour but not rigour itself, the signal of legitimate science starts to slip beneath the noise, and wholly inane claims — that bacterial flagella were Intelligently Designed, or that Space Jews are causing autism by fluoridating the water supply, take your pick — get a spurious boost of credibility. Why, of course that evil, materialistic, Darwinist paradigm is doomed: it says so right here in this magazine which has "journal" in the name!\n\nHow do we justify the claim that a particular journal is worth our attention? Why, we gather evidence. In quotidian matters, this could boil down to comparing impact factors, tabulating where the interesting papers in our field have typically been published, and other humdrum techniques. Colourful stunts like blatantly satirical papers only work when the review process is severely broken indeed. Sokal was not trying to win himself a second doctorate, but to test the extent to which slipshod thinking predominated in one sector of academia; likewise, Davis and Anderson were not trying to inflate their CVs, but to investigate what was going on at Bentham.\n\nMaintaining the trust network can at times be a dramatic process, and finding out that our confidence was misplaced can be a bitter potion. However, contra Fish, it is a medicine whose ingestion does the scientific body good.