Levitt states he is a leftist trying to save the "academic left" from itself by exposing misuses and abuses of science to advance political goals.
Topics discussed include: cultural constructivism or social constructivism
, the strong programme
, the science criticism of Stanley Aronowitz
and Bruno Latour
and their influence on American academia, the science criticism of Andrew Ross
, feminist science criticism, environmentalist science criticism and "apocalyptic naturism", Jeremy Rifkin
's influential "pseudoscientific alarmism", attacks on medical research connected with AIDS activism and animal rights
advocacy, and Afrocentrism
. The book also questions human activity's relationship with climate change
. The authors find it unfortunate that social scientists and literary critics often consider themselves qualified to criticize the natural sciences without learning much about them in detail, and worry about what would replace Enlightenment
ideals of universalism and rationalism, and objective truths about the natural world as ascertained by a scientific methodology of repeatable experiments, if these were to be discredited, as many science critics in the humanities wish to do.
The book inspired the 1996 Sokal hoax
, in which Alan Sokal
published a bogus paper in a postmodernist
journal that did not peer-review
Sokal stated in an interview that while he was initially skeptical about Higher Superstition
, he concluded after reading the works Gross and Levitt criticized that they were describing them fairly in "about 80 percent of the cases".