In Honor Of April Fool's Day, My Three Favorite Pranks

1. The Sokal Affair

In 1996, Alan Sokal (an NYU physics professor) was fed up with the pervasive, waffly trend of postmodern deconstructionism in academia—of people like Derrida whose work is often riddled with circumlocution and false syllogisms and which aims to undermine the existence and importance of objective realities.

He submitted a deliberately nonsensical paper called "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity" to an academic journal. And it was published.

Sokal describes it as “a pastiche of left-wing cant, fawning references, grandiose quotations, and outright nonsense…structured around the silliest quotations [by postmodernist academics] I could find about mathematics and physics.”

Said Sokal, “Anyone who believes that the laws of physics are mere social conventions is invited to try transgressing those conventions from the windows of my apartment. I live on the twenty-first floor.”

2. I, Libertine

Jean Shepherd, the raconteur best known for A Christmas Story, had a long and fascinating career as an irreverent radio host. His prank came out of frustration, like Sokal's—specifically with the way the New York Times Bestseller list was determined.

He claimed that if enough people simply requested a book from bookstores around the country, it would make the NTY Bestseller list. He asked his viewers to request I, Libertine by Fredrick R. Ewing—a book and an author that didn’t exist. They obeyed. And it made the New York Times Bestseller list.


In 2009, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer orchestrated the company’s most elaborate April Fool’s Day prank to date.

With competitors Google and Apple dwarfing the erstwhile top dog Microsoft corporation, Ballmer decided to engage in a little good-natured self-effacing fun.

Under his direction, Microsoft engineered and launched a search engine of their own—ostensibly in competition with Google—which they named Bing. And people actually used it. is still an active website—you can visit it and even use the functioning search engine.

Courtney Pozzi

Egg Deconstructionism

“Under what conditions does an object persist through time as one and the same object? If the world contains things which endure, and retain their identity in spite of undergoing alteration, then somehow those things must persist through changes […] At any given time, it is made up of different component parts from the ones it was previously made up of”.
Quote excerpted from Identity, Persistence, and the Ship of Theseus. Marc Cohen. 

Materials: Authentic Eggshells, Pins, Glue, Eraser. 
Dimensions: 3" x 2" 
October 2011. 

The right thinks the breakdown of the family is the source of crime and poverty, and this they very insightfully blame on the homosexuals, which would be amusing were it not so tragic. Families and “family values” are crushed by grinding poverty, which also makes violent crime and drugs attractive alternatives to desperate young men and sends young woman into prostitution. Family values are no less corrupted by the corrosive effects of individualism, consumerism, and the accumulation of wealth. Instead of shouting this from the mountain tops, the get-me-to-heaven-and-the-rest-be-damned Christianity the Christian Right preaches is itself a version of selfish spiritual capitalism aimed at netting major and eternal dividends, and it fits hand in glove with American materialism and greed.
—  John Caputo, What Would Jesus Deconstruct
Why the ongoing fascination with deconstructionism and with the work of the philosopher whose radical works inspired it? Why does this philosophical strain seem strangely central to the conception of modern criticism, even as it recedes in influence? And why do these thinkers’ personal lives and ideological compromises seem unusually relevant to their work, beyond the usual scandal-sheet Schadenfreude?
—  Richard Brody on the first three volumes of Heidegger’s “Black Notebooks” and the role of anti-Semitism in his philosophy: