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The paper was a hoax, produced to demonstrate that postmodernist, socially constructed analyses of science were based on ignorance, prejudice and hilariously muddled thinking. Peppered with scientific errors, the paper had been accepted without question because it supported the prevailing political and cultural orthodoxy of the journal and its constituency. It was difficult for even the most rigorous cultural theorist to come up with a defense that had any clear credibility in the science world.

Does

It was difficult for even the most rigorous cultural theorist to come up with a defense that had any clear credibility in the science world.

mean

Even for the most skilled scientist it was difficult to scientifically defend this hoax paper"

or does it mean something else?

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    Yes, pretty much.
    – skaz
    Jul 10 '15 at 5:01
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See my previous answer about Ede's book.

The answer to your question is no. The sentence means that the purveyors of nonsense who call themselves "cultural theorists" would not be able to defend the competence of the editors of SocialText in a way that would be credible to scientists. This doesn't mean that the "cultural theorists" didn't try to defend themselves. Some even called Sokal unethical for perpetrating the hoax, but no scientist took them seriously.

Notice that there would be no need for anyone to "scientifically" defend Sokal's paper. It was an admitted hoax with no scientific value, written only to demonstrate that "cultural theorists" couldn't tell the difference between science and nonsense.

Read the link I gave you.

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