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Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science (Popular Science) Kindle Edition
"Although we are amused, we may also be embarrassed to find our friends or even ourselves among the gullible advocates of plausible-sounding doubletalk." — Saturday Review
"A very able and even-tempered presentation." — New Yorker
This witty and engaging book examines the various fads, fallacies, strange cults, and curious panaceas which at one time or another have masqueraded as science. Not just a collection of anecdotes but a fair, reasoned appraisal of eccentric theory, it is unique in recognizing the scientific, philosophic, and sociological-psychological implications of the wave of pseudoscientific theories which periodically besets the world.
To this second revised edition of a work formerly titled In the Name of Science, Martin Gardner has added new, up-to-date material to an already impressive account of hundreds of systematized vagaries. Here you will find discussions of hollow-earth fanatics like Symmes; Velikovsky and wandering planets; Hörbiger, Bellamy, and the theory of multiple moons; Charles Fort and the Fortean Society; dowsing and the other strange methods for finding water, ores, and oil. Also covered are such topics as naturopathy, iridiagnosis, zone therapy, food fads; Wilhelm Reich and orgone sex energy; L. Ron Hubbard and Dianetics; A. Korzybski and General Semantics. A new examination of Bridey Murphy is included in this edition, along with a new section on bibliographic reference material.
About the Author
Martin Gardner: A Remembrance
The worldwide mathematical community was saddened by the death of Martin Gardner on May 22, 2010. Martin was 95 years old when he died, and had written 70 or 80 books during his long lifetime as an author. Martin's first Dover books were published in 1956 and 1957: Mathematics, Magic and Mystery, one of the first popular books on the intellectual excitement of mathematics to reach a wide audience, and Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, certainly one of the first popular books to cast a devastatingly skeptical eye on the claims of pseudoscience and the many guises in which the modern world has given rise to it. Both of these pioneering books are still in print with Dover today along with more than a dozen other titles of Martin's books. They run the gamut from his elementary Codes, Ciphers and Secret Writing, which has been enjoyed by generations of younger readers since the 1980s, to the more demanding The New Ambidextrous Universe: Symmetry and Asymmetry from Mirror Reflections to Superstrings, which Dover published in its final revised form in 2005.
To those of us who have been associated with Dover for a long time, however, Martin was more than an author, albeit a remarkably popular and successful one. As a member of the small group of long-time advisors and consultants, which included NYU's Morris Kline in mathematics, Harvard's I. Bernard Cohen in the history of science, and MIT's J. P. Den Hartog in engineering, Martin's advice and editorial suggestions in the formative 1950s helped to define the Dover publishing program and give it the point of view which — despite many changes, new directions, and the consequences of evolution — continues to be operative today.
In the Author's Own Words:
"Politicians, real-estate agents, used-car salesmen, and advertising copy-writers are expected to stretch facts in self-serving directions, but scientists who falsify their results are regarded by their peers as committing an inexcusable crime. Yet the sad fact is that the history of science swarms with cases of outright fakery and instances of scientists who unconsciously distorted their work by seeing it through lenses of passionately held beliefs."
"A surprising proportion of mathematicians are accomplished musicians. Is it because music and mathematics share patterns that are beautiful?" — Martin Gardner
- ASIN : B00A73ITVW
- Publisher : Dover Publications; 2nd Revised ed. edition (May 4, 2012)
- Publication date : May 4, 2012
- Language : English
- File size : 1427 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 384 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #755,473 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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The first one is that pseudo-science is not always a trivial topic that provides entertainment for the rest of us. Sometimes, it can be downright dangerous as when pseudo-science in medicine can result in egregiously bad treatments resulting in the patient’s death when the latter could have easily been saved with conventional medicine.
At other times, pseudo-science can be downright catastrophic at the societal and global level. In the US, flawed views on races and anthropology supported a racism that violently exploited a large minority for over a century. In Russia, flawed theories of genetics emasculated the Russian community of geneticists that were relegated to camps in Siberia and elsewhere in the 1930s. Many of them died or disappeared without having been able to contribute to their field (Ch 12. Lysenkoism). Similar flawed anthropological theories lead Hitler to attempt to entirely eliminate the Jewish population in Germany. He nearly succeeded and took the entire World down with him into WWII (Ch 13. Apologists for Hate).
It is astonishing how gutsy or delusional many pseudo-scientists are. Many of them have waged numerous, prolific, and public attacks on the luminaries of their time including Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and Albert Einstein. And, these pseudo scientists did not have any of the necessary knowledge in science or mathematics to be worthy participants in scientific debates within the specialized relevant scientific communities at the time. When they are entirely ignored by the scientific bodies, they claim to be isolated and misunderstood geniuses way ahead of their time such as Copernicus and Galileo were. This is a most common pattern of megalomaniac pseudo-scientists.
However, what may be the most surprising is how many of the pseudo-science myths that Gardner investigates are still very much prevalent today. Just to mention a few: Dianetics-Scientology, homeopathy, naturopathy, Bates method (eye exercise to improve eyesight), creationism-Intelligent Design, and organic-farming.
In any case, this is a great read especially when you consider this book was first written in 1952.
This is actually at least the third time that I’ve read it. The first time was sometime in the late 1950s when I was still in elementary school. Much of it was above my head then, so I think I didn’t finish it then, getting bogged down someplace in the orgones.
I read it again around 1970 during my senior year at MIT. It was a good reminder to me at that time of what science was about and that however cool and trendy the psychic hoogie-moogie, astrology, and occultism of my friends early in the Aquarian Age seemed, ultimately it had to be self delusion or fraud.
The bits that are now the most dated are simply the refutations of the fallacies being debunked; 70 more years of scientific progress makes it much easier find disproofs, especially in the fields of genetics, biology, planetary science, and physics.
Top reviews from other countries
While some of what Gardner wrote about has rightly faded away with time, e.g. the original UFO craze, orgone energy, hollow earth theories etc other topics such as creationism, dianetics (scientology) holocaust denial etc are still around in fundamentally unchanged form now in 2008. While it is sad that these various nonsense ideas have enjoyed overlong lives, at least this means many chapers of Gardner's classic skeptical book are not simply interesting as historical essays but are still bang up to date and are as important as ever.