Borderlands of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense

Borderlands of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense

by Michael Shermer
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0195157982

ISBN-13: 9780195157987

Pub. Date: 09/01/2002

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA


In The Borderlands of Science, Michael Shermer takes us to the place where real science, borderline science--and just plain nonsense--collide. Shermer argues that while science is the best lens through which to view the world, it is often difficult to decipher where valid science leaves off and borderland, or "fuzzy" science begins. To solve this dilemma,

Overview


In The Borderlands of Science, Michael Shermer takes us to the place where real science, borderline science--and just plain nonsense--collide. Shermer argues that while science is the best lens through which to view the world, it is often difficult to decipher where valid science leaves off and borderland, or "fuzzy" science begins. To solve this dilemma, he looks at a range of topics that put this boundary line in high relief. For instance, he debunks the many "theories of everything" that try to reduce the complexity of the world to a single principle. He examines the work of Darwin and Freud, explaining why one is among the great scientists in history, while the other has become nothing more than a historical curiosity. And he reveals how scientists themselves can be led astray, as seen in the infamous Piltdown hoax--the set of ancient hominid bones discovered in England that after decades turned out to be an enormous forgery.

From SETI and acupuncture to hypnosis and human cloning, this enlightening book will help readers stay grounded in common sense amid the flurry of supposedly scientific theories that inundate us every day.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195157987
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
09/01/2002
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
9.19(w) x 6.13(h) x 0.97(d)
Lexile:
1540L (what's this?)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Blurry Lines and Fuzzy Sets: The Boundary
Detection Problem in the Borderlands of Science1
Part I: Borderlands Theories
1 The Knowledge Filter: Reality Must Take Precedence in
the Search for Truth37
2. Theories of Everything: Nonsense in the Name of Science50
3 Only God Can Do That?: Cloning Tests the Moral
Borderlands of Science66
4 Blood, Sweat, and Fears: Racial Differences and What
They Really Mean80
5 The Paradox of the Paradigm: Punctuated Equilibrium
and the Nature of Revolutionary Science97
Part II: Borderlands People
6 The Day the Earth Moved: Copernicus's Heresy and
Sulloway's Theory129
7 Heretic-Personality: Alfred Russel Wallace and the
Nature of Borderlands Science159
8 AScientist Among the Spiritualists: Crossing the
Boundary from Science to Pseudoscience179
9 Pedestals and Statues: Freud, Darwin, and the
Hero-Myth in Science199
10 The Exquisite Balance: Carl Sagan and the Difference
Between Orthodoxy and Heresy in Science215
Part III: Borderlands History
11 The Beautiful People Myth: Why the Grass is Always
Greener in the OtherCentury241
12 The Amadeus Myth: Mozart and the Myth of the Miracle
of Genius262
13 A Gentlemanly Arrangement: Science at its Best in the
Great Evolution Priority Dispute283
14 The Great Bone Hoax: Piltdown and the Self-Correcting
Nature of Science307
Notes321
Bibliography339
About the Author353
Index355

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