Kicking the Sacred Cow: Questioning the Unquestionable and Thinking the Impermissible


Galileo may have had to recant his opinion that the Earth moves around the Sun, but in the end, science carried the day. Nowadays capital-S Science fearlessly pursues truth, refusing to bow to dogma, shining the pure light of reason on the mysteries of the universe, and expanding our knowledge of the cosmos. Or does it? It makes a good public relations release, but as bestselling author James P. Hogan demonstrates in this fact-filled and thoroughly documented study, science has its own roster of hidebound dogmas ...
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Galileo may have had to recant his opinion that the Earth moves around the Sun, but in the end, science carried the day. Nowadays capital-S Science fearlessly pursues truth, refusing to bow to dogma, shining the pure light of reason on the mysteries of the universe, and expanding our knowledge of the cosmos. Or does it? It makes a good public relations release, but as bestselling author James P. Hogan demonstrates in this fact-filled and thoroughly documented study, science has its own roster of hidebound dogmas and ex cathedra pronouncements which are Not to be Questioned. Acceptance of evolutionary theory is usually treated as a battle between enlightened Darwinists and ignorant fundamentalists, but Hogan shows that there are many problems with the standard theory of evolution that have nothing to do with religion. Other dogma-laden subjects he examines include: global warming, the big bang, problems with relativity, radon and radiation, holes in the ozone layer, the cause of AIDS, and the controversy over Velikovsky's cosmology. In each case, Hogan explains the basics of the controversy in his usual clear, informative style, making for a book that will be fascinating for any layperson with an interest in the frontiers of modern science.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416520733
  • Publisher: Baen
  • Publication date: 7/4/2006
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 544
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 4.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

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Kicking the Sacred Cow

By James P. Hogan

Baen Books

ISBN: 0-7434-8828-8


Engineering and the Truth Fairies

Science really doesn't exist. Scientific beliefs are either proved wrong, or else they quickly become engineering. Everything else is untested speculation.-JPH

My interest in science began at an early age, as a boy growing up in postwar England. One of my older sisters, Grace-I was the baby by a large gap in a family with four children, two boys and two girls-was married to a former Royal Air Force radio and electronics technician called Don. He was one of the practical kind that people described as "good with his hands," capable of fixing anything, it seemed. The shelves, additions to the house, and other things that he created out of wood were always true and square, with the pieces fitting perfectly. He would restore pieces of machinery that he had come across rusting in the local tip, and assemble a pile of electrical parts and a coil wound on a cardboard custard container into a working radio. I spent long summer and Christmas vacations at Grace and Don's, learning the art of using and taking care of tools ("The job's not finished until they're cleaned and put away" was one of his maxims), planning the work through ("Measure twice; cut once" was another), and talking with people across the world via some piece of equipment that he'd found in a yard sale and refurbished. Kids today take such things for granted, but there was no e-mail then. Computers were unheard of. Don would never pass by a screw or a bolt lying on the roadside that might be useful for something one day. His children once told me ruefully that they never got to play with their presents on Christmas Day because the paint was never dry.

Although Don was not a scientist, working with him imbued in me an attitude of mind that valued the practicality of science as a way of dealing with life and explaining much about the world. Unlike all of the other creeds, cults, and ideologies that humans had been coming up with for as long as humanity had existed, here was a way of distinguishing between beliefs that were probably true and beliefs that were probably not in ways that gave observable results that could be repeated. Its success was attested to by the new world that had come into existence in-what?-little more than a century. From atoms to galaxies, phenomena were made comprehensible and predictable that had remained cloaked in superstition and ignorance through thousands of years of attempts at inquiry by other means. Airplanes worked; magic carpets didn't. Telephones, radio, and TV enabled anyone, at will, anytime, to accomplish things which before had been conceivable only as miracles. The foot deformities that I had been born with were corrected by surgery, not witch doctoring, enabling me later to enjoy a healthy life mountain hiking and rock climbing as a teenager. Asimov's nonfiction came as a topping to the various other readings I devoured in pursuit of my interest: Science was not only effective and made sense; it could actually be fun too!

I would describe science as formalized common sense. We all know how easily true believers can delude themselves into seeing what they want to see, and even appearances reported accurately are not always to be relied upon. (My older brother was something of a card sharp, so there was nothing particularly strange in the idea of things sometimes not being what they seemed.) What singled science out was its recognition of objective reality: that whatever is true will remain true, regardless of how passionately someone might wish things to be otherwise, or how many others might be induced to share in that persuasion. A simple and obvious enough precept, one would have thought. Yet every other belief system, even when professing commitment to the impartial search for truth, acted otherwise when it came to recruiting a constituency. And hence, it seemed, followed most of the world's squabbles and problems.

So it was natural enough for me to pursue a career in the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough-a few miles from where Grace and Don lived-after passing the requisite three days of qualifying examinations, as a student of electrical, mechanical, and aeronautical engineering. On completion of the general course I went on to specialize in electronics. Later, I moved from design to sales, then into computers, and ended up working with scientists and engineers across-the-board in just about every discipline and area of application. Seeing the way they went about things confirmed the impressions I'd been forming since those boyhood days of working with Don.

The problems that the world had been getting itself into all through history would all be solved straightforwardly once people came around to seeing things the right way. Wars were fought over religions, economic resources, or political rivalries. Well, science showed that men made gods, not vice versa. Sufficiently advanced technologies could produce plenty of resources for everybody, and once those two areas were taken care of, what was there left to create political rivalries over? Then we could be on our way to the stars and concern ourselves with things that were truly interesting.

When I turned to writing in the mid seventies-initially as a result of an office bet, then going full-time when I discovered I liked it-a theme of hard science-fiction with an upbeat note came naturally. I was accused (is that the right word?) of reinventing the genre of the fifties and sixties from the ground up, which was probably true to a large degree, since I had read very little of it, having come into the field from a direction diametrically opposed to that of most writers. The picture of science that I carried into those early stories reflected the idealization of intellectual purity that textbooks and popularizers portray. Impartial research motivated by the pursuit of knowledge assembles facts, which theories are then constructed to explain. The theories are tested by rigorous experiment; if the predicted results are not observed, the theories are modified accordingly, without prejudice, or abandoned. Although the ideal can seldom be achieved in practice, free inquiry and open debate will detect and correct the errors that human frailty makes inevitable. As a result, we move steadily through successively closer approximations toward the Truth.

Such high-flying fancy either attains escape velocity and departs from the realities of Earth totally, or it comes back to ground sometime. My descent from orbit was started by the controversy over nuclear energy. It wasn't just political activists with causes, and journalists cooking a story who were telling the public things that the physicists and engineers I knew in the nuclear field insisted were not so. Other scientists were telling them too. So either scientists were being knowingly dishonest and distorting facts to promote political views; or they were sincere, but ideology or some other kind of bias affected what they were willing to accept as fact; or vested interests and professional blinkers were preventing the people whom I was talking to from seeing things as they were. Whichever way, the ideal of science as an immutable standard of truth where all parties applied the same rules and would be obliged to agree on the same conclusion was in trouble.

I quickly discovered that this was so in other fields too. Atmospheric scientists whom I knew deplored the things being said about ozone holes. Chemists scoffed at the hysteria over carcinogens. A curious thing I noticed, however, was that specialists quick to denounce the misinformation and sensationalized reporting concerning their own field would accept uncritically what the same information sources and media said with regard to other fields. Nuclear engineers exasperated by the scares about radiation nevertheless believed that lakes formed in some of the most acidic rock on the continent had been denuded of fish (that had never lived there) by acid rain; climatologists who pointed out that nothing could be happening to the ozone layer since surface ultraviolet was not increasing signed petitions to ban DDT; biologists who knew that bird populations had thrived during the DDT years showed up to picket nuclear plants; and so it went on. Clearly, other factors could outweigh the objective criteria that are supposed to be capable of deciding a purely scientific question.

Browsing in a library one day, I came across a creationist book arguing that the fossil record showed the precise opposite of what evolutionary theory predicts. I had never had reason to be anything but a staunch supporter of Darwinism, since that was all I'd been exposed to, and everyone knew the creationists were strange anyway. But I checked the book out and took it home, thinking it would be good for a laugh. Now, I didn't buy their Scriptural account of how it all began, and I still don't. But contrary to the ridicule and derision that I'd been accustomed to hearing, to my own surprise I found the evidence that they presented for finding huge problems with the Darwinian theory to be solid and persuasive. So, such being my bent, I ordered more books from them out of curiosity to look a bit more deeply into what they have to say. Things got more interesting when I brought my findings up with various biologists whom I knew. While some would fly into a peculiar mix of apoplexy and fury at the mere mention of the subject-a distinctly unscientific reaction, it seemed-others would confide privately that they agreed with a lot of it; but things like pressures of the peer group, the politics of academia, and simple career considerations meant that they didn't talk about it. I was astonished. This was the late-twentieth-century West, not sixteenth-century Spain.

Shortly afterward, I met Peter Duesberg, one of the nation's leading molecular biologists, tipped by many to be in line for a Nobel Prize, suddenly professionally ostracized and defunded for openly challenging the mainstream dogma on AIDS. What was most disturbing about it after talking with him and his associates and reading their papers was that what they were saying made sense; the official party line didn't. Another person I got to know was the late Petr Beckmann, professor emeritus of electrical engineering, whose electrical interpretation of the phenomena conventionally explained by the Einstein Relativity Theory (ERT) is equally compatible with all the experimental results obtained to date, simpler in its assumptions, and more powerful predictively-but it is ignored by the physics community. I talked to an astrophysicist in NASA who believed that Halton Arp-excommunicated from American astronomy for presenting evidence contradicting the accepted interpretation of the cosmic redshifts that the Big Bang theory rests on-was "onto something." But he would never say so in public, nor sign his name to anything to that effect on paper. His job would be on the line, just as Arp's had been.

Whatever science might be as an ideal, scientists turn out to be as human as anyone else, and they can be as obstinate as anyone else when comfortable beliefs solidify into dogma. Scientists have emotions-often expressed passionately, despite the myths-and can be as ingenious as any senator at rationalizing when a reputation or a lifetime's work is perceived to be threatened. They value prestige and security no less than anyone else, which inevitably fosters convergences of interests with political agendas that control where the money and the jobs come from. And far from least, scientists are members of a social structure with its own system of accepted norms and rewards, commanding loyalties that at times can approach fanaticism, and with rejection and ostracism being the ultimate unthinkable.

This book is not concerned with cranks or simple die-hards, who are entitled to their foibles and come as part of life's pattern. Rather, it looks at instances of present-day orthodoxies tenaciously defending beliefs in the face of what would appear to be verified fact and plain logic, or doggedly closing eyes and minds to ideas whose time has surely come. In short, where scientific authority seems to be functioning more in the role of religion protecting doctrine and putting down heresy than championing the spirit of the free inquiry that science should be.

The factors bringing this about are various. Massive growth of government funding and the direction of science since World War II have produced symbiotic institutions which, like the medieval European Church, sell out to the political power structure as purveyors of received truth in return for protection, patronage, and prestige. Sometimes vested commercial interests call the tune. In areas where passions run high, ideology and prejudice find it easy to prevail over objectivity. Academic turf, like any other, is defended against usurpers and outside invasion. Some readily trade the anonymity and drudgery of the laboratory for visibility as celebrities in the public limelight. Peer pressure, professional image, and the simple reluctance to admit that one was wrong can produce the same effects at the collective level as they do on individuals.

I used to say sometimes in flippant moments that science was the only area of human activity in which it actually matters whether or not what one believes is actually true. Nowadays, I'm not so sure. It seems frequently to be the case that the cohesiveness that promotes survival is fostered just as effectively by shared belief systems within the social-political structures of science, whether those beliefs be true or not. What practical difference does it make to the daily routine and budget of the typical workaday scientist, after all, if the code that directs the formation and behavior of the self-assembling cat wrote itself out of random processes or was somehow inspired by a Cosmic Programmer, or if the universe really did dance out of the head of a pin? Scientific truth can apparently be an elusive thing when you try to pin it down, like the Irish fairies.

So today, I reserve the aphorism for engineering. You can fool yourself if you want, and you can fool as many as will follow for as long as you can get away with it. But you can't fool reality. If your design is wrong, your plane won't fly. Engineers don't have the time or the inclination for highfalutin' theories. In fact, over-elaborate theories that try to reach too far, I'm beginning to suspect, might be the biggest single menace affecting science. Maybe that's why I find that the protagonists of the later books that I've written, now that I look back at them and think about it, have tended to be engineers. (Continues...)

Excerpted from Kicking the Sacred Cow by James P. Hogan Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Engineering and the Truth Fairies 1
Section 1 Humanistic Religion: The Rush to Embrace Darwinism 9
Science, Religion, and Logic 11
Darwinism and the New Order 13
The Triumph of the Enlightenment 13
The Original in "Origins": Something for Everyone 14
A Cultural Monopoly 16
Sweeping Claims--and Reservations 17
By Scaffolding to the Moon 17
Rocks of Ages--The Fossil Record 19
Slow-Motion Miracles. The Doctrine of Gradualism 19
Life's Upside-Down Tree: The First Failed Prediction 21
Flights of Fancy: The Birds Controversy 25
Lines of Horses 27
Keeping Naturalism Pure: Orthogenesis Wars 30
Anything, Everything, and Its Opposite: Natural Selection 31
Dissent in the Ranks: Logical Fallacy and Tautology 31
Moth Myths. The Crowning Proof? 33
The Origin of Originality? Genetics and Mutation 34
Recombination: Answering the Wrong Question 34
Random Mutation: Finally, The Key to New Things Under the Sun 35
An Automated Manufacturing City 36
The Blind Gunman: A Long, Hard Look at the Odds 38
But it Happened! Science or Faith? 40
Life as Information Processing 41
Evolution Means Accumulating Information 41
Bacterial Immunity Claims: A False Information Economy 42
More Bacteria Tales: Directed Mutation 44
And So, Back to Finches 44
Confronting the Unthinkable 45
Intelligence at Work? The Crux of It All 46
Darwin's Black Box Opened: Biochemistry's Irreducible Complexity 47
Acknowledging the Alternative: Intelligent Design 50
Is Design Detectable? 52
Philosophers' Fruit-Machine Fallacy 54
Testing for Intelligence 54
Section Notes 58
Section 2 Of Bangs and Braids: Cosmology's Mathematical Abstractions 61
Mathematical Worlds--and This Other One 63
Cosmologies as Mirrors 63
Matters of Gravity: Relativity's Universes 65
An Aside on Spectra and Redshifts 66
A Universe in the Red and Lemaitre's Primeval Atom 67
After the Bomb: The Birth of the Bang 69
Gamow's Nuclear Pressure-Cooker 69
Hoyle and Supernovas as "Little Bang" Element Factories 71
The Steady-State Theory 72
The Cosmic Background Radiation: News but Nothing New 73
Quasar and Smoothness Enigmas: Enter, the Mathematicians 75
The Plasma Universe 78
Hannes Alfven, the Pioneer: Cosmic Cyclotrons 78
The Solar System as a Faraday Generator 80
A Skater's Waltz Among the Planets 81
Solar System to Galaxy 83
Peratt's Models and Simulations: Galaxies in the Laboratory 84
An Explanation for X-ray Flashes 85
Eric Lerner and the Plasma Focus 86
Going All the Way: Galaxies to the Universe 88
Older Than the Big Bang 89
Other Ways of Making Light Elements 90
And of Producing Expansion 91
Redshift Without Expansion at All 93
Molecular Hydrogen: The Invisible Energy-Absorber 93
The Ultimate Heresy
Questioning the Hubble Law 95
Halton Arp's Quasar Counts 95
Taking on an Established Church 98
Eyes Closed and Eyes Open: Professionals and Amateurs 101
Quasar Cascades: Redshifts as a Measure of Galaxy Age 102
What Happens to the Distances? 104
What Causes Redshift? Machian Physics and the Generalization of GRT 105
The God of the Modern Creation Myth 108
Section Notes 110
Section 3 Drifting in the Ether: Did Relativity Take A Wrong Turn? 111
Some Basics 115
Reference Frames and Transforms 115
Inertial Frames 116
Extending Classical Relativity 117
Problems with Electrodynamics 117
Maxwell's Constant Velocity 119
Michelson, Morley, and the Ether That Wasn't 121
Lorentz's Transforms for Electromagnetics 123
The New Relativity 124
Einstein: Transforming All of Physics 124
Relativity's Weird Results 126
Unifying Physics 128
Dissident Viewpoints 130
Elegant, Yes. But Is It Really Useful? 130
Lorentz's Ether Revisited 131
Entraining the Ether 133
Field-Referred Theories 135
Electromagnetic Mass: Increase Without Einstein 137
Gravity and Electromagnetics 140
Does "Time" Dilate? Or Do Clocks Run Slower? 143
The Famous Faster-Than-Light Question 145
Section Notes 150
Section 4 Catastrophe of Ethics: The Case for Taking Velikovsky Seriously 151
Early Work: The Makings of an Iconoclast 154
How It All Began: A Small Question About the Exodus 154
Implications of Catastrophism 158
Venus and the Cosmic Connection 159
The Universal War God: Mars 163
Worlds in Collision 164
The End of Everything You Thought You Knew 164
Science in Convulsion: The Reactions 168
Testimony from the Rocks: Earth in Upheaval 173
The Fossil Graveyards 173
Earthmoving and Excavation 174
Orthodoxy in Confusion 175
Embarrassing Confirmations 175
More Electrical Heresies: Charges and Counter-Charges 178
A New View of Planets: Violent Origins; Rapid Change 179
Rejected Call for Reappraisal 181
The Planets Speak, Regardless 184
Slaying the Monster: The AAAS Velikovsky Symposium, 1974 188
A Glimpse of the Ground Rules 189
Only the Data That's Fit to Print: The Venus Tablets 193
Pronouncements from the Celestial Heights 197
Carl Sagan: The Star Billing 200
Sagan on Astronomy 201
Problem 1. The Ejection of Venus by Jupiter 201
Problem 2. Repeated Collisions Among the Earth, Venus, And Mars 203
Problem 3. The Earth's Rotation 204
Sagan on Terrestrial and Lunar Geology 205
Problem 4. Terrestrial Geology And Lunar Craters 205
Sagan on Planetary Biology and Chemistry 207
Problem 5. Chemistry & Biology of the Terrestrial Planets 207
Problem 6. Manna 211
Problem 7. The Clouds of Venus 212
Sagan on Planetary Physics and Surfaces 214
Problem 8. The Temperature of Venus 214
Problem 9. The Craters of Venus 218
Problem 10. The Circularization of the Orbit of Venus 219
After the Inquisition: The Parallel Universe 220
Section Notes 223
Section 5 Environmentalist Fantasies: Politics and Ideology Masquerading As Science 225
Garbage In, Gospel Out
Computer Games and Global Warming 231
A Comfortable Natural Greenhouse 232
Twiddling with Models 233
Meanwhile, in the Real World... 234
But the 0.5[degree]C Net Rise Is Still There: If the CO[subscript 2] Increase Didn't Do It, What Did? 238
Global Greening 243
The Bandwagon Rolls Regardless 245
How the Real Scientists Feel 247
Holes in the Ozone Logic: But Timely for Some 248
Ozone Basics 249
The Depletion Controversy 251
Creating Catastrophe: The Wizards of Ozone 256
A Few Coincidences 258
Saving The Mosquitoes: The War On DDT 262
Some Background Intelligence: Malaria 262
Opening Assault: Silent Spring 266
The Offensive Develops 269
The 1971 EPA Hearings 271
Well-Designed, Well-Executed Experiments: DDT as a Carcinogen 271
A Plague of Birds 276
Cracking Open the Eggshell Claims 278
Everywhere, and Indestructible 282
The Scientists' Findings and the Administrator's Ruling 284
"Vitamin R": Radiation Good for Your Health 286
Radiation Phobia 286
"The Dose Makes the Poison": Hormesis 287
Rip-Out Rip-Off: The Asbestos Racket 292
Asbestos and the WTC Towers 292
Insulated from Reality 293
Makers and Takers 295
Section Notes 297
Section 6 Closing Ranks: AIDS Heresy In The Viricentric Universe 301
An Industry Out of Work 304
Storm-Cloud Over the Parade 306
Anatomy of an Epidemic 309
Questioning the Infectious Theory 310
(1) The microbe must be found in all cases of the disease 312
(2) The microbe must be isolated from the host and grown in a pure culture 312
(3) The microbe must be capable of reproducing the original disease when introduced into a susceptible host 313
(4) The microbe must be found present in the host so infected 313
Science by Press Conference 313
Biology's Answer to Dark Matter? The Virus That Isn't There 315
An Epidemic of AIDS Testing 318
Testing for What? 319
Biotechnology's Xerox Machine 320
The Export Industry: Africa and Asia 321
"Side Effects" Just Like AIDS: The Miracle Drugs 324
Liquid Plumber: AZT 324
Protease Inhibitors. Hype Uninhibited 326
A Virus Fixation 328
Section Notes 330
Afterword: Gothic Cathedrals and the Stars 331
Section Notes 340
References & Further Reading 341
Index 355
List of Illustrations
1.1 The "Tree of Life" as envisioned in a Victorian textbook 22
1.2 Increase in the number of animal phyla with time 23
1.3 Binary Decision Tree 56
2.1 Spectra: continuous and line 67
2.2 Simulation of plasma currents 85
2.3 The radio galaxy Cygnus A 87
2.4 Galaxy and quasar counts by apparent magitude 97
2.5 Quasar pair straddling Seyfert galaxy 100
2.6 Nucleus of Seyfert galaxy Seyfert galaxy NGC4151 102
2.7 Quantization of galactic redshifts 105
3.1 Field lines around stationary and moving charges 138
3.2 Terrestrial magnetosphere and hierarchy of magnetospheres 142
4.1 Velikovskian orbits 186
4.2 Babylonian Innana symbols 194
5.1 Atmospheric carbon dioxide over the last 400 years 235
5.2 U.S. and global temperature variations 236
5.3 Predictions of greenhouse models versus observed values 239
5.4 Temperature variations with solar activity for the last 250 years 240
5.5 Climate record for the last 3,000 years 242
5.6 Natural sources of chlorine compared to production of CFCs 254
5.7 EPA version of ozone trends compared to natural cycle 257
5.8 Ultraviolet flux. Nonexistent trend created by skewed data 261
5.9 Effects of DDT on reproduction of quail and pheasant 279
5.10 Radiation dose-response curve showing hormesis at low levels 289
5.11 Comparisons of ionizing radiation sources 291
6.1 Two faces of AZT 325
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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2007

    A book that exposes how wishful thinking became science.

    No doubt that Academians, professed Darwinist and Enviromentalists will take aim at this book with the relish of a person attempting to swat a fly with an axe. Do not be surprised by their vitriol. Using basic facts and documented research, the author shows how SCIENCE has become the modern day equivilent of the Dark Ages Church, where peer pressure and public ridicule are used to silence those who expose glaring flaws in religiously held tenants of the scientific community. No doubt you will even see some reviews here that amply demonstrate that point. From obvious flaws in the 'Big Bang' theory to the junk science used to validate Global Warming arguments, Hogan presents the reader with the data and lets them decide for themselves. His rationale that you don't have to have a PHD to see the obvious is illustrated throughout the book. Pick it up, read it and decide for yourself. That is what the author advocates and what I have done. Like me, you might be astounded to find out how many things you once believed are not true. It is an amazing book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    fabulous look at science

    James P. Hogan makes a strong case that much of the scientific interpretation of data pertaining to a wealth of subjects is subjective (tainted by the person¿s assumptions of what to expect or the community¿s bias) as opposed to an objective analysis. Using numerous examples to make his point like global warming, the expanding universe (big bang, crunch, and all in between), and evolution, etc., Mr. Hogan evaluates commonly known data but draws radically different conclusions from them. His point is not to disprove the accepted theories, but to demonstrate that other interpretations are as valid. At times the empirical data and Mr. Hogan¿s drill can become quite complex, which will lead to many readers like this reviewer taking several days and rereads to follow the logic on a particular topic. Though not quite as proven, Mr. Hogan believes a major problem is the government funding of science often leads to political decisions on grants and tenure. However, it is the alternative possibilities that make this an excellent insightful book. No cow remains sacred even the icons Darwin and Einstein are challenged. Ironically even Velikovsky, a 1950s radical, who¿s Worlds in Collision shook the science community, receives a boot or two. Terrific work that makes the case that big government spending big money stifles creative thinking with fantastic but complicated examples.---- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2004

    Light fare overall, entertaining in a fantastical way

    <P> This book does for hard science what the works of Graham Hancock and Erich Von Daniken do for the serious study of archeology and history. It's entertaining and thought provoking--given you read it with the right attitude--but please don't open your mind so much that your brain falls out, folks. <P> The point where Hogan lost me, and I started to take the book much less seriously, turned out to be in the very first chapter. While Hogan argues against traditional Creationism, for some bizarre reason he proposes so-called Intelligent Design as worthy of consideration. For those of you who don't know, Intelligent Design is nothing more than Creationism with a technobabble veneer and the G-Word replaced by some mysterious Intelligence. Not surprisingly, its proponents prefer not to specify who or what actually arranged for life on our planet. It could be some supernatural deity, Super-Advanced Aliens, or Something Else That We Can't Imagine, and naturally they claim that it doesn't matter, anyway. Intelligent Design has become trendy among a certain clique of engineers, who have somehow managed to convince themselves that it's not just another Creationist Flavor of the Month. <P> Certainly there is plenty to argue about in the various theories of evolution (there are more than one, dear reader, it's not all just super-fanatical neo-Darwinism as Hogan would apparently have you believe). However, replacing 19th Century Creationism with 21st Century Creationism just doesn't make any kind of sensible case against the existing evolutionary theories. <P> I went into this book with a fairly serious and straightforward frame of mind. Since that big disappointment in the first chapter, I downgraded my expectations significantly and read accordingly, which turned out to be just as well. <P> In the end, I enjoyed the book in the same way I enjoyed Chariots of the Gods back when I was a kid. Like Chariots of the Gods, it's thought provoking, with a few nuggets here and there of good information to balance out the occasional conspiracy theory, and contains loads of fodder for sci-fi and fantasy stories. Any such writer will find this book to be a gold mine of cool ideas. <P> In summary: Read it, enjoy it, take its main premise to heart (which can be summed up as the time honored bumper sticker slogan: 'Question Authority'), but remain skeptical of silliness and, to use a hoary old cliche, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

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