The main ways that people can corrupt science—or at least try to—are through hoax and fraud, both of which may be perpetrated by laymen or scientists, and through ideological and political corruption, whose intent in both instances is to mislead the public and both of which may be either deliberate or self-deceiving. In this sequel to John Grant’s highly successful Discarded Science—Ideas That Seemed Good at the Time, we are introduced to the world of fraud and deception rather than the gentler realms of mistake and ignorance. As ever Grant is entertaining but the theme is serious and timely. Written by an expert for everyone interested in the history of scientific thinking and the evolution of ideas and theories which affect all of us.
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About the Author
We pride ourselves on the scientific culture in which we live, but is it really so scientific? Is it not the truth that large parts of our society are awash with ideas and preconceptions that could not be further divorced from science, even though often they're wrongly or fraudulently described as "scientific"?John Grant, author of the highly successful books Discarded Science and Corrupted Science, now turns his attention to the bogus that too often dons the mantle of science from pyramidology to The Secret’s putative "Law of Attraction", from the widespread but misplaced certainty that the paranormal has been proven to the search for Bigfoot, Atlantis, perpetual-motion machines and human features on the surface of Mars. In a text full of witty observations, delightful asides and deft skewerings, he is unafraid to speak truth to some of our most powerful false beliefs.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Corrupted Science: Fraud, Ideology and Politics in Science based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
The author of this tome has some very strong opinions about the topic, as you would expect of anyone who would be bothered to sit and write such a voluminous book on a fairly fringe topic. He is quick to dismiss anyone who doesn't use the strictest scientific methods, claiming that this is the only way science can truly move forward. In the academic world this is undoubtedly true, but I just doubt that some of his "proof" is that cut and dried and suspect that some of it is just the result of a truism being repeated enough becoming true. I do not doubt his conviction, or that a large amount of his content is well researched - I just doubt whether some of the cases are that black and white, or whether they could be accused of falling prey to the same biases that the book claims to wish to expunge.
Had the scientific method truly been used then I would have expected a good cross-sampling of scientific cases, showing both bias and lack of bias, with some control criteria and and an eventual proof that science is biased. Instead it is a one-sided objective from page 1.
Personally I found many of the examples of corruption completely believeable and my own personal bias against woolly and religious thinking fit well with his hypothesis. All that does is show that he was writing to my personal preferences, rather than proving a point.
All in all, an interesting and thought provoking read, but a little too tabloid and one-sided to be a truly scientific assessment of science and politics.
What John Grant seems to do is gather as many examples of fraud, ideology, and political interference in science and lay them out one after another. The first two sections (Fraud and Ideology) are simply a collection of stories. The third section (Politics) is more a clarion call. The problems associated with political interference are palatable unlike the problems associated with a rogue or crazy scientist. The first section was fairly off-putting for me. In order to flesh out the section to be it seemed like Grant used any and all possible examples of fraud. The clear examples of fraud, the accusations of fraud, and the you-know-this-might-have-been fraud. It starts with clear examples and moves into the gossip realm. Because of this, I put the book down for some time before finishing it. The second section is interesting from a psychological standpoint and the effort a person(scientist) will put into their favorite beliefs and biases. The third section is probably the most salient dealing with the horrors of nazi science, the huge set backs of Stalin's science (genetics), and the political interference in US science by the Bush administration. While I am up-to-date on many atrocities of political interference by the Bush administration, it was difficult to divorce myself from the concerns I had in the first section also being at play in the other two sections. Its worth the price and an easy read, but is more an encyclopedic description not a book with a central thesis or call to action.