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
I read this years ago and after returning to my study of catastrophism I thought I give it a re-read as I remembered it had a good chapter on Velikovsky; I remembered wrongly, the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Joe Keenan
Exceeded my expectations. The book seems to include many arguments that state that some fields of supernatural fictional believes claim to be a science but are truly hoaxes that... Read morePublished 6 months ago by gabriel zaldivar
An interesting book about numerous fads, ideas, and other odd assumptions that can arise out of the (mis)use of science. Read morePublished 7 months ago by michael tuttle
Though the book is a bit out of date it remains - to me - one of the greatest popular science books I have come across. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Ezra Newman
This book examines many alternative ideas that are not accepted in the mainstream scientific community in 26 chapters. Read morePublished 11 months ago by MacheteJason
We need help distinguishing the faddish from the scientific and logical. Based on our history as humans, we are not that skilled at doing this. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Linda
After reading Martin Gardner's "Colossal Book of Mathematics" and enjoying it, I was expecting to enjoy this book too. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Brian Mathason
This is one of my favorites. Published in the early 1950's it is a great view of things back then. A good example of how the details change, but human nature doesn't. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Griffin
The late Martin Gardener was a debunker of many fad-science subjects. The book, when published, addressed subjects that fell out of favor long enough ago that some if the items... Read morePublished on June 24, 2012 by Stephen A. Kallis, Jr.