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Kicking the Sacred Cow: Heresy and Impermissible Thoughts in Science Mass Market Paperback – July 4, 2006

3.7 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Baen (July 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416520732
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416520733
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 7.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #579,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I promise you Mr. Hogan will cause you to reconsider some of your most closely held beliefs. Beliefs that until now were so obvious there was little need to even think about the rationale behind them. From AIDS to global warming to evolution to the history of the solar system to the ozone layer to relativity and the big bang, Mr. Hogan asks whether existing data might be just as well (or better) be explained by alternatives other than the conventional wisdom.
While the author clearly has his own beliefs, he does not shove them down the throat of the reader, but offers alternatives to the common wisdom and challenges the reader to think more clearly about their long-held assumptions and how they got them. This is done in the spirit that scientific inquiry is not afraid of facts, but strives to reach conclusions consistent with the facts. I don't believe anyone can come through a careful reading of this book without beginning to question at least some beliefs and assumptions that they previously accepted without a second thought.
Some parts of sections two and three about cosmology and relativity get a little complicated, so if you find yourself beginning to get bogged down, skip ahead to the later sections, and come back to these sections at your leisure rather than quitting.
This book is a marvelous read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been a fan of James Hogan's science fiction ever since I picked up "The Proteus Operation" over 20 years ago. At present I have on my shelves practically everything he's ever written. There are two things I really like about Hogan's style: the stories tend to be exciting, and they're also very clearly written.

Now, Hogan writes "hard" science fiction. This means that cutting-edge or even radical new scientific theories play an important role in the plot line of the story, or feature in intellectual conversations and even heated debates carried on by leading characters in the story.

With the advent of the World Wide Web, it became possible for me to do research on some of the more exotic theories of cosmology and catastrophism. Hogan's own web site is a treasure trove for such research, as it contains a mother lode of links to other sites I never would have known about otherwise.

But what I really wanted was a convenient volume collecting some of Hogan's thoughts in one place, suitable for reading at bedtime, without that pesky computer pumping out so much summertime noise and heat.

Enter "Kicking the Sacred Cow", Hogan's latest work of non-fiction. When at last it became available in paperback, I was quick to order it from Amazon, and am very glad I did.

The book contains excellent sections on the following broad range of topics:

- Cosmology: Alternative views on the Big Bang and the Hubble Law, plus an introduction to the "Plasma Universe" theory. Could electromagnetism play a more important role in shaping the universe than mainstream cosmologists think?

- Relativity: Alternatives to Einstein's theories of relativity, plus some background information on how the theories came to be.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Charles Fort (1874-1932) was one of America's more entertaining eccentrics. For thirty years he pored and pondered over newspaper reports of the unusual, the anomalous, the unexplained and the downright hinky. From time to time, he would gather up his clippings for book publication: "The Book of the Damned" (1919), "New Lands" (1923) and "Lo!" (1931). The title of the last derived from Fort's notion that scientists were forever pointing up at the skies and exclaiming "Lo!"

In the 1930s, the pulp magazine industry opened up a new niche by publishing what would come to be called science fiction. The Street and Smith entry into this new market was called "Astounding Stories of Super Science." (It would evolve into "Astounding Stories," "Astounding Science Fiction" and finally "Analog.") Shortly after Fort's death, Astounding discovered him and the magazine loved what it saw. The new science fiction fans, a virtually all-male demographic ranging from age 10 to 25, loved the unusual, the anomalous, the unexplained and they were themselves, often as not, downright hinky. Month after month, the magazine ran hefty chunks of the books sandwiched between tales of time travel, scantily-clad space women and tentacled invaders. The fans ate it up.

Fort's material was popular but finite in volume. Eventually it ran out, but the taste for the stuff was so firmly established among the readers that Astounding regularly ran "hard science" articles along with the fiction--and so did the other pulp SF mags. Contributors to the hard science sections included some of the most illustrious names in American science fiction: Willy Ley, Fletcher Pratt, L. Sprague de Camp, Robert S. Richardson, Hal Clement and, of course, Isaac Asimov.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Like many who write science fiction, James P. Hogan has turned his hand in this book to science exposition, and he has chosen a supremely interesting topic, the culture of science and alternatives to accepted wisdom. The book is framed by an introduction and an afterword which make some insightful points about how science is conducted and note the consequences to those who question a consensus view. The bulk of the book consists of six sections, case studies of various accepted areas of science and the objections raised to them.

In his introduction, "Engineering and the Truth Fairies," Hogan describes the ideal view of science, but points out that even scientists will accept findings in fields other than their own without skepticism. He states: "I used to say . . . that science was the only area of human activity in which it actually matters whether or not what one believes is true. . . . Today, I reserve that aphorism for engineering" (p. 9). He makes the point that since engineering deals directly with reality, it is a useful guage to the truth of scientific theories. In his afterword, "Gothic Cathedrals and the Stars," he notes that many of the most important findings in science over the past several centuries were actually made by outsiders, from Leonardo da Vinci (who was trained as a painter) to Albert Einstein (who was working as a patent clerk when he made many of his most important findings). He observes: "While most research today depends ultimately on government funding . . . history shows that bureaucratic stifling and an inherent commitment to linear thinking makes officially inaugurated programs the least productive in terms of true creativity" (p. 466). It is a scathing analysis of modern science, but one that is not undeserved.
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