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52 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are You Ready?
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...
Published on June 30, 2004 by Thomas

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31 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Generalities, Poor Specifics
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...
Published on October 22, 2006 by Todd M. Baker


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52 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are You Ready?, June 30, 2004
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This review is from: Kicking the Sacred Cow (Hardcover)
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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34 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and Highly Informative, July 29, 2006
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This review is from: Kicking the Sacred Cow: Heresy and Impermissible Thoughts in Science (Mass Market Paperback)
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. This was very thick material for a layman like me. I'll probably have to reread it a few times to let it all sink in.

- Catastrophism: Immanual Velikovsky's iconoclastic (many would say lunatic) theory on the origins of the planet Venus, various upheavals recorded in Earth's geological record, and so on. For a gripping science-fiction treatment of these ideas, consider Hogan's novel "Cradle of Saturn".

- Environmentalism: the global warming controversy, the Ozone Hole, DDT, asbestos and radiation. These all affect us in important ways.

- AIDS: It's a modern scourge which has taken millions of lives. But what, exactly, causes it?

- Darwinism: A perennial source of friction between scientists and creationists, but perhaps the argument is not as clear-cut as some on both sides would have you believe.

It would be pointless for me to go into a deep discussion of the material covered in each of those sections. If true, some of these alternative theories would have profound implications on the nature of our existence and that of the universe we inhabit, plus even how we and our children live our daily lives.

Note that Hogan thoughtfully provided a keyword index and an extensive set of references at the end of the book. For those of you interested in exploring these topics more in depth, you can consult books and articles running the gamut from Darwin's mainstream classic, "The Origin of Species", to Velikovsky's radical classic "Worlds in Collision".

What I judge to be the most important message contained in "Kicking the Sacred Cow" can be summarized in the book's dedication: "To Halton Arp, Peter Duesburg -- and all other scientists of integrity who followed where the evidence pointed, and stood by their convictions."

Heavy stuff, to be sure. But what does it all mean? Well, Hogan's works of fiction have undergone quite a change over the decades. His early works, as he himself discusses in "Sacred Cow's" introduction, put a great deal of faith in the "intellectual purity" of science, its ability to follow the facts to their logical conclusions and the betterment of mankind. But a curious thing happened in the 1990s -- Hogan's novels began to focus on a kind of authoritarian Big Science which had been hijacked by various political and economic interest groups, more interested in preserving dogmatic teachings and hierarchical power structures than in discovering the truth, wherever it might lead.

A disturbing parallel, Hogan observes, seems to have developed between the modern scientific establishment and the Medieval Church. Heretics -- those who dare question pronouncements handed down from On High, tended to be ridiculed, pilloried, excommunicated, even burned at the stake.

True, modern-day heretics aren't literally barbecued, but they can be denied funding and tenure, publication in mainstream scientific journals, plus that all-important access to space telescopes, particle accelerators and climatologic measuring stations. Without the tools of their trade, how can they work? They can be labeled as virtual monsters, subjected to personal attacks which have no bearing on the validity of their theories and observations. For a classic example of this, consider what happened between Carl Sagan and Immanuel Velikovsky in 1974.

It is this, I think, which is of most importance, much more than the ins and outs of the individual theories in question. Hogan notes that some of the most influential and revered scientists in history were precisely those who came from outside the traditional power structure: ones like Leonardo da Vinci, Michael Faraday and Albert Einstein.

So, if you are interested in "thinking outside of the box," as the saying goes, of thinking for yourself and not blindly trusting authority figures just because "they say so," Hogan's book "Kicking the Sacred Cow" will be a real eye-opener for you.
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31 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Generalities, Poor Specifics, October 22, 2006
This review is from: Kicking the Sacred Cow: Heresy and Impermissible Thoughts in Science (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.

The six sections forming the majority of the book address cosmology, relativity, catastrophism, environmental concerns, the cause of AIDS, and evolution. While there are some interesting points in these sections (hard science fiction fans, in particular, should see the speculations on faster than light travel on pp. 129-134), I have true expertise in only one area, namely evolution, and so will limit my comments to that section.

To be blunt, Hogan's sixth section, "Humanistic Religion: The Rush to Embrace Darwinism," is rife with errors and misconceptions. The most glaring of these are as follows.

1. Throughout the entire section, he repeatedly equates the process of evolution with the mechanism of natural selection. He only mentions punctuated equilibrium in passing, and never presents it as a mechanism complementary to natual selection.

2. He discounts actual instances of evolution. For instance, he dismisses microevolution as merely adaptation (p. 399).

3. He misuses statistics throughout a considerable segment of the section (pp. 422-432), and also characterizes mutation as the only source of variability available to a species.

4. He describes evolution as the accumulation of information (pp. 434-435) instead of change, which allows him to dismiss even more instances of evolution.

5. He argues that organs, such as the eye, are so complex that evolutionary processes could have never led to their development (pp. 440-444).

These errors and misconceptions lead him to the conclusion that intelligent design is the only possible explanation for the appearance, diversity, and complexity of the natural world. He does not acknowledge the question this begs: Who designed the designer?

I am led to believe that with errors and misconceptions so glaring in one section, the other sections cannot be free of them. Hogan set himself an ambitious task with this book, but he falls woefully short of achieving it. Had he expanded his introduction and afterword and used historical examples instead of contemporary ones, he may have had a brilliant book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A new "Lo!", August 25, 2007
By 
L. E. Cantrell (Vancouver, British Columbia Canada) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Kicking the Sacred Cow: Heresy and Impermissible Thoughts in Science (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. Many, indeed most of these articles were informative, well-researched and otherwise admirable examples of popular science reporting.

On the other hand, that Fortean hinky-factor never entirely disappeared. Magazine science fiction fans of a certain age will remember the ominous syllables of "The Dean Machine" with either a shudder or an uproarious laugh.

Jim Baen of Baen Books was once upon a time the editor of Analog. James P. Hogan is a science fiction writer. The whole tone and feel of "Kicking the Sacred Cow" is exactly the tone and feel of those old "hard science" articles.

Hogan clearly believes in a dichotomy in what the world calls "science." There are theorists and there are engineers. Here is his credo: "Science really doesn't exist. Scientific beliefs are either proved wrong, or else they quickly become engineering. Everything else is untested speculation." [Page 1 of the mass paperback edition]

Introductions and prefaces are really very useful things. It's a pity that more people do not read them. In the introduction to this one, Hogan very kindly tells us what the book is all about: "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 free inquiry that science should be." [Page 8]

From that, it is plain to see that Hogan has donned his armor and has settled himself on his destrier in preparation for a joust with all manner of scientific dragons. Among those dragons are mathematical and observational cosmology, the theories of relativity, the astronomical catastrophism and historical revisionism of Velikovsky, global warming, DDT, AIDS and Darwinism.

Now that is a wide range. I certainly haven't the knowledge to comment with any expertise on all those subjects. Off hand, I can't think of anybody that I would regard as equally authoritative on cosmology, the effects of DDT on ecology and "intelligent design." After reading this book, I am depressingly positive that James P. Hogan is not.

I should make it clear that some of Hogan's ideas sound reasonable to me. I think that his screed against the banning of DDT, for instance, is pretty convincing. On the other hand, his defense of Velikovsky is hilariously wrong-headed. (An attitude, I am sure, Hogan would toss right back at me--in spades!) In between those extremes is his attack on "orthodox" cosmology in which he advances a number of theories that smite it root and branch without ever managing to take note of the fact that each of those theories contradicts all the others as firmly as they do the Big Bang.

So far, so good. There are unquestionably a few grains of gold among the dross. Many books in this general category of writing can't offer even as much as that.

Read this book not as a declaration of war but as an amusing set of notions ranging from "could be" to "not a chance".

Three stars.
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39 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Or tilting at windmills, June 3, 2005
This review is from: Kicking the Sacred Cow (Hardcover)
It's hard to know what to make of James P. Hogan, science fiction writer, and now the author of a book that in six densely argued chapters presumes to (1) supplant biological evolution with so-called Intelligent Design; (2) refute Big Bang cosmology; (3) unconfirm Einstein's relativity; (4) argue that Emmanuel Velikovsky (his childhood hero) is more likely right than the scientific and history establishments that labeled him a crackpot; (5) dispute the orthodox on global warming, ozone depletion, and the dangers of DDT while championing the use of nuclear power and the right type of asbestos; and (6) question the medical opinion that AIDS is caused by HIV.

Wow. Could he be right? I mean, could he be right in every case? In a couple? In one? If so, James P. Hogan is going to have one of the most glorious "I told you so" experiences ever.

I read most of this book. I admit to skipping through the chapters on cosmology and relativity since I have no way of judging whether Hogan knows what he is talking about or not. I am disposed to believe that the so-called AIDS industry, like the cancer industry, with which I am familiar, could be putting the money before the science and quite possibly have the syndrome wrong. Possibly. As for global warming, ozone depletion, DDT, nuclear power, and asbestos, I will only say I have read many arguments both pro and con, and while I believe Hogan is not on the side of the angels, I will admit that his side does have some valid points. Certainly the use of nuclear power to generate electricity is a lot safer than the average person thinks and, regardless, with the rise in the price of oil, we will be building more nuclear plants, like it or not.

What I really want to get to is the chapter on biological evolution since I believe that here at least Hogan's misapprehensions are fairly obvious. He begins well enough, making a clear distinction between induction and deduction while championing the cause of evidence over theory. But as I turned the pages I began to see some misunderstandings creep in. For example on page 39 Hogan writes (arguing against Darwinian speciation) that "a single occurrence [of a mutation] is...likely to be swamped by the gene pool of the general population and disappear." This is true and argues against the rise of new species by mutation within large populations. However, speciation typically occurs in small isolated populations.

Next there's Hogan's argument that the fossil record does not support speciation by natural selection since the "intermediate" forms are just not there. Leaving this interpretation of the fossil record to the side--he thinks the forms are not there; the paleontologists think they are--let's look instead at his claim that the fossil record is sufficiently complete to testify against our missing anything important. He writes "formations containing hundreds of billions of fossils" have been uncovered. He adds, "The world's museums are filled with over 100 million fossils..." (p. 24) Sounds like a lot, doesn't it? However, going back 500-600 million years when multicellular organisms first began to appear we can see that 100 million fossils would account for one fossil every five or six years over the entire planet. Clearly that is only the barest fraction of a fraction of the number of creatures that lived.

And then there is this on page 47: "Either these programs ["genetic" programs] which defy human comprehension in their effectiveness and complexity wrote themselves accidentally out of mindless matter acting randomly; or something wrote them for a reason." Putting aside the anthropomorphic idea of "for a reason" and also to the side Hogan's opinion that "their effectiveness and complexity" "defy human comprehension" there is the totally wrong idea that the genetic code or the organisms themselves are the result of "matter acting randomly." It is precisely the point of Darwinian evolution that random forces are not the effectors of change but instead change comes about through the mechanism of natural selection, which is decidedly NOT random.

Also Hogan writes that once "the improbabilities of a situation become too vast...and the specifications too tight...chance is eliminated as a plausible cause, and design is indicated." (p. 55) Yes, chance is definitely eliminated as "plausible" when the numbers get really big, but design is not necessarily indicated at all. Indeed, "design" is a purely anthropomorphic idea based on what humans do. We design things. Nature does not. The use of the term reveals a top down sort of thinking, reminding me of Soviet style economies. Organisms grow and evolve without need of anyone moving the pieces around. Many scientists today believe that matter is self-organizing, and that biological creatures are examples of this organizational property at work.

Throughout Hogan argues that changes in form or adaptation do not signal species change. He cites the well-known example of moths turning from white to black under the environmental pressure of the sooty industrial revolution in England, and avers that the moths had that ability all the time and were not on the verge of becoming another species. He emphasizes this point by claiming that nobody has ever witnessed one species turning into another. Well, nobody has ever seen grass grow either. We humans are not capable of that sort of thing. What we can do is notice after some passage of time that the grass has indeed grown, and that at one time there were only small mammals running around the nests of dinosaurs, and now there are elephants and people and blue whales. Speciation happened whether anybody saw it or not, and no designer is required.

It is obvious that Hogan has spent a lot of time and energy reading about science. He demonstrates a fine familiarity with the terminology of science and a rough and ready sense of scientific ideas. Unfortunately his ability to separate science from pseudoscience is sorely lacking.
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25 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Yes, please think -- really think -- about what this book says, July 29, 2006
This review is from: Kicking the Sacred Cow (Hardcover)
The book says, among other things, that HIV probably doesn't really cause AIDS, and that AIDS probably isn't really infectious at all -- it's just a collection of diseases that high-risk populations have anyway. Do you really think that's true? This same belief by the leader of South Africa allowed AIDS to run unchecked there for years, with devastating results.

The discussion of 'Intelligent Design' essentially says "Stop thinking! Accept that life is just so complex we can never understand how it could have come about!" Just the opposite of the stated purpose of the book. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" (Arthur C. Clark, another science fiction writer.) We should absolutely question Darwin, but simply replacing serious investigation with "God works in mysterious ways" is a bit of a leap -- don't you think?

My impression is that Hogan is subtly playing to conspiracy theorists and fundamentalists. Yes, question everything -- including him.
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I don't know what science is, but this book is not, December 2, 2006
By 
Matthias Urlichs (Nürnberg Deutschland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Kicking the Sacred Cow (Hardcover)
Hogan questions several "mainstream" scientific beliefs in this book -- global warming, evolution, AIDS and more -- all get blasted.

Unfortunately, while Hogan understands the critics' arguments very well and reports them in a convincing way, what he failed to do is to check what the mainstream has to say about those arguments and what the critics do in reply.

All too often, the mainstream says "interesting theory, but what about [several problems with the critics' theory]", and the critics respond to that with ... silence.

The low point of this book was, for me, his view of the AIDS (non)controversy. To recapitulate: the critics say that there's no virus, just malnutrition and/or drug use, so antiviral therapies don't work -- and neither do condoms or needle exchange programs. This, IMHO, might have been a viable alternate theory in the 1980, but these days there's ample evidence from all over the place (including genetics, epidemology and statistics) which says that this idea does not make sense any more.

Or, put differently: if you're a policymaker and you don't believe the mainstream virus theory to be correct, you kill people. Unfortunately, Hogan (along with all the other AIDS critics) ignores the mainstream evidence. Worse: he seems to think that standing firm in your belief, opposed to mainstream science, is more important than peoples' lives.

While I applaud Hogan's principles, I think that applying them to real-world situations requires a hard look at the facts and a willingness to admit that you're wrong if confronted with contradictory evidence. Mainstream science does that all the time, and if Hogan had looked a bit more closely he'd have found ample evidence of it. The people espousing "alternate" theories, on the other hand, mostly don't.

I'm not going to go through a detailed examination of the other arguments Hogan exposes in this book. However, WRT those where I do have detailed knowledge. I say:

Sorry, Mr. Hogan -- your book's intent is laudable, but your critical look should have extended to the critics' PoV. As it is, your book just replaces one set of dogmas with another.

Sometimes, the sacred cow kicks back.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A clear look at the problems of politics in science, July 23, 2006
By 
GeneF (Carlyle, IL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Kicking the Sacred Cow: Heresy and Impermissible Thoughts in Science (Mass Market Paperback)
James P. Hogan makes no claims to knowing the "Truth", he just points out that perhaps nobody knows the whole truth. I've heard a lot of scientists proclaim that we (as a society) are close to knowing everything worth knowing, we only have to fill in a few more decimal points. This has been the cry of idiots down through the millenia; usually just before the world of science is overthrown by new facts, discoveries, concepts, and paradigms.

Hogan points out in his book that there are valid alternate explanations for a lot of things scientists (not science) have proclaimed; often without adequate proof of what they are saying. Our society seems to demand that scientists produce answers, when they should be producing questions; so to get funding and make their reputations they proclaim they have answers.

Refusal to face possibilities is not science at all, but a form of religion; as is mentioned in this book. This book demonstrates that, in many cases, they have just grabbed AN answer and proclaimed it king, when there are many other legitimate claimants to the throne.

I like the exploration of alternative theories in this book and think it represents the best of modern scientific practice. While some of the alternatives seem far-fetched, there is nothing that I've ever seen that proves them wrong. And I have seen problems with several of the "mainstream" explanations discussed in this book. In fact, where some of the topics are concerned, there really isn't a "mainstream", just the perception of one.
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exposes the politics and dogma of science, July 10, 2006
By 
Lem (Gurnee, Illinois USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Kicking the Sacred Cow: Heresy and Impermissible Thoughts in Science (Mass Market Paperback)
This is a great book for anyone who has an open mind. Hogan exposes the politics and dogma that is prevalent in much of scientific research and goes on to offer alternate (and often simpler) theories to explain some of the conundrums that the main-stream theorems have difficulty with.

What's great about the way Hogan presents these alternate theories is that he never says they are "correct", or even more likely "correct", only that they account for observed evidence.
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19 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hogan as he was at the beginning of his writing career, July 18, 2005
By 
Rick "cpto" (East Hanover, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Kicking the Sacred Cow (Hardcover)
I've enjoyed Hogan's novels since the first one well over a decade ago. The first couple of them - and a few later ones - brought my sense of wonder alive, not because the science he was using in his novels was necessarily good, but because it sounded like it might work.

"Kicking the Sacred Cow" was, for me, a return to those early novels. Others have commented on the specifics of this book - the various areas he questions - so I'll limit my comments to what I felt about Hogan's outlooks, why I enjoyed reading about them, and why I feel you will, too.

One of the pillars of the scientific method is that theories must be subject to some form or proof, and that proofs must be verifiable to any person using appropriate methods of verification. Laws of nature are conclusions drawn from, or hypotheses confirmed by scientific experiments; they describe rather than explain. A law describes a natural phenomenon that has been proven to occur invariably whenever certain conditions are met.

A theory is an explanation supported by many tests and accepted by a general consensus of scientists. It may not be subject to the type of testing a law requires. Thus, the theory of relativity and the theory of evolution cannot yet be called laws. But, they represent the best thinking of scientists trying to describe the universe in objective terms.

Aha! Scientists, like the rest of us, often have trouble remaining objective. There are cliques, in-fights, jealousies, and other emotions between scientists and scientific groups just as there among non-scientists. Perhaps because it is so conservative, science often clings to theories long after they have grown long in tooth, and new advances are accepted only after the old school dies off.

In "Kicking the Sacred Cow" Hogan looks at several widely accepted scientific truths - at least as the current establishment sees them. He offers alternatives, some of which, frankly, I'd expect to see in supermarket tabloids.

But, he does so reasonably, rationally, and in a non-argumentative manner.

It is mind-expanding, not because all the theories for which he offers alternatives are incorrect, but because he is pointing out that there may be other explanations that produce the same scientific outcome as currently accepted theories.

I don't know that Hogan convinced me to change any of my ideas (which are normally scientifically orthodox). Knowledge has long passed my poor ability to encompass, so I must rely on what the best scientific opinion is in my understanding of the universe in which I live.

But now I wonder... Perhaps I am accepting orthodoxy too readily. "Think," Hogan seems to be saying. "Think, don't just believe."

TV, movies, novels, music - they all tell me not to think, but to just accept. What a radical idea Hogan has presented: We should not take the concensus as the truth, but just as the starting point for it.

If you read this book carefully, and you're conversant with current scientific thought in the areas Hogan addresses, you will have great difficulty closing the book after the final chapter and finding your outlook on the sciences unchanged.

Good for Hogan. Whether you agree with him or find his arguments absurd, you will at least think about your understanding of the universe we all live in.

Any book that can make a person stop, think, and possibly re-evaluate scientific thought is good, in my opinion. Yours may differ, but we won't differ on the fact that this is a genuine thought-provoking work.
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Kicking the Sacred Cow: Heresy and Impermissible Thoughts in Science
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