Shermer, a skeptic by nature and trade (he founded Skeptic magazine), reveals how scientific reasoning can remove blinders in any field of study and why some biases are, nevertheless, unavoidable. The book's first essays are highly engaging and will have readers re-examining their own ways of thinking about the world. The introduction, for instance, demonstrates with optical illusions and anecdotes how the mind can be tricked into believing the untrue. "Psychic for a Day" has the author using psychology and statistics to become a medium. "The New New Creationism" refutes the claim that intelligent-design theory is a bona fide scientific theory. When Shermer (Why People Believe Weird Things) makes his essays personal, as in "Shadowlands," in which he describes trying unproven treatments to help his dying mother, he draws readers in. Unfortunately, data often take precedence over prose, as in "History's Heretics," which includes 25 lists of the most and least influential people and events of the past, including the author's top 100. Shermer furthers the cause of skepticism and makes a great case for its role in all aspects of human endeavor, but he'll lose many readers in a bog of details. 46 b&w illus.
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The author of several books and a columnist for Scientific American, Shermer here gathers a dozen of his articles from other sources, such as Skeptic, the magazine he founded. Eclectic in range, the pieces can be personal (an account of his mother's death), formidably theoretical (a deep dive into historical causation), or playful (an essay about top-10-type lists of great persons, events, or inventions). The predominant subject, though, is the one that has garnered Shermer such a loyal readership: confronting unscientific thought. Shermer delights in debunking superstition and ignorance about science and considers it a worthy vocation since 45 percent of Americans, according to a 2001 Gallup survey Shermer cites, believe that God created humans a few thousand years ago. In one piece, the author illustrates how easily a poseur--himself--can give convincing psychic readings, and another exposition disputes so-called intelligent design theory, a species of creationism. Homages to his heroes, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and the late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, conclude the collection and indicate its variety. Gilbert Taylor
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Do you feel like you often have more questions than answers? Do you wonder if others feel the same? This is a wonderful read combining science, history and human story in a... Read morePublished on April 12, 2013 by Doglover
I've read a few books by Dr. Shermer and I suppose I had high expectations of this book because of the ones I had previously read. This book is a composition of several essays. Read morePublished on June 1, 2011 by Nickolas A. Johnson
"Science Friction - Where the Known Meets the Unknown" by Michael Shermer, © 2005
Skeptical religious doctrine enclosed. Mr. Read more
I'll be brief here. The book is alright, and as someone who is interested in science and the philosophy of science, I had fun reading it. Read morePublished on February 8, 2008 by Arun Rajendran
Shermer blows away many common myths and exposes the way our faulty thinking gets us in trouble, It is similar to Eric Hoffer's book, "The True Believer," as a psychological... Read morePublished on January 21, 2007 by Maria Folsom
There are two kinds of people in the world; those who question what they see and hear and those who prefer to leave the contemplation to others. Read morePublished on July 28, 2006 by E. David Swan
I like science writers because of their obvious intelligence and (usually) great writing skills. Shermer is more that a great writer. Read morePublished on December 2, 2005 by Avid Reader
Being a sceptic takes courage. Scepticism means assaulting dogmas - read "entrenched stupidity" - and coping with the reaction. Read morePublished on May 29, 2005 by Stephen A. Haines
Oh how superior are these skeptics, these "Brights." This book is undoubtedly flashy and clever; and yet it contains blunders of an elementary nature. Read morePublished on May 22, 2005 by Richard Jarman