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Science: Good, Bad, and Bogus Paperback – June 1, 1989

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Science: Good, Bad, and Bogus + Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science (Popular Science)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 429 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; Reprint edition (June 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879755733
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879755737
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,323,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

For 25 of his 95 years, Martin Gardner wrote 'Mathematical Games and Recreations', a monthly column for Scientific American magazine. These columns have inspired hundreds of thousands of readers to delve more deeply into the large world of mathematics. He has also made significant contributions to magic, philosophy, debunking pseudoscience, and children's literature. He has produced more than 60 books, including many best sellers, most of which are still in print. His Annotated Alice has sold more than a million copies. He continues to write a regular column for the Skeptical Inquirer magazine.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Mike Christie on May 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
Gardner has never pulled his punches when it comes to claims of ESP, paranormal abilities, spoon-bending and the like. This book collects 38 pieces he wrote over thirty years, half book reviews and half articles. All of them attack, and in most cases dismember, pseudoscience and its claims.
The book reviews are acid and make interesting reading, but the articles are the meat of the book, because here is where Gardner assembles fully coherent arguments not just to demolish a foolish book, but to show in detail how someone like Uri Geller fools people. It becomes abundantly clear as you read this book that any competent magician (Gardner is one) can duplicate any of the feats of ESP or spoon-bending cited. It's sad, but not surprising, that this never makes the headlines the way Geller's original claims did back in the seventies.
In addition to pieces on modern figures, some less well-known than Geller, Gardner also writes about figures such as Conan Doyle, who was a passionate believer in spiritualism; and Freud, who had a long and very close friendship with a numerologist. There is a short piece on Einstein, who is often cited by parapsychologists as an establishment figure who nevertheless believed in ESP. Gardner comprehensively demolishes the basis for this citation, quoting letters from Einstein showing that he had no such belief, and was in fact very sceptical.
The only reason I haven't given the book five stars is that its very nature as an anthology prevents it from really achieving coherence. It's an excellent addition to the sceptic's armoury, though, and I strongly recommend it, along with another of Gardner's along similar lines: "Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science".
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
I first read this book almost twenty years ago and even though some of the events and principals have faded into oblivion, the basic theme has not. While there are some negative consequences of science, in many ways they are secondary to the enormous benefits. The number of ways in which the scientific approach has benefited our lives are clearly too numerous to mention. And yet, there are those who, largely for personal gain, choose to ignore it when it is advantageous to do so. When that advantage is financial, we can at least understand them, even while we consider them despicable. The saddest of all are the ignorant masses who fall victim to the nonsense that the charlatans dispense.
In this book, Gardner primarily takes on the purveyors of pseudoscientific nonsense rather than the followers, debunking ESP, UFOs and other views that fly in the face of mountains of scientific data that has been painstakingly accumulated and repeatedly verified. There are simple, effective counter arguments against most of the areas of pseudoscience, and Gardner quite effectively makes them, at times properly separating the arguments when they need to be separated. For example, the idea of life after death and mediums communicating with the dead are two separate issues. One can expose the false medium without proving that there is no life after death. It would be so simple for any departed spirit to send a special message that would be conclusive proof that they were alive, and yet no medium has ever managed to do it. The best that is offered is a general "all is good here" style of drivel, which means nothing.
My favorites in these stories are always those that invoke the giant conspiracy explanation of events. Especially hilarious are the proponents of UFOs who firmly believe that the U.S.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By S. R. Harms on August 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
A classic compendium from the skeptic of skeptics, Martin Gardner. Though the book is now a little dated, the articles and essays on the dubious psychic "research" conducted by Targ and Puthoff are classic examples of why people believe in bizarre things simply because they want them to be true. This should be required reading for high-school and college students.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Brian Connors VINE VOICE on May 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
Remember how in the 1960s and 1970s "human potential" was such a big deal, and people were digging around in psychic phenomena and roll-your-own religion, and then Uri Geller got busted on the Tonight Show and it all went away overnight?

Oh, wait, that didn't happen, did it? Hm. Well, you ought to read this then.

Published in 1981 as "human potential" gave way to "New Age", this is one of Martin Gardner's classic essay collections, a four-fifths-century update on the high weirdness that infected pop culture over the previous twenty years. It's a sequel of sorts to Fads and Fallacies, Gardner's seminal 1952 work that laid the grounds for future skeptical writing, and includes the original 1951 essay "Hermit Scientists" that led to the creation of the latter book. From there, SGBB covers widely varied grounds, not only the aforementioned psychic phenomena (in which a great many of the leading lights of paranormal research such as Rhine, Puthoff, Targ, Sarfatti, and others, are revealed as disturbingly credulous for experienced scientists), but magic, Sherlock Holmes, televangelists of the 1970s, Steven Spielberg (Gardner's review of Close Encounters of the Third Kind was incredibly negative and foresaw many future reviewers' complaints about Spielberg's perceived superficiality), and abuses of astrophysics and quantum mechanics that were directly ancestral to the handwaves of Deepak Chopra and others who invoke "quantum" as a thought-stopping cliche.
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