"narrates and debunks the myths prevalent among the public and among scientists ... To paraphrase a paleontological cliche 'absence of evidence (of fossils) is not evidence of absence (of the existence and slow evolution of animals through stages),' the fact that Einstein denies being an atheist did not mean that he was a 'believer' in God or in religion in the commonly understood sense of the words -- a point Martinez makes with skill and agility."
― New Straits Times
"Busting scientific myths ... fascinating and thought-provoking book."
"Myths are actually important because they serve a purpose... the reality is interesting too, and that's a real strong point of the book, and I really enjoyed it, I found out interesting things that I hadn't known before."
― Physics World
, magazine and podcast
"entertaining reading and a serious inquiry ... intriguing ... almost any reader is likely to find something new. ... powerful food for thought for anyone who believes that historical scholarship is something more than telling engaging stories."
― Annals of Science
"Martínez shows how bald tales are embroidered or contextualized into stories that catch the imagination and become authoritative and unchallenged. ... where others had doubted whether Charles Augustin Coulomb accurately reported his demonstration that electrical forces obeyed an inverse-square law, Martínez has actually been able to repeat it: replications of long-past experiments are tricky, so that vindication is worth celebrating. ... Martínez provides a reliable, informal, and knockabout route into history of science."
"particularly authoritative and interesting in this new book's five essays on the myths surrounding Einstein. ... fascinating and thought provoking. ... he succeeds admirably in a deft manner with both a light touch and numerous insights."
― Physics in Perspective
"Did Galileo really study gravity by dropping objects from the Leaning Tower of Pisa, as many of us learned in school? According to science historian [Alberto A.] Martínez, a rich variety of tall tales, myths, and fictitious accounts have congealed around famous scientists 'like plaster, paint, and acrylic gloss.' In a laudable effort to separate the fragments of truth from the hype surrounding a number of eureka moments in the history of science, Martínez skillfully reveals how even the best biographers and writers make plausible but incorrect connections between historical events and often rely on their imagination instead of the facts. VERDICT: Martínez’s more truthful reconstructions of these mythlike stories about Newton, Einstein, Darwin, and other scientists are only a starting point for a fascinating analysis of the historical and social factors that created these legends and keep them alive. This book should be required reading for all college science majors. The author’s meticulous and engaging use of historical evidence will also appeal to history of science enthusiasts."
“Combines the best qualities of popular science writing with the thorough documentation that one would expect from a professional historian. Highly recommended.”
“Martínez does four valuable things in this book: he refutes several well-established myths and misunderstandings in the history of science, he finds a common thread to many of the older myths in a hidden history of Pythagoreanism, he shows how to detect such mistakes in the work of others, and how to avoid them in one’s own work. It is at once a work of solid scholarship and an education in how to do history of science and it can be read with pleasure and excitement by anyone who cares about the place of science in the modern world.”
—Jeremy Gray, The Open University
“Alberto Martínez has successfully completed a very difficult task. He has written a book concerning various myths about the history of science that will be very interesting to, and understood by, a generally educated reader. At the same time, his scholarship is so careful that the book will be of value to professional historians and philosophers of science. The episodes, which range from Galileo to Einstein, are fascinating and well chosen. I strongly recommend this book.”
—Allan Franklin, University of Colorado
“Martinez has pointed his finger at interesting and often unexplored aspects of science history: Our urge to know leads us to interpolate facts and interpretations into history in a process of speculative invention. These interpolations get picked up, recycled, reinforced, and evolve until we cannot separate fact from fiction any more. Pythagoras is the patron saint of this process. It is more enjoyable to disentangle real history from these interpolations—and to understand why these interpolations were made in the first place—than to accept them and live with them. Myths, after all, are meaningful, and as meaningful can be explored.”