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Science, Sense & Nonsense Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Length: 256 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Dr. Joe Schwarcz

"Dr. Schwarcz… has a knack for translating science into a language that anyone can understand and actually enjoy."
-Toronto Sun

"There is a vivacity in pure science that somehow gets lost… Schwarcz is doing his part to bring the joie de vivre back."
-Kansas City Star

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

Dr. Joe Schwarcz is director of McGill University's Office for Science and Society, where he teaches courses on nutrition, health, and the applications of chemistry to everyday life. Among his many honours are the Royal Society of Canada's McNeil Award, and the American Chemical Society's renowned Grady-Stack Award, of which he is the only non-American recipient. Schwarcz is the host of a weekly radio show on CJAD in Montreal and CFRB in Toronto, and writes a weekly column for The Gazette (Montreal). He is the author of a number of bestselling books.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2609 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Canada (November 3, 2009)
  • Publication Date: November 3, 2009
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0031TZBGA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #776,228 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In sixty two essays (not sixty one as noted on the cover) divided into six chapters (plus an introduction and an afterword), the author discusses various issues in the world of science concentrating mostly on chemistry. Starting with various nutritional and health issues and progressing towards broader scientific topics, the author not only explains the dynamics of various chemicals, but he also debunks various misconceptions. He discusses the antics of various charlatans and misguided/misinformed individuals and exposes some of their tricks and how they arrive at some of their mind-boggling conclusions. This author's writing style is one of the highlights of this book. His witty choice of words in well-selected circumstances can so often bring a smile to the reader's face. His prose is clear, very friendly, quite authoritative and most captivating. The sixty two bite-sized sections make for a quick, but most educational read. The only possible difficulty that a reader may encounter is pronouncing some of the chemicals mentioned; but this does not detract from reading enjoyment or from understanding the issues at hand. This is a book that can be relished by anyone.
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Format: Paperback
Dr Schwarcz has packed a lot of information into this book, and much of it does seem valid. However, there is a really big hole in the way this info is presented: NO notes or bibliography, so some of his most intriguing, and perhaps controversial, comments just kind of hang out there in the air, begging for a way to pursue the topic.

The good professor is clearly an adept scientist, and he provides lots of helpful information. For example, one of his topics deals with the role of sugar in diabetes, and his discussion of glucose levels in the blood (pages 45ff) is thorough and clear. Showing the breadth of the information covered, there is a similarly intense discussion of detergents and how they work. Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) are no longer what WalMart and other stores want to sell, and Schwarcz tells us why beginning on page 113. But, as these examples show, this kind of material begs for source information.

One other problem with not having solid source information: at times, some of the debunking the author engages in sounds a little too much like a PR release from a big chemical conglomerate, justifying some action or product that has been roundly criticized by pretty reputable sources. he sad part is that much of what the book covers needs authoritative debunking, and the author seems to do that most of the time. There are times, however, when his commentary sounds like a big chemical company's PR release. One example is his dismissing those who are concerned with nanotechnology with the term "utter nanosense."

So is the book worth reading? Yes. Does it need to be taken with a grain or two of salt? Well, at the least, it needs to be read near a computer with a good search engine ready to help confirm (or question further) Schwarcz's comments. It might even be used in a science class as a case study in the need for documentation and references.
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Format: Paperback
This book contains a series of short essays on various chemistry-related topics. Many of these essays are geared towards clearing up common misconceptions and educating the public about a range of topics from nutrition to medicine to environmental chemicals.

The essays are well written, readable, and entertaining. They're generally fairly short, making them easy to digest in a single sitting. Overall the topics are interesting and diverse. The one issue I had with this book is the lack of references though. Most science books I've read include footnotes, making it easy to independently verify what is being said. The essays related to my own areas of expertise and a couple others I did some research on were accurate, so I think the rest of the book probably is too - but it would have been nice if Dr. Schwarz had included this for readers with a scientific background.
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