- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Facts, Figures & Fun (October 28, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1904332498
- ISBN-13: 978-1904332497
- Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 1 x 7.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,339,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Discarded Science: Ideas That Seemed Good at the Time...
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"Anyone interested in the history, development, and the refinement of scientific ideas, methods, and thinking will be engrossed by this book." -- School Science Review, June, 2007
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However, Grant spends a good amount of time lambasting crackpots who have cropped up from time to time, many of whom were never taken seriously in the first place. The book would have been much more interesting had he stuck to describing what was the orthodox thinking, even if it was wrong. A Rogue's Gallery of Nutcases would have made an entertaining (other) book.
The illustrations in the book are black line drawings with red backgrounds that are very tough on the eyes.
That being said, some of the actual presentation left a lot to be desired. The peculiar red line-art illustrations (to prevent photocopying..?) were kind of an eyesore, and the book itself has kind of peculiar dimensions (very compact yet extremely thick) that make it somewhat unwieldy and unappealing. If you can look past the unattractive presentation, this book is definitely worth a look. It's fascinating to see what bizarre ideas used to lurk in the shadowy periphery of science, even in the relatively recent past.
Morever, I enjoy popular science in many genres - books about biology, astronomy, paleontology, natural history, ethology, human psychology and physiology - such as Leslie Brothers's 2001 "Friday's Footprint: How Society Shapes the Human Mind," John McCrone's "The Ape that Spoke" (1991) and "The Myth of Irrationality: The Science of the Mind from Plato to Star Trek" (1994), Colin Tudge's "The Tree: A Natural History of What Trees Are, How They Live, and Why They Matter" (2006), Frans de Waal's "The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist" (2002), and so many more.
I could list more titles, but I've mentioned the above for the benefit of those interested in particular disciplines. John Grant has written a delightful study of debunked and outdated theories and beliefs. "Discarded Science" will fascinate everyone from high school readers to adults who retain a youthful sense of wonder, not to mention a sense of humor.
Grant has composed his history of science gone awry as partly biographical, partly chronological, entirely informative and highly entertaining.
As a librarian, I recommend this for all libraries.