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13 Things That Don't Make Sense: The Most Intriguing Scientific Mysteries of Our Time by [Brooks, Michael]
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13 Things That Don't Make Sense: The Most Intriguing Scientific Mysteries of Our Time Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 91 customer reviews
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Product Details

  • File Size: 4510 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books; Main edition (July 9, 2010)
  • Publication Date: July 9, 2010
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0031WHC28
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #857,653 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Narramore on December 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was very disappointed. The first chapter on dark matter and dark energy was indeed a baffling mystery of science. However, many of the 13 things were not so baffling or in a couple of cases not even serious phenomenon.

There is a Nobel Prize waiting for the person who figures out cold fusion, but until someone can actually reproduce the experiments there is no "thing" to be baffled by. Occam's razor does not suggest an alien transmission is the best explanation for SETI's "Wow" signal. The "Wow" signal was a onetime event. It is scientific frustration that we don't have more data from the event, but it isn't one of the most baffling mysteries in science.

The situation gets even worse when the author moves on to free will and homeopathy. I was hoping for a book about the frontiers of science. This was not it. Failing to prove negatives does not constitute scientific mystery.
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Format: Paperback
"13 Things That Don't Make Sense" is a list of things that the author apparently dearly wishes were true. If this book had been written as a exercise for the reader in identifying logical fallacies I'm quite sure I would have found it an enjoyable and educational read. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.

Halfway through the book I identified the formulaic pattern by which nearly every chapter seems to have been manufactured. It goes something like this. 1) Identify some topic which the vast majority of scientists that specialize in it have reached a consensus of their general understanding of how it works. 2) Introduce crank "scientist" that has radical ideas about said topic that challenge the consensus. 3) Gain reader's trust by acknowledging a few of the more obvious arguments against the radical ideas and insincerely admit that the crank scientist might actually be wrong. 4) Spend the rest of the chapter a) promoting the radical ideas and b) ignoring, or merely giving lip service to, the more fundamental arguments that demonstrate how patently absurd the ideas actually are and c) painting the scientific community as a closed-minded dogmatic bunch of good-old-boys who don't like outsiders challenging their beliefs.

I was genuinely surprised that there wasn't a chapter titled "Evolution", as the author's pattern of attacking science seems to come directly from the play book of the Discovery Institute. In fact, it would seem that the author co-opted the "Wedge Strategy" of the DI for his own purposes.

Upon finishing the book, I concluded that the author's overarching agenda was to champion homeopathy.
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Format: Paperback
There are times when it is clear the author just does not understand what he is discussing. The worst chapter for this must surely be the one on sexual selection. He clearly just does not know what this is, confusing mate selection with sexual selection in places, and concluding that because some species do not seem to have suffered sexual selection that none have. At one point he cites a prediction of sexual selection as a refutation. Just an awful, awful mess. The first two chapters are quite interesting though.

MUCH better is Nine Crazy Ideas in Science: A Few Might Even Be True
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By Invictus on October 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
It is difficult for a reader with no high-level scientific training to know what can be relied on, in a popular work, and what cannot. Of course, a science book written by an eminent scientist, such as a winner of the Nobel Prize, may be assumed to be correct; but such people are generally too busy to write popular science. This work, about the 13 Things, is an example of the problem.

No doubt the most famous astronomer of the 20th century was Edwin Hubble. Pretty well any popular science book dealing with astronomy or the universe discusses his discoveries. He was of course an American who lived and did his scientific work in the US; he also spent a few years, in his youth, studying at Oxford. It is puzzling indeed that this author thinks he was an Englishman. One asks the question: if you got that elementary point wrong, what else is wrong? I do not propose to multiply examples of what seemed to me to be serious errors; but his explanation of what won Einstein the Nobel Prize is surely quite misleading.

It is surely not asking much to expect that the publisher hire a competent editor to weed out obvious bloopers. in

INVICTUS
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Format: Hardcover
As a scientist who picked this book up by mistake, I find myself in anger by the garbage in this book. It makes me wonder if Michael Brooks is in need of some economic support, this time by throwing away his dignity and self-worth. To address the points in the book; 1. Homeopathy; explained by a well-known phenomena called 'placebo' 2. Methane is not only a product of biology, but a gas that can be produced in hundreds of different ways. It's just carbon and hydrogen bonded together, CH4. Mars is as old as the earth, 4.6 billion years old, the atmosphere is mostly CO2, with traces of hydrogen and hydrogen peroxide. In extreme temperatures and pressures, like beneath the crust, you would expect the molecules to decompose and recombine. Both water H2O and CO2 can decompose at high temperatures and pressures, something we would expect if Mars has been active in the past.

4. There is no evidence that cold fusion has occurred, and to say that cold fusion is impossible is just stupid. Being dishonest is not the way to go when writing a book. 5. We don't have free will, that has never been a controversy, a world with free will would be impossible. 6. Sexual reproduction is perfectly explained by evolutionary theory, sexual reproduction is the only way to increase genetic diversity and it makes organisms the ability to change faster - following drastic changes in nature. A species can change a lot more and a lot faster if it has two sets of DNA to work on and intermingle, there's a reason why asexual species stay almost unchanged for millenia. 7. The universe is expanding, yes. 8. The placebo effect has been explained, and it makes perfect sense for any biochemist.
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