- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (November 15, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195147103
- ISBN-13: 978-0195147100
- Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.6 x 5.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 122 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #385,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud Reprint Edition
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Scientific error, says Robert Park, "has a way of evolving ... from self-delusion to fraud. I use the term voodoo science to cover them all: pathological science, junk science, pseudoscience, and fraudulent science." In pathological science, scientists fool themselves. Junk science refers to scientists who use their expertise to befuddle and mislead others (usually juries or lawmakers). Pseudoscience has the trappings of science without any evidence. Fraudulent science is, well, fraud--old-fashioned lying.
Park is well-acquainted with voodoo science in all its forms. Since 1982, he has headed the Washington, D.C., office of the American Physical Society, and he has carried the flag for scientific rationality through cold fusion, homeopathy, "Star Wars," quantum healing, and sundry attempts to repeal the laws of thermodynamics. Park shows why a "disproportionate share of the science seen by the public is flawed" (because shaky science is more likely to skip past peer review and head straight for the media), and he gives a good tour of recent highlights in Voodoo. He has a rare ability to poke holes compassionately, without excoriating those taken in by their fondest wishes. Park is less forgiving of scientists (especially Edward Teller) when he thinks they've fallen down on the job, a job that should include helping the public separate the scientific wheat from the voodoo chaff. --Mary Ellen Curtin --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
"Robert Park, in these 10 well-written essays for a lay audience, uses pathological science as a starting point for far-reaching discussions of science and society. Park is an articulate and skeptical voice of reason about science." -- Kenneth R. Foster, Science
"Few books have had the impact on my thinking of Charles Mackay's Extrordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, published more than 150 years ago. It taught me that massive numbers of individuals have fallen victim to bizarre manias. Professor Park's Voodoo Science teaches us that, even in this age of science, it is still happening. My enthusiasm for this book leads me to recommend it, without reservation, to the intellectual community and The Rest of Us. Long life to Robert Park and his fellow thinkers who, sometimes with little profit to themselves, are so willing and able to lead us out of what I call 'dumbth.'"--Steve Allen, author and TV personality
"I would like to make this book compulsory reading for medical students in their first year ... With brilliant insight and clarity of prose, [Park] describes the inevitable consequences of a debate between the true believer and sceptics ... This book was a joy and an entertainment."--Healthwatch Newsletter
Top customer reviews
A personal apology : I did not read deeply enough through Mr. Park's other topics to (at this time) be able to provide an honest review of them. But I want to close with the observation that the author's space presentation(even by itself) would make his book 'well worth the read'.
"Voodoo Science" is a very entertaining and informative book that will help people judge which claims are science and which are voodoo. Emeritus professor of physics at the University of Maryland, Robert L. Park take the readers on a ride on forces that seem to conspire to keep alive voodoo science: pathological science, junk science, pseudoscience, and fraudulent science. This enlightening 240-page book is composed of the following ten chapters: 1. It's Not News, It's Entertainment, 2. The Belief Gene, 3. Placebos Have Side Effects, 4. The Virtual Astronaut, 5. There Ought to Be a Law, 6. Perpetual Mobile, 7. Currents of Fear, 8. Judgment Day, 9. Only Mushrooms Grow in the Dark, and 10. How Strange Is the Universe?
1. Well written and accessible prose for the layperson.
2. Interesting topic of voodoo science. Its characteristics.
3. Fascinating essays that cover a wide gamut of "voodoo" science.
4. Does a wonderful job of explaining the basic science behind each essay. Thermodynamics, quantum mechanics...
5. Scientific claims embellished by the news media and why that is so.
6. The fascinating story of cold fusion (Pons and Fleischmann). "The scientific process transcends the human failings of individual scientists--but with cold fusion, the process was in for a jolt."
7. Pseudoscience. "This was pseudoscience: all the talk of "string theory" and "consciousness fields" and "time-series analysis," was meant to give the appearance of science."
8. Defining science.
9. The author explains various logical fallacies committed by people. Gambler's fallacy, Pascal's wager, sharpshooter fallacy, confirmation bias...
10. The fallacy of homeopathy. Explanation of the mechanism.
11. Debunking the magnet fad as a healing tool. Biomagnetic therapy.
12. The International Space Station in perspective. Surprising but compelling take.
13. Former Senator John Glenn shines in an eye-opening Congressional hearing.
14. Perpetual energy machines are a popular pursuit among inventors...Joe Newman's Energy Machine is highlighted.
15. Cancer scares "caused" by electromagnetic fields, microwaves.
16. How courts confront "junk" science.
17. UFO incidents, abductions. Project Mogul. Great stuff here.
18. Deepak Chopra's pseudoscience exposed...always a good thing.
19. Great quotes, "The message the public should take away is that it is NOT the psychics and fortune-tellers who can see into the future, it is the scientists."
20. Debunking premonitions and the like.
1. The book is a little dated; it was originally published in 2000...
2. Is a little repetitive.
3. Going back and forth on some of the stories can be confusing.
4. No source material, no links.
5. No formal bibliography.
In summary, I enjoyed this book. Professor Park does a wonderful job of explaining what he means by voodoo science and proceeds to offer a number of fascinating stories. The book is accessible and fun to read. It is a bit repetitive and going back and forth on the stories can be a little confusing but ultimately succeeds in enlightening the reader on what constitutes bad science. A recommended read.
Further recommendations: "Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks" and "Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients" by Ben Goldacre, "Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming 1st (first) Edition by Oreskes, Naomi, Conway, Erik M. (2010)" by Erik M. Conway, "Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy" by Robert M. Hazen "Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America" by Shawn Lawrence, "Lies, Damned Lies, and Science: How to Sort Through the Noise Around Global Warming, the Latest Health Claims, and Other Scientific Controversies (FT Press Science)" by Sherry Seethaler, and "Science Under Siege: Defending Science, Exposing Pseudoscience" by Kendrick Frazier.