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1 Beaverton Science Reference- General

Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud


Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud Cover

ISBN13: 9780195147100
ISBN10: 0195147103
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In a time of dazzling scientific progress, how can we separate genuine breakthroughs from the noisy gaggle of false claims? From Deepak Chopra's "quantum alternative to growing old" to unwarranted hype surrounding the International Space Station, Robert Park leads us down the back alleys of fringe science, through the gleaming corridors of Washington power and even into our evolutionary past to search out the origins of voodoo science. Along the way, he offers simple and engaging science lessons, proving that you don't have to be a scientist to spot the fraudulent science that swirls around us.

While remaining highly humorous, this hard-hitting account also tallies the cost: the billions spent on worthless therapies, the tax dollars squandered on government projects that are doomed to fail, the investors bilked by schemes that violate the most fundamental laws of nature. But the greatest cost is human: fear of imaginary dangers, reliance on magical cures, and above all, a mistaken view of how the world works.

To expose the forces that sustain voodoo science, Park examines the role of the media, the courts, bureaucrats and politicians, as well as the scientific community. Scientists argue that the cure is to raise general scientific literacy. But what exactly should a scientifically literate society know? Park argues that the public does not need a specific knowledge of science so much as a scientific world view--an understanding that we live in an orderly universe governed by natural laws that cannot be circumvented.

About the Author

Robert L. Park is Professor of Physics and former chairman of the Department of Physics at the University of Maryland. He also directs the Washington Office of the American Physical Society. He is a prolific writer of op-eds for The New York Times and other papers, and a regular contributor of science features for The Washington Post. He also posts a provocative and popular weekly electronic column on science issues at He lives in Adelphi, Maryland.

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crowyhead, July 2, 2008 (view all comments by crowyhead)
Robert Park tackles a number of scientific hoaxes and examples of just plain bad science in this illuminating book. He examines several different types of "voodoo science," with examples. There are sciencists that apparently starts out well-intentioned, but want so badly to believe in their own results that they ignore flaws in their research, and eventually start falsifying or obscuring evidence; the chapter on cold fusion covers this rather nicely. There are out-and-out hucksters, like the guys who will try to convince you that they've discovered perpetual motion, and will sell you an engine for a few hundred bucks. And there is "science" that has always been bad science, like homeopathy and astrology, that has nonetheless become an intractable part of our culture. My favorite chapter was on the widespread panic about electromagnetic fields and high-tension power lines. Park very neatly dissects how this started out as a flawed scientific study regarding high-tension power lines and childhood leukemia, was quickly seized upon by several sensationalist journalists, and ultimately took decades and millions of dollars in research to debunk -- and some people STILL believe you can get cancer from living under power lines!
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Product Details

Park, Robert L.
Oxford University Press, USA
Park, Robert L.
null, Robert L.
New York
General science
Philosophy & Social Aspects
Life sciences
Science Reference-Philosophy of Science
Series Volume:
no. 15
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
5.100 x 7.700 in 0.413 lb

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture
Reference » Science Reference » General
Reference » Science Reference » Philosophy of Science
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General

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