Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud

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9780198604433: Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud

This book examines the social, economic and political forces that elicit or support flawed or fake science and sustain it in the face of often overwhelming contrary evidence. "Voodoo Science" is intended to include pseudoscience, or irrational beliefs dressed up in scientific garb, the misuse of science to deliberately mislead or confuse, and pathological science, in which scientists persist with their interpretations long after the evidence has decisively ruled against them in the perspectives of an objective observer. The book attempts to delineate the contexts in which fraud can arise in science, and also to assess the trends in the Public's ability to assess scientific issues and integrate scientific understanding in their judgements and world view. The story is told through examples ranging from impossible perpetual motion machines to magnet therapy. Drawing on his eighteen years of exposing bad science, Park does not hesitate to name names and point fingers. Park lays the ultimate blame for "voodoo science" not on the media, the government, or the scientific illiteracy of the public, but on the scientific community itself, and the failure of scientists to communicate to the public.

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Review:

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

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 http://www.opa.org/WN/. He lives in Adelphi, Maryland.

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Park, Robert L.
Editorial: Oxford Univ Pr (2003)
ISBN 10: 0198604432 ISBN 13: 9780198604433
Nuevos Paperback Cantidad: 1
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Revaluation Books
(Exeter, Reino Unido)
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Descripción Oxford Univ Pr, 2003. Paperback. Estado de conservación: Brand New. 230 pages. In Stock. Nº de ref. de la librería zk0198604432

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