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Voodoo science - Robert L. Park

9780198604433
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Title
Voodoo science - the road from foolishness to fraud
Author
Robert L. Park
format
Paperback / softback
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Language
English
UK Publication Date
20020321

Science fascinates us by its power to surprise. Occasionally, unexpected results that appear to violate accepted laws of nature can herald revolutionary advances in human knowledge. Many 'revolutionary' discoveries, turn out to be wrong, however, and even eminent scientists have had their careers tarnished, mistakenly thinking that they have made a great discovery. This is pathological science, in which scientists are subject to self-delusion. And ifscientists can sometimes fool themselves, how much easier it is to craft arguments deliberately intended to befuddle jurists with little or no scientific background. This is junk science, typically consisting of theories of what could be so, with little supporting evidence to prove that it is so.Sometimes there is no evidence at all. Ancient beliefs in demons and magic still sweep across the modern landscape, but they are now dressed in the language and symbols of science. This is pseudoscience, which its practitioners may believe to be science, just as witches and faith healers may believe they can call forth supernatural powers.What may begin as an honest error, has a way of evolving from self-delusion to fraud. As Robert Park points out, the line between foolishness and fraud is thin, and because it is not always easy to tell when that line is crossed, he uses the term voodoo science to cover them all: pathological science, junk science, pseudo-science, and fraudulent science. His book is intended to help the reader recognize voodoo science and to understand the forces that conspire to keep it alive.Scientists, Park observes, insist that the cure for voodoo science is to raise the level of scientific literacy. But what is it that a scientifically literate society should know? It is not specific knowledge of science that the public needs, Park argues, so much as a scientific world view - an understanding that we live in an orderly universe governed by natural laws that cannot be circumvented by magic or miracles.

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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. Author of more than a hundred scientific papers on the structure of crystal surfaces, he writes regularly for the New York Times and other newspapers and is a regular contributor of science features for the Washington Post. Professor Park lives in Adelphi,Maryland.

Review from previous edition Park sets the formulas aside to get at the essence of scientific thinking, and shows through real life examples how people (including scientists) are led astray.
Psychology Today September 2000

this book is entertaining and provocative reading
Redaktion Angewadte Chemie No. 6 2002

It is an admirable analysis: wittily written, vivid and put together without a hint of malice.
The Observer, 17/03/2002

..page by page the book is a source of great pleasure. Park is a superb storyteller, he writes gracefully with energy and charm, and the varieties of silliness he chronicles are fascinating. Most scientists will enjoy the book immensely.
Nature 7 September 2000

Professor Park does more than debunk, he crucifies...You'll never again waste time or your money on astrologers, 'quantum healers', homeopaths, spoonbenders, perpetual motion merchants, or alien-abduction fantasists.
Richard Dawkins

addictively entertaining...a brave and brilliant quest
The Times 12 October 2000

If you want more books on sideways thinking, go straight to Robert Park's excellent Voodoo Science: The road from foolishness to fraud.
New Scientist 18/11/00

...a brave and witty quest to alert us to the nonsense being dressed up as science...It is an addictively entertaining read, and a must for anyone who thinks that shuffling their houseplants around will bring them love and a lottery win in 2001.
Times Books, 6th December 2000

This book was a joy and an entertainment. I read it like a good novel coupled with the sense of self-improvement...This book I didn't want to end and its review was a labour of love.
Prof Michael Baum, Healthwatch Newsletter April 2001

Type
BOOK
Keyword Index
Pseudoscience.|Popular culture.|Errors, Scientific.
Country of Publication
England
Number of Pages
230

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