Fred A Levy Haskell (fredcritter) wrote,
Fred A Levy Haskell

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Yes, We Have No Neutrons, by A.K. Dewdney

I told you I had fallen behind in reporting on my reading....

The subtitle on the cover of this one is, "An Eye-Opening Tour through the Twists and Turns of Bad Science." Well we may ask what that means, so I turn to the Introduction: "What is bad science? To begin with, bad science must be distinguished from fraudulent science. ... A preliminary definition might simply state that bad science happens when someone strays in a fatal way from the scientific method."

This is a quick, fun, and interesting read. It has eight chapters, each of which discusses the errors which produced a particular instance of bad science. The one that may be most familiar to us is Martin Fleishmann and Stanley Pons's "discovery" of cold fusion (which, though wrong, turned out to be less wackily impossible than I had thought); the other chapters address N rays, IQ, Sigmund Freud's theories, SETI, neural nets, Biosphere 2, and the racial theories of J. Phillipe Rushton.

Not only is this book fascinating and informative, it helps provide us the tools to think about other claims of scientific findings that may not be as scientific as they first appear. And it's actually great rollicking fun to read to boot!

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