Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Park, Robert. Voodoo science: The road from foolishness to fraud. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. 230pp.

This year, during my sabbatical, I'm really trying to read a lot of science non-fiction, as opposed to my usual diet of science fiction. And so far, it's been great. Bryson, Suzuki and now Park have all given me both entertainment and information and perhaps even a little knowledge. Suzuki and Park, in particular, perhaps have even shared a bit of wisdom.

Both books, the Suzuki bio I finished a few weeks ago and this book, Voodoo Science by Robert Park, are about teaching the world to be a little more rational, a little more humane and a little less gullible.

So, Bob Park, physicist, author and debunker. The weekly dose of rationality in his What's New newsletter. Subscribe, you won't regret it. Every week is a few pointed notes about the world, a few skeptical take-downs of those who would cheat, coverup or manipulate science to their ends. That's what Voodoo Science is all about.

One by one, Park takes on various frauds and deceptions, both by those in the scientifif community and politicians, media or corporations, and debunks them. From homeopathy to the international space station, from perpetual motion machines to electromaganetic fields causing cancer, from Roswell & UFOs to abuses of quantum theory by Deepak Chopra and his ilk, Park is unafraid to tackle the big issues. And he always makes sure that the news media get the scorn they deserve for sloppy and ill-informed coverage.

A grim and depressing book in some ways? Sure. But Park always keeps the tone light and pace fast. A good and entertaining book, as well as an important one.



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