The Fortieth Anniversary of E.O. Wilson’s On Human Nature
This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the publication of E.O. Wilson’s book On Human Nature. The book remains, even for modern readers of a skeptical or humanist mindset, a touchstone in the debate about whether human nature is innate, and therefore universal, or imprinted, and therefore cultural and necessarily local in space and time. …
Following Disgraced Doctor Andrew Wakefield
In her documentary about the disgraced doctor most identified as promoting the scientifically unproven claim that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism, veteran filmmaker Miranda Bailey gives a human touch to Andrew Wakefield and tries to be neutral while framing the film with his attempt to bring a defamation lawsuit in Texas …
The Most Hated Man in America: Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgment. By Mark Pendergrast. Mechanicsburg, PA: Sunberry Press, Inc. ISBN 1-62006-765-9. 391 pp. Paperback, $19.95. Jerry Sandusky is a monster, a serial pedophile!” is so deeply entrenched in the American psyche that it is virtually impossible to mention another view without arousing contempt …
The Riddle of Consciousness
Consciousness is not a nonphysical phenomenon. It is an evolved user-illusion, “a system of virtual machines that evolved, genetically and memetically, to play very special roles in the ‘cognitive niche’ our ancestors have constructed over the millennia.”
Strange Songs from the Fringe
Scientifical Americans: The Culture of Amateur Paranormal Researchers. By Sharon Hill. McFarland, Jefferson, N.C., 2017. ISBN-13: 978-1476672472. 277 pp. Kindle edition, $18.99; paperback, $35. When odd birds sing their strange songs, does it change the forest? Do others, who don’t know any better, mimic those songs until the forest is filled with dissonance? This is …
Yet Another Title on ‘Quantum’ Consciousness
You Are the Universe: Discovering Your Cosmic Self and Why It Matters. By Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos. Harmony Books, New York, 2017. ISBN 978-0-307-88916-4. 288 pp. Hardcover, $16.37. The authors of You Are the Universe are two highly qualified pseudoscientists well suited to write this title. Deepak Chopra, the guru of consciousness, needs no …
Jettisoning Freud’s Spurious Contributions
Freud, the Making of an Illusion, by American literary critic and UC Berkeley emeritus professor Frederick Crews, offers spellbinding writing and musters compelling evidence and scientific reasoning. His verdict in his latest book on Freud is devastatingly negative: Freudian psychoanalysis offers us neither a tenable theory of mind nor a proven psychotherapy. Crews considers Freud’s …
The Interplay of Science Fiction and Pseudoscience
Pseudoscience and Science Fiction. By Andrew May. Springer, New York, 2017. ISBN 978-3-319-42604-4. 181 pp. Softcover, $19.99. Although I don’t know of any specific data on the point, I suspect that there is some overlap between the science fiction fan community and the skeptical movement, at least to the extent that science fiction readers and …
Repeating Erroneously the Words of Another
Hemingway Didn’t Say That: The Truth Behind Familiar Quotations. By Garston O’Toole. Little A, New York, 2017. ISBN 978-150-393341-5. 383 pp. Softcover, $14.95. To answer the question suggested by the title of Garson O’Toole’s book, what Hemingway didn’t say—supposedly in order to win a bet that he could write a short story only six words …
Truth to Power on Climate
Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. Al Gore. John Shenk and Bonni Cohen, directors. Documentary. Actual Films/Participant Media, 2017. 1 hour 40 minutes. Eleven years after his much-discussed documentary on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore returns with his follow-up, Inconvenient Sequel, released in theaters nationwide this past August. In this film, Gore devotes less …
The Martin Gardner Correspondence with Marcello Truzzi
Dear Martin, Dear Marcello: Gardner and Truzzi on Skepticism. Edited by Dana Richards. World Scientific, Singapore, 2017. ISBNs: 9789813203693 hardcover, 9789813203709 softcover. 458pp. Hardcover, $88; softcover, $48. Martin Gardner (1914–2010) was a famous writer and philosopher of science, and Marcello Truzzi (1935–2004) was trained in sociology. Both had backgrounds in magic, giving them intimate knowledge …
Loch Ness Solved – Even More Fully!
The Loch Ness Mystery Reloaded. By Ronald Binns. Zoilus Press, London, UK, 2017. ISBN 9781999735906. 222 pp. Paperback, £12. With his new book, The Loch Ness Mystery Reloaded, Ronald Binns takes another bow as the man who cast the net and drew up from the depths the ultimate truth about the fabled creature, Nessie. Binns …
A History of Physics Worth Fifty-One Thousand Words
Drawing Physics: 2,600 Years of Discovery from Thales to Higgs. By Don S. Lemons. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2017. ISBN: 978-0262035903. 246 pp. Hardcover, $27. In this little red book, Don S. Lemons has assembled a very useful and accessible collection of fifty-one physics concepts organized according to era and illustrated with drawings by …
The Madhouse Effect: A Brilliant Climate Collaboration
The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy by Michael E. Mann and Tom Toles
Houdini’s Remarkable Female Detective
Houdini’s ‘Girl Detective’: The Real-Life Ghost-Busting Adventures of Rose Mackenburg. Compiled and introduced by Tony Wolf. 2016. ISBN: 9-781537-143965. 93 pp. Paperback, $8.00; Kindle edition, $6.00. Rose Mackenberg was a female private detective in the 1920s, an unusual occupation for a woman even today. She worked very closely with Harry Houdini in exposing mediums and …
Why We Often Get Risks Wrong
Geoffrey Kabat debunks elusive health risks in his new book.
A Good Analysis of Bad UFO Information
Robert Sheaffer is one of the—if not the—world’s top experts on the subject of unidentified flying objects and claims of extraterrestrials, and he shares that knowledge in his new book Bad UFOs.
The Bigfoot Obsession
Monster Trek: The Obsessive Search for Bigfoot. By Joe Gisondi. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2016. ISBN 978-0-8032-4994-3. 278 pp. Softcover, $18.95. With Joe Gisondi’s Monster Trek: The Obsessive Search for Bigfoot, the subtitle says it all. Gisondi, an outsider, traveled with Bigfooters—those credulous folk motivated to search for the fabled creature despite zero scientific …
Research into Astrology Made Accessible
Tests of Astrology: A Critical Review of Hundreds of Studies. By Geoffrey Dean, Arthur Mather, David Nias, and Rudolf Smit. Ain Publications, Amsterdam, 2016. ISBN 978-90-824929-0-3. Softcover, 484 pages, 44 euros (about $47) posted airmail to any country direct from the publisher (email@example.com). Not available in bookshops. Pay by direct ebank transfer or PayPal. …
Creating Scientific Controversies: Uncertainty and Bias in Science and Society. By David Harker. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 2015. ISBN 978-1-107-69236-7. 260 pp. Softcover, $28.99. Do you remember the term manufactroversy? A portmanteau of manufactured and controversy, it appeared in 2008 as the intentional product of a marketing and advertising agency to characterize the supposed controversy …
Pensar claramente sobre el cáncer
Cuando a la gente se le diagnostica cáncer, se vuelve vulnerable y se desespera. Buscan información y esperan encontrar libros de recetas de cocina, relatos milagrosos, medicina alternativa y “curas prohibidas” respecto del cáncer.
The Scientist and the Philosopher
To review the 500-page memoirs of a ninety-seven-year-old, internationally renowned philosopher-scientist is at once an inspiring and challenging task. One cannot help but be inspired by the story of a young boy with an inquiring mind who escapes the intellectual shackles of the fascist society in which he is reared to become a highly respected …
What Ghosts Mean
“I have to admit that I’ve come to envy the people who reported having poltergeists in their home; they have a ready explanation for anything amiss in their household”
Our Conspiracy-Generating Brains
Brotherton argues that conspiracy theories, ultimately, are stories not unlike those we have been telling each other throughout the ages.
The Story Of The Gene
The Gene: An Intimate History. By Siddhartha Mukherjee. Scribner, New York, 2016. ISBN 978-1476733500. 592 pp. Hardcover, $32.00. Nearly six years ago, I reviewed Siddhartha Mukherjee’s book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (SI, May/June 2011). It was hands-down one of the best books I have ever read on a medical topic. …
A Guide to Ghost Hunting Guidebooks: NO MORE! Please! (Part 2)
Such incredible claims should have equally incredible documentation provided. Nope. Nothing. It’s practically lying.
Heavy with Praise, Light with Skepticism
Extrasensory Perception: Support, Skepticism, and Science by Edwin C. May and Sonali Bhatt Marwaha
A Guide to Ghost Hunting Guidebooks: NO MORE! Please! (Part 1)
No ghost handbook has ever led anyone to catch and identify ghosts; they can only lead you to interpret something as a ghost.
A Celebrity’s Experience in Scientology
In her new book, Troublemaker, written with Rebecca Paley, Remini interweaves stories of her personal and professional life with her history in and growing doubts about Scientology.
Clear Thinking About Cancer
He doesn’t blame people who go off in pursuit of a promised miracle cure. He understands their desperation and the comfort of having a hope to cling to. Rather, he blames those who offer that anything without a fair, accurate, and accountable foundation.