In this companion volume to John Grant's highly successful Discarded Science - Ideas That Seemed Good at the Time, we are introduced to the world of fraud and deception rather than the gentler realms of mistake and ignorance. Grant is as entertaining as ever, but his theme is serious and timely.
A panoply of scientific greats (including Ptolemy, Galileo, John Dalton, Robert Hooke and Isaac Newton) fake their results . . . Reiner Protsch's fraudulent dating of fossil humans . . . Shinichi Fujimura's astonishing diversity of "fossil finds" that seemed to rewrite Japan's racial history . . . Miracle cures for cancer . . . Copernicus, Galileo and the Roman Catholic Church's influence on cosmology . . . Christian Fundamentalism's war against evolution, environmentalism and stem-cell research . . . Racist pseudoscience - two words that encompass much . . . The Nazis' promotion of pseudosciences like the World Ice Theory in an attempt to suppress "Jew Science" like Relativity . . . Stalinism and the promotion of Lysenkoist pseudogenetics in order to suppress bad news about Soviet agriculture . . . "Star Wars" and the Pentagon's fascination for other extraordinarily expensive, taxpayer-funded sciencefictional superweaponry that physics tells us cannot possibly work . . . The Bush Administration's attempts to impose sexual-abstinence programs and to suppress scientific information on global warming . . . The "burning of the digital books" on environmental damage . . .
In an age when politicians and zealots alike are using their every effort to corrupt our and our children's knowledge and understanding of science, and to a terrifyingly large extent succeeding, this witty, erudite and joyously readable book could not be more urgent.
It was very depressing to realize that, when looking around for regimes that have systematically corrupted science within the past century or so, three stand out quite distinctly, head and shoulders above the rest of the herd: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, and Bush's America. At times when working on the three relevant chapters I had to remind myself which chapter was the one in front of me: the parallels between the three regimes, in terms of their vigorous attempts to trample honest science underfoot, are as horrifically close as that - John Grant, 2007.
"John Grant is the living heir of Martin Gardner." —Gregory Frost
John Grant's handsome little hardcover book Corrupted Science: Fraud, Ideology, and Politics in Science is an eye‑popping tour through the history of bad (very, very bad) science, from eugenics to geocentrism to Lysenkoism. Grant – whose stern historical tone is liberally relieved with bravura dry sarcasm – approaches his topic from the general to the specific. ... Exhaustively researched and footnoted, Corrupted Science is excellent reading for anyone who believes that science is worth fighting for.
—Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing
You remember how much fun Grant's 2006 Discarded Science was and scoop this up in search of chewy anecdotal goodness. The tone this time is considerably darker, though, as Grant ascribes to malice what cannot be adequately explained by stupidity. His comparison of the current administration's assault on scientific truth and inquiry goes even further than Christopher Mooney's 2005 The Republican War on Science– but then again the administration's had two more years to run amuck.
—USA Today, "Best of 2007"
An absolute gem of a book that exposes much fraud, ideology and politics corrupting science. This is a critically important book that everyone needs to read. ... Non‑scientists need to read it so that they can see exemplars of what is being said and how attempts are being made to fool them. Scientists need to read it for purposes of professional integrity and to be aware of what is being said in the name of their profession. Indeed I would strongly recommend that every science school teacher, every college and university lecturer should get a copy and check it for examples of how their particular specialism is being misrepresented and then include these in their class/lecture notes. It goes without saying that this is fundamental reading for anyone on science communication courses.
Corrupted Science is far more important a book than its title suggests. It pains me to say this (as my own climate change book is just out) but if you only get one non‑fiction book this year then make it this one.
—Jonathan Cowie, Concatenation
I tremendously enjoyed John Grant's latest book on scientific deviance – a rip‑roaring adventure through the dark underbelly of science. If you are still under the belief that science is an impartial, noble pursuit of knowledge untainted by ego or undue influence then prepare to be shocked as Grant illustrates that throughout history, dark forces have undermined the scientific process time and time again – invariably to the detriment of both science and the public. ...
One of the joys of Grant's book is his willingness to name names when it comes to the villains (and occasional heroes) of science – this is not a mild‑mannered or impartial report. Grant exposes those responsible for the subversion of science through the ages – not only its major players such as Lysenko and Hwang Woo‑Suk, but even those small‑time tricksters whose malfeasance hardly registered outside of scientific circles.
—Sense About Science
... this astonishingly comprehensive book ... Grant could have done what the likes of Richard Dawkins do and focused on the usual suspects, like those claiming to have found ways of communicating with the dead. Instead he has pulled together a vast array of evidence to show that mainstream scientists are more prone to human failings than some would like us to think. Corrupted Science makes for salutary but gripping reading.
—Robert Matthews, BBC Focus
highly recommend this book to anyone who like me is a "narrow scientist", that is, one who is so focused on their particular field that they forgot that there were other fields out there. This book certainly reminded me that 1) there is a lot of science that exists outside of organic chemistry and that 2) scientists are human, and hence all the traditional human flaws: ego, greed, need for peer recognition etc. ... In the end, Mr. Grant does a fine job in illustrating what happens when the scientific method gets in the way of our less desirable human traits.
As a writer and a reviewer, I sometimes come across a book that hasn't gotten enough attention but seems to deserve that attention not just for its quality, but for its relevance. Corrupted Science by John Grant is one of these books.
It provides unique, entertaining, sometimes horrifying testimony to fraud and deception in science – from Medieval times to today. In light of the attack on rationality not just from private sources (see the current controversy over Ben Stein's propaganda film Expelled) but also our own government, a book that not only catalogues what is happening today but also puts it in a wider context is not only relevant but necessary. ... a wonderfully written and relevant book ...
—Jeff VanderMeer, Ecstatic Days
I just finished the book last night, and my highly unscientific verdict – amazing! ... The writing is clear and witty, and the content seems (to the best of my knowledge) spot on. The few places that I found myself in minor disagreement with Grant's comments, he followed them up and proved me depressingly wrong. ...
To conclude, Corrupted Science is an excellent and highly readable book about fraud and ideological fallacy in science, and serves both as an introduction and a reference for those interested in learning more about the tenuous thread by which hangs rationality.
—Skulls in the Stars
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