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Bogus Science


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Bogus Science

THIS BOOK FOLLOWS Discarded Science (2006), which is primarily concerned with scientific hypotheses – from the woeful to the wonderful – that have fallen by the wayside, and Corrupted Science (2007), which examines the ways in which science has been corrupted either by human weakness or more usually by human mendacity, whether grounded in greed, religious belief, bigotry, ideology, politics or any mixture thereof. Both books naturally contain a fair amount about the pseudosciences, especially those related to alien visitors in either the ancient past or, via UFO, the present; but the pseudosciences are not their focus.

In Bogus Science the concern is far more with the stuff that walks vaguely like science, quacks vaguely like science, but in fact isn't science at all: it's bogus science, or pseudoscience. This isn't to say that there's not a lot of genuine science within these pages – there is – but it's there in the context of illuminating the bogus.

One thing I realized soon after undertaking Bogus Science was that, whereas in the other two books I could have as my aim some approximation, however rough, of comprehensive coverage of the field, the pseudosciences have today become – in part but only in part because of the internet – so prolific, ubiquitous and many-aspected that I didn't have a hope of succeeding in any kind of quasicomprehensive approach. Instead I took my inspiration from the title of that 1973 classic A Random Walk in Science, compiled by R.L. Weber and edited by R. Mendoza. I decided that for the sake of my own sanity and quite possibly my readers' it was better to concentrate on relatively few areas in some detail than to try to touch every possible base with what would necessarily be infuriating briefness. What you have in your hands, then, is not an entirely random walk in pseudoscience, but it's quite deliberately a stroll that goes along some lanes and not others.

Some Review Extracts

"John Grant is the living heir of Martin Gardner." —Gregory Frost

Flat Earths, hollow Earths, geocentrism, Atlantis, faked Lunar landings, spiral time, psychic physics, Charles Fort, ancient technological civilizations, non‑existence of the Dark Ages, perpetual motion, the yeti . . . Bogus Science is a wonderfully engrossing tour of misleading exotica. ... This exploration is huge fun as well as an excellent companion to Grant's Corrupted Science: Fraud, Ideology and Politics in Science. Fascinatingly fantastic. And, yes, of course I recommend it. —Jonathan Cowie, Concatenation

John Grant's Bogus Science gives much of the genuine pleasure I used to get from Fortean Times, with a far more bracing skepticism, and a harder line on the damage done by indulging credulity. ...

Grant's book ranges widely, from ancient and modern geocentrists and flat-earthers to inventors of perpetual motion machines, promoters of zero point energy, discoverers of Atlantis ... and hunters of Bigfoot ..., taking in a lot more along the way. There's something very satisfying in seeing that every design for a perpetual motion machine (weights! magnets! no, wait, water . . .) that I ever scribbled on the back of a physics jotter in high school was anticipated centuries earlier by people much cleverer than myself. ... Beautifully produced, endlessly entertaining and highly recommended. —Ken MacLeod, The Early Days of a Better Nation

Bogus Science and Other Christmas Gifts

Yes, like it or not, now is the time to start thinking about the perfect gift for the geek in your life. ... John Grant has written a trio of great books cataloguing various forms of pathological science. ... The book is full of the idiocies and obsessivenesses of people who believe in the irrational, from Atlantis to faked moon landing, aliens building pyramids, antigravity devices, werewolves, yetis and quantum nonsense. There are, of course, many themes in common: unquestioning self belief, the allure of the mysterious, special knowledge and a refusal to engage with evidence – the themes we see so often in the world of quackery. —The Quackometer (start of "Books for Christmas" section)

The book is very good; as a first statement I can highly recommend it. ... filled with wonderful wry and biting humor ... exhaustively researched, and contains many stories and anecdotes that even a long‑time observer of woo such as myself has not heard of ... Grant's Bogus Science is a wonderfully entertaining and informative book about the insane beliefs of fringe groups. —Skulls in the Stars

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