Yes, we have no neutrons: an eye-opening tour through the twists and turns of bad science

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Wiley, Apr 1, 1997 - Science - 180 pages
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A. K. DEWDNEY is Associate Professor of Mathematics at the University of Western Ontario. Past author of the popular "Mathematical Recreations" column in Scientific American, he has written several other books, including 2000f Nothing (also published by Wiley), The Armchair Universe, and The Planiverse: Computer Contact with a Two-Dimensional World. 17 02 Yes, We have no Neutrons "Have you really detected an alien civilization?" "We’re not sure. There’s no way to know." This answer could not have been better calculated to raise curiosity about the incident still further, guaranteeing a great deal of publicity for Project Ozma. A better answer would have been, "As far as we know, the anomalous signal originated right here on Earth." —from Yes, We Have No Neutrons In this lively excursion, the acclaimed author of 2000f Nothing takes a funfilled, in-depth look at eight famous (or rather, infamous) cases of bad science: highly touted discoveries or projects that are astonishing examples of serious scientific slipups. Originally trumpeted as impressive projects full of promise, some of this century’s most publicized scientific studies—SETI (the search for extraterrestrial intelligence), Binet’s IQ theory, neural nets—have been fatally flawed. From the alleged detection of N rays to the Biosphere 2 debacle, Yes, We Have No Neutrons unveils exactly what went wrong. Mr. Dewdney takes us behind the scenes to reveal Why bad science occurs for a variety of reasons, whether due to faulty methodology or flawed interpretations of results. In some instances, researchers—amateur as well as experienced—neglected key ingredients of the scientific method, leading to conclusions that were either not feasible or simply could not be reproduced. That accounts for the unfortunate circumstance of not only René Blondlot and his N rays, but also Frank Drake and his failed Project Ozma. In Other cases, the pursuit of glory played a major role. When overzealous researchers declare their conclusions without strong proof, the results can lead to such notorious Findings as the now infamous cold fusion discovery. In Yes, We Have No Neutrons, A. K. Dewdney provides a delightfully entertaining blend of cogent analysis, keen insight, and sharp-eyed wit, offering irrefutable proof that bad science makes great reading!

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Contents

Of Neutrons Sorcerers and Apprentices
1
The Rays That Never Were
19
The Unconscious
47
Copyright

6 other sections not shown

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About the author (1997)

A. K. DEWDNEY is Associate Professor of Mathematics at the University of Western Ontario. Past author of the popular "Mathematical Recreations" column in Scientific American, he has written several other books, including 2000f Nothing (also published by Wiley), The Armchair Universe, and The Planiverse: Computer Contact with a Two-Dimensional World. 17 02 Yes, We have no Neutrons "Have you really detected an alien civilization?" "We’re not sure. There’s no way to know." This answer could not have been better calculated to raise curiosity about the incident still further, guaranteeing a great deal of publicity for Project Ozma. A better answer would have been, "As far as we know, the anomalous signal originated right here on Earth." —from Yes, We Have No Neutrons In this lively excursion, the acclaimed author of 2000f Nothing takes a funfilled, in-depth look at eight famous (or rather, infamous) cases of bad science: highly touted discoveries or projects that are astonishing examples of serious scientific slipups. Originally trumpeted as impressive projects full of promise, some of this century’s most publicized scientific studies—SETI (the search for extraterrestrial intelligence), Binet’s IQ theory, neural nets—have been fatally flawed. From the alleged detection of N rays to the Biosphere 2 debacle, Yes, We Have No Neutrons unveils exactly what went wrong. Mr. Dewdney takes us behind the scenes to reveal Why bad science occurs for a variety of reasons, whether due to faulty methodology or flawed interpretations of results. In some instances, researchers—amateur as well as experienced—neglected key ingredients of the scientific method, leading to conclusions that were either not feasible or simply could not be reproduced. That accounts for the unfortunate circumstance of not only René Blondlot and his N rays, but also Frank Drake and his failed Project Ozma. In Other cases, the pursuit of glory played a major role. When overzealous researchers declare their conclusions without strong proof, the results can lead to such notorious Findings as the now infamous cold fusion discovery. In Yes, We Have No Neutrons, A. K. Dewdney provides a delightfully entertaining blend of cogent analysis, keen insight, and sharp-eyed wit, offering irrefutable proof that bad science makes great reading!

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