The Borderlands of Science : Where Sense Meets Nonsense: Where Sense Meets Nonsense

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Oxford University Press, USA, May 17, 2001 - Science - 368 pages
41 Reviews
As author of the bestselling Why People Believe Weird Things and How We Believe, and Editor-in-Chief of Skeptic magazine, Michael Shermer has emerged as the nation's number one scourge of superstition and bad science. Now, in The Borderlands of Science, he takes us to the place where real science (such as the big bang theory), borderland science (superstring theory), and just plain nonsense (Big Foot) collide with one another. Shermer argues that science is the best lens through which to view the world, but he recognizes that it's often difficult for most of us to tell where valid science leaves off and borderland science begins. To help us, Shermer looks at a range of topics that put the boundary line in high relief. For instance, he discusses the many "theories of everything" that try to reduce the complexity of the world to a single principle, and shows how most fall into the category of pseudoscience. He examines the work of Darwin and Freud, explaining why one is among the great scientists in history, while the other has become nothing more than a historical curiosity. He also shows how Carl Sagan's life exemplified the struggle we all face to find a balance between being open-minded enough to recognize radical new ideas but not so open-minded that our brains fall out. And finally, he reveals how scientists themselves can be led astray, as seen in the infamous Piltdown Hoax. Michael Shermer's enlightening volume will be a valuable aid to anyone bewildered by the many scientific theories swirling about. It will help us stay grounded in common sense as we try to evaluate everything from SETI and acupuncture to hypnosis and cloning.

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Review: The Borderlands of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense

User Review  - Goodreads

Putting this one down for right now. I skimmed the last part because I started getting bored. I've really enjoyed Shermer's other work, but this one isn't doing it for me. I'll pick it back up at a later date to see if the break in the relationship was him or me. Read full review

Review: The Borderlands of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense

User Review  - Goodreads

I'm a fan of Michael Shermer, and I hate to rate a book of his so poorly, but I see no way around it, as this book is badly put together. I could barely keep my attention from wandering away through ... Read full review


Blurry Lines and Fuzzy Sets The Boundary Detection
Borderlands Theories
Reality Must Take Precedence in the Search
Nonsense in the Name of Science
Cloning Tests the Moral Borderlands
Racial Differences and What They Really
Punctuated Equilibrium and the Nature
Borderlands People
Freud Darwin and the HeroMyth in Science
Carl Sagan and the Difference Between
Why the Grass is Always Greener in
Mozart and the Myth of the Miracle of Genius
Science at its Best in the Great
Piltdown and the SelfCorrecting Nature

Alfred Russel Wallace and the Nature
Crossing the Boundary from Science
About the Author

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Page v - The proper study of mankind is man. Placed on this isthmus of a middle state, A being darkly wise, and rudely great : With too much knowledge for the sceptic side, With too much weakness for the stoic's pride, He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest; In doubt to deem himself a god, or beast; In doubt his mind or body to prefer...
Page v - Created half to rise, and half to fall; Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all; Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl'd; The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!

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About the author (2001)

Michael Shermer is the director of the Skeptics Society and the host of the Skeptics Lecture Series at the California Institute of Technology. He teaches science, technology, and evolutionary thought in the Cultural Studies Program at Occidental College.

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