The Borderlands of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense

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Oxford University Press, 2002 - Science - 360 pages
In The Borderlands of Science, Michael Shermer takes us to the place where real science, borderline science--and just plain nonsense--collide. Shermer argues that while science is the best lens through which to view the world, it is often difficult to decipher where valid science leaves off and borderland, or "fuzzy" science begins. To solve this dilemma, he looks at a range of topics that put this boundary line in high relief. For instance, he debunks the many "theories of everything" that try to reduce the complexity of the world to a single principle. 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. And he reveals how scientists themselves can be led astray, as seen in the infamous Piltdown hoax--the set of ancient hominid bones discovered in England that after decades turned out to be an enormous forgery.
From SETI and acupuncture to hypnosis and human cloning, this enlightening book will help readers stay grounded in common sense amid the flurry of supposedly scientific theories that inundate us every day.

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User Review  - Razinha -

I like Michael Shermer and find his skeptical approach to be extremely fair, tending to the understated. The title attracted me, but I found this book to be uneven and tedious, which is disappointing. Read full review

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User Review  - dw0rd - LibraryThing

Not so much a book as a collection of essays. At least, it seems that way. The level of detail and purpose vary from chapter to chapter, making for a bumpy ride. It's all worthwhile but a reader ... Read full review


Blurry Lines and Fuzzy Sets The Boundary Detection Problem in the Borderlands of Science
Borderlands Theories
Borderlands People
Borderlands History
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About the author (2002)

Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Skeptic magazine ( and the Director of The Skeptics Society. He is a Visiting Associate at the California Institute of Technology, and hosts the Skeptics Lecture Series at Cal Tech. He has authored several popularbooks on science, scientific history, and the philosophy and history of science, including Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time, How We Believe: The Search for God in an Age of Science, and Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust NeverHappened and Why Do They Say It? (with Alex Grobman). He lives in Los Angeles, California.

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