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Nonsense on Stilts

Massimo Pigliucci (University of Chicago Press: May 2010), 332 pages.

Creationists who dismiss Darwin’s theory of evolution. Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. Climate change deniers who dismiss the warming planet as a hoax. These are just some of the groups that, despite robust scientific evidence, embrace pseudoscientific beliefs and practices. Why do they believe bunk? And how does their ignorance threaten us all? Noted skeptic Massimo Pigliucci sets out to separate the fact from the fantasy in this entertaining exploration of the nature of science, the borderlands of fringe science, and– borrowing a famous phrase from philosopher Jeremy Bentham–the nonsense on stilts. Covering a range of controversial topics, Pigliucci cuts through the ambiguity surrounding science to look more closely at how science is conducted, how it is disseminated, how it is interpreted, and what it means to our society. The result is in many ways a "taxonomy of bunk" that explores the intersection of science and culture at large. ~ Product Description

Table of Contents

    • Introduction Science versus Pseudoscience and the “Demarcation Problem” 1
    • Chapter 1 Hard Science, Soft Science 6
    • Chapter 2 Almost Science 24
    • Chapter 3 Pseudoscience 56
    • Chapter 4 Blame the Media? 84
    • Chapter 5 Debates on Science: The Rise of Think Tanks and the Decline of Public Intellectuals 104
    • Chapter 6 Science and Politics: The Case of Global Warming 134
    • Chapter 7 Science in the Courtroom: The Case against Intelligent Design 160
    • Chapter 8 From Superstition to Natural Philosophy 187
    • Chapter 9 From Natural Philosophy to Modern Science 208
    • Chapter 10 The Science Wars I: Do We Trust Science Too Much? 233
    • Chapter 11 The Science Wars II: Do We Trust Science Too Little? 253
    • Chapter 12 Who’s Your Expert? 279
    • Conclusion So, What Is Science after All? 302
    • Notes 307
    • Index 329