BOOK: Borderlands of Science (was Re: GRRR Vent Vent.)

From: Josh Martin (
Date: Mon Oct 15 2001 - 14:09:17 MDT

Micheal Shermer addresses the charateristics of quack science and the fuzzy
"borderlands" between crazy and genius in _Borderlands of Science_. Expands
on many of the same insights in this thread regarding the warning signs of

josh martin

----- Original Message -----
From: "Harvey Newstrom" <>
To: <>
Sent: Sunday, October 14, 2001 2:51 PM
Subject: RE: GRRR Vent Vent.

> Colin Hales wrote:
> > A lovely little text, it catches the method so well. I remember reading
> > Sitchin's _The Twelfth Planet_ when I was very young, and at first
> > finding it extremely convincing. Then gradually I started to see the
> > holes, and thinking of it now it fits your description perfectly (see
> > for someone
> > who picks it apart).
> I likewise read Erich von Daniken's "Chariots of the Gods?" when I was a
> youth. I actually looked in the bibliography and sought out the sources
> that I could examine them for myself. What I found was that von Daniken
> deliberately misstated data and deliberately quoted items out of context.
> The original quotes clearly did not say what von Daniken made them seem to
> say.
> My second similar experience was with a well-known science popularizer who
> wrote about real science. He wrote one book that included a scientific
> mystery. A particular equation fit older data, but failed with more
> data. By working backwards from the known data, I was able to adapt the
> equations to fit all known data. At the age of 14, I wrote the author
> thinking I has solved some sort of scientific mystery. His response was
> that the book was written for money only. He really wasn't sure if this
> mystery really existed, nor was he interested in actually trying to solve
> any scientific riddles. He was a writer only, and not really a scientist.
> These two events definitely shaped my later skepticism in my adult life.
> --
> Harvey Newstrom <>
> Principal Security Consultant, Newstaff Inc. <>
> Board of Directors, Extropy Institute <>
> Cofounder, Pro-Act <>

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