Monday, August 15, 2005

The attractions of wing-nuttery

*Sigh* This little episode of Amazonian insanity when dealing with book reviews [found via Biocurious] reveals my favorite book-buying site to have feet of clay. Or, at the very least, some mentally-challenged review reviewers -- "We ask that you not use [your review] as a place for discourse on the subject matter" ?? I feel like I've just been told that Santa Claus isn't real.

What is it about "Everything you know about scientific theory X is wrong !" books [like the one in question above] that exerts such a fascination on people and leads them to gush about how "thought-provoking" and "ambitious" they are ? One [admittedly uncharitable] explanation that comes to mind is that it's grounded in a sort of "Hah, that'll show those hoity-toity science types who think they have all the answers !" Schadenfreude by people who just couldn't quite get their head around science in school, are still carrying around a chip on their shoulder about it and think that reading and agreeing with a book like this proves that they're smarter than those damn nerds after all. Part of the blurb for the book seems to support that theory: "
The Final Theory shows how one simple principle in nature finally explains all of these mysteries and more. Enjoy reading simple explanations for the most perplexing problems in physics today – without having to be a science scholar." In other words, "read this book so you too can have a strong opinion about something you really know nothing about".

I think it'd be great to be able to take these "debunkers" of science, lock them up somewhere with whatever raw materials they want and tell them "Ok, if you're so #$%$ smart and know how nature operates, why don't you use your superior theories to build a working telephone. Here's our number -- when you call us on your phone, we'll let you out."


Blogger Son1 said...

You ain't seen the half of it.

Check this out. (And read the captions.)

"Newton... Einstein... MacCutcheon..."


I think I'm going to start a new blog called "The Appliance of Science" (as if they'd never heard of the word "application?"). Or maybe that will be the name of my next (first) band. I can see it now: something large and gigantic, covered in the arcane scrawls of insane mathematicians, dials and meters everywhere, chugging and emitting steam, a slow-moving world-devouring contraption... :-D

10:12 AM  

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