The Borderlands of Science

The Borderlands of Science : Where Sense Meets Nonsense

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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 America'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.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 368 pages
  • 162.1 x 241.6 x 32mm | 696.71g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • numerous halftones and line illustrations
  • 0195143264
  • 9780195143263

Review quote

"Quick-witted, shrewd, open-minded--these barely describe Michael Shermer's latest confection of intriguing stories, arguments, and insightful observations. His cruise through the shadowlands of science makes a fascinating expedition of the mind."--Gregory Benford, author of Deep Time"With his awesome wit and wisdom, Michael Shermer tackles a fantastic range of important questions. No one else does science writing better than Shermer. The Borderlands of Science is sure to be an instant classic."--Clifford A. Pickover, author of Wonders of Numbers"Whether the issue is alternative medicine or environmental threats, cloning or race, cosmology or hypnosis, Shermer keeps his focus on the central question: Where do we draw the line between solid science, pseudoscience, and the untamed territory in between? This is a detailed, multi-faceted exploration of these ever-shifting borderlands, as well as the fascinating people who populate them."--K.C. Cole, author of The Hole in the Universe: How Scientists Peered Over the Edge of Emptiness and Found Everything "Quick-witted, shrewd, open-minded--these barely describe Michael Shermer's latest confection of intriguing stories, arguments, and insightful observations. His cruise through the shadowlands of science makes a fascinating expedition of the mind."--Gregory Benford, author of Deep Time "With his awesome wit and wisdom, Michael Shermer tackles a fantastic range of important questions. No one else does science writing better than Shermer. The Borderlands of Science is sure to be an instant classic."--Clifford A. Pickover, author of Wonders of Numbers "Whether the issue is alternative medicine or environmental threats, cloning or race, cosmology or hypnosis, Shermer keeps his focus on the central question: Where do we draw the line between solid science, pseudoscience, and the untamed territory in between? This is a detailed, multi-faceted exploration of these ever-shifting borderlands, as well as the fascinating people who populate them."--K.C. Cole, author of The Hole in the Universe: How Scientists Peered Over the Edge of Emptiness and Found Everything "Quick-witted, shrewd, open-minded--these barely describe Michael Shermer's latest confection of intriguing stories, arguments, and insightful observations. His cruise through the shadowlands of science makes a fascinating expedition of the mind."--Gregory Benford, author of Deep Time "With his awesome wit and wisdom, Michael Shermer tackles a fantastic range of important questions. No one else does science writing better than Shermer. The Borderlands of Science is sure to be an instant classic."--Clifford A. Pickover, author of Wonders of Numbers "Whether the issue is alternative medicine or environmental threats, cloning or race, cosmology or hypnosis, Shermer keeps his focus on the central question: Where do we draw the line between solid science, pseudoscience, and the untamed territory in between? This is a detailed, multi-faceted exploration of these ever-shifting borderlands, as well as the fascinating people who populate them."--K.C. Cole, author of The Hole in the Universe: How Scientists Peered Over the Edge of Emptiness and Found Everything "Quick-witted, shrewd, open-minded--these barely describe Michael Shermer's latest confection of intriguing stories, arguments, and insightful observations. His cruise through the shadowlands of science makes a fascinating expedition of the mind."--Gregory Benford, author of Deep Time"With his awesome wit and wisdom, Michael Shermer tackles a fantastic range of important questions. No one else does science writing better than Shermer. The Borderlands of Science is sure to be an instant classic."--Clifford A. Pickover, author of Wonders of Numbers"Whether the issue is alternative medicine or environmental threats, cloning or race, cosmology or hypnosis, Shermer keeps his focus on the central question: Where do we draw the line between solid science, pseudoscience, and the untamed territory in between? This is a detailed, multi-facetedexploration of these ever-shifting borderlands, as well as the fascinating people who populate them."--K.C. Cole, author of The Hole in the Universe: How Scientists Peered Over the Edge of Emptiness and Found Everythingshow more

About Michael Shermer

Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Skeptic magazine (www.skeptic.com) 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 popular books 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 Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? (with Alex Grobman). Shermer is also a radio personality and the host of the Fox Family Channel's Exploring the Unknown. He lives in Los Angeles, California.show more

Rating details

509 ratings
3.55 out of 5 stars
5 16% (83)
4 37% (190)
3 34% (174)
2 10% (51)
1 2% (11)
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