Monday, September 26, 2011

Science Friction Review

Science Friction: Where the Known Meets the UnknownScience Friction: Where the Known Meets the Unknown by Michael Shermer

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Michael Shermer likes his statistics. Man, this book is full of lists and numbers and comparisons ad infinitum between lists and numbers (there is actually an entire chapter just discussing lists!).

I expected to like this much more than I did. Making it to the end was something of an endurance contest. For the most part, Shermer presents compelling arguments, but he engages in too much begging of questions (e.g., "we've evolved for monogamy") without even entertaining the possibility that there might be some dissent. And, hey, I just read another book ("Sex at Dawn"--highly recommended) that spends two hundred pages debunking that assertion.

He also devotes a great deal of time in apologetics for Stephen Jay Gould and Napoleon Chagon (the latter of whom is also discussed in "Sex at Dawn"), which simply did not interest me. Yeah, science is a petty political minefield like every other human endeavor--go figure--now get back to informing me about science...

My favorite parts were all at the beginning: Psychic for a day, the kerphlaple over "Brights", and the Darwinian implications of the Mutiny on the Bounty. So, basically I can recommend the first hundred or so pages... After that, you're on your own.

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