In this companion volume to John Grant's highly successful Discarded Science - Ideas That Seemed Good at the Time, we are introduced to the world of fraud and deception rather than the gentler realms of mistake and ignorance. Grant is as entertaining as ever, but his theme is serious and timely.
A panoply of scientific greats (including Ptolemy, Galileo, John Dalton, Robert Hooke and Isaac Newton) fake their results . . . Reiner Protsch's fraudulent dating of fossil humans . . . Shinichi Fujimura's astonishing diversity of "fossil finds" that seemed to rewrite Japan's racial history . . . Miracle cures for cancer . . . Copernicus, Galileo and the Roman Catholic Church's influence on cosmology . . . Christian Fundamentalism's war against evolution, environmentalism and stem-cell research . . . Racist pseudoscience - two words that encompass much . . . The Nazis' promotion of pseudosciences like the World Ice Theory in an attempt to suppress "Jew Science" like Relativity . . . Stalinism and the promotion of Lysenkoist pseudogenetics in order to suppress bad news about Soviet agriculture . . . "Star Wars" and the Pentagon's fascination for other extraordinarily expensive, taxpayer-funded sciencefictional superweaponry that physics tells us cannot possibly work . . . The Bush Administration's attempts to impose sexual-abstinence programs and to suppress scientific information on global warming . . . The "burning of the digital books" on environmental damage . . .
In an age when politicians and zealots alike are using their every effort to corrupt our and our children's knowledge and understanding of science, and to a terrifyingly large extent succeeding, this witty, erudite and joyously readable book could not be more urgent.
It was very depressing to realize that, when looking around for regimes that have systematically corrupted science within the past century or so, three stand out quite distinctly, head and shoulders above the rest of the herd: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, and Bush's America. At times when working on the three relevant chapters I had to remind myself which chapter was the one in front of me: the parallels between the three regimes, in terms of their vigorous attempts to trample honest science underfoot, are as horrifically close as that - John Grant, 2007.
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For his nonfiction, John Grant has twice been the winner of the Hugo Award, science fiction's highest honour, and has received various other international awards. He was a Contributing Editor to The Phaidon Concise Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and was Co-Editor of Planet Earth: An Encyclopedia of Geology. Scottish-born, he lives in New Jersey, USA.