A fascinating trawl through the history of those scientific idea which seemed plausable, at least to some, but turned out to be wrong. Includes falt earth, hollow earth, lost worlds and bizarre ideas about evolution; Piltdown man and other scams; alchemy, aliens, humours and homunculi.
This is a special expanded version of our format that is 300+ pages. Included are:
Defunct Science and Pseudoscience
A lightning-quick broad-brush history of science, focusing on its transformation from a wing
of philosophy via Bacon's introduction of the Scientific Method into the most powerful tool of understanding known to us. How scientific ideas have all the while fallen by the wayside as science has evolved. The difference between this and pseudoscience.
World in Upheaval
From the flat Earth at the centre of the Universe via the Copernican Revolution to the smallish
planet orbiting an average star. The Ptolemaic cosmologies. Theories like that of the hollow Earth
(and indeed the hollow Sun) - and do we live inside a hollow Earth? - as well as the annular theory,
catastrophism, elective polarity, the expanding Earth, macrocosm and microcosm, neptunism, plutonism, Velikovskianism . . .
Lost Worlds, Hidden Races, and Unknown Creatures
Atlantis, Lemuria, Mu, the Hesperides, the myths of great past civilizations destroyed by catastrophe. Races such as the Amazons and the Yeti, and cryptozoology.
The Evolutionary Wars
Early and bizarre ideas (primarily Greek) about evolution. Lamarckism and Lysenkoism. Wallace
and Darwin unravel the notion of natural selection. The Balance of Nature and the Chain of
Being. Piltdown Man and others. Ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny. Root races, succeeding races
of Man, the Shaver hoax, parallel evolution. The myth of racial purity. Creationism and Intelligent
Design. Panspermia, and notions of alien-assisted evolution.
Aliens Among Us
The Plurality of Inhabited Worlds. Ideas about what Venusians, Martians and others must be
like. The Moon Hoax and the Martian canals. Antichthon. Ancient astronauts à la von Däniken and
the various UFO crazes. The 1896 7 Airship Flap. Aliens from inside the hollow Earth.
Alchemy, animal electricity, animal magnetism, argentaurum, the Aristotelian elements, astrology,
caloric, the celestial sphere, cold fusion, continuous creation, the corpuscular theory of light,
effluvium, the fifth planet, globulism, Lawsonomy, levity, the luminiferous aether, the music of the
spheres, N-rays, orgonomy, pangenesis, perpetual motion, phlogiston, polywater, seriality, serial time,spontaneous generation, substantialism, the cool Sun, Vulcan, the World Ice Theory.
Us . . . Or Something Like Us
Humours and homunculi, the acquisition of virtues through cannibalism, telegony and tailed
men defunct and bizarre ideas about the way human and other biology
works, and the transposition of those ideas into "medicine". Allopathy, biomagnetics, colour therapy, dianetics, eye exercises,focal sepsis, iatrochemistry, iridiagnosis, leeching, mammarism, naturopathy, phrenology, psychicmedicine, radionics, the Rapture, the Doctrine of Signatures, spondylotherapy, swaddling, telegony,trepanation, vis plastica, vrilium, zone therapy . . .
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.