Scientific error, says Robert Park, "has a way of evolving ... from self-delusion to fraud. I use the term voodoo science to cover them all: pathological science, junk science, pseudoscience, and fraudulent science." In pathological science, scientists fool themselves. Junk science refers to scientists who use their expertise to befuddle and mislead others (usually juries or lawmakers). Pseudoscience has the trappings of science without any evidence. Fraudulent science is, well, fraud--old-fashioned lying.
Park is well-acquainted with voodoo science in all its forms. Since 1982, he has headed the Washington, D.C., office of the American Physical Society, and he has carried the flag for scientific rationality through cold fusion, homeopathy, "Star Wars," quantum healing, and sundry attempts to repeal the laws of thermodynamics. Park shows why a "disproportionate share of the science seen by the public is flawed" (because shaky science is more likely to skip past peer review and head straight for the media), and he gives a good tour of recent highlights in Voodoo. He has a rare ability to poke holes compassionately, without excoriating those taken in by their fondest wishes. Park is less forgiving of scientists (especially Edward Teller) when he thinks they've fallen down on the job, a job that should include helping the public separate the scientific wheat from the voodoo chaff. --Mary Ellen Curtin
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Robert Park, in these 10 well-written essays for a lay audience, uses pathological science as a starting point for far-reaching discussions of science and society. Park is an articulate and skeptical voice of reason about science." -- Kenneth R. Foster, Science
"In Voodoo Science, Park leads us on a sharp-tongued, meandering trip through fringe science's back alleys."--Savannah News
"[A] superb book."--The Washington Times
"A brilliant bit of Debunkery!'Debunkery' may be a new coinage, but...its meaning is clear and it surely describes Voodoo Science, this admirable new scientific polemic by a University of Maryland physics professor, Robert L. Park."--The Star-Democrat
"Few books have had the impact on my thinking of Charles Mackay's Extrordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, published more than 150 years ago. It taught me that massive numbers of individuals have fallen victim to bizarre manias. Professor Park's Voodoo Science teaches us that, even in this age of science, it is still happening. My enthusiasm for this book leads me to recommend it, without reservation, to the intellectual community and The Rest of Us. Long life to Robert Park and his fellow thinkers who, sometimes with little profit to themselves, are so willing and able to lead us out of what I call 'dumbth.'"--Steve Allen, author and TV personality
"Comparable to the muckracking efforts of James Randi and Carl Sagan in the magazine The Skeptical Inquirer, Park's book should be required reading for all science writers, journalists, and politicians."--Library Journal
"Bob Park, part urbane physicist, part scrappy Texan, is a national resource. He's been observing scientists and their wannabes and their hustlers for decades, with the unblinking eye of his trade, and now he tells us what he's seen, with the narrative cadence of Will Rogers and the blunt-lucid prose of Hemingway. As he crafts his fascinating tales of pride and sham and delusion, he invites us as well to contemplate human nature in its struggle to make sense of, and find a context in, this astonishing universe. I couldn't put it down."--Ursula Goodenough, Professor of Biology, Washington University, and author of The Sacred Depths of Nature
"New discoveries in science and technology have not only fueled an explosive economy but also have provided unheard-of opportunities to those who would mislead the public whether through their own naivete or downright guile. The snake oil business is alive and well. Fortunately, we have a superb scientist to strip away the mumbo jumbo of these fraudulent schemers and reveal them for what they are. It is frightening to read how successful some of these purveyors of nonsense have been, even in the highest reaches of our government. All of us can thank Park for saving us from ourselves."--Val L. Fitch, Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor and Chairman, Department of Physics, Princeton University, Ex-President of the American Physical Society, Nobel Laureate in Physics
"Science, as Richard Feynmann suggested, is what we have learned about how not to fool ourselves. There are few--far too few--accomplished scientists, skilled writers, who care greatly about the ways in which people DO fool themselves. Pseudoscience, anti-science, and simple fraud are frighteningly popular and dangerous ways, today, of fooling ourselves about reality. Professor Park is one of those who understand the scams and take the trouble to expose them. Voodoo Science is a powerful but readable assemblage of his findings and ideas."--Paul Gross, University Professor of Life Sciences, University of Virginia, and co-author of Higher Superstition
"In Voodoo Science, Robert Park demonstrates how even science itself sometimes gets put in the service of delusion and self-delusion. From Star Wars to cold fusion, EMFs to UFOs, these dipatches from the front lines of scientific foolishness reveal how the things we want to believe often keep us from learning the things we need to know."--K.C. Cole, author of the bestseller The Universe and the Teacup: The Mathematics of Truth and Beauty