I rather enjoy Massimo's writings and thoughts and this book reads much like his discussions with Julia and others. However Massimo does sometimes need somebody to keep him "on track" at times as he has a tendency to wander. Many topics are introduced and then "we'll come back to that later in this book." It can be difficult to keep track! But overall I'm quite happy to listen to Massimo wax philosophic on the topic of pseudoscience.
Yes - if I had friends who would like a philosophical discourse on the nature of science...
Massimo! But failing that Mike Chamberlain would have been better.
The narrator mispronounces a lot of words and some equations (e.g. "two times ten-twenty-three" rather than "two times ten TO THE 23" for scientific notation, and "chumsky" for "chomsky" which just sounds odd to me). Overall I felt the narrator could have done a lot better.
First off the narration is bad. Very boring, almost sounds like a computer voice.
The content is OK. You can definitely tell the writer has a real disdain for conservatives and anyone with religion. His points are good and I agree with many of them, but he cannot hide his obvious disgust with all things conservative. In fact, he spends an entire chapter on one conservative judge who shockingly sided with reason over religion. He kept pointing out that he was a conservative judge as if it is totally beyond the realm of possibility that he would be fair and impartial.
If it was based on the first part alone, I would have been very disappointed with my purchase, but like I said, part 2 makes it worthwhile.
I wanted to enjoy this book, but it is like taking a an interesting course where the professor loves to talk - it is very heavy on data, examples, history, asides, tangents, and very light on conclusions, points or meaning. All I can say it is that there is a lot of information provided by Pigliucci, he overwhelms with detail.
I thought this was a very interesting book. However in my opinion there is one major flaw. There is a distinct lack of objectivity in his book to the point of distraction.
I wish Dr Pigliucci would have toned down his obvious loathing of Christianity. I'm a Christian but I'm not saying this because I disagree with him. In fact I agree with his views on evolution. But his acrimony against Creationists was just distracting. He seemed compelled to make snide remarks against them at every turn; even in areas having nothing to do with evolution.
He also seemed very convinced about the "truth" of so called Man made Global warming. But his evidence was no better than that of the Global warming Deniers. I found it particularly galling how he listed various denier claims and simply labeled them as Myths. As if that were enough to settle the issue? For example He claims that the warming effects of heat islands caused by cities are a myth. But just last month Jan 2013 the University of California, San Diego stated that urban heat island do in fact increase the heat of faraway rural places. What else may he be wrong about in this area?He also claims that the majority of scientists in general and climate scientists in particular feel there is no doubt about human caused Global Warming. The funny thing is that the deniers also claim that the majority of scientists, feel that the issue is not settled! so who do I believe?
But enough negatives. If you filter out the obviously politically nonsense on stilts that Dr Pigliucci puts forward. What you are left with is a fascinating look at what science is and what it is not. I was particularly intrigued by his discussion on Pseudoscience! All in all a very entertaining and educational work!
I'm not necessarily a fan of 'dumbed down' science books, which simply try to be as accessible as possible. But from the title and description of this book, I expected a light hearted and interesting discussion of how to tell good science and bad science apart.
What I actually got was a rather heavy and at times rambling discussion into the philosophy and history of science. Interesting in parts, but not very coherent, and pretty hard work.
I'd recommend Ben Goldacre's 'Bad Science' far more than this one - it's narrower in scope, but a MUCH better listen.
If the speaker had spoken 3x as fast (i listened to it on 2x and it was still to slow); if the book had a thesis -- it doesnt, its scattered statements that anyone who's read a news article or two on quantum physics or darwinism will already know. the opening chapter (to take one of the more egregious examples) is 40 minutes of yammering about what makes something a hard vs soft science, chock full of duh statements like "one thing that impacts the trajectory of different fields of science is how much funding they get from governments and universities." at the end of the chapter, i had no idea what was at stake in the distinction... the whole book feels like it was written bc the author wanted to get something published, not because he had anything to say.
Annoyance that the lack of a point.
Every aspect of culture has is orthodoxies, religious, political, economic, artistic and even scientific. Inherent in each orthodoxy are their articles of faith, dogmas, adherents, defenders, evangelists and prophets. There is no fault with any of these, but they must be understood for what they are. Massimo Pigliucci is, without question, a minister of scientific orthodoxy, and as such uses the tools and methods of his avocation. He must be read with this understanding. The first line of defense for orthodoxy is consensus, which he sites repeatedly, ignoring the basic understanding that consensus has never established fact. Instead of discussing questions rationally on their merits, he falls back on insults and demeaning language while attacking the motives and personalities of those who disagree with him, questioning their right to speak outside of their credentialed areas of expertise while repeatedly doing so himself.
As an engineer and physics instructor of 40 years, I have accumulated many questions on the positions commonly held in the scientific community, none of which were addressed seriously in this book. If you are looking for an emotional pep talk to sustain you in your commonly held opinions, this is your book, but if you are looking for an objective, rational discussion, look elsewhere. This is least informative and least credible book I have ever read on these topics.
No, very dishonest writer.
No, very dishonest writer.
Massimo starts out by laying a foundation about science and how we should be very careful to distinguish between real science and non –science in the first few chapters. He then however, gets very political, very unscientific, and very left wing. He blasts the voters the voters for not electing John Kerry because he was an intellectual and Bush was a Jock cowboy. He also states that Obama is an exception since he is an intellectual who was elected President. First what the hell does either fact have anything to do with the premise of the book? Second, if the author wanted to pontificate about his political views change the title. To be clear Kerry is a snob and Obama is an ideology not an intellectual.
The author then goes on about how man is creating global warming – does he use science to make his case NO. He used Al Gore’s, presumably another of his intellectuals, distorted facts, UN ‘s political document and other politicized science documents to make his case. At that point, I just gave up and stopped listening.
Changed the title to read "How to fool some of the people some of the time"
If your a pinhead and drink a lot of cool aid this is your book - if you are looking for a book that helps one understand science then keep looking.
The single worst thing I've "read" since law school. At some point, I elected to listen masochistically right the way through. Surely there would be a pony in there if I just dug deeply enough. No pony.
The author comes across as hectoring and he gets distracted into sarcastic rants about people who practice fraud. The few good bits in the book were overwhelmed by having so much time and so many words devoted to the pillory of people who, ultimately, are irrelevant. But, if you feel awed by people with degress and appreciate their efforts to educate you the unworthy, then the author's condescending way of communicating to his readers may suit you just fine.
I suppose the narrator must have been selected to reinforce the flaws. If you like listening to people who are supercillious, whining and snide, than Jay Russell is your guy. In fact, he may be over the top for you. The combination of the text and the narration made me question my long standing belief in evolution and the danger of ignoring global warming. If the author and the narrator are in what has been my crowd on these issues, then I am inclined to do everything I can to distance myself from such people.
I read a fair amount of science for lay people. Scientists can write lucidly and in a way that makes what they do accessible to people without their background. Find something else to read.
I'm doing some light stuff to get the bad taste out of my mouth. Alexander McCall Smith at the moment.
Different narrator and different text. I think the text would have left me cold anyway, but the narrator was really bad. Something that starts as text, if well done, uses words, vocabulary, phrasing and structure to evoke in the reader a sense of dialog with the author. A narrator's task is to deliver the text orally without adding the narrator's creative revision by timing and dramatic rendition. This narrator took a dubious text and made it just awful.
Disappointment and anger. I did read a few reviews of the book and admit that I was forewarned. However, the topic was just too appealing to let myself be put off by some grumpy reviewer. I hope I've done a better job than the reviews did and that I succeed in helping others avoid wasting their time.
Please take care with the selection of narrators.