From the Archives: Voodoo science: The road from foolishness to fraud by Robert Park

Dec 19 2010 Published by under book review, culture of science, science books

I have a whole pile of science-y book reviews on two of my older blogs, here and here. Both of those blogs have now been largely superseded by or merged into this one. So I'm going to be slowly moving the relevant reviews over here. I'll mostly be doing the posts one or two per weekend and I'll occasionally be merging two or more shorter reviews into one post here.

This one, of Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud, is from November 14, 2006.


This year, during my sabbatical, I'm really trying to read a lot of science non-fiction, as opposed to my usual diet of science fiction. And so far, it's been great. Bryson, Suzuki and now Park have all given me both entertainment and information and perhaps even a little knowledge. Suzuki and Park, in particular, perhaps have even shared a bit of wisdom.

Both books, the Suzuki bio I finished a few weeks ago and this book, Voodoo Science by Robert Park, are about teaching the world to be a little more rational, a little more humane and a little less gullible.

So, Bob Park, physicist, author and debunker. The weekly dose of rationality in his What's New newsletter. Subscribe, you won't regret it. Every week is a few pointed notes about the world, a few sceptical take-downs of those who would cheat, cover-up or manipulate science to their ends. That's what Voodoo Science is all about.

One by one, Park takes on various frauds and deceptions, both by those in the scientific community and politicians, media or corporations, and debunks them. From homoeopathy to the international space station, from perpetual motion machines to electromagnetic fields causing cancer, from Roswell & UFOs to abuses of quantum theory by Deepak Chopra and his ilk, Park is unafraid to tackle the big issues. And he always makes sure that the news media get the scorn they deserve for sloppy and ill-informed coverage.

A grim and depressing book in some ways? Sure. But Park always keeps the tone light and pace fast. A good and entertaining book, as well as an important one.

Park, Robert. Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. 230pp. ISBN-13: 978-0195147100

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