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Sobre l'autor

Robert L. Park is professor of physics at the University of Maryland. He is the author of Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud.

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Obres de Robert L. Park

Obres associades

The Best American Science Writing 2001 (2001) — Col·laborador — 132 exemplars


Coneixement comú

Nom oficial
Park, Robert Lee
Data de naixement
Lloc de naixement
Kansas City, Missouri, USA




Is there anything it can't do?

Voodoo Science offered an in depth look into the pseudoscience the plagues the National conscious. The book examined some of the more popular aspects of pseudoscience (i.e. perpetual motion machines, homeopathy, Roswell, etc.) and the reasons why such claims are inherently false. Throughout the book a nod is given to the scientific method, as well as a sobering account of why such a method is importance.

Scientists are not cast as infallible, but rather as humble and logical - and not beyond corruption. If they are wrong, they step down, pseudoscience occurs when they do not. The logic of the book was what attracted me, and the patience with which it viewed those who step outside of the scientific bounds. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who is searching for an explanation of why scientists should be respected, and why their work is as important as it is.… (més)
Lepophagus | Hi ha 10 ressenyes més | Jun 14, 2018 |
Very disappointing. Superstition is a meandering exposition of the personal philosophy of Robert Park, not a serious attempt at debunking or criticism of belief. To be fair, Park is just as critical of New Age as he is of Creationism, and has some unpleasant things to say about the advocacy of “Alternative Medicine” by officials of the Clinton administration as well as prohibition of stem cell research (Park does point out that only Federal support of stem cell research was prohibited) by the Bush administration.

Park never gets deep enough into any of his subjects to be convincing. His chapter on homeopathy, for example, runs through the tired argument that a homeopathic preparation doesn’t contain any of the original substance – that’s true, but irrelevant, because homeopaths don’t claim that it does. The real hammer against homeopathy is its failure to perform in double blind tests. A good, solid, explanation of what a double blind test is (I ran across a dowser website in which one of the posters was convinced that it meant he had to wear two blindfolds while dowsing) and what it’s supposed to measure is worth 1000 calculations on the number of duck liver molecules in a 30X homeopathic preparation. (Park does narrate his failure to get Jaques Benveniste to submit his Web-based homeopathy to a double-blind test).

The concept of “metric” also works against Park. His case against various medical studies supposedly showing the efficacy of prayer centers on the fact that there is no metric for prayer – Christian prayer versus Jewish? Presbyterians versus Congregationalists? Tests of “prayer sincerity”? (I once answered the question “How much do you love me?” by saying “138.2 International Standard Love Units”. The relationship did not thrive). Park is, of course, correct. However, he apparently doesn’t realize that the same lack of metrics makes some of his own criticisms of religious belief cases of being hoist with his own petard. For example, consider this casual comment about the Ten Commandments (p 197 in my edition): “Indeed, fundamentalists who trumpet the Ten Commandments most loudly are often the first to call for war”. Oh, that’s interesting. What’s the “metric” for fundamentalists? How do you measure how much a fundamentalist a particular believer is? And how do you measure how much trumpeting of the Ten Commandments he/she does (perhaps in decibels?). And how often do the measured trumpeting fundamentalists call for war? And what percentage of the time are they “the first”?

I never read a book that had nothing useful in it, and this book does, of course, even if it’s often only to remind me of stuff I already knew. Park’s prose reads very smoothly and it’s a really quick read. But I got it out of the remainder bin, which isn’t surprising.
… (més)
setnahkt | Hi ha 1 ressenya més | Dec 19, 2017 |
Not so much about superstition in general as about religious superstition. The author explores the ways in which religion and science are quite simply incompatible. Sort of a lightweight book, reasonably well written, but with frequent errors that could have been easily caught by a beginning proofreader. These annoyed and detracted, though they were not so damaging that they made the book impossible to read, just occasionally accidentally incoherent. (This is NOT a compliment). An example of a more major error is mistakenly attributing to Gary Trudeau the disgraceful career of Kevin Trudeau; honestly, why did an editor not catch that? In addition, the author presents a lot of biological hypotheses as though they are so solidly acccepted by all scientists that no one questions them anymore, though many of them are still somewhat uncertain. Included in this is the idea that our brain has not evolved since the Pleistocene and the tendency to equate everything to "a gene for" that. Not really anything new to add to the conversation, and not likely to convince anyone who is not already convinced that science and religion are incompatible. He makes all the right arguments, but he fails to follow them up well. At best a humble beginning.… (més)
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Devil_llama | Hi ha 1 ressenya més | Sep 3, 2015 |
I feel that I know Robert Park, who was director of the Washington Office of the American Physical Society when this book was published, because of his weekly "What's New" column [see], even though we have never met. "Voodoo Science" distills his thoughts on some of the most important recent examples of pathological science in the news and public life. In these ten chapters, he discusses Congress' perpetual credulity for claims of perpetual motion and "free energy" (not the kind I teach!), the low-frequency EMF scare, the politics of manned space exploration, Roswell and aliens, homeopathy, and Deepak Chopra, among others. While Park sympathizes with some whose lack of technical knowledge and understanding of the methods of science make them susceptible to charlatans, he also has a good theory as to how well-meaning amateurs like Joe Newman get caught up in the process that leads from an experiment in the garage to fraudulent claims of infinite energy. A constant throughout these episodes is the irresponsible behavior of the news media when reporting controversial issues with a scientific or technical component. CBS News was doing it again last night (6/29/00), when they devoted a full "48 Hours" program to psychic detectives, ESP, communication with the dead, and similar nonsense. Hardly a skeptical viewpoint was mentioned (as usual).… (més)
hcubic | Hi ha 10 ressenyes més | Jul 7, 2013 |


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