Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk

Front Cover
University of Chicago Press, May 15, 2010 - Science - 336 pages
26 Reviews

Recent polls suggest that fewer than 40 percent of Americans believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution, despite it being one of science’s best-established findings. More and more parents are refusing to vaccinate their children for fear it causes autism, though this link can been consistently disproved. And about 40 percent of Americans believe that the threat of global warming is exaggerated, despite near consensus in the scientific community that manmade climate change is real.

Why do people believe bunk? And what causes them to embrace such pseudoscientific beliefs and practices? Noted skeptic Massimo Pigliucci sets out to separate the fact from the fantasy in this entertaining exploration of the nature of science, the borderlands of fringe science, and—borrowing a famous phrase from philosopher Jeremy Bentham—the nonsense on stilts. Presenting case studies on a number of controversial topics, Pigliucci cuts through the ambiguity surrounding science to look more closely at how science is conducted, how it is disseminated, how it is interpreted, and what it means to our society. The result is in many ways a “taxonomy of bunk” that explores the intersection of science and culture at large.

No one—not the public intellectuals in the culture wars between defenders and detractors of science nor the believers of pseudoscience themselves—is spared Pigliucci’s incisive analysis. In the end, Nonsense on Stilts is a timely reminder of the need to maintain a line between expertise and assumption. Broad in scope and implication, it is also ultimately a captivating guide for the intelligent citizen who wishes to make up her own mind while navigating the perilous debates that will affect the future of our planet.

  

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It's a great starting point to branch out from. - Goodreads
Solid skeptic/science writing. - Goodreads
It seems cold fusion still has adherents. - Goodreads

Review: Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk

User Review  - Nate C. - Goodreads

This book helped introduce me to the world of skepticism, rationalism, and critical thinking. It's a very comprehensive book, covering many topics. It's a great starting point to branch out from. I highly recommend it! Read full review

Review: Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk

User Review  - Frank Jude - Goodreads

The title of Massimo Pigliucci's wonderful, interesting and engaging book says it all: "How To Tell Science From Bunk." As Philip Plait of the Bad Astronomy blog points out, "A frightening percentage ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction Science versus Pseudoscience and the Demarcation Problem
1
Hard Science Soft Science
6
Almost Science
24
Pseudoscience
56
Blame the Media?
84
Debates on Science The Rise of Think Tanks and the Decline of Public Intellectuals
104
Science and Politics The Case of Global Warming
134
Science in the Courtroom The Case against Intelligent Design
160
From Natural Philosophy to Modern Science
208
The Science Wars I Do We Trust Science Too Much?
233
The Science Wars II Do We Trust Science Too Little?
253
Whos Your Expert?
279
So What Is Science after All?
302
Notes
307
Index
329
Copyright

From Superstition to Natural Philosophy
187

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

Massimo Pigliucci is professor of philosophy at the City University of New York. He has written many books, including, most recently, Making Sense of Evolution, with Jonathan Kaplan, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

Bibliographic information