Superstition: Belief in the Age of Science

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Princeton University Press, Sep 22, 2008 - Religion - 240 pages
3 Reviews

From uttering a prayer before boarding a plane, to exploring past lives through hypnosis, has superstition become pervasive in contemporary culture? Robert Park, the best-selling author of Voodoo Science, argues that it has. In Superstition, Park asks why people persist in superstitious convictions long after science has shown them to be ill-founded. He takes on supernatural beliefs from religion and the afterlife to New Age spiritualism and faith-based medical claims. He examines recent controversies and concludes that science is the only way we have of understanding the world.


Park sides with the forces of reason in a world of continuing and, he fears, increasing superstition. Chapter by chapter, he explains how people too easily mistake pseudoscience for science. He discusses parapsychology, homeopathy, and acupuncture; he questions the existence of souls, the foundations of intelligent design, and the power of prayer; he asks for evidence of reincarnation and astral projections; and he challenges the idea of heaven. Throughout, he demonstrates how people's blind faith, and their confidence in suspect phenomena and remedies, are manipulated for political ends. Park shows that science prevails when people stop fooling themselves.


Compelling and precise, Superstition takes no hostages in its quest to provoke. In shedding light on some very sensitive--and Park would say scientifically dubious--issues, the book is sure to spark discussion and controversy.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - setnahkt - LibraryThing

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 far, Park is just as critical of ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Devil_llama - LibraryThing

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 ... Read full review

Contents

Belief in the Age of Science CHAPTER TWO THE SECRET OF LIFE In which Darwins theory of evolution by natural selection survives
23
Belief in the Age of Science CHAPTER THREE MIRACLE AT COLUMBIA In which both sides pray for victory
56
Belief in the Age of Science CHAPTER FOUR GIVING UP THE GHOST In which we search for the soul
79
Belief in the Age of Science CHAPTER FIVE THE SILENT ARMY In which we search for an afterlife
93
Belief in the Age of Science CHAPTER SIX THE TSUNAMI GOD In which the innocent suffer
104
Belief in the Age of Science CHAPTER SEVEN THE NEW AGE In which anything goes
116
Belief in the Age of Science CHAPTER EIGHT SCHRÖDINGERS GRAVE In which quantum mysticism is found to be superstition
129
Belief in the Age of Science CHAPTER NINE THE BARBARY DUCK In which the body heals itself
142
Belief in the Age of Science CHAPTER TEN THE DEER In which the placebo effect is explained
161
Belief in the Age of Science CHAPTER ELEVEN THE MORAL LAW In which we instinctively know right from wrong
188
Belief in the Age of Science CHAPTER TWELVE THE LAST BUTTERFLY In which there is no place else to go
202
Belief in the Age of Science Bibliography
217
Belief in the Age of Science Index
221
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About the author (2008)

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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