Science Friction: Where the Known Meets the Unknown

Several of Michael Shermer's writings have been Hal's Picks in the past. Back in October of 1997, I recommended his "Why People Believe Weird Things", Chapter Ten of which was "Confronting Creationists - Twenty Five Creationist Arguments, Twenty Five Evolutionist Answers". Since then, Shermer has published several additional excellent books and has become Scientific American's resident Skeptic. In 2005, Creationism has largely evolved into Intelligent Design, and Shermer provides new answers in Chapter 11 of "Science Friction". Most of us are ill-equipped to deal respectfully and intelligently with the religious beliefs of our students, 45% of whom (according to a 2001 Gallup poll) believe that the earth and its inhabitants were created in pretty much their present form about 10,000 years ago. It is nice to have Shermer (along with Richard Dawkins and the late Carl Sagan, among others) providing counterpoints that rebut without confrontation. This collection of essays explores some of the controversial fringes of science. Parts reflect ideas that Robert Erlich has also explored (see Hal's Picks in December 2001 and February 2004). As usual, Shermer provides plenty of fresh ideas, as he discusses the virtues of skepticism, "spin-doctoring" in anthropology, chaos and complexity, the mutiny on the Bounty, and the place of science in the history of humankind. His book begins with a description of his own experiences (and success)posing as a psychic. I have come to expect both a lighthearted attitude and intellectual challenges from this author, and "Science Friction" does not disappoint.

Pick Attribution: 

Michael Shermer

Publication Date: 
Saturday, January 1, 2005