Fighting Modern Superstition
Did Adam and Eve Have Navels?: Debunking Pseudoscience by Martin Gardner. I’m not particularly enamored with the writing style, but I think it’ll be useful for people who need to articulate reasons why something is bunk. There’s everything from evolution vs. creationism to egg balancing and Elvis-like sightings of the “Wandering Jew.” Gardener points out the wishy-washiness of IDers (intelligent design) who try to discredit science yet remain mum about their own beliefs. Or, in regards to the Star of Bethlehem, why religious nuts insist on trying to find a natural explanation for it when they already believe in the miracles performed in the Bible. There’s also a bunch of other present day pseudoscience and New Age beliefs that leave you shaking your head: reflexology, urine therapy, Freudian theory, UFOs, numerology. What I found most interesting were the essays on famous historical scientists who had some really weird beliefs. Isaac Newton actually spent very little of his time on physics–he wasted most of his efforts on alchemy. Thomas Edison–who the public views as a hard-working inventor–was also a bit of paranormalist. He even tried to make a machine to communicate with the dead.