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The Pseudoscience Wars


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About the Author

Michael D. Gordin is professor of history at Princeton University and the author of a number of books, including Red Cloud at Dawn: Truman, Stalin, and the End of the Atomic Monopoly. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.


"What is the difference between science and pseudoscience? As the publisher of Skeptic magazine and the 'Skeptic columnist for Scientific American I am frequently asked this question. Believe it or not, it'a a hard question to answer. Michael Gordin's The Pseudoscience Wars is the best single volume I have come across in my vast reading on the topic. He clearly and succinctly captures all sides on the debate, is rigorous in his research and fair to both believers and skeptics, and his narrative reconstruction of the Velikovsky affair makes for gripping reading. The Pseudoscience Wars is destined to become a classic in science literature."

--Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific American, author of The Believing Brain

"Few issues loom more important today than the boundaries and authority of scientific expertise. How do the boundaries get created and reinforced, and what work do terms like 'pseudoscience' do in the debates? By delving deep into one of the earliest border skirmishes of the modern age--the fascinating, beguiling case of Immanuel Velikovsky, his heterodox theories of human history and cosmic evolution, and the firestorm of protest they elicited from the scientific community--Michael Gordin offers us a roadmap of the modern fringe. Scouring extraordinary sources with his keen analytic eye, Gordin reveals the roots of today's pseudoscience wars. Engrossing and illuminating."

--David Kaiser, author of How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival

"Gordin . . . is remarkably evenhanded. . . . This won't put an end to the debates that rage between legitimate scientific research and other fringe doctrines, but it does lay the Velikovsky affair to rest with fairness and clarity and will help to put into perspective many of the controversies swirling around today's scientific landscape. A good read for those interested in the history of science or pseudoscientific theories."

--Library Journal

"Those who are interested in how bad ideas start, how they diffuse, how they covet and resist confrontation, and how they wax and wane in popularity over time will find much food for thought in this gripping book."

"A slyly funny writer. . . . Make no mistake: Gordin's sympathies are not with the occult. His fascination with pseudoscience is more like a negative method: the experts define the boundaries of their domain by fending off the quacks. For Gordin, pseudoscience is an instrument by which he takes the temperature of the past. . . . . The Pseudoscience Wars is a relatively slim volume, but Gordin siphons into it an overwhelming amount of information."--New Republic

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