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His book serves a seriously worthwhile purpose: Valuable as a reference for courses in science, philosophy, political science, and journalism, as well as a handbook for the public.


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History and Philosophy of Physical Sciences. You may purchase this title at these fine bookstores. Outside the USA, see our international sales information. University of Chicago Press: About Contact News Giving to the Press. The Pseudoscience Wars Michael D. Philosophy of Pseudoscience Massimo Pigliucci.

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Nonsense on Stilts Massimo Pigliucci. Chapter 5 Debates on Science: Philip Plait, creator of the Bad Astronomy blog. If only we could get everyone to sit down and read Nonsense on Stilts , this country would be in far better shape! Pigliucci carefully lays out the case for why science leads us to the truth, but will always be battling superstition and antireality along the way. His book should be required reading in every science class.

Massimo Pigliucci, Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science From Bunk - PhilPapers

There is no easy litmus test to distinguish genuine from junk science. For Pigilucci, hard science is based on empirically verifiable hypotheses and theories.

A richly insightful provocative book in defense of naturalism. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education.

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An eminently readable, insightful, and sensible book. I enjoyed it very much. The next two chapters get back to philosophy and are the best in the book. They constitute a history of natural philosophy from classical Greek times, and its evolution into modern science. Pigliucci approaches this with gusto and skill. Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity.

Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk

Kuhn was aware of his reliance on physical-science models and promised to extend his arguments to the life sciences, but never did so. As a biologist, Pigliucci is sensitive to this imbalance. Pigliucci then adds another essential ingredient to the mix — the issue of expertise. No one can have deep insight into all of science, and the need for trustworthy experts is ever-present. Unfortunately, frauds, quacks, and screwballs can all claim to be experts, and they often acquire broad credence. In the concluding chapter, Pigliucci argues that one cannot define science, or distinguish it from its imitators, in a sentence or two.

Nevertheless, there are reliable ways of doing so on a case-by-case basis.

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Most scientists will agree. Although Pigliucci uses biological examples well in his account, physicists will find flaws in his accounts of physical phenomena. And Newton had offered a plausible if incomplete explanation in particulate terms. The issue of waveparticle duality has one root in this matter, but involves much more. More important from a philosophical point of view, Pigliucci misses the central point: Waves and particles are ideal abstractions.

Photons and electrons are real entities whose behavior, under proper conditions, is well explained by models based on those abstractions. His analogical argument that Mars is always a planet and not a star has no value and bespeaks a basic misunderstanding. When a light and a heavy body are connected by a string and dropped, it is true that according to Aristotle the two fall slower than the heavy body itself because the light body holds it back and the two fall faster than the light body itself because the heavy body pulls it.

But there is no contradiction here; both can be true at the same time, the pair falling at some intermediate speed. Pigliucci misses the real contradiction: