12.7.10

SCIENTIFIC ERRORS AND OMISSIONS

Stanton T. Friedman and Kathleen Marden. Science Was Wrong: Startling Truths About Cures, Theories, and Inventions 'They' Declared Impossible. New Page Books, NJ, 2010.

The main theme of this book is concerned with how scientific and technological progress has been retarded by authoritative persons who have declared innovations and inventions be either wrong or of no practical use. The authors deal with the emergence of a number of new technologies, most of which, with the benefit of hindsight, one would have thought would have been immediately adopted. Some of the other subjects considered, though, are highly controversial, such as global warming, paraspsychology and UFOs.

We are shown how most of the "experts" were wrong about the possibilities of first aviation and then space travel, and other technological developments. We are also told how progress in medicine was hampered by some doctors who just could not grasp the importance of such basic hygienic procedures as hand washing.

There is a chapter on the Eugenics Movement in America, inspired by Charles Davenport, of Harvard University, who was "the driving force behind American social Darwinism". The basic idea was that humanity could be improved by selective breeding, like cattle or horses, but of course it only encouraged social divisiveness and racism, and opposition to it grew after initial enthusiasm wore off. However, these ideas took root in Nazi Germany in the 1930s, with disastrous results.

Many of the procedures and technologies discussed are no longer controversial, but most readers will probably be interested in the more contentious ones. Friedman is sceptical about global warming caused by increasing carbon dioxide. I think he is right, though, to point out that the much-ridiculed claims that nuclear fusion can take place at room temperatures are, and should be, taken seriously by some scientists, so that the truth of the matter can be determined to the general satisfaction of physicists.

The chapter on psychic phenomena where serious research these days is largely confined to laboratory experiments and statistical analyses, makes it plain that sceptics and believers are constantly accusing one another of cheating, by altering experimental protocols and statistical methods without justification. The authors favour the genuineness of psychic phenomena, as one would expect.

Friedman and Marden have previously collaborated on a book on the Betty and Barney Hill case, so it is no surprise that there is a chapter on alien abductions. This attacks the work of psychologists who attribute such reports to the effects of sleep paralysis. It is reasonable, of course, to criticise such work as being over-simplified, and to suggest improvements, but their dismissive attitude is hardly scientific. I was also a little surprised to see that they take seriously the work of Derrel Sims and Roger Leir on alleged alien implants, considering that they have never presented any evidence that there is anything exotic about any of these.

In a chapter on UFOs, Friedman launches his familiar attacks on the 'debunkers', though he devotes too much space to those those who know little about the subject and have never carried out serious investigations, and whose opinions are thus hardly worth commenting on. Of course, we are told, as usual, that the reason why we don't have definitive proof of UFO reality is government secrecy. And, yes, he once again fails to address the obvious question, which is: How can governments keep secret, for over 60 years, something over which they have no control? -- John Harney

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous23.3.13

    Very misleading and narrow minded review of a carefully written book.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous26.5.13

    I notice your sad little review has also been given a bad review.....not to worry sweetie, one day you will escape your narrow confinement, just be brave!

    ReplyDelete

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