17 September 2013


It's not often - in fact never before - that Magonia has linked to a publication by the Institute of Economic Affairs. However I think this particular one will be of interest to our readers. [Link below] Over on our Book News blog I have just put up details of two new titles from the Chicago University Press which examine aspects of pseudoscience and the ways in which pseudoscientific ideas influence and interact with mainstream culture. I hope that in the near future I may be able to publish reviews of these titles.
Although it is easy to take a relaxed view of pseudoscientific ideas when they relate to topics such as Velikovsky's catastrophism, Atlantis, metal bending or UFOs, they become of much greater importance when they influence public policy on matters such as health, education, race or economics. The 'skeptic' movement in America was founded to counter pseudoscientific claims in the field of health and 'alternative medicine', and its excursions into ufology, ESP, etc., are still of minority concern.

So often now when reading about political decisions supposedly based on scientific evidence we see comments such as "the science is settled". 'The Science' seems to be treated as an autonomous and objective source existing in its own right, and not simple the collectivity of a huge range of input from individual scientists, and people who are making use of that input for a huge range of objectives of their own. I doubt that 'The Science' on global warming or passive smoking (two topics dealt with in this paper) is any more settled than 'The Science' on fracking or GM crops (neither of which are covered in this paper).

However alien abductions do get a mention: just how much would you pay to be insured against them - and are there any advantages to wearing a flak-jacket in the Hampstead Waitrose?

Oh, and I'd better point out that if I was the BBC I would have begun these comments by saying "It's not often that Magonia has linked to a publication by the right-wing Institute for Economic Affairs." But then I'm not the BBC.

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