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Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk Paperback – 25 May 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press (25 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226667863
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226667867
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 340,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A refreshingly original excursion over the unmarked territory separating science from pseudoscience and nonscience, Nonsense on Stilts is a thoughtful examination of the tumultuous terrain between the two and a primer on how one tells the difference." - Kendrick Frazier, editor of Skeptical Inquirer.

About the Author

Massimo Pigliucci is professor of philosophy at the City University of New York. He has written many books, including, most recently, Making Sense of Evolution, with Jonathan Kaplan, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Oberauer on 8 July 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There seems to be a pattern in the last twenty non-fiction books that I've read in that they all have to be somewhere between 200 and 400 pages long. While there's probably a good reason for this, I'd like to see writers producing alternate, shorter versions of their books, so that people, like myself, who just want to read their most important points, can do so. This book is no exception.

This book is also, not suitable for everybody. From statistical evidence, it's obvious that most people have never read a book on critical thinking before, and so, for those people I'd recommend starting with something for beginners, like Software for the Brain which is also available in a digital format. From there I'd suggest that they use their new skills to critically examine their own beliefs. Once that is done, they can continue to read this book.

The subtitle, "How to Tell Science from Bunk," gave me hope that after reading the book I'd be able to tell (1) whether or not global warming is largely influenced by human activity, (2) whether or not Dr. Burzynski is a quack, and (3) have a general idea as to how I can answer future questions on the topic, and be able to give advice. It started as quite an enjoyable read, but as it got into history, I felt that there were many pages that could have been summarized or left out, and I would be just as wise about what I expected to learn from the book.

So, regarding my first criteria, on the topic of global warming, Massimo gives evidence to show that human activity probably does affect global warming, but is also a bit confusing. He implies that Al Gore was mistaken in some areas, but largely right.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robin Clifton on 16 Feb 2011
Format: Paperback
An excellent book and a must-read for any person with no scientific background. It deals concisely, readably and authoritatively with most of the major areas of scientific hocus-pocus, giving both full evidence and logical refutations. The author perhaps, however, does not quite realise what vital ground he concedes by his very frank and honest account of science's frequent mistakes, muddles, and inadequate theories in the past; these can lead a reader after viewing them to say "well what's new now?" This, of course, weakens the whole thrust of the book. A minor quibble is that while the author is very well informed indeed on his scientific subjects, the minute he strays outside this into areas such as straight history he shows, on occasion, a considerable lack of grasp of the subject. This rather matters because his whole arguement is that people should be much more familiar with the facts and theories of science. These are, however, minor matters and of no great importance compared to the solid worth of this book in an area of increasingly vital importance, ie. the layman's knowledge and attitude towards the sciences.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Copyzombie on 1 April 2012
Format: Paperback
This book promises to tell you 'How to Tell Science From Bunk'. Of course, had Pigliucci really delivered, he'd go down in history as one of the greatest philosophers of science. Instead this book is far more modest, more like a collection of reflections of case studies aiming to arm the reader with the patterns of thought needed to critically appraise arguments. In this it's successful - but the reader must have some background in philosophy of science to make the most of it.

The problem with books like these is that they end up preaching to the converted, no matter how much the author tries to make his arguments appeal to the people who would really benefit from reading it: creationists, practitioners of 'alternative' medicine etc. This book is not going to be a cross-over hit either, but as a primer for people who don't want to be caught unprepared it works well.
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