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If the truth really is `out there' can we really believe it?,
This review is from: The Heretics: Adventures with the Enemies of Science (Hardcover)
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Having read and thoroughly enjoyed the account of Storr's previous journey into the muddy waters of human belief, 'Will Storr vs the Supernatural', I was quite eager to read his latest instalment. This time his focus is on science or, probably more accurately, anti-science! He examines an assorted array of what might commonly be regarded as `whacky' beliefs and their equally `whacky' believers who often go to what might reasonably be regarded as pathological lengths to justify their wilful avoidance of evidence to the contrary: for example believing the Earth is a mere 6000 or so years old when radiometric dating tells us that it is at least 3.8 billion.
However, while such beliefs harm no-one, not even the believers themselves, there are other examples of far more sinister beliefs that have the power, potentially, to do a great deal of harm. The most obvious of these are those of the notorious holocaust denier, David Irvine, and Storr includes excerpts from an interview with Irvine obtained surreptitiously using an alias as one of a party of similar deniers `enjoying' a tour of Auschwitz and Hitler's bunker.
One of the books strengths, though, is to illustrate, using a number of case studies, how scientists are not immune from confirmation bias themselves which is, of course, the reason why double blind tests were invented. This all makes for a thoroughly entertaining and informative read in addition to exploring issues related to more profound considerations of an ontological and epistemological nature such as how is it, since we view everything through our own subjective and particular cultural filters, that we are able to know anything objectively about the world `out there' at all?