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Deceived Wisdom: Why What You Thought Was Right Is Wrong Hardcover – 8 Nov 2012

3.7 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Elliott & Thompson Limited (8 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908739347
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908739346
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 299,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'At last, a book that blows away many of the urban myths that we've come to accept without questioning. Well written and engrossing' -- Dr John Emsley, author of Nature's Building Blocks and other popular science books

'Let it be announced from the rooftops that David Bradley has compiled this charming book, Deceived Wisdom, showing that some of the popular Old Wives Tales and things you could have sworn were true because you heard them down the pub are, with the appliance of science, just another charabanc of retired shoe manufacturers ... Good things come in small packages, and I read it in a single session. It's a book you can dip into, one of those things that no well-stocked shelf in the Smallest Room should be without ... if you want a stocking-filler for the geek in your life, especially if they are teenagers and might not have come across these before, then this has to be it.' -- Henry Gee, Occam's Typewriter

'I can't recommend this book highly enough. Not only is it entertaining, but it is also extremely informative, smart, and thorough. While Bradley discusses some complex topics, his clear writing makes reading about these brainteasers a breeze.' --Kim Lacey, Guru Magazine

'This is a brilliant book, which presents some really pertinent information in a fun and enjoyable manner ... Bradley reinforces what science is really all about: questioning what you know and never accepting something just because somebody else tells you it's true.' --Paul Blakely, Unpopularscience.co.uk

About the Author

David Bradley has worked in science communication for almost 25 years. He has written for New Scientist, The Telegraph, The Guardian and many other publications, as well as contributing to and editing books including The Bedside Book of Chemistry. He has won awards for his writing and blogging, including Daily Telegraph Young Science Writer of the Year. He blogs at www.sciencebase.com and tweets as @sciencebase to more than 20,000 followers. He lives in Cambridge, England, with his wife.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Having first read the Extended Sampler, I now have in my possession the hardback copy of 'Deceived Wisdom' by David Bradley, Science Writer, and it certainly lives up to its description. To both scientists and non-scientists alike, it demystifies those old wives' tales and urban myths, as described, in a scientific and logical manner. Being of retirement age, I encountered many of those myths myself but all ages, from 10 to 100+, will be captivated by his scientific analysis. The hardback copy is beautifully presented in 166 pages and does what it says on the cover. At the end of each topic covered is 'The Science' behind it and a 'Find out more' link reference. On page 156 he quotes Carl Sagan 'There are no forbidden questions in science, no matters too sensitive or delicate to be probed, no sacred truths'. This beautiful quotation really sums up what is in this book and I certainly recommend it to all.
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Format: Hardcover
Ah, all those snippets of wisdom that we grow up with - information absorbed from your mother, father, granny, school teachers and that fount of all knowledge, `I read somewhere that.' This is information so fundamental that it's on the `everybody knows that' curriculum, but what if it's actually wrong?

David Bradley, a top science writer based in the UK puts a plethora of common misconceptions under his microscope and shows you why the stuff that you thought was right is really rubbish.

Written with a light and humorous touch, reading `Deceived Wisdom' will enable you to shoot down dinner-party bores, win endless quiz shows when Stephen Fry invites you to star in `QI' and generally educate yourself beyond the misinformation doled out in primary and secondary schools (and probably quite a few universities.)

I'd browsed the pre-publication extended sampler and enjoyed it - so my wife bought me the real thing and it's a nicely produced hardback book with even more pearls of real wisdom and knowledge. It's science, it's information, and it's fun! Perfect for Xmas stockings...
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Format: Hardcover
A thorough debunking of various received wisdom, conspiracy theories, misinformation, and myths, written in a very accessible style. I appreciated the supporting references, but would have liked to have seen more citations to the scientific literature than popular websites - but then I'm a journal editor.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Science Snippets. Some topics get extended treatment, but most are brief introductory explanations preceding links to the work of other people or organisations.
It is also occasionally possibly self-deceived: in my youth the saying was "Feed a Cold to Starve a Fever". The author leaves out the preposition "to", assuming an antithesis (feed colds/starve fevers). The form including "to" is saying that feeding or otherwise take care of yourself during a minor illness helps prevent things getting worse - Feeding the cold starves the fever. So the author's advice actually supports this form of the proverb.
Also, I have often heard this applied to non-medical situations: deal appropriately with a relatively minor problem to prevent it becoming something worse. This is folk wisdom (as another reviewer pointed out) and not deceived wisdom or folk science or bad science at all.) This might seem pedantic, as the author's critique is valid for the proverb as quoted; but he is not dealing with a factual assertion but with proverbial wisdom which has an alternative reading. The author is trying to show the power of science, but while book is often fun, some examples are relatively trivial and this example shows that a scientific critique may in fact be incorrect for grammatical rather than scientific reasons. Folk wisdom is often misquoted and thus unfairly misunderstood. Proverbs often enshrine traditional wisdom in traditional phrasing; thus, a change in language or change in the proverb by accident or because of misunderstanding can make real wisdom appear deceived (and science is no help).
An example is the phrase "the proof is in the pudding" which is a meaningless saying. The original is "the proof of the pudding is in the eating".
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While I’m not (“I declare that I am not now nor have ever been…”) a proper scientist, I like to think I have at least an inclination in that direction. (I have read “A Brief History Of Time.” I have read “Chaos.” Can’t necessarily claim I understood everything I read, but there y’go.) I’m even an ex-resident of Cambridge.

It was enjoyable enough that I was disappointed when I got to the end. “Too short, too short!” went my irrepressible internal narrative. Leave ‘em wanting more? Hoping there's a sequel planned, anyway.

Did it teach me anything? Well, some of the deceived wisdom presented therein I was able to be smug about. Yes, I knew that, but aren’t some people /silly?/ But yes, it does appear that I’m just as inclined to accept some deceived wisdom as the next guy, sadly. (I’ve “known” why you go pink and wrinkly in the bath for about 45 years, for instance. And the “tea cools you down” thing didn't quie fit with my worldview. Not a bad thing, of course -- and if this helps people challenge some of the things they unthinkingly take for granted, that's probably all to the good!!

I've dropped a star because there's a point where a discussion of the physical ensues from a question about the perceptual (sorry, I'm deliberately trying not to write spoilers!) that I'm not at all sure is justified. Doesn't devalue the science, I guess...
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