From uttering a prayer before boarding a plane, to exploring past lives through hypnosis, has superstition become pervasive in contemporary culture? Robert Park, the best-selling author of Voodoo Science, argues that it has. In Superstition, Park asks why people persist in superstitious convictions long after science has shown them to be ill-founded. He takes on supernatural beliefs from religion and the afterlife to New Age spiritualism and faith-based medical claims. He examines recent controversies and concludes that science is the only way we have of understanding the world.
Park sides with the forces of reason in a world of continuing and, he fears, increasing superstition. Chapter by chapter, he explains how people too easily mistake pseudoscience for science. He discusses parapsychology, homeopathy, and acupuncture; he questions the existence of souls, the foundations of intelligent design, and the power of prayer; he asks for evidence of reincarnation and astral projections; and he challenges the idea of heaven. Throughout, he demonstrates how people's blind faith, and their confidence in suspect phenomena and remedies, are manipulated for political ends. Park shows that science prevails when people stop fooling themselves.
Compelling and precise, Superstition takes no hostages in its quest to provoke. In shedding light on some very sensitive--and Park would say scientifically dubious--issues, the book is sure to spark discussion and controversy.
Robert L. Park is professor of physics at the University of Maryland. He is the author of Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud.
"Park writes with bemusement at human folly but also with outrage at the misappropriation of science."--Robert A. Segal, Times Higher Education
"Park uses his personal story to great effect to champion scientific thinking. He also gets under its skin, to explain how, as well as what, science delivers."--Mark Henderson, Times (London)
"For Princeton physicist Robert Park, science serves as a rapier for skewering all beliefs not sustained by empirical proof. Predictably, religion heads the list of targets . . . [Park] pits experimental rigor not only against the creeds of antiquity but also against the irrationality of New Age gurus who evangelize for alternative medicines or extrasensory perception. . . . Sure to spark sharp debate."--Bryce Christensen, Booklist
"Parks' main target in the first part of his book is Christianity, especially its creationist and so-called intelligent-design offshoots. However, the world's other religions do not emerge unscathed. . . . He takes on New Age beliefs, reserving particular scorn for those practitioners who add the word 'quantum' to unrelated topics like 'healing' to give themselves an imprimatur of scientific respectability. . . . Both religious and non-religious scientists are sure to find something of interest in the rest."--Physics World
"Genial anecdotal tales introduce each chapter, which are then followed with the cutting criticism of various pseudobelief systems. Dogmatic in his emphasis that science is the only way of knowing, Park weighs faith-based beliefs against scientific evidence and makes no allowance for other ways of knowing. . . . The controversial content should provide debate material for the high school and young college crowd as well as the general public."--R.A. Hoots, Choice
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