Non-Fiction Reviews

Bogus Science
or, Some People Really Believe These Things

(2009) John Grant, Facts, Figures and Funs, £9.99 / Can$16.95 / US$12.95, hrdbk, 304 pp, ISBN 978-1-904-33287-9


Flat Earths, hollow Earths, geocentricism, Atlantis, faked Lunar landings, spiral time, psychic physics, Charles Fort, ancient technological civilizations, non-existence of the Dark Ages, perpetual motion, the yeti… Bogus Science is a wonderfully engrossing tour of misleading exotica.

Yes, it is frightening that so many are so gullible but then their notions have a certain intoxication. What John Grant has done is to explore a score or more of these and in the course of which has uncovered many absolutely fascinating nuggets. For example, I never realised that Alfred Russel Wallace (who discovered Darwinian evolution independent of Darwin) was involved (on the side of reason I hasten to add) in the flat Earth debate and got into a spot of bother as a result – including death threats no less!

It is actually quite difficult to review a book such as this as it touches upon so many subjects. Suffice to say it is very well written and appears to be well researched (from what little I know of some of the topics covered – for a few years I was a subscriber to The Fortean Times). Two colour printing for the section headers and a generous sprinkling of illustrations (both mono line diagrams and half tones) add to the book's presentation. Though for me it being a hardback of small paperback size is a winner: to many of my reference books are large format which is not welcome for someone who seems to continually need more shelf space.

Those who enjoy science myths, or who are scientists, or who are fascinated by Charles Fort's teasings, combined with a delight in the strange and/or have a sense of fun will find it easy to dive into this book without emerging until many of the pages have been turned. Teachers, lecturers and parents may also like a copy to help so as to set genuine facts against a fun, albeit bogus, context hence enabling us thankfully to see sense. This exploration is huge fun as well as an excellent companion to Grant's Corrupted Science: Fraud, Ideology and Politics in Science. Fascinatingly fantastic. And, yes, of course I recommend it.

Jonathan Cowie

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