Trying to be Reasonable

Daisie and Michael Radner. Science and Unreason. Wadsworth (CA), 1982.
The authors examine a number of subjects on the fringes of science, and condemn most unorthodox views as pseudo-science. The hallmarks of 'crank' pseudo-science are said to include: appeal to outdated scientific notions, looking for mysteries rather than trying to solve them, the taking of ancient myths as historical records, the piling up 27 of bits of evidence for evidence's sake, the use of irrefutable arguments, appeals to spurious similarity, 'explanation' by scenario, research by seek ing out hidden meanings in the statements of others, and refusal to revise in the light of criticism.
The authors argue that the gathering of facts without an encompassing theory does not constitute science, and that parapsychology, for example, will never advance beyond the fact-gathering stage, and that no 'sufficient conditions' have been found. The authors however use an omnibus approach themselves, lumping von Daniken, creationism, biorhythms, etc. together. Nor do they fully separate possible anomalous facts and experiences from pseudo-scientific explanatory systems.

Peter Rogerson, from Magonia 20, August 1985

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