This book should be required reading at all schools and especially universities.
it is witty, readable and VERY well researched. I could not rate it higher
by Kevin Stokes
A well written, humorous and interesting tilt at the scientific and medical establishment.
By Christopher Allen on 17 Mar. 2015
"Tsundoku" is the Japanese word for buying books and never reading them.
So why on earth would you want to do that? Well, a cynic might say, in order to display them on your coffee table or in your bookcase at home … to create an impression that you know something about their content … when of course you don’t.
Now, just for the sake of argument, imagine that you do a "Tsundoku" of Professor Stephen Hawking’s best-selling hardback on black holes and then decide to throw a dinner party. Further imagine you have the great misfortune to be seated next to one of your guests who just happens to be a prominent member of scientific academia. Imagine further still that this person hasn’t read the book but has espied your copy of 'A Brief History of Time'… and, horror of horrors … asks you what you thought of it.
You’re in trouble, aren’t you?
Not necessarily … because, who knows …you might get lucky and be distracted by your front door bell and discover that you have a cold caller wondering whether you’d be interested in purchasing a bag of organic garden compost. Not very likely I grant you, although it just happened to me as I was trying to write this review.
However, an altogether better option might be to invest in a copy of ‘The Art of Science’ by Gareth Morgan. And I strongly recommend that you do because it is a rare thing indeed … a non-fiction page turner that you can’t put down … because it challenges just about everything you ever thought you knew about … well just about everything. It’s that provocative. But don’t get the wrong idea. The author isn’t anti-science; he’s anti-scientific humbug. His beef is against that section of the scientific and medical community which feels that it has a monopoly on the truth and expects to be treated with reverential awe by the rest of us as if it were some kind of priesthood. He argues convincingly why it hasn’t and why we shouldn’t.
Not to be confused with a book carrying the same title published by Richard Hamblyn and similar in some ways to Rupert Sheldrake’s ‘The Science Delusion’; ‘The Art of Science’ is a well written, humorous and interesting tilt at the scientific and medical establishment. However, Gareth Morgan is more controversial than Sheldrake and so hard hitting at times that I feel he risks alienating or worse still being ignored by it altogether … which would be a shame … because he has an incisive mind with a talent of taking complex issues, breaking them down and writing about them in a clear, entertaining and digestible way. Furthermore, he is ready, willing and able to defend his views … many of which are quite startling … and, perhaps more importantly, is happy to be proven wrong.
‘The Art of Science’ consists of two parts, the first entitled ‘Pure Genius’, the second ‘Applied Genius’. Its natural target audience appears to be the reasonably well informed layman. It is unlikely to be well received by members of the scientific and medical academia about which it is, without wishing to put too fine a point on it, pretty unflattering. Gareth Morgan’s challenge is not so much an epistemological one in terms of shortfalls in methodology or paradigm limitations … as is the case with Sheldrake … but more along the lines of calling into question the actual integrity and sheer competence of mainstream Western Science and Medicine. He is more concerned with ‘why should we trust what these people say they know’ than ‘how did they get to know it in the first place?’
In Part One—Pure Genius—after a briefest of preambles, the author launches his attack in a series of short, punchy, chapters dealing with a wide range of subjects, everything from black holes, dark matter through AIDS and quantum mechanics to meteorology.
And so, returning to the dark matter of black holes, Gareth Morgan explains how Professor Hawking happily admits—towards the end of his best-selling hardback—that they can’t exist and that, if they did, they would be the brightest objects observable in the sky due to what’s called gravitational lensing.
So you could point this out to your troublesome dinner guest … and everything would be alright … wouldn’t it? Probably not; because—after a brief moment of stunned silence—this outraged academic is likely to stand up and, in a fit of pique, denounce you as an ignorant fool. How dare you? Everyone knows that Hawking is published and what about all of those other papers? And storm out. Worse may be to come; other guests, particularly if they are on the same payroll, may follow suit … possibly leaving your wife in tears and you wondering why you didn’t buy that bag of compost and just go off and do some gardening.
You see … you will have violated what the author calls the First Law of Academia: Don’t contradict anything that has already been published in a peer-reviewed journal!”
So, that’s it for black holes… dealt with in one and half pages in the first chapter of Part One. Next up is the contribution of vapour trails—from all of those jet aircraft—to global warming. Gareth Morgan explains how whosoever publishes first sets the gold standard … the scientific position even if their findings are flatly contradicted by subsequent experimental data derived from careful measurement. He quotes his sources and—at this stage—introduces what he calls a ‘Quibbler’s Corner’ to allay one’s shock at discovering that cherished beliefs on ‘the greenhouse effect’ and subsequently on a whole range of other subjects are open to question and by no means certain. I mean I always thought that you couldn’t drink seawater without going mad … wrong! Read what Gareth Morgan has to say about the matter in a later chapter of Part One.
You get the idea.
In Part Two—‘Applied Genius’—the author gives a detailed account of a highly practicable and very interesting schema for addressing the perennial problems besetting humanity in which he calls for the application of its collective genius. I had originally intended to go into this area in some detail but have come to the conclusion, whilst writing this review, that it is better to recommend the purchase of a copy of ‘The Art of Science’ and read what he has to say without the dubious benefit of a set of pre-conceived ideas. You may not agree with what he proposes … it may be too radical for your liking … but I guarantee he will set you thinking and … who knows … he may be right. In any event, I am impressed by his approach in this book. Criticism is the currency of our world; it’s easy and as cheap as chips to slag off the efforts of others. It’s far harder to put forward original and workable ideas of your own as an alternative. Gareth Morgan has plenty of them and he’s clearly put a great deal of careful research and effort into compiling his.
Unusually for a work of non-fiction, the ‘The Art of Science’ does not have a bibliography; the author takes the pragmatic view that there was no need to include one as nobody ever reads the references, let alone follows them up. Be that as it may, he does invite his readership to contact him to discuss any issues and welcomes reasonable dissent.
One final thing … if you do decide to splash out and buy a copy of ‘The Art of Science’ and end up agreeing with the author … be careful who you invite to dinner!
by Gareth Morgan
Reading this book helps a great deal in that venture
By Sam Nico on 20 Mar. 2015
A large number of subjects are criticised in this book of 200 pages. Some of these criticisms are quite serious? Does the author really believe that science can be that wrong about virtually everything? Are the few words offered on each subject enough to bring them all to light? Of course not. And yet this book should be read for some simple reasons. We are constantly fed the ‘the latest thing’ through the many forms of media now in circulation, and the danger is that this spoon feeding of received wisdom assumes a brain dead state as the norm. We have learnt to swallow just about anything we are offered as long as the offering comes with the usual provenance of expertise and authority.
Except! Once in a while, and this is happening more and more, somebody reads the material and says ‘excuse me, I’m no expert but this makes no sense. In fact, it is nonsense.’ This is legitimate criticism, and one can feel a sense of revolution coming, a new kind of peasants’ revolt. The common voice that the popularisers of science have written for will no longer stomach the lies and fantasies that are passing for knowledge. Even the physicist Lee Smolin said that we have discovered nothing new since the early seventies. Mr Morgan is not Lee Smolin, but is more or less saying the same thing in a much stronger, common voice. The emperor has no clothes! Up to now, we have been blinded and so it did not matter. But now we are learning to think again, and getting our sight back, and that is all this book is asking, to think again. That is the real challenge, to get our brains back. Reading this book helps a great deal in that venture.
by Gareth Morgan
I hope to enjoy more books from this brilliant and quirky writer
By Kristina Amadeus on 9 Sept. 2014
Provocative and irreverent - an extremely satisfying questioning of the many received wisdoms and sacred cows of science. I hope to enjoy more books from this brilliant and quirky writer.
by Gareth Morgan
By magnetforce on 30 July 2014
This book should be required reading in all schools , it is witty readable and well researched.
by Gareth Morgan