I recently read Did Adam and Eve Have Navels? Debunking Pseudoscience by the late Martin Gardner. It is a collection of some essays from Skeptical Inquiry magazine, and was published in 1999; my paperback edition was updated with comments and addendum in 2002.
I can understand why the general public (the great unwashed masses) might not understand the disputes between physicists over super strings or wave theory – they (and I) do not have the math to be able to converse intelligently about such things. College calculus and two semesters of differential equations doesn’t quite get me there. But that is a huge (may I say “quantum”) step between misunderstanding relativity, and believing in homeopathy, psi, UFOs, and that beings from outer space came 76,000 years ago and left their wisdom to a hack science fiction writer. Most people would scoff at the “Heaven’s Gate” cult that committed mass suicide in order to hitch a ride on the spaceship trailing the Hale-Bopp comet a decade ago, but believe that big-eyed, gray-skinned aliens routinely go to remote Nebraska wheat fields and abduct semi-literate bubbas for the purpose of exploring rectums. Everyone and their pet monkey has a video camera, a digital camera, and a cell phone with a camera, and yet we can’t seem to capture pics of these happenings.
It is also telling that there were NO accounts of alien abductions prior to the popularization of science fiction, and really not until the 60s and 70s when more movies started appearing, did the stories become even more prevalent. Isaac Asimov was asked by Stephen Spielberg to be a technical adviser on his movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Asimov refused, because he did not want to be a part of anything that encouraged belief in, or even suggested the veracity of, visitations by UFOs (Skeptic magazine, Issue No. 1). Good for the Good Doctor.
I have a friend that has been encouraging me to join Mensa, to meet more people that I might find have common interests. The one thing that kept me from pursuing this (other than the time required and I’m already busy with things I enjoy) is that I read that a higher percentage of Mensa members believe in the paranormal than do the general population! I need to research that.
- Martin Gardner’s Desk: A humble desk, generations of genius (twodifferentgirls.com)
- Face Difficulties Boldly (positiveboomer.wordpress.com)
- Wanted: A Good Baloney Detection Kit (uglicoyote.wordpress.com)