THE SHELVES of bookstores groan with an immense number worthless tomes about UFO abductions, magic crystals, the Bermuda Triangle, Intelligent Design, mysticism, spiritualism, and other equally useless topics. But where does one go to learn specifically why these ideas are such nonsense?
In the Wall Street Journal we read Books That Emphatically Debunk Pseudohistory. It has brief reviews of five books that debunk an amazing variety of bunkum. Just in time for your Christmas shopping.
We’ll quote only one in full, as it pertains to our principal topic:
Tower of Babel, By Robert T. Pennock: No form of counter-factual “knowledge” is more insidious than modern creationism, which exploits public ignorance of science to present religious myth as heavily footnoted research. In “Tower of Babel,” Robert T. Pennock provides a magisterial guide to the different schools of creationism, from the nutty to the plausible. He is particularly effective at exposing the sleight of hand employed by the “intelligent design” school, which uses the twisted methodology of all pseudoscientists: Start with what you want to prove — in this case, that nature could not have evolved without divine intervention — and then work backward.
That’s not a new book (it was published by MIT Press in 2000), but it’s certainly worth your attention. The author, Robert T. Pennock, was one of the expert witnesses for the winning side in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. The book is available at Amazon: Tower of Babel: The Evidence against the New Creationism.
We’ll briefly mention two other other books discussed in the Wall Street Journal article:
Fantastic Archaeology, By Stephen Williams: The pages brim with cranks, mystics and peddlers of dubious historical claims who were determined to prove that America was discovered by — well, take your pick: Phoenicians, Africans, Irish monks, Lost Tribes of Israel.
Here’s one more:
Lost Christianities, By Bart D. Ehrman: Yes, there were dozens of alternative versions of Jesus’ life circulating among the Christians of the second and third centuries, and these works often were wildly heterodox — suggesting that Jesus was one of many gods, for instance, and even proposing that he was followed out of the tomb by monsters. But as Bart D. Ehrman ably demonstrates, the stories were all bogus, confected by the pseudohistorians of their day.
Books like these aren’t for everyone, and we don’t want anyone to feel left out of the festivities. If you’re one of those who think that learning about reality requires too much effort and is probably sinful anyway, we have something for you too.
Using our Curmudgeonly insight, we confidently predict that you’ll soon meet a stranger who will promise you the answers to everything you’ve ever wanted to know. All that you have to do is give him your money and promise to obey him in all things. That’s a small price to pay for being relieved of your humanity. Go for it.
Copyright © 2008. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.