Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “When You Were a Tadpole & I Was a Fish & Other Speculations About This & That” as Want to Read:
When You Were a Tadpole & I Was a Fish & Other Speculations About This & That
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

When You Were a Tadpole & I Was a Fish & Other Speculations About This & That

3.19  ·  Rating Details ·  109 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
Best known as the longtime writer of the Mathematical Games column for Scientific American—which introduced generations of readers to the joys of recreational mathematics—Martin Gardner has for decades pursued a parallel career as a devastatingly effective debunker of what he once famously dubbed "fads and fallacies in the name of science." It is mainly in this latter role ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by Hill and Wang
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Be the first to ask a question about When You Were a Tadpole & I Was a Fish & Other Speculations About This & That

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 27, 2011 Dave rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was a kid I used to go visit my Granny's place and she always had a massive stack of Scientific American magazines. Granny, who was a brilliant mathematician, and I would spend time together playing cards (to learn about probability) and reading Martin Gardner's columns on maths, games and logic.

Since having grown up I still retain a love for Mr gardner's mind. Now he's 94, and still publishing from his assisted care facility, and now he writes like a cranky old man, which is just perfect
Sep 07, 2013 Molly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was browsing through the Regulator bookshop and got this book on a lark. I only gave this two stars because I think the description on the cover was pretty misleading. I happen to really like science writing, so when I read the book cover and the keywords had to do with math puzzles, evolution, and the like I was really excited. Unfortunately, when reading it, it felt like more of the sections were on philosophy, history, and religion than on science topics. The writing was well done and the a ...more
Nov 02, 2009 Orin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, ideas
He's always good company and I admit that I skimmed the mathematical bits. He includes the "Why I am not an atheist" essay and I'm not sure why. It is a consummate argument for the value of delusional thought and its value for getting through life, but he really doesn't score any points for theism, god or any of that other stuff.
Steven Williams
I used to like Martin Gardner's writing a lot, but unfortunately I can't say the same for a lot of the pieces in this book. The mathematical part was boring for me, except for the chapter on mathematical realism, opposing Reuben Hersh's cultural invention of mathematical truths. Not that I am firmly in the realist camp myself, but I do not like cultural epistemologies. I could agree that mathematical turths are discovered, but existing in some other world seems a flight of fancy. The logic secti ...more
Josh Knowles
Jan 21, 2016 Josh Knowles rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: blogged
I grew up reading Martin Gardner's math books. Loved 'em. So I was excited to give his new collection a shot. And it has a few good essays. I enjoyed learning about "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" author L. Frank Baum and the poem "Evolution" (from where the title of the book comes). And I'm always game for a good thrashing of Ann Coulter. Sadly, though, the math chapters were way too elementary and have been covered by Gardner himself on many occasions. And the chapters dealing with faith and skep ...more
May 01, 2016 Louisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
When you were a tadpole and I was a fish
In the Paleozoic time,
And side by side on the ebbing tide
We sprawled through the ooze and slime,
Or skittered with many a caudal flip
Through the depths of the Cambrian fen,
My heart was rife with the joy of life,
For I loved you even then.

For Gardner's musings on the beautiful poem Evolution (by Langdon Smith, 1858-1908) and the cover featuring M.C. Escher's Flying Fish alone this little book of essays and reviews is well worth buying. Reading this in tandem
Jim Razinha
Oct 27, 2014 Jim Razinha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful collection of Gardner writings. As he says,
This is another collection of articles and book reviews, of introductions to works by me and others, plus some stray pieces retrieved from obscure books of my own. The only thing these scribbling have in common is that I wrote them all."

The first essay takes down Ann Coulter and he has fun with many others along the way. I love his writings and if I had heroes, he might be one, but I'll never understand why he likes poetry (or topography!).
Oct 01, 2010 Maria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Speculations About This and That" is an appropriate subtitle for this book. It contains essays on topics as seemingly diverse as Ann Coulter, The Wizard of Oz, Fibonacci numbers, Santa Claus, the Titanic, and socialism.

I found some of the essays interesting, some boring, some thought-provoking, and some over my head. Many of the essays were actually prefaces to other books. Most were on topics about which I would probably not read an entire book, but one essay did inspire me to seek out a copy
Mar 15, 2014 Ayse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Martin Gardner is always an interesting and thought provoking read -- from solving logic puzzles to analyzing poetry to defending theism, this book is an example of the renaissance man at his best. Though some of the articles dragged on a little too long, most notably the discussion on the Titanic, and the debunking of unity thought activities, each was an enjoyable slice of Gardner's wit and enthusiasm. I was especially taken with the essay on the "Tales of the Long Bow" and the discussion of t ...more
Jan 21, 2014 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The final collection of articles by the late Martin Gardner. This fine collection is worth reading if only for the title poem.

500 "When you were a tadpole and I was a fish : and other speculations about this and that" - In this collection of essays, Gardner shows that he is much more than a skeptical debunker of bad science and pseudoscience. The book also contains a selection of essays on literature, logic, and mathematics (including a brain teaser involving vampire martinis).
Jan 14, 2010 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of essays, mostly forwards from other books, but also some book reviews, by Gardner. I enjoyed the pieces on Chesterton, who I haven't read, and L. Frank Baum. Also fascinating is Gardner's defense of "fideism" (basically, Gardner's faith in a God and afterlife) based, at least in part, on Pascal's Wager. Worth reading.
University of Chicago Magazine
Martin Gardner, AB’36

From our pages (Jan–Feb/10): "Gardner, a nonagenarian and former writer of Scientific American’s Mathematical Games column, collects his essays on Fibonacci sequences, The Wizard of Oz, the sinking of the Titanic, religious fundamentalism, and those debunking what he calls 'fads and fallacies in the name of science.'"
Apr 11, 2014 Timothy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, as
Only made it half way through. Really unexceptional writing. The parts I read were mostly criticisms of religious and paranormal science. It was all sort of preaching to the choir, and not in an interesting sort of way.
I love MG, and I like what he's writing, but this felt like a bunch of well-written preaching to the choir. It's fun if you're in his corner, but I found less enlightenment and insight than in some of his other books.
Bill Leach
A number of short essays on various topics. Perhaps the most interesting chapter was on single poem poets, highlighting Langdon Smith's Evolution: "When You Were A Tadpole and I Was A Fish".
A series of brilliant peeks into the mind of Martin Gardner. Now I need to get some more of his books; I remember fondly the Paradox one from my childhood.
Good, not great. Mostly this is a collection of things scraped up from random sources, for example prefaces that Martin Gardner wrote for other books.
Courtney rated it liked it
Jan 02, 2014
Anna Mezhova
Anna Mezhova rated it really liked it
Jul 15, 2015
Geoffrey Gelb
Geoffrey Gelb rated it liked it
Jul 31, 2013
Sara rated it did not like it
Sep 17, 2014
Michael rated it liked it
Mar 26, 2011
Michael rated it really liked it
Oct 08, 2015
Robin rated it it was ok
Oct 06, 2015
Joshua rated it it was ok
Sep 08, 2013
Andrew rated it liked it
Aug 21, 2011
Lucinda Powell
Lucinda Powell rated it it was ok
Feb 26, 2010
Jeff J.
Jeff J. rated it it was ok
Mar 18, 2010
Zach rated it did not like it
Mar 17, 2010
Anna Kozlova
Anna Kozlova rated it really liked it
Apr 02, 2013
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Murphy's Law: Complete
  • The Link: Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor
  • The Informed Heart
  • Put What Where? Over 2,000 Years of Bizarre Sex Advice
  • Fragile Species
  • Flyaway: How A Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings
  • Altered States of Consciousness: A Book of Readings
  • The New Personality Self-Portrait: Why You Think, Work, Love and Act the Way You Do
  • How to Talk About Places You've Never Been: On the Importance of Armchair Travel
  • Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary 2
  • Stung!: On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean
  • Cookoff: Recipe Fever in America
  • Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life
  • The Meditative Mind: The Varieties of Meditative Experience
  • Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood, 1910-1969
  • Math on Trial: How Numbers Get Used and Abused in the Courtroom
  • Áristos
  • Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day
Martin Gardner was an American mathematics and science writer specializing in recreational mathematics, but with interests encompassing micromagic, stage magic, literature (especially the writings of Lewis Carroll), philosophy, scientific skepticism, and religion. He wrote the Mathematical Games column in Scientific American from 1956 to 1981, and published over 70 books.
More about Martin Gardner...

Share This Book