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The Borderlands Of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense
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The Borderlands Of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  359 ratings  ·  28 reviews
In The Borderlands of Science, the author Michael Shermer takes us to the place where real science (such as the Big Bang theory), borderland science (superstring theory), and just plain nonsense (Big Foot) collide with one another. Shermer argues that science is the best lens through which to view the world, but he recognizes that it's often difficult for most of us to tel ...more
Published May 17th 2001 by Oxford University Press, USA
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There were many times when this book was a five star read in my opinion. The reason I dropped it to a four star was because it followed the title of the book at first, but then it seemed to take a bit of a unexpected turn. Turned into more like a history/reference novel later on.

Now I'm not saying that I didn't like the strong history section, because I did, it's just that I didn't expect it from this book. Michael Shermer spends a good deal of time back tracking Darwin & Wallace and some of
This is a collection of essays on topics near the fringe of science. In the beginning of the book, Shermer promised to talk about inflation, but never got around to it, which I found strange. The book was very even-handed in confronting issues of pseudoscience, non-science, and even fraud. But the lack of passion made it a bit boring. I was displeased with the segment on Carl Sagan, because I feel like Shermer tried to underplay the legitimacy of SETI as a scientific undertaking, and also got mi ...more
Todd Martin
“The Borderlands of Science” examines historic scientific claims that began as radical concepts and how they evolve into either orthodox science or non-science over time as facts and knowledge improved our understanding. These include, Darwin’s theory of natural selection, Copernicus’ heliocentric universe, Freud’s psychological theories and others. Since science evolves over time, the main lesson of the book is that it’s important to be open to new ideas, but not so open-minded that your brains ...more
Dec 16, 2007 Pspealman rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: an Unpublished pop-sci writer
This book is, ultimately, frustrating.

The key issue is that Mr. Shermer has a very difficult time in stating his argument, framing his argument, and using the text in either support or clarification of his argument.

In a mismatch of subjects drawn from science and pseudo-science Shermer seems to find a unifying theme that connects it all together. But the theme is never given the light of day, only teased and hinted at in between encapsulations of bad science and worse scientists.

To string tog
Kenghis Khan
Here's the problem with this book. The book bills itself as an analysis of pseudo-science. Indeed, it starts off as an intriguing critique of pseudo-science and scientific cranks and the like. This is all entertaining enough. And the book has some strong sections on, for example, our obsession with race in sports or the "Amadeus" myth.

But it doesn't keep this momentum. Rather, the book is quite schizophrenic, occasionally descending into long, tedious passages on the history of science. For exam
Jun 08, 2008 Edward rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Edward by: Corine
Shelves: nonfiction
Not so much a book as a collection of essays. At least, it seems that way. The level of detail and purpose vary from chapter to chapter, making for a bumpy ride. It's all worthwhile but a reader shouldn't feel bad about skipping past any that seem tedious. Likely, in the next, will be a topic to inspire further interest and research.

I'm a fan of Michael Shermer, and I hate to rate a book of his so poorly, but I see no way around it, as this book is badly put together. I could barely keep my attention from wandering away through large parts of it.

It started off pretty strong, but quickly strayed off topic. Most of the middle of the book felt disorganized, self-indulgent, and only tangentially related to the supposed subject matter. It ended up a lot heavier on history and lighter on analysis than I expected from the title, a
Michael Shermer, profesor de Historia de la ciencia en UCLA, también es el director y fundador de la revista norteamericana Skeptic. Como su propio nombre indica, la revista fundamenta su razón de ser en la cruzada escéptica. Esto es: tratan de desenmascarar las teorías y majaderías que se nos venden como ciencia probada, eficaz. La homeopatía, la reflexoterapia, el creacionismo o el espiritismo, por poner sólo unos ejemplos, son oscuras disciplinas que, sorprendentemente, gozan de una salud de ...more
Fernando del Alamo
"Las fronteras de la ciencia, Entre la ortodoxia y la herejía" es el título en castellano. Es un libro más de tipo histórico que no definidor de lo que es ciencia y lo que no. Por tanto, creo que el título es un 60% o 70% de lo que es el libro, pero no más.

La parte histórica de la que hablo es bastante buena y bien documentada, sobre todo, la parte en la que se extiende hablando mucho del pensamiento de Alfred Russell Wallace. El contemporáneo de Darwin era un auténtico hereje en lo que a cienc
Alissa Thorne
This book was a big disappointment. From the title and the introduction, I got the impression that this book would make a skeptical analysis of phenomena for which the scientific evidence is inconclusive. Instead, it explored the politics, philosophies, personalities, and ideologies involved in various conflicting perspectives. Some of the topics were interesting--the chapters on birth order and heretical personality types; others were utterly tedious--I really could care less about the drama an ...more
Mikko Muilu
A narrow history of pushing science's limits and a few scientists who were doing it.
Wordy, uneven, repetitive; presumptuous at times. Even though the author is a professional editor, this book would hugely benefit from more professional editing. And the title is misleading: the "borderlands of science" theme seems only an excuse for harangues on mostly irrelevant biographical details and rants. There are some insights and interesting stories thinly spread, though, which made this not a total waste of time.
Warren Benton
This book discusses how some realms of science aren't really scientific. Somethings they have fully figured out yet and are still running on theory with little to no evidence. He finished off the book discussing Darwin and how lots of research still needs to be done in the theory of evolution.
Jim Myers
An even and thoughtful exploration of science that reaches to the fridge, and nonsense that skitters out into the darkness of absurdity. With so much confusion about what really is science, this book helps clarify this distinction while honestly pointing out some of science's missteps.
Elf Doug
This book read like the ocean; when the tide was in, the material rocked, but it always slipped back out of fascination.

Two things make it worth reading however: the other books it references, and the fact that the author biked 2600 miles coast to coast in 8 days. Good God!!
Mar 24, 2011 Rob rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: science
It was okay, but perhaps not quite what you'd expect from reading the blurbs on the cover. The author frequently indulged in long explorations of topics that seemed tangential to the central theme, occasionally adopting an unfortunate know-it-all tone.
Jim Razinha
I like Michael Shermer and find his skeptical approach to be extremely fair, tending to the understated. The title attracted me, but I found this book to be uneven and tedious, which is disappointing.
Christopher Carbone
Disappointing follow-up to Why people Believe Weird Things that, regrettably, never gets off the ground. At no point did the book push any of my intellectual buttons. Eminently skippable.
Colin Bendell
The first chapter was kind interesting. The rest was just a long winded history lesson on Wallace and Darwin that had nothing to do with the borderlands of science.
There is much of interest in this book, but it does not form a coherent whole. It appears to be more a collection of essays than an exposition on one theme.
This was OK, but not all that great. Some parts were quite interesting and others not so.
At time engrossing but badly structured and repetitive.
Ever wonder how things become science.....
Paul Vilarino
repetitive and didn't seem to make the point
Good ideas but needed substantial editing

so and so, nothing great
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Michael Brant Shermer (born September 8, 1954 in Glendale, California) is an American science writer, historian of science, founder of The Skeptics Society, and Editor in Chief of its magazine Skeptic, which is largely devoted to investigating and debunking pseudoscientific and supernatural claims. The Skeptics Society currently has over 55,000 members.

Shermer is also the producer and co-host of t
More about Michael Shermer...
Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design How We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God The Science of Good and Evil: Why People Cheat, Gossip, Care, Share, and Follow the Golden Rule

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