Simon Howard's Reviews > Heretics: Adventures With The Enemies Of Science

Heretics by Will Storr
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it was amazing

One of my favourite books of the year so far. From the blurb, I was expecting this to be an enjoyable (if slightly sneering) debunking of pseudo-science. It's not that. It's a fascinating illustrated discussion of cognitive bias, backed up by astounding and revealing investigative journalism. Storr examines the claims and motives of 'heretics' and 'skeptics' alike in forensic detail - he doesn't pull any punches in his discussion of the latter, which is refreshing and offers new insights.

I've long been a fan of Will Storr's magazine features - I will read almost anything with his byline on it, because his name is almost a guarantee that I'll enjoy this article - but this is the first of his books I've read. It won't be the last.

And now for a public note to self... In the epilogue, there's a line that crystallised a collection of vague thoughts I've had for a few years now, not just/specifically about Skeptics, but about a lot of people who specialise in following the evidence-base. I'm mangling it slightly and adding emphasis so that it makes sense when I come back to this review to find it some years hence:

We tell ourselves a story, we cast the monster and then become vulnerable to our own delusional narrative of heroism. This kind of binary thinking insists upon extremes: heroes and villains, black and white, in-tribes and out. This corrosive instinct is evidence in the so-called 'culture wars'. For many Skeptics, evidence-based truth has been sacralised. It has caused them to become irrational in their judgements of the motives of those with whom they do not agree.

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Reading Progress

January 19, 2016 – Shelved
January 19, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
May 18, 2016 – Started Reading
June 1, 2016 – Finished Reading

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