Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud

Article excerpt

Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud; Robert L. Park; Oxford University Press, New York, NY; 2000; 240 pp., $25.

In this book, the director of the Washington, D.C. office of the American Physical Society and former chairman of the University of Maryland Dept. of Physics aims "to help the reader to recognize voodoo science and to understand the forces that seem to conspire to keep it alive." Robert Park explains that because "the line between foolishiness and fraud is thin," he uses the term voodoo science to cover the spectrum from self delusion to fraud, encompassing:

Pathological science, "in which scientists manage to fool themselves" (see Langmuir, Irving. "Pathological Science," Research Technology Management, Sept.-Oct. 1989, pp. 11-17).

Junk science, which "typically consists of tortured theories of what could be so, with little supporting evidence to prove that it is so."

Pseudoscience-"Its practitioners may believe it to be science, just as witches and faith healers may truly believe they can call forth supernatural powers. …