Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud

By Ames, David A. | Anglican Theological Review, Winter 2002 | Go to article overview

Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud


Ames, David A., Anglican Theological Review


Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud. By Robert Park. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. 230 pp. $25.00 (cloth).

In this informative and sometimes entertaining volume, the author's thesis is that people choose to believe in science the way they believe in religion, and that is based on how they wish the world to be. The problem is one of blind faith in many areas of unproven scientific assertion, assertions that presumably would be beneficial not only for the believer but for the rest of humanity. Robert Park, Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, examines many such claims: cold fusion or an unlimited source of renewable energy; belief in the salutary effects of "alternative" medicines (notably, "Vitamin O," or salt water, and "bio-magnetic therapy"); the feasibility of sustaining an extraterrestrial colony on Mars; the gullibility of lawmakers in accepting unproven follies of some would-be inventors; the belief that electric power lines and magnetic fields cause cancer.

Park delineates what he means by voodoo science with several adjectives to deplore the misuse of acceptable science (pp. 9, 10). Admitting that "science fascinates us by its power to surprise," he describes pathological science as misinterpreting events that lead to an inclination to see what is expected; junk science as misleading lawmakers and others with little or no scientific background; pseudoscience as a belief in space aliens who travel faster than the speed of light, or a belief that wearing magnets in one's shoes will enable a person to draw energy from the earth; and fraudulent science, as the evolution of honest error to self-delusion to fraud (p. 9).

Science is defined as "the systematic enterprise of gathering knowledge about the world and organizing and condensing that knowledge into testable laws and theories" (pp. 39, 198). Park offers two rules for assessing its credibility: "Expose new ideas and results to independent testing and replication by other scientists"; and "Abandon or modify accepted facts or theories in the light of more complete or reliable experimental evidence" (p. 39). Most of his examples of voodoo science have failed one or both of these rules. A notable exception might be the debate about global warming, although this reviewer is willing to accept the word of the National Academy of Science that global warming is a real and present danger. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.