Saturday, June 6, 2009

Five best books on scientific fraud

Eugenie Samuel Reich is a former editor at New Scientist. She has written for Nature, New Scientist, and The Boston Globe, and is known for her hard hitting reports on irregular science. Several of her reports have resulted in institutional investigations.

Her new book is Plastic Fantastic: How the Biggest Fraud in Physics Shook the Scientific World.

She named a five best list of books about scientific fraud for the Wall Street Journal. One book on her list:
Voodoo Science
by Robert L. Park
Oxford, 2000

The thesis of “Voodoo Science” is that instances of science fraud arise from ignorance. Whether it’s the dream of free energy or the fear of cancer caused by overhead powerlines, the public’s ­uninformed obsessions often attract false scientific claims. A physicist at the University of Maryland and ­former director of the Washington Office of the American Physical ­Society, Robert L. Park is known for candor in the discussion of bad ­science. He is devastating, for ­instance, on the subject of the “cold fusion” debacle in 1989, when ­chemists Stanley Pons and Martin ­Fleischmann of the University of Utah falsely claimed to have replicated the reactions that power the sun by using a tabletop apparatus that applied electric voltage to heavy water. This eminently readable work leaves the reader with a deep appreciation of how pseudoscientists often tailor their fictions to the public ­imagination.
Read about all five books on Reich's list.

Writers Read: Eugenie Samuel Reich.

--Marshal Zeringue