‘Nonsense on Stilts’ w/ Massimo Pigliucci
(from book description)
“Recent polls suggest that fewer than 40 per cent of Americans believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution, despite it being one of science’s best-established findings. More and more parents are refusing to vaccinate their children for fear it causes autism, though this link has been consistently disproved. And about 40 per cent of Americans believe that the threat of global warming is exaggerated, despite near consensus in the scientific community that manmade climate change is real.
“Why do people believe bunk? And what causes them to embrace such pseudoscientific beliefs and practices?
“Noted skeptic Massimo Pigliucci sets out to separate the fact from the fantasy in this entertaining exploration of the nature of science, the borderlands of fringe science, and – borrowing a famous phrase from philosopher Jeremy Bentham – the nonsense on stilts. Presenting case studies on a number of controversial topics, Pigliucci cuts through the ambiguity surrounding science to look more closely at how science is conducted, how it is disseminated, how it is interpreted, and what it means to our society. The result is in many ways a ‘taxonomy of bunk’ that explores the intersection of science and culture at large. No one – not the public intellectuals in the culture wars between defenders and detractors of science nor the believers of pseudoscience themselves – is spared Pigliucci’s incisive analysis.
In the end, “Nonsense on Stilts” is a timely reminder of the need to maintain a line between expertise and assumption. Broad in scope and implication, it is also ultimately a captivating guide for the intelligent citizen who wishes to make up her own mind while navigating the perilous debates that will affect the future of our planet.”
Massimo Pigliucci has Ph.D. in botany from the University of Connecticut, and a Ph.D. in philosophy of science from the University of Tennessee. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.
Pigliucci writes regularly for Skeptical Inquirer on topics such as climate change denial. Has also written for Philosophy Now and maintains a blog called “Rationally Speaking.” He has debated “deniers of evolution” (young-earth creationists and intelligent design proponents), including young earth creationists Duane Gish and Kent Hovind and intelligent design proponents William Dembski and Jonathan Wells, on many occasions.
Pigliucci serves on the board of NYC Skeptics and on the advisory board of the Secular Coalition for America. He also co-hosts its official podcast: Rationally Speaking, with Julia Galef.