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Superstition : Belief in the Age of Science - Robert L. Park

Superstition

Belief in the Age of Science

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From uttering a prayer before boarding a plane, to exploring past lives through hypnosis, has superstition become pervasive in contemporary culture? Robert Park, the best-selling author of Voodoo Science, argues that it has. In Superstition, Park asks why people persist in superstitious convictions long after science has shown them to be ill-founded. He takes on supernatural beliefs from religion and the afterlife to New Age spiritualism and faith-based medical claims. He examines recent controversies and concludes that science is the only way we have of understanding the world. Park sides with the forces of reason in a world of continuing and, he fears, increasing superstition. Chapter by chapter, he explains how people too easily mistake pseudoscience for science. He discusses parapsychology, homeopathy, and acupuncture; he questions the existence of souls, the foundations of intelligent design, and the power of prayer; he asks for evidence of reincarnation and astral projections; and he challenges the idea of heaven. Throughout, he demonstrates how people's blind faith, and their confidence in suspect phenomena and remedies, are manipulated for political ends. Park shows that science prevails when people stop fooling themselves. Compelling and precise, Superstition takes no hostages in its quest to provoke. In shedding light on some very sensitive--and Park would say scientifically dubious--issues, the book is sure to spark discussion and controversy.

"Opinionated and well-informed, this is a lucid promotion of rationality in a world of rising superstition. We can disagree with the author but he forces us to think harder."-Yves Gingras, University of Quebec, Montreal

Introduction: Lessons from a tree vii
CHAPTER ONE: A BIGGER PRIZE 1
In which we discover scientists of faith
CHAPTER TWO: THE SECRET OF LIFE 23
In which Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection survives
CHAPTER THREE: MIRACLE AT COLUMBIA 56
In which both sides pray for victory
CHAPTER FOUR: GIVING UP THE GHOST 79
In which we search for the soul
CHAPTER FIVE: THE SILENT ARMY 93
In which we search for an afterlife
CHAPTER SIX: THE TSUNAMI GOD 104
In which the innocent suffer
CHAPTER SEVEN: THE NEW AGE 116
In which anything goes
CHAPTER EIGHT: SCHRÖDINGER'S GRAVE 129
In which quantum mysticism is found to be superstition
CHAPTER NINE: THE BARBARY DUCK 142
In which the body heals itself
CHAPTER TEN: THE DEER 161
In which the placebo effect is explained
CHAPTER ELEVEN: THE MORAL LAW 188
In which we instinctively know right from wrong
CHAPTER TWELVE: THE LAST BUTTERFLY 202
In which there is no place else to go
Bibliography 217
Index 221

ISBN: 9781400828777
ISBN-10: 1400828775
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: ePUB
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 240
Published: 22nd September 2008