Sunday, November 26, 2006

Kicking the Sacred Cow

If you’ve looked over my recently read books list on the sidebar, you’ll already know that one of the last ten books I’ve read was Kicking the Sacred Cow by James P Hogan. And though my blog is dedicated to pointing out the actions of the idiots and morons of this world (and those who support them), I also feel it is my duty to point out those who are fed up with the bullshit and are doing something about it. With that in mind, here are my thoughts on Mr. Hogan’s book.

I honestly had no expectations going into this book. I’ve never read any of his science fiction; hard sci-fi doesn’t interest me often—Asimov puts me to sleep. But I am interested in science, and even more in kicking sacred cows (if they need kicking), so it was natural for me to not only pick up this book but buy it. All of the above said, and having read the book, I am surprised it was published. That is not a shot at Mr. Hogan but praise for Baen Books. It took guts to publish this book.

James P. Hogan writes here about the politicalization of science, and about how speaking against the accepted politically-correct view—even with supporting evidence—is the equivalent of peer-assisted suicide (luckily Mr. Hogan is a fiction writer and can get away with this exposé of bad science).

I am not a scientist (nor do I claim to be one or play one on TV) but as a researcher I can see that Mr. Hogan has done his homework in the area. All of his information is cited (section notation), and I had only a little difficulty in following the technical information contained within what I feel is an entertaining read. I would love to hear the thoughts of any scientist open-minded enough to read this book.

If you have any interest in science—theoretical, physical, environmental, or even medical—there is something here for you. Go get a copy of James P. Hogan’s Kicking the Sacred Cow and tell me what you think.


tom sheepandgoats said...

My take is that science is a tool. It is only as good as the folks making use of it. Wasn't it Einstein who said "if I'd only known, I'd have been a locksmith?"

Samuel Adams (1775) is known for the declaration that "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." But the same can be said of science, when in the hands of scoundrels. It certainly can be said of religion, which is my field.

Your blog promises to be interesting.

Victor Allen Winters said...

I agree, and thank you (though whether or not my blog fulfills that promise is yet to be seen).

Ballpoint Wren said...

...hard sci-fi doesn’t interest me often—Asimov puts me to sleep.

Sacré bleu! I love my Asimov's subscription. But I've noticed in the Asimov's forums that if an author presents a politically incorrect view--even if he has research to back it up--he gets blasted.

If Gallileo were alive today, it wouldn't be the church pinning him down, it would be his fellow scientists.

Victor Allen Winters said...

Yes, That is exactly--or at least much of--Mr. Hogan's point. (Oh, and when I said Asimov, I meant mister, as in Issac, not the magazine. I like the magazine, though I prefer the old Analog's.

Anonymous said...

Concerning evolution / ID and the big bang. Then I quit reading...

Most of the ID/Creationism authors are using the same silly arguments again and again.

I will use one example from another blogger - What you will think if your government pay $ 500 000 for scientific research to find out why in city of X cases of allergy and asthma are increased and after the research the scientist explain to you shortly “The cases of allergy and asthma in the city X are increased by the Gods will (or by the will of the Intelligent Designer if you like it more)” isn’t that neat o? And why when one of your family members is missing you are reporting in the police and not suggest that he was taken by Holy Ghost like Elias?

For me case is closed -

TimothyB said...

Bit of a delay in that driveby, no?

Hogan is not religious, and in fact said that he thought the book on ID would be "good for a laugh", but as he read it he said "some" of the arguments seemed to make sense to him, which is why he looked into it farther.

And also, it should be noted, he isn't doubting evolution per se, he is doubting the gradualist approach as put forward by Darwin, and now enshrined by countless institutions. He points out that fossil geologists have great difficulty gibing with thenotion of gradualism since he entire fossil record is effectively quantized. He gives no alternate explanations since no concerted research has been done on the possibility that this is so, however he does point out where the invisible fabric lies, and why we should seriously doubt gradualist ideas.

So why don't you take a deep breath and re read it? And read his references (as I did). You'll find out that there IS in fact a problem, now of the size of a white brontosaur, sitting in the room and being ignored by the loud humming and singing of evolutionary biologists.

FYI I am an Atheist. I do not believe in any God or Gods. And I have trouble with the gradualist idea given current mountains of evidence to the contrary.