Damian Thompson — Counterknowledge: How we surrendered to conspiracy theories, quack medecine, bogus science, and fake history — Viking Canada, 2008, 162 pp. ISBN 978-0-670-06865-4
Reminding me of the Petit cours d’autodéfense intellectuelle,
Counterknowledge deals with various pseudoscience and the strategies employed by their supporters to spread the “counterknowledge”. Everything goes: quack medecine (chakra-aligned neuromagnetic cristals), pseudohistory (apparently the Chinese circumnavigated the globe in 1421), and, my favorite, Creationism.
As you may have guessed, Thompson demolishes the quack theories, but must importantly, he shows how the most basic critical thinking will tear the pseudosciences down.
Do not read if you’re a conspiracy theorist.
Pedlars of counterknowledge often insist that their ideas should be taken seriously because ‘no one has been able to come up with a better explanation’ for whatever mystery they have lighted upon. But this argument only betrays their muddled thinking. The fact that a subject is genuinely puzzling, that there are vast gaps in our understanding of it, does not lower the standard of evidence we require in order to fill the gaps
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