By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
The Little Book of Unscientific Propositions, Theories & Things
By Surendra Verma (New Holland, $19.95, softcover, 250 pages)
A touch of cynicism comes to the fore as you peruse this convenient size book, realising that it is an entertaining read.
This little red book outlines 100 intriguing, but improbable propositions, theories and other ideas from the boundaries of science. It is not about the unpredictable change in beliefs and why we believe in weird things.
Surendra Verma gives straightforward, clever and interesting explanations.
Is common sense so different to the attributes given it by Einstein? Is the Bermuda Triangle a genuine concern to ships’ crews? Is it a misguided belief that the world will end in 2012? Can evolution explain psychology?
Not all concepts presented here can be dismissed as unrealistic since some bear the names of respectable authors.
Search the Internet for many ‘facts’ and according to Surendra Verma: “Mark Twain’s warning that a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth gets its shoes on so aptly applies to the Internet”.
There are some reservations, however. A dismissive tone, for example, is applied when talking about near-death experiences. The author asks, what happens after the “dying process”?
“Obviously nothing, as death is the final frontier and we have simply ceased to exist.” Many scientists may be atheists, but is it scientific to reject it as “obviously”?
Is gullibility at issue when Verma says that people who believe that they have been abducted by aliens “tend to believe not only in alien abduction, but also things like UFOs and ESP”? It is unreasonable not to believe in both.
The facts should be correct when people are criticised for irrational beliefs: what are the accurate counts for time travel?
Nevertheless, this informative book discovers some refreshing middle ground in the topography between straight down-the-line science and conspiracy theories.
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.