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baric
2010-Aug-24, 01:25 AM
What are some examples of works of pseudo-science that became universally popular despite being scientifically discredited almost immediately? I can think of three:

"Atlantis: the Antediluvian World", by Ignatius Donnelly (1882)

"Worlds in Collision", by Immanuel Velikovsky (1950)

"Chariots of the Gods?", by Erich von Daniken (1968)

Any others pop to mind?

Solfe
2010-Aug-24, 01:35 AM
Communion: A True Story springs to mind, but I suspect there is very little science in it. Never read it myself.
The Bermuda Triangle Mystery: Solved (1975)

Solfe

vonmazur
2010-Aug-24, 05:44 AM
Don't forget the works of Zecharia Stichin...He gave us the whole Planet X thing....And of course Richard C Hoagland..."Plenty of Woo at the H. Hotel..." I found the first reports of the Face interesting, but....all the NASA conspiracies drove me away from this whole thing....Someone else will have to cover the 2012 EOTW, as I do not have any knowledge of what book started that stuff........

Dale

Nick Theodorakis
2010-Aug-24, 12:50 PM
There was also the case of N-rays, although I'm not sure if this was fraud or just self-deception.

Nick

MAPNUT
2010-Aug-24, 12:59 PM
I read a fairly convincing book, maybe around 1970, can't remember the name or the author's name. The hypothesis was that Atlantis was on the Greek island of Santorini. Which did go boom.

AndreasJ
2010-Aug-24, 03:07 PM
There was also the case of N-rays, although I'm not sure if this was fraud or just self-deception.
A piece I read on the affair years ago suggested self-deception on Blondlot's part helped along by outright fraud by his assistant.

Be that as it may, did N-rays ever gain the sort of, erm, popular popularity enjoyed by ancient austronauts or Atlanteans? I've only ever heard of htem in history of (bad) science contexts.

Gavin Menzies's 1421: The Year China Discovered the World may qualify. Apparently he's now penned a sequel entitled 1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance, which is no doubt even wilder, but appears to have made less impact - I hadn't heard of it till looking up Menzies's name on WP just now, but I've run into a few ... ahem, adherents of the thesis of the first book.

Ara Pacis
2010-Aug-24, 03:36 PM
There is another Atlantis book by Arysio Santos PhD. wherin he explores the possibility that Atlantis was Sundaland. I don't think it got popular though.

KaiYeves
2010-Aug-24, 10:33 PM
The Bermuda Triangle by Charles Berlitz (1974)

My high school has a lot of old 70s science and pseudo-science books lying around, I read that one years ago when I was going to a Saturday program. I pretty much remember only because it gave me nightmares.

Van Rijn
2010-Aug-24, 10:45 PM
The Jupiter Effect, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jupiter_Effect) with the idea that a planetary alignment would cause all sorts of nasty effects, was very popular at one time. You still will hear of planetary alignment claims (there are claims, of course, for 2012).

Pyramid Power: The Millennium Science by Patrick Flanagan (also, he had other books on this topic). This was the idea that pyramids could do all sorts of amazing things like resharpening razors and making tea or coffee less bitter.

I'm not sure what would be the big names in them, but there are the homeopathic medicine and anti-vaccination things today.

grant hutchison
2010-Aug-24, 11:09 PM
John Taylor's Superminds (1975) was a best-seller in its day. Taylor (a professor of maths and physics) was a studio guest when Uri Geller did his first metal bending routine on British TV. Taylor immediately bought into the idea of telekinesis, and "scientifically" investigated various metal-bending children. The "Geller effect" was in full swing when Taylor's book came out, and people couldn't get enough of it.

Grant Hutchison

SkepticJ
2010-Aug-24, 11:35 PM
The Physics of Christianity, by Frank Tipler.

Interesting case, Tipler. He's actually a real physicist who did real scientific work in the '70s and '80s, he just checked into the Loonsville Hotel sometime back in the '90s.

baric
2010-Aug-25, 01:02 AM
Communion: A True Story springs to mind, but I suspect there is very little science in it. Never read it myself.
The Bermuda Triangle Mystery: Solved (1975)

Solfe


oh yeah, the Bermuda Triangle!

Here are some other ones, but I don't know the sources...

The Loch Ness Monster
Bigfoot
Area 51 (!)

I'll have to google those up tonight :P

Ara Pacis
2010-Aug-25, 05:31 AM
Understanding Your Life Through Color by Nancy Ann Tappe who coined the term, "Indigo Children".

EDG
2010-Aug-25, 05:40 AM
The Bermuda Triangle by Charles Berlitz (1974)

My high school has a lot of old 70s science and pseudo-science books lying around, I read that one years ago when I was going to a Saturday program. I pretty much remember only because it gave me nightmares.

I loved that book when I was a kid! :)
Also, there was one called "The Devil's Sea" - it was from around the same time, had a blue cover IIRC. Forgot who wrote it, but it was about a purported "Bermuda triangle" type thing off the coast of Japan.

Substantia Innominata
2010-Aug-25, 08:11 PM
The Jupiter Effect, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jupiter_Effect) with the idea that a planetary alignment would cause all sorts of nasty effects, was very popular at one time. You still will hear of planetary alignment claims (there are claims, of course, for 2012).

Uh.. well, interesting, I've never heard about the "Jupiter Effect". But there has also been Michel Gauquelin's "L'influence des astres" ("The Influence of the Stars"), quite similar in matter I guess, though even a bit older, from 1955 - and, if I'm correct, the book that kicked off this notorious "Mars Effect" affair...

Then, there's of course Fritjof Capra's "The Tao of Physics", even though it might be debatable as to how much of it really qualifies for being "pseudo". I think, at least a good part of the book cannot really be described as such, but then, there's the other part...

The works by Deepak Chopra constitute, I'd say, a somewhat clearer case. Although some may be inclined to call books like these rather "speculative", than downright "pseudo" in nature; anyway, it is quantum mysticism at its worst (best?) and, personally, I couldn't tell what "pseudo" is, if not that. Since, admittedly, what folks like Erich von Däniken propose is, or could be said to be, well, also merely speculative?! (As far as I know, at least von Däniken only raises (yes, provocative) questions, he remains cautious not to allege the answers, or, at least, that's what he tries. Hypothesizing in itself, off-the-wall as it may feel, isn't illegal. Moreover, he does not and has never called himself a scientist!)

A much more serious example would be "The Myth of the Twentieth Century" by Alfred Rosenberg - a book that highly influenced the German Nazis in its day, comparable, in fact, to Hitler's "Mein Kampf", even though Hitler himself presumably never read it, and some other well known Nazis rejected it as well. A certainly more interesting (and much more complex) case out of this period I think is "The Decline of the West" by Oswald Spengler; no doubt it's famous, though the question, again, would be: is it pseudo-science, or not? I'm of two minds about this one, but there is, at any rate, something fishy about it.

So far, no one even mentioned "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health" by L. Ron Hubbard? :surprised

I consider Dr. Raymond Moody's well known 1975 book "Life After Life" also kind of pseudo-science.. though it too may be legitimate subject for debate.

Yet without question the most famous of them all no one dares to mention, maybe because this forum does not like the theme, but, let's face it, it is the book, it is chock-full with pseudo-science (or, is it fantastic history?), and it starts with a big big 'B'. I certainly don't mean this condescending, I find it to be one of the greatest literary achievements of mankind and I'm not even an atheist! Which all the same doesn't make me believe in the whole shebang. ;) Still, as it leads (by far too many) people to take up belief systems like that of creationism, it seems fair enough to declare it a famous book with -- at least -- pseudo-scientific "potential", or, a potential to get abused in a pseudo-scientific way. And yes, I know the topic in general is unwelcome on BAUT, that's why I stop right here -- just didn't want to spare that one. Hope this alone won't get me in trouble?

baric
2010-Aug-25, 11:32 PM
Yet without question the most famous of them all no one dares to mention, maybe because this forum does not like the theme, but, let's face it, it is the book, it is chock-full with pseudo-science (or, is it fantastic history?), and it starts with a big big 'B'.

I think you can make a reasonable distinction between religious texts and those purporting to be reasoned expositions about some unknown in the world.

Dianetics might qualify, however, despite being intended as a religious text since Scientologists try to drape themselves in scientific jargon to gain some measure of credibility.

KaiYeves
2010-Aug-25, 11:58 PM
I loved that book when I was a kid! :)
Also, there was one called "The Devil's Sea" - it was from around the same time, had a blue cover IIRC. Forgot who wrote it, but it was about a purported "Bermuda triangle" type thing off the coast of Japan.

You were a braver soul than I, I can tell you that!

A few years before that, I had read several UFO and cryptid books, but they were written for kids and thus purposefully not very scary. (The most memorable thing is that I saw a picture of a B-2 Spirit bomber in one, and impressed my mom by identifying the plane when it was shown on the news. "Where'd you learn that?" "From my UFO book!")

Jens
2010-Aug-26, 02:42 AM
Yet without question the most famous of them all no one dares to mention, maybe because this forum does not like the theme, but, let's face it, it is the book, it is chock-full with pseudo-science (or, is it fantastic history?), and it starts with a big big 'B'.

I was going to mention that one, except that the OP mentioned that it should have been "discredited almost immediately." For reasons that go beyond simple reason, I think it took a couple of millennia for it to be discredited. And there are really a bunch of books like that. The one that starts with a big K comes to mind, as well as all those Indian books and some Chinese as well. In Japan the Kojiki is obviously mythological, but it was taken quite seriously up until less than a hundred years ago.

AndreasJ
2010-Aug-26, 05:56 AM
The religous books (mostly) don't claim to be the result of scientific research, so they're hardly pseudo-science.

SkepticJ
2010-Aug-26, 02:06 PM
Probably a good idea to turn back onto the road, away from that precipice that will only lead to thread locking.

Substantia Innominata
2010-Aug-26, 07:29 PM
I think you can make a reasonable distinction between religious texts and those purporting to be reasoned expositions about some unknown in the world.


The religous books (mostly) don't claim to be the result of scientific research, so they're hardly pseudo-science.


Probably a good idea to turn back onto the road, away from that precipice that will only lead to thread locking.

I agree. Shouldn't have brought it up at all and wish I hadn't. My reasoning wasn't even about the Book itself, but about some of those conspicuous and unfortunate side effects (which evidently can hit the scale of pseudo-science) in the thinking and world view of some people, today as ever, where the Book is really just the root, or pretense, if at all. But that's hardly the book's fault; I mean a book doesn't think, people think, or, should. The Bible clearly wasn't intented to be a science book or a book on human science at all, it's more about ethics, and morality; in general, its value is more poetical and, of course, spiritual in nature. That alone makes it quite inappropriate here. So, please, scrap it. Also true, what Jens said: When you include one of them, you shouldn't forget about the other fundamental works of, at least, the (other) Abrahamic religions. But, back to topic.

And back to the present: "9/11: The Big Lie" by Thierry Meyssan, as well as numerous other 9/11-conspiracy works. Scientifically discredited almost immediately? I'm pretty sure, all of them are.

One fairly recent and I find somewhat curious example is "Biocentrism" by Robert Lanza. That's curious, since personally I wouldn't deem it pseudo-science, but completely legitimate philosophy/metaphysics/epistemology.. or, philosophy of mind, in general, had he not made the same, frustrating mistake, so many other authors of a similar vein keep doing: Broaching--guess what--quantum mechanics, for the sole reason to "persuasively" corroborate a hypothesis that, nevertheless in itself, has just about nothing to do with the realm of quantum physics in the first place and, even worse, while he himself having no training in, or, to be fair, as it seems even basic knowledge of quantum physics. (The guy is stem cell researcher.. even though, at the same time, one of the "world's leading scientists".. at least in his own words. :lol: ) I guess that's about the surest way to transform a basically interesting notion (as concerns philosophy/metaphysics!) into, well, what it is instead, just one more run-of-the-mill works of quantum-mystic/pseudo-science. A pity. But as long as he gets a few bucks out of it...