A scientist pretends to be a psychic for a day—and fools everyone. An athlete discovers that good-luck rituals and getting into "the zone" may, or may not, improve his performance. A son explores the possibilities of alternative and experimental medicine for his cancer-ravaged mother. And a skeptic realizes that it is time to turn the skeptical lens onto science itself. In each of the fourteen essays in Science Friction, author Michael Shermer explores the very personal barriers and biases that plague and propel science, especially when scientists push against the unknown. What do we know and what do we not know? When does theory become accepted fact? As always, Shermer delivers a thought-provoking, fascinating, and entertaining view of life in the scientific age.
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Why Not Knowing
Science and the Search for Meaning
That old Persian tentmaker (and occasional poet) Omar Khayyám well captured the human dilemma of the search for meaning in an apparently meaningless cosmos:
Into this Universe, and Why not knowing,
Nor Whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing;
And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
I know not Whither, willy-nilly blowing.
It is in the vacuum of such willy-nilly whencing and whithering that we humans are so prone to grasp for transcendent interconnectedness. As pattern-seeking