The Borderlands of Science (Paperback)

Where Sense Meets Nonsense

By Michael Shermer

Oxford University Press, USA, 9780195157987, 368pp.

Publication Date: September 1, 2002



In The Borderlands of Science, Michael Shermer takes us to the place where real science, borderline science--and just plain nonsense--collide. Shermer argues that while science is the best lens through which to view the world, it is often difficult to decipher where valid science leaves off and borderland, or "fuzzy" science begins. To solve this dilemma, he looks at a range of topics that put this boundary line in high relief. For instance, he debunks the many "theories of everything" that try to reduce the complexity of the world to a single principle. He examines the work of Darwin and Freud, explaining why one is among the great scientists in history, while the other has become nothing more than a historical curiosity. And he reveals how scientists themselves can be led astray, as seen in the infamous Piltdown hoax--the set of ancient hominid bones discovered in England that after decades turned out to be an enormous forgery.
From SETI and acupuncture to hypnosis and human cloning, this enlightening book will help readers stay grounded in common sense amid the flurry of supposedly scientific theories that inundate us every day.

About the Author

Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Skeptic magazine ( and the Director of The Skeptics Society. He is a monthly columnist and contributing editor for Scientific American, and hosts the Skeptics Lecture Series at California Institute of Technology. He has authored several popular books, including Why People Believe Weird Things, How We Believe: The Search for God in and Age of Science, and Denying History. Shermer is also an NPR radio science correspondent. He lives in Los Angeles, California.