realthog: (Default)

We've been away at Philcon, having quite a lot of fun seeing friends and avoiding enemies -- the usual con stuff. While there, logging on nervously using the hotel's seemingly somewhat dodgy wireless, we discovered cheery stuff about Bogus Science -- including a review from the significant rationalist site The Quackometer. They lead off their "Books for Christmas" feature with . . . but I blush. Here are a few bits Pam begs for you please not to read (insufferable? moi?):

Bogus Science and Other Christmas Gifts

Yes, like it or not, now is the time to start thinking about the perfect gift for the geek in your life. [. . .] John Grant has written a trio of great books cataloguing various forms of pathological science. [. . .] The book is full of the idiocies and obsessivenesses of people who believe in the irrational, from Atlantis to faked moon landing, aliens building pyramids, antigravity devices, werewolves, yetis and quantum nonsense. There are, of course, many themes in common: unquestioning self belief, the allure of the mysterious, special knowledge and a refusal to engage with evidence – the themes we see so often in the world of quackery. [. . .]

But then the reviewer (Le Canard Noir), bless her/him, continues, saying amazingly nice (albeit not immediately quotable)
things also about Discarded Science and Corrupted Science. I don't think I've ever had a three-book review; I've certainly never had a three-book review so glowing!
realthog: (Darwin)

It was from
Greg Laden's Blog that I got the good news this morning that I'm going to be allowed to see this movie on the big screen rather than having to wait for the DVD, thanks to distributor Newmarket, the company that had the commercial acumen a few years back to pick up Memento.

Laden's writeup referred me to the report on the National Center for Science Education website, which in turn led me to the relevant news report by Hollywood Reporter. The latter claims that it was merely the movie's "period aspects"
that led to its finding a "slightly tougher acquisitions market" -- to which one can respond only by invoking the way US movie distributors have for years timorously declined to plaster our eyeballs with English (and occasionally Scottish) historical pieces, no matter how dire some of them might be.

Yeah, right.

I like the NCSE report's para on some of the reviews the movie has been picking up:

In her review of Creation at The Panda's Thumb blog, NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott described it as "a thoughtful, well-made film that will change many views of Darwin held by the public — for the good." It also received praise from Steve Jones in Time Out London (September 22, 2009), who called it "a great film about a great man and a greater theory" and by Adam Rutherford in his Guardian blog (September 23, 2009), where he wrote, "we should ... be grateful that this film is moving and beautiful, just like the creation Darwin so luminously untangled," adding, "Creationists the world over deserve to see it."

Me, I'm desperate to see it. Movies and novels about scientists and the process of science are right up my street; I may be the only person I know who currently has, near the top of his To Be Read pile, a novel about Alfred Wegener, the first serious modern proponent of what was then called the Continental Drift hypothesis -- and as such flatly rejected by most geophysicists -- and is now called, er, fact.

(An aside: It's largely because of becoming interested in Wegener through my work as one of the editors of the geology encyclopedia Planet Earth that in due course I wrote my early book A Directory of Discarded Ideas, which eventually, a quarter of a century later -- my, how time does fly -- led to me writing books like Discarded Science, Corrupted Science and the imminent Bogus Science. Funny the way these things work out. Had it not been for my thinking that I really should get round to writing A Directory of Discarded Ideas, I might never have read a godawful poleshift novel called The Hab Effect -- whose hero, I years later [re]discovered, is called John Grant!)

Other stuff: I've been quiet here lately because I've been working on a short story -- well, longish story, to be more accurate -- that's been requiring me to actually, well, think. There have been monologues going on around the house not too dissimilar from those you hear from guys on Manhattan sidewalks who use the f-word and point at the sky a lot. Meanwhile I've been declining an anthology invitation and turning my soggy apology for a brain toward a story comp that's worth, gulp, about $40,000.

Trouble is, the story I'm currently working on cannot be done within the wordcount limit of the competition, so . . .

realthog: (pic#234233)

Mike Speed, the evolutionary biologist who wrote me such a kind note the other day to tell me he was recommending Discarded Science to his students, has now put a mini review of the book on his website for the course. Here's the first para:

This book covers a wide range of scientific ideas that turned out to be wrong. I recommend it not only because it's a great read but because it has a very informative and enjoyable section on discarded evolutionary ideas (see esp. chapter 3, "Survival of the Brightest"). This covers incorrect and discarded evolutionary theories, and is particularly good at describing evolutionary ideas before Darwin & Wallace. It also has fantastic sections on creationism, intelligent design, and my old favourite, aquatic humans.

realthog: (Default)

This morning I was, in connection with my imminent book Bogus Science, looking around the spiffy site called Sense About Science, and out of curiosity took a peek into their "Reading Room" section. There I discovered, to my intense narcissistic joy, a pair of reviews -- of my books Discarded Science and Corrupted Science -- that I had not before known existed. I'm not sure how old they are, although it's obvious on the site that the review of Discarded Science is more recent than that of Corrrupted Science, and was probably posted within the past few months.

Whatever. Cutting to the chase, I can hear you cry, What about some good bits, dammit? Let me oblige.

From the review of Discarded Science
by Sara A. Rafice:

Discarded Science has been continually snatched out of my hands by eager work colleagues, friends and family, sparking hours of conversation and laughter. [. . .] Grant has pulled together such a wide variety of subjects that scientists and non-scientists alike will find something to discover, and there is no need to be an expert on every topic. This is a wonderfully interesting, thought-provoking and at times very funny book that I highly recommend.

From the review of Corrupted Science (uncredited):

I tremendously enjoyed John Grant’s latest book on scientific deviance - a rip-roaring adventure through the dark underbelly of science. If you are still under the belief that science is an impartial, noble pursuit of knowledge untainted by ego or undue influence then prepare to be shocked as Grant illustrates that throughout history, dark forces have undermined the scientific process time and time again - invariably to the detriment of both science and the public. [. . .]

One of the joys of Grant’s book is his willingness to name names when it comes to the villains (and occasional heroes) of science - this is not a mild-mannered or impartial report. Grant exposes those responsible for the subversion of science through the ages - not only its major players such as Lysenko and Hwang Woo-Suk, but even those small-time tricksters whose malfeasance hardly registered outside of scientific circles. If there is any doubt in your mind as to Grant’s unforgiving approach, simply read the titles of the last chapter, “The Political Corruption of Science”: Stalin’s Russia, Hitler’s Germany, and Bush’s America. Ouch.  

The last para of the latter review, while obviously pleasing me, brought a wry smile for a different reason. It's surprising how we've been psychologically bludgeoned in recent years by those in power and by their cohorts to the extent that objectively identifying crimes, misdemeanours and their perpetrators has come to be thought of as "not . . . impartial". Or perhaps it's simply that the reviewer was searching for some word like "dispassionate"?

realthog: (Default)

Not so much a start as a herald, to be precise, since we're still a few hours away from the dawn of '09.

Well, I hope it's a herald . . .

I just heard this morning from the publisher of my books Discarded Science and Corrupted Science that the Russian rights in both have sold -- to the company Izdatelstvo Martin.

The advances aren't such that I'll be agonizing any time soon over whether to buy a Ferrari or a Bentley, but at least I'm a few grand better off than I thought I was when I went to bed last night.

A few grand less insolvent, anyway.

ego? moi?

Dec. 8th, 2008 10:36 am
realthog: (corrupted science)

The by now incontrovertibly indefatigable Charles Tan ([ profile] charlesatan) has just posted a glowing review of my nonfiction book Discarded Science on his Bibliophile Stalker blog. Here are some juicy extracts:

It was author Jeffrey Ford if I'm not mistaken who said that he mines pseudosciences for story ideas and if you're that type of person (I was certainly itching to turn on my computer and start writing), this book is certainly a treasure trove. John Grant gives us a history of everything, from creation to physiognomy, and narrates it in an informal style that gets to the point and doesn't require a bachelor's degree in whatever science to understand. [. . .]

What I particularly enjoy about Grant is that his writing is balanced. While the religious are typically the target of his criticisms in the book, the scientific community isn't exempted either and a good chunk of the book is devoted to their inaccuracies. Those looking to use the book for research purposes will find this to be a holy grail as far as referencing goes. [. . .]

Discarded Science was certainly an enjoyable read and one of the more densely packed but accessible texts. Critical analysis combined with restrained humor and compelling writing make me look forward to the sequel.

Y'know, I should definitely go put a copy of this book up in the [ profile] helpvera  auction.
realthog: (sunset)

. . . and in fact of Discarded Science, too, this time by Jeff VanderMeer. He says, in part:

These are beautifully designed small-sized hardcovers that cover fraud, deception, and hoaxes in science, along with theories that, as the author says, "seemed like a good idea at the time." . . . What easily could have devolved into a mere listing of facts and circumstances instead becomes something deeper and more profound. Many of these stories are hilarious, but many are also horrifying. . . . Along with incisive and often devastating anecdotes that seem to prove we're really more ruled by emotion and a need for fame than by our intellects, Grant makes the point again and again that although science itself has a kind of objectivity, scientists often do not. . . . [W]hat Grant has written here is a history of the world focusing on human deception and folly in science. The writing is funny, humane, insightful, and balanced. I think these are my two favorite finds of the year thus far. . . .

Please do go and read the whole thing at

realthog: (pic#)
My friend and fellow-author Dave Hutchinson ( has told me that I should start myself a Live Journal and thereby get with it, join the smart set, look cool, be a babe magnet, etc. So here I am testing the system to see if I can master the technology ...

Who am I? Ignoring centuries of philosophy, perhaps the simplest way to answer would be to paste in (assuming I can find a copy) the latest-ish version of my standard biographical blurb, as supplied to luckless publishers and readers:


JOHN GRANT (real name Paul Barnett) is the author of about 70 books. His The Encyclopedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters, currently in its third edition, is regarded as the standard work in its field. As co-editor with John Clute of The Encyclopedia of Fantasy he received the Hugo, the World Fantasy Award and several other international awards. As managing editor of the Clute/Nicholls Encyclopedia of Science Fiction he shared a rare British Science Fiction Association Special Award, the first to be given in 17 years. He received a second Hugo in 2004 for The Chesley Awards: A Retrospective (done with Elizabeth Humphrey and Pamela D. Scoville).
Under his own name he was until 2003 Commissioning Editor of Paper Tiger, the world's leading publisher of fantasy art books; he received the 2002 Chesley Award for his work with Paper Tiger. He was until recently the US Reviews Editor of Infinity Plus and is a Consultant Editor to AAPPL (Artists' & Photographers' Press Ltd).
Recently published major books, all as John Grant, include Masters of Animation, the "book-length fictions" Dragonhenge (illustrated by Bob Eggleton and shortlisted for a 2003 Hugo Award) and its "sequel" The Stardragons, the novel The Far-Enough Window, the story collection Take No Prisoners, the children's book Life-Size Dragons (illustrated by Fred Gambino), the anthology New Writings in the Fantastic, and two books on the history of science, Discarded Science and Corrupted Science. He has just finished (1) a wildly experimental mosaic novel eviscerating the Bush Administration and (2) a cute children's book, and is currently at work on a book about film noir and, with his other hand, a further history-of-science book.


That seems to be more than enough to put into this first experimental foray ...

March 2013

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