A review of Alan Cromer’s Uncommon Sense: The Heretical Nature of Science

Most people believe that science arose as a natural end-product of our innate intelligence and curiosity, as an inevitable stage in human intellectual development. But physicist and educator Alan Cromer disputes this belief.

Cromer argues that science is not the natural unfolding of human potential, but the invention of a particular culture, Greece, in a particular historical period. Indeed, far from being natural, scientific thinking goes so far against the grain of conventional human thought that if it hadn’t been discovered in Greece, it might not have been discovered at all.


In Uncommon Sense, Alan Cromer develops the argument that science represents a radically new and different way of thinking. Using Piaget’s stages of intellectual development, he shows that conventional thinking remains mired in subjective, “egocentric” ways of looking at the world–most people even today still believe in astrology, ESP, UFOs, ghosts and other paranormal phenomena–a mode of thought that science has outgrown.

He provides a fascinating explanation of why science began in Greece, contrasting the Greek practice of debate to the Judaic reliance on prophets for acquiring knowledge. Other factors, such as a maritime economy and wandering scholars (both of which prevented parochialism) and an essentially literary religion not dominated by priests, also promoted in Greece an objective, analytical way of thinking not found elsewhere in the ancient world. He examines India and China and explains why science could not develop in either country.

In China, for instance, astronomy served only the state, and the private study of astronomy was forbidden. Cromer also provides a perceptive account of science in Renaissance Europe and of figures such as Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton. Along the way, Cromer touches on many intriguing topics, arguing, for instance, that much of science is essential complete; there are no new elements yet to be discovered. He debunks the vaunted SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project, which costs taxpayers millions each year, showing that physical limits–such as the melting point of metal–put an absolute limit on the speed of space travel, making trips to even the nearest star all but impossible.

Finally, Cromer discusses the deplorable state of science education in America and suggests several provocative innovations to improve high school education, including a radical proposal to give all students an intensive eighth and ninth year program, eliminating the last two years of high school.


Uncommon Sense is an illuminating look at science, filled with provocative observations. Whether challenging Thomas Kuhn’s theory of scientific revolutions, or extolling the virtues of Euclid’s Elements, Alan Cromer is always insightful, outspoken, and refreshingly original.

I’m nervous but hopeful

Stark choices before us ends as follows.

Once at the dinner table, my late mother-in-law (OBM), opined that Adlai Stevenson was divorced and, therefore, had not been fit to lead. Her husband (OBM) sharply replied, “Madam, you recently flew to Israel. Did you ascertain whether or not your pilot was divorced?” She got it right away and laughed uproariously at herself. She was a pip.

Donald J. Trump is piloting us out of the Swamp, away from the existential threat of socialism. He will win next Tuesday. Put your champagne on ice. He will win because Americans will see to it. All the celebrities in Hollywood could scarcely populate a small town in Texas. The NBA and NFL, likewise. Americans value liberty; we will see to our own safety.

There are, unfortunately, all kinds of people who prefer safety to freedom. This I well know since my country of origin took them in as “United Empire Loyalists”. I just hope the descendants of those who stayed behind are numerous enough and resolute enough to maintain the freedoms they fought for then and have defended ever since.

I might add that Adlai Stevenson, Democrat though he was, was to the right of Donald Trump as he is today, not that it matters in the least.

Insubstantial, frivolous

In this weekend’s WSJ, Peggy Noonan sums up Kamala’s ‘shtick’ perfectly:

….For her part, vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris is, when on the trail, giddy. She’s dancing with drum lines and beginning rallies with “Wassup, Florida!” She’s throwing her head back and laughing a loud laugh, especially when nobody said anything funny. She’s the younger candidate going for the younger vote, and she’s going for a Happy Warrior vibe, but she’s coming across as insubstantial, frivolous. When she started to dance in the rain onstage, in Jacksonville, Fla., to Mary J. Blige’s “Work That,” it was embarrassing.

Apparently you’re not allowed to say these things because she’s a woman, and she’s doubling down on giddy because you’re not allowed to say them. I, however, take Ms. Blige’s advice to heart: I will not sweat it, I will be myself. Kamala Harris is running for vice president of the United States in an era of heightened and unending crisis. The world, which doubts our strength, our character and our class, is watching. If you can’t imitate gravity, could you at least try for seriousness?….

We shall soon see how much any of that matters.

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This is from

Kamala Harris Gets Giddy When Asked About Her ‘Socialist Perspective’

The Victorian State Library at Ace of Spades

Sunday Morning Book Thread 10-25-2020

from

—OregonMuse

State Library of Victoria Melbourne AU 03.jpg

State Library of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

Good morning to all you ‘rons, ‘ettes, lurkers, and lurkettes, wine moms, frat bros, crétins sans pantalon (who are technically breaking the rules), ghoulis, zombies, banshees, mummies, and the rest of you out there doing the ‘monster mash’. Welcome once again to the stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread, a weekly compendium of reviews, observations, snark, witty repartee, hilarious bon mots, and a continuing conversation on books, reading, spending way too much money on books, writing books, and publishing books by escaped oafs and oafettes who follow words with their fingers and whose lips move as they read. Unlike other AoSHQ comment threads, the Sunday Morning Book Thread is so hoity-toity, pants are required. Even if it’s these pants, worn by this guy I hired as a babysitter after I saw his advertisement on Craigslist. Says he loves kids. Seems OK.

Pic Note:

It’s bigger than I thought:

The State Library Victoria is the main library of the Australian state of Victoria. Located in Melbourne, it was established in 1854 as the Melbourne Public Library, making it Australia’s oldest public library and one of the first free libraries in the world. It is also Australia’s busiest library and, as of 2018, the fourth most-visited library in the world.

The library’s vast collection includes over two million books and 350,000 photographs, manuscripts, maps and newspapers, with a special focus on material from Victoria, including the diaries of the city’s founders, John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner, the folios of Captain James Cook, and the armour of Ned Kelly.

So it’s kind of like a museum, then.

This Ned Kelly fellow sounds interesting. Not only was he played by Mick Jagger in an eponymous 1970 movie, but a number of books have been written about him and his gang, including Ned Kelly by [name redacted]:

Love him or loathe him, Ned Kelly has been at the heart of Australian culture and identity since he and his gang were tracked down in bushland by the Victorian police and came out fighting, dressed in bulletproof iron armour made from farmers’ ploughs.

Historians still disagree over virtually every aspect of the eldest Kelly boy’s brushes with the law. Did he or did he not shoot Constable Fitzpatrick at their family home? Was he a lawless thug or a noble Robin Hood, a remorseless killer or a crusader against oppression and discrimination? Was he even a political revolutionary, an Australian republican channelling the spirit of Eureka?

…From Kelly’s early days in Beveridge, Victoria, in the mid-1800s, to the Felons’ Apprehension Act, which made it possible for anyone to shoot the Kelly gang, to Ned’s appearance in his now-famous armour, prompting the shocked and bewildered police to exclaim ‘He is the devil!’ and ‘He is the bunyip!’, FitzSimons brings the history of Ned Kelly and his gang exuberantly to life, weighing in on all of the myths, legends and controversies generated by this compelling and divisive Irish-Australian rebel.

This book is almost 900(!) pages long, so for the $12.99 asking price, you’re getting a lot of reading.

Let me [LoM] just add in this. The picture above is the Library as it now is with no one around and the pic below is from the time before Insanity descended.

From Ace of Spades

In Politics Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus

From Men and Women Have Never Been More Politically Divided:

It would be a mistake to attribute this year’s gender gap entirely to Trump’s personal attributes. After all, women have been trending left, as men trend right, for decades now. And this development is not unique to the United States — rather, it is present across nearly all advanced democracies. Viewed in this context, Trump looks as much like a product of the gender gap as he does like a cause: It’s quite plausible that Trump would not have won the 2016 GOP nomination if the Republican coalition hadn’t already grown heavily male (in multiple state primaries, Trump performed significantly better among men than women).

The most astonishing moment of the debate was over the 550 missing children at the border. Anyone who would make that even the faintest criterion for selecting president should be denied the vote.

There is truth, barefaced lies and then there is the media

This is the chap who was Hunter Biden’s business partner in China. It is virtually impossible to get any of the major media organisations to discuss almost any of it. And then there’s this.

And here is PDT’s own release of the full interview with Leslie Stahl at the American 60 Minutes.

You can also read a thorough discussion at Ace of Spades. The media bias is unbelievable. BTW Trump did not walk out.

Unconscionable. You want to see PDT walking out on an interview, this is Donald Trump walking out on an interview.

Even in retelling the story Baron Cohen tells only lies. The actual version and his version are a prefiguring of Leslie Stahl at 60 Minutes. These people are relentless liars.

Bjorn Lomborg is not a sceptic

For me, climate skepticism is only part of the way towards where we need to get. Until there is actual evidence that the climate is warming because of how we heat our homes and generate electricity, I will remain as I am, completely unconvinced that the whole of this green new deal enterprise is anything other than a scam and a hoax. Bjorn Lomborg signed up early as the “rational” sceptic, but from everything he has ever written and said, his pretending to be on the fence is one hundred percent a pose. No one should pay attention to a word he says. So there he was in The Oz today with this: Throwing trillions at climate policies is sheer folly. I am more into believing that throwing ten cents at climate policies, as in climate change policies, is the folly. This is what Lomborg actually believes:

During the Paris climate summit in 2015, former US president Barack Obama and many other global leaders promised to double global green R&D spending by 2020. Unfortunately, actual spending has barely budged. But Biden’s plan could change all that. He laudably suggests spending $US75bn a year on green R&D, which would increase fourfold what the rich world is spending each year. While waste and mismanagement from such a drastic ramp-up are possibilities, Biden’s direction is precisely right.

What a repulsive scoundrel. He’s probably not quite as wealthy as Al Gore, but he has no doubt made his own little pile taking the line he does which allows him to pose as an undecided to gather in those fools who are only half way there under the pretence that they are being properly sceptical.

And let me add in my own two cents worth on The Amazing Randi who really was amazing. His thing was Uri Geller and I learned much from Randi as he exposed Geller for the charlatan he was. What was especially important to me was to find out that there is big money in deceiving the gullible. This is the essence of scepticism, and Randi was the real thing.

If you want to see another climate fraud, let me introduce you to Michael Shermer.

Michael Brant Shermer (born September 8, 1954) is an American science writer, historian of science, founder of The Skeptics Society, and editor-in-chief of its magazine Skeptic, which is largely devoted to investigating pseudoscientific and supernatural claims. The Skeptics Society currently has over 55,000 members. Shermer engages in debates on topics pertaining to pseudoscience and religion in which he emphasizes scientific skepticism.

Shermer, as it says, is the founding editor of Skeptic to which I once subscribed and the very first issue I received was devoted to explaining Climate Change is a genuine problem that needs to be dealt with. I, of course, cancelled my sub on the spot and have never paid the slightest attention to him ever since although he is everywhere. This is what he believes: Why Climate Skeptics Are Wrong.

Is there a consensus on AGW? There is. The tens of thousands of scientists who belong to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Medical Association, the American Meteorological Society, the American Physical Society, the Geological Society of America, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and, most notably, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change all concur that AGW is in fact real. Why? … There is a convergence of evidence from multiple lines of inquiry—pollen, tree rings, ice cores, corals, glacial and polar ice-cap melt, sea-level rise, ecological shifts, carbon dioxide increases, the unprecedented rate of temperature increase—that all converge to a singular conclusion. AGW doubters point to the occasional anomaly in a particular data set, as if one incongruity gainsays all the other lines of evidence. But that is not how consilience science works. For AGW skeptics to overturn the consensus, they would need to find flaws with all the lines of supportive evidence and show a consistent convergence of evidence toward a different theory that explains the data.

Some sceptic! That Randi, who like Houdini was a magician and able to see through the tricks that Geller and other magicians had devised to fool the public, was not able to see through all this is just how it goes. You can learn a great deal about fraud from his writings. As Randi said, you need a magician to expose a magician.

As for climate change fraud, you need a climate scientist who is willing to take these villains on. Such people are very rare. There is hardly a dollar in it. My only advice, which I learned from Randi and others like him, is to make it your aim in any controversy to investigate the other side. Don’t just read one climate scientist and then read another on the same side. Seek out, as a matter of principle, those who disagree and read carefully what they write. If you don’t do that, they will pick your pocket. With climate change, they will raise the cost of heating and lighting your homes, and while they will become rich building windmills and solar panels, you will become poor. You need not only be sceptical, but to know how to be sceptical.

It’s only when you have read the text above should you then look at the video below: “Michael Shermer with Bjorn Lomborg — How Climate Change Panic Costs Trillions, Fails to Fix Planet”. Both start from the premise there is a problem to be fixed. Once you’ve seen through that, only when you have seen through that, will you be at beginning of being able to think through these issues. You may never be able to do a thing about it, but at least you will understand the world in which you live.

As he says at the end, “where is the best place to send my money?” (1:19:25). That is just exactly what it’s all about.