Editor's Choice

Editor's Choice

November 09, 2003|By Michael Pakenham

8 Preposterous Propositions: From the Genetics of Homosexuality to the Benefits of Global Warming, by Robert Ehrlich. Princeton University Press. 360 pages. $27.95.

Any fan of Ehrlich's Nine Crazy Ideas in Science or his 19 other books will almost surely jump for this new volume of erudite skepticism. On its title, it may sound to the uninitiated like one of the infinite genre of less-than-serious "gotcha" books that electronic searching has caused to proliferate. But no. Ehrlich, a distinguished professor of physics at George Mason University, is punctiliously scholarly -- yet very comfortably readable. He cites vast numbers of scientific studies and conclusions related to each of the issues he raises. Almost all of them are popular subjects of speculation or dispute among non-scientists; many, concerning such things as cholesterol and evolution, are of intense concern to large numbers of Americans. A thoroughly responsible, persuasive collection of science demystification.

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