Friday, 8 November 2013

Book Review: "Heretics: Adventures with the Enemies of Science" by Will Storr

In my mind Will Storr is the brilliant love-child of Mary Roach and Louis Theroux, both of whom I adore. I think Will may have to join their lofty heights in my respectability/adoration mind shrine.

Will's "Will Storr vs the Supernatural" was a wonderful and random find that I made several years ago. Will took it upon himself, Louis Theroux style, to get immersed in the lore and activity of the supernatural. What was different about the other supernatural books is that Will approached it from a skeptical point of view. His conclusions were  that most of what he investigated was utter bullshit, but there were a few instances that made him think. That book was much better than Mary Roach's approach taken in her book "Spook".

Anyway, this time Will has taken on the enemies of science. Well more like the enemies of reason. SO each chapter or two is dedicated to an interview or an activity with a fringe group or person. You start with a creationist preacher, move through to holocaust deniers and take on homeopathy. All sections are well-researched and Will approaches each instance with a sympathetic ear. That ear may not last long, but he does have the best of intentions.

All throughout Will is bringing this all back to the nature of belief and the apparent need for the human brain to make reliable sense of the world it exists in. So there is a greater message other than "Look at these dickheads" and a great attempt to try and understand human thought processes.

In it's own way I think that this book adds it's own to a religion vs. science argument and should be considered essential reading for anyone tackling this subject. It definitely should be as popular and as read as Dawkins' "The God Delusion" and makes a much more logical assay of belief than Hitchens' "God is Not Great". It had a die-hard atheist like myself thinking as opposed to going "right on!" to every point.

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