Getting Science Wrong (Bloomsbury, 2018)

When Galileo dropped cannon-balls from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, he did more than overturn centuries of scientific orthodoxy. At a stroke, he established a new conception of the scientific method based upon careful experimentation and rigorous observation — and also laid the groundwork for an ongoing conflict between the critical open-mindedness of science and the recalcitrant dogmatism of religion that would continue to the modern day.

The problem is that Galileo never performed his most celebrated experiment in Pisa. In fact, he rarely conducted any experiments at all. The Church publicly celebrated his work, and Galileo enjoyed patronage from the great and the powerful; his ecclesiastical difficulties only began when disgruntled colleagues launched a campaign to discredit their academic rival. But what does this tell us about modern science if its own foundation myth turns out to be nothing more than political propaganda?

Getting Science Wrong discusses some of the most popular misconceptions about science, and their continuing role in the public imagination. Drawing upon the history and philosophy of science it challenges wide-spread assumptions and misunderstandings, from creationism and climate change to the use of statistics and computer modelling. The result is an engaging introduction to contentious issues in the philosophy of science and a new way of looking at the role of science in society.

“[So] beautifully, passionately written, in such an engaging, subjective manner, that it deserves a secure place on the library shelf, where it’s sure to influence, inspire, even transform the outlier student. Where else would you find a philosophy of science text that dared quote at length from Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1938 novel Nausea?” CHOICE
“It is very readable … [and] the book’s message is an important one and should serve as a great springboard for further discussion and exploration of the literature, or perhaps even as an introductory read to coursework.” The Inquisitive Biologist
“Paul Dicken takes us on a romp through the history and philosophy of science. This is a fun and accessible resource for anyone who wants to think more carefully about how science works.” Kevin Elliott, Associate Professor, Michigan State University

Articles, Book Reviews, and Marginalia

Game On: Frank Lantz’s “The Beauty of Games”, The New Criterion 42(9)

Algorithmic Fortune-Telling, Law and Liberty

Specialized Nature: On the Opportunities and Challenges for Natural Philosophy, The American Conservative

Competing Paradigms: On the Last Writings of Thomas S. Kuhn, Los Angeles Review of Books

Aleister Crowley in England, Fortean Times 426

Singing the Blues: James Fox’s “The World According to Color”, The New Criterion 41(3)

Dusting Off Our Mirror-Shades: On Matthew Ball’s “The Metaverse”, Los Angeles Review of Books

Philosophy of Psychedelics, Fortean Times 421

Secularization Theses, The American Conservative

Theories of Conspiracy Theories, Fortean Times 420

Surveillance Humanism: The Unholy Union of AI and HR is Coming, The New Atlantis

The Women Who Restored Moral Philosophy, The American Conservative

The World is a Strange Madhouse: 100 Years of Relativity, Los Angeles Review of Books

Virtually Speaking: Are Digital Worlds Just as Real as Our Own?, City Journal

Debunking the Conflict Thesis, The American Conservative

The Computer Says … What?, Los Angeles Review of Books

Seeing Time: Einstein’s Theory of Relativity for Beginners, Los Angeles Review of Books

Are Scientific Theories True? The Philosophers’ Magazine

You Want to Write for a Popular Audience? Really? The Chronicle of Higher Education