John Horgan has an excellent new blog that he has recently started up, called The Scientific Curmudgeon. Horgan may be best known for his provocative 1996 book The End of Science, which was one of the first books for the general public that expressed skepticism about string theory (another was David Lindley’s 1993 The End of Physics). His portrayal of Witten in the book was a bit of an unfair hit job, but he got the story of what was going on in particle theory about right, unlike just about every other science writer working at the time. In recent years his attention has turned to issues of neurobiology and cognitive science, as well as the relation between science, religion and mysticism. He now teaches at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, and runs its Center for Science Writings.
Horgan describes himself as a “hopeful skeptic”, writing:
I still see science as our best hope for understanding ourselves and the universe, and for creating, if not a sci-fi utopia, then at least a much better world. Scientists can provide us with cleaner, cheaper sources of energy; better treatments for cancer, AIDS and other diseases; more detailed accounts of how brains make minds. That’s why, in spite of writing a book called The End of Science, I’ve remained in the science-journalism racket, why I work at a science-oriented school, why I encourage young people to become scientists. But I also encourage greater recognition of science’s limitations and fallibility. It is precisely because science is so consequential that we must treat its pronouncements skeptically, carefully distinguishing the genuine from the spurious.
One of his recent postings discusses the issue of the Templeton Foundation, yesterday’s is a charming story about his daughter, linked with a tale of his adventures among the cosmologists back in 1990.