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Best known as the longtime writer of the Mathematical Games column for Scientific Americanâwhich introduced generations of readers to the joys of recreational mathematicsâMartin Gardner has for decades pursued a parallel career as a devastatingly effective debunker of what he once famously dubbed âfads and fallacies in the name of science.â It is mainly in this latter role that he is onstage in this collection of choice essays.
When You Were a Tadpole and I Was a Fish takes aim at a gallery of amusing targets, ranging from Ann Coulterâs qualifications as an evolutionary biologist to the logical fallacies of precognition and extrasensory perception, from Santa Claus to The Wizard of Oz, from mutilated chessboards to the little-known âone-poem poetâ Langdon Smith (the original author of this volumeâs title line). The writings assembled here fall naturally into seven broad categories: Science, Bogus Science, Mathematics, Logic, Literature, Religion and Philosophy, and Politics. Under each heading, Gardner displays an awesome level of erudition combined with a wicked sense of humor.