Friday, May 28, 2010

Note on Martin Gardner

I noticed Martin Gardner's obituary in the NY Times this week and since I've written about his character and career assassination of Korzybski and since he included a letter by me in one of his books (yeah, Martin and I had a little 'love' spat going), I figured I would have to write something here. But I simply haven't had time (until now) in a very stressful and busy week. (It may have been stressful for Martin too, but I'm sure he's not too busy now.)

Any way in the meantime, here's a nice post by TravelMarx, a review of Gardner's first book Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science

TravelMarx qualifies as one of the many reasonable and well-intentioned people (so-called skeptics) who were misled by Gardner's writings. Certainly misled about Korzybski. And God knows what else. Gardner certainly defamed and did great harm to the reputation of an important thinker. In my article "In The Name of Skepticism: Martin Gardner's Misrepresentations of General Semantics" I document in detail Gardner's mistakes, misrepresentations, exaggerations, and yes, down-right lies. He wasn't a fool. He had to realize that he was telling some real stretchers, as Mark Twain used to put it. Here's the link to the article published in the General Semantics Bulletin in 2004: "In The Name of Skepticism: Martin Gardner's Misrepresentations of General Semantics"

When I first wrote the article, I offered it to Michael Shermer the Editor of Skeptic magazine, for publication. He told me that Korzybski and General Semantics are dead issues. Well I don't think so. And I don't think that ignoring my well-documented and well-argued case for Gardner's serious lack of skepticism says very much for those who identify themselves as 'skeptics' and embrace Gardner and his methods. I don't deny that Gardner wrote and did many good things. But my article gets to the root of some serious rot at the core of the skeptic movement and it would be a healthy thing for leaders and followers of that movement to fess up to Gardner's serious mistakes. It remains an open question for me, who else if anyone did Gardner malign in his lifelong campaign 'in the name of science?'

1 comment:

Prem said...

Wilhelm Reich, maybe?