Books,  Science

RIP Martin Gardner

Martin Gardner, the great debunker of pseudo-scientific nonsense and medical quackery, has died at 95.

His last piece appeared in the March-April 2010 edition of The Skeptical Inquirer, criticizing Oprah Winfrey for promoting dubious or even dangerous medical treatments and other bizarre “science” on her TV show.

Gardner was skilled at patiently, painstakingly and humorously demolishing claims about UFOs, ESP and a host of other unproven phenomena over the years. His classic book “Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science” helped make me a lifelong skeptic. He wrote many more books along the same lines.

Gardner was also a famous creator of mathematical puzzles— which, for reasons of utter incompetence, I tend to shy away from. And he published an annotated version of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

Every time a new crackpot theory or “cure” gains some credibility, I’ll think of Martin Gardner. And miss him.