Books Thursday, February 3, 2005. Post by vanderleun
Houghton Mifflin did its usual substandard “let’s see if we can strangle this book in the cradle” publishing job, and the book entered the world with few advance sales and a publicity budget that consisted of twenty-five cents and two Wheaties boxtops. But the book refused to die, sold solidly, then garnered a Hugo, and a fond fan base that remembers it to this day. It has been out of print for almost twenty years now, but if you read the reviews on Amazon the yearning for the book is great. It is one of those titles that utterly befuddle people when they find out it is out of print. It was priced at around $5 when it was published but brings around $30 today if you can find a copy. It is, of course, not out of print because it cannot sell and continue to sell — after all, there’s a new freshman college class every September facing science classes. No, it is out of print because it was published by Houghton Mifflin Company, an organization that seldom fails to insist that victory become defeat.
But all is not lost. Because although this classic is long gone from the bookstores, it has come back to life as a web site. And just as Science Made Stupid was one of the funniest books of its time, Science Made Stupid Online is one of the funniest sites of this era. Think I’m kidding? I never kid about jokes. For example:
SCIENCE FOR EVERYONE
Sound simple? It is.
Once, when the secrets of science were the jealously guarded property of a small priesthood, the common man had no hope of mastering their arcane complexities. Years of study in musty classrooms were prerequisite to obtaining even a dim, incoherent knowledge of science.
Today, all that has changed: a dim, incoherent knowledge of science is available to anyone. Popular science books, magazines and computer programs – with their simple, fatuous and misleading prose, their garish illustrations, their flimsy modern production values – have brought science within the reach of anyone who can afford their inflated prices or who can mooch off someone else.
Indeed, today a myriad of sources are available to explain science facts that science itself has never dreamed of.
This web site is one of them.
SciScoop Science is owned and operated by David Bradley Science Writer.