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Jeff Spencer Modernist Wire Sculpture 11

Zig-Zag & Swirl

Fads & Fallacies In the Name of Science was Martin Gardner's second book, which he sent to Jeff Spencer's father for a book review. Jeff read it from cover to cover and wrote the review for publication in the early 1950s.

Gardner's book constitutes a survey of cranks and pseudo-scientists and lists five common characteristics of pseudo-scientists...

  1. The pseudo-scientist considers himself a genius.
  2. He regards other researchers as stupid, dishonest or both. By choice or necessity he operates outside the peer review system (hence the title of the original Antioch Review article, "The Hermit Scientist").
  3. He believes there is a campaign against his ideas, a campaign compared with the persecution of Galileo or Pasteur.
  4. Instead of side-stepping the mainstream, the pseudo-scientist attacks it head-on: The most revered scientist is Einstein so Gardner writes that Einstein is the most likely establishment figure to be attacked.
  5. He coins neologisms (made-up words).

One of the more colorful of these cutting-edge fringe scientiests was Alfred William Lawson, born March 24, 1869, died November 29, 1954, who was a professional baseball player, manager and league promoter from 1887 through 1916 and went on to play a pioneering role in the U.S. aircraft industry, publishing two early aviation trade journals. In 1904, he also wrote a novel, Born Again, clearly inspired by the popular Utopian fantasy Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, an early harbinger of the metaphysical turn his career would take with his groundbreaking "Theory of Lawsonomy". He is frequently cited as the inventor of the airliner and was awarded several of the first air mail contracts. He founded the Lawson Aircraft Company in Green Bay, Wisconsin to build military training aircraft and later the Lawson Airplane Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to build airliners.

In the 1920s, he promoted health practices including vegetarianism and claimed to have found the secret of living to Biblical ages of hundreds of years. He undertook thought-experiments in early quantum physics which delved into "penetrability", "suction and pressure" and "zig-zag-and-swirl" which he thought might be discoveries as important as Einstein's Theory of Relativity. He self-published numerous books on these concepts, all set in a distinctive typography. Lawson repeatedly predicted the worldwide acceptance of Lawsonian principles in the 21st century, and many of these concepts, such as zig-zag and swirl are seen as precepts now associated with thermal wave coupling factors and phase factors in recently discovered areas of collider theory and alternate universe quantum mechanics.

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