Did Adam and Eve Have Navels?
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s/t: Discourses on Reflexology, Numerology, Urine Therapy, and Other Dubious Subjects
Scientific gadfly Martin Gardner asks the questions that make believers of all types cringe. Did Adam and Eve Have Navels? is one such example and is the title and lead essay from this collection of his columns from Skeptical Inquirer. While many scientifically minded people find the fundamentalist skepticism of Gardner, the Amazing Randi, and their ilk to be a bit straining, the skeptics' voices are relatively quiet compared with the hordes of pseudo- and anti-scientific hucksters scoring political points and big bucks by exploiting ignorance and credulity.
Gardner's charm and dry wit aid his cause significantly. His essay on urine therapy is so amusing that only upon reflection does the reader realize that his evidence against it seems not much stronger than the evidence in favor of it; perhaps he felt it too silly to pursue with his usual vigor. This is not the case for his other topics, including "intelligent design" creationism, dream theory, numerology, and reflexology, which he debunks clearly and carefully, while retaining his good-natured humor. Readers new to Gardner's work will find it engaging; old friends will delight that the grand old man of popular science is still at it. Whatever your beliefs, though, try not to think about the title question too hard. --Rob Lightner