Reviews


"[In this] intellectually bracing, sweepingly reported, often brilliant and sometimes bullying book, John Horgan makes the powerful case that the best and most exciting scientific discoveries are behind us." Natalie Angier, New York Times Book Review, front page review

"...an unauthorized biography of science." Associated Press

"In this wonderful, provocative book... Horgan's approach is to take us along while he buttonholes several dozen of earth's crankiest, most opinionated, most exasperating scientists to get their views on where science is and where it's going... They all come to life in Horgan's narrative." Washington Post Book World, front page review

"Thanks to Mr. Horgan's smooth prose style, puckish sense of humor, and wicked eye for detail, these encounters make for zesty reading... A thumping good book." Wall Street Journal

"A deft wordsmith and keen observor, Horgan offers lucid expositions of everything from superstring theory and Thomas Kuhn's analysis of scientific revolutions to the origin of life and sociobiology." Business Week

"John Horgan has everybody talking. Probably no science book of this year has generated as much comment." Rocky Mountain News

"Hugely entertaining, certain to create controversy." E.O. Wilson, Harvard University

The End of Science: Facing the Limits of Science in the Twilight of the Scientific Age

Publisher's Description


As a staff writer for Scientific American, John Horgan has a window on contemporary science unsurpassed in all the world. Who else routinely interviews the likes of Lynn Margulis, Roger Penrose, Francis Crick, Richard Dawkins, Freeman Dyson, Murray Gell-Mann, Stephen Jay Gould, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn, Chris Langton, Karl Popper, Steven Weinberg, and E. O. Wilson, with the freedom to probe their innermost thoughts? This is the secret fear that Horgan pursues throughout this remarkable book: Have the big questions all been answered? Has all the knowledge worth pursuing become known? Will there be a final "theory of everything" that signals the end? Is the age of great discoveries behind us? Is science today reduced to mere puzzle solving and adding details to existing theories? Scientists have always set themselves apart from other scholars in the belief that they do not construct the truth, they discover it. Their work is not interpretation but simple revelation of what exists in the empirical universe. But science itself keeps imposing limits on its own power. Special relativity prohibits the transmission of matter or information at speeds faster than that of light; quantum mechanics dictates uncertainty; and chaos theory confirms the impossibility of complete prediction. Meanwhile, the very idea of scientific rationality is under fire from Neo-Luddites, animal-rights activists, religious fundamentalists, and New Agers alike. As Horgan makes clear, perhaps the greatest threat to science may come from losing its special place in the hierarchy of disciplines, being reduced to something more akin to literary criticism as more and more theoreticians engage in the theory twiddling he calls "ironic science." Still, while Horgan offers his critique, grounded in the thinking of the world's leading researchers, he offers homage, too. If science is ending, he maintains, it is only because it has done its work so well.

Selected Works

War
McSweeney's Books, paperback edition, 2014.
"Cross-check" (Scientific American blog), August 12, 2014.
Review of Steven Pinker's "The Better Angels of Our Nature," Slate, October 3, 2011
A rebuttal of the deep-roots theory of warfare. Discover, June 2012.
Drones may soon become ubiquitous in U.S. skies.
Brain and Mind
Don't hold your breath for the Singularity. IEEE Spectrum, June 2008.
Article on scientific explanations of religious experiences, Discover, December 2006.
Profile of Jose Delgado, pioneer of brain implants, Scientific American, October 2005.
Investigation of controversial "grandmother-cell" hypothesis. Discover, June 2005.
Investigation of peyote use in Native American Church. Discover, February 2003.
Misc.
Tenth-anniversay update of The End of Science. Discover, October 2006.
Chronicle of Higher Education, April 7, 2006.
New York Times, August 12, 2005
New York Times, December 12, 2004
A list of articles written for Scientific American and other publications.
Rational Mysticism Outtakes
An account of Horgan's efforts to achieve satori in a Zen class.
A profile of the German anthropologist and authority on shamanism Christian Ratsch.
A profile of Diana Alstad and Joel Kramer, authors of The Guru Papers.
A profile of the Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast.
A profile of the British Buddhist Stephen Batchelor.
A profile of the guru Andrew Cohen, founder of What Is Enlightenment?
Books