Scientists’ Nightstand: Massimo Pigliucci

Greg Ross in American Scientist:

201092293208119-pigliucci Massimo Pigliucci is professor of philosophy at the City University of New York. His most recent book is Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk (University of Chicago Press, 2010).

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I began my academic career as an evolutionary biologist, first at the University of Tennessee, then at Stony Brook University. However, when my midlife crisis hit I decided to switch to philosophy, went back to graduate school, got a proper degree in the field, and started publishing in philosophy of science. As a result, now I am the Chair of Philosophy at Lehman College in New York and a faculty member at the City University of New York's Graduate Center.

What books are you currently reading (or have you just finished reading) for your work or for pleasure? Why did you choose them, and what do you think of them?

Let me check my Kindle list . . . I am about to finish Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Illustrated Novels (Chancellor Press, 2001), because I always wanted to do that. I have been endlessly fascinated with the hyperrational detective, and I often quote from him (yes, I know he is fictional) in my classes on the nature of science. I am also reading Kathryn Schulz's Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error (HarperCollins, 2010), a delightful book about how and why we are so often wrong about things, and what is the best attitude about it. Recent readings include Noam Chomsky's Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy (Metropolitan, 2006); Lee Smolin's The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, The Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next (Houghton Mifflin, 2006); and Sunnyside, a novel by Glen David Gold (Knopf, 2009).

More here.