Books by Chet Raymo

Chet Raymo is Professor Emeritus at Stonehill College in North Easton, Massachusetts. He is the author of eleven books on science and nature, including Skeptics and True Believers, An Intimate Look At the Night Sky, The Path: A One-Mile Walk Through the U

Released: May 2, 2006

"Well written, congenial, and full of lore—about both England and the history of science. "
A brief history of science, in the context of a walking tour along the Greenwich meridian. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2004

"Celtic polytheism, Christian monotheism, and scientific rationalism, all tied neatly together into an Irish arabesque. "
A natty physical and spiritual geography of Ireland's holy Mount Brandon. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2003

"A little masterpiece combining the individual and the cosmic with a fine but unflinching eye: informative, captivating, heartfelt."
Raymo (Skeptics and True Believers, 1998, etc.) again proves himself a masterful scientist and affable guide as, simply by drawing on his daily walk to work, he shows how everything in the universe is connected to everything else. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 1998

Another in the recent spate of arguments that scientists and theologians should pay attention to each other, by a latter-day Deist. Boston Globe science columnist Raymo (Virgin and the Mousetrap, 1991; Honey from Stone, 1987) joins fellow authors John Polkinghorne, Ken Wilbur, and Gerald Schroeder, among others, in tackling the subtle and often strained relationship of science and religion. Raymo's scientific arguments do not approach the likes of Polkinghorne, whom he quotes freely, and his contributions to religion are even more trite. Raymo relies heavily on anecdotes, avoiding the abstract jargon of some science writers. He considers himself a skeptic (his opposing categories of —Skeptic— and —True Believer— are a bit too neatly dichotomous); the God that Raymo feels most comfortable with is one who doesn—t disturb the natural laws of science. Raymo should realize that he has embraced Deism, a fashionable intellectual position of the late 18th century. Discussing the Ebola virus, for example, Raymo credits the abatement of the outbreak to the intervention of medical personnel, not to the prayers of the Belgian nuns standing by. Fair enough, but Raymo wants to argue that God never performs miracles, stating that —God has no role in the micromanagement of viruses and bacteria.— What is even more deistic is the God he offers in the place of the miracle-worker: the distant creator. Like the famous watchmaker, Raymo's God set the universe in motion, then left it to its own devices. So while Raymo sensibly attacks biblical creationists, UFO enthusiasts, and relic-obsessed Marianists—easy targets all—he fails to offer anything substantive in their stead. It's too bad Raymo wastes his energetic prose on such hackneyed notions and that for him the two disciplines can only coexist if religion is the handmaiden and science the master. Read full book review >
THE DORK OF CORK by Chet Raymo
Released: May 6, 1993

An improbable, sometimes inflated, but often amusing melodrama of the life and loves of a 43-inch Irish dwarf who's an amateur astronomer and soon-to-be-celebrated author—by astronomy professor and author Raymo (In the Falcon's Claw, 1990, etc.). Frank Bois is the ``wee'' son of a French WW II refugee, Bernadette Bois, and an unknown American sailor whose troopship set Bernadette down in the city of Cork in 1945. Frank, now middle-aged and living in the flat where his mother first settled 43 years earlier, has obsessively unearthed details of her past and recounts them in a narrative that parallels that of the book he's about to publish: how his clairvoyant mother, then 12, mysteriously became the only survivor of a German landmine explosion that killed ten other children in Fleurville, France, and how she was celebrated in the town as a saint; how her father, a farmer, was executed by the Germans and her mother went mad; how she stowed away aboard the troopship, ``fukked'' a score of sailors, and became pregnant at 16; how Jack Kelly, the wonderful Irish immigration officer in charge of her case, befriended her and, later, her hideous baby, a dwarf; how Jack taught the dwarf to love beauty and study the stars; how Bernadette, a great beauty herself, drove to ruin a number of men before she, too, went mad and committed suicide; how her son Frank, the dwarf, became a voyeur and pervert after falling unrequitedly in love with one of Jack's six beautiful daughters—a girl named Emma, who also went briefly crazy because of an evil affair with a German astronomer living in Cork; and how, finally- -after endless other adventures and many ruminations on whether beauty is skin-deep or resides in the stars or in the soul—how Frank wins middle-aged Emma's hand in an innocent, pure, romanticized version of marriage. At times overly ``philosophical'' and at other times disconcertingly bawdy, but, overall, an entertaining pastiche. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 1991

Raymo, science writer (Honey From Stone, 1987, etc.) and novelist (In the Falcon's Claw, 1989), zigzags between beauty and bombast in this collection of 21 rambling essays on ``the soul of science.'' Scientists, as Raymo notes, can be ``grim, white-coated technicians wielding power without responsibility.'' What to do? Raymo suggests we make science more human by returning to the lessons of everyday experience. In one essay, he speculates on what our civilization might be like if Earth, like Venus, were wrapped in clouds. Elsewhere, he tackles a question as old as Adam and Eve- -''Who am I?''—finding clues to an answer in DNA research. Other pieces mull over sea squirts, Halley's comet, Neanderthals, SDI, the dangers and blessings of machinery, why there are two sexes, the pros and cons of vivisection—more or less whatever one might hear discussed in a freewheeling science classroom. The binding glue throughout is the ``mediocrity principle,'' Raymo's belief that we and our planet are so commonplace as to be ``cosmically mediocre,'' an idea that might make many nonscientists blanch. All unravels in the second half, as Raymo fires away at creationism, astrology, the New Age, UFOs, and other ``pseudosciences'' about which he seems to know little, and ends up shooting himself in the foot. Beautifully composed—but done in by dogma. Read full book review >