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Mistakes in Books

  1. Jun 14, 2009 #1
    Mistakes in Books....

    Have you ever been reading a book by an auther you enjoy and found to your amazement that they made a mistake with regard to some rather simple bit of knowledge or history?

    I just remembered this while poking fun at brits in another thread. William Gibson wrote a book called Pattern Recognition where the main character starts the novel in London and is musing on the differences between the UK and the US. She notes the use of Direct Current in England and jokes to herself that the only thing in the US that still uses DC is the electric chair. And she (William Gibson really) is wrong.
    The electric chair was designed to use AC. It was a manuever by Edison during the 'Current Wars' to paint AC power as dangerous. Edison had even lobbied congress to make the legislation enacting execution by electrocution specify the use of AC. It was also a great blunder since the first man to be executed by electrocution actually had to be run through with current twice before he died.

    How does Gibson not know this? And why would he make a point of it not knowing? I thought it was a bit disappointing.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 14, 2009 #2
    Re: Mistakes in Books....

    Brain thoughts:

     
  4. Jun 14, 2009 #3
    Re: Mistakes in Books....

    This doesn't pertain to knowledge or history, but the book A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness by V.S. Ramachandran is chock full of typos for some reason. It was published by Pi Press, New York, for whatever that's worth. In any event, it doesn't seem like the text got proofread.
     
  5. Jun 14, 2009 #4
    Re: Mistakes in Books....

    Last night I was reading Sunny Auyangs "How is Quantum Field Theory possible?" and on page 40 the author has this to say about general covariance:

    I read the above as "no ever gave me a satisfying explanation, therefore there is none." It takes lot of nerve to write a book which explains concepts that the author does not themselves understand!
     
  6. Jun 14, 2009 #5

    JaredJames

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    Re: Mistakes in Books....

    I'm hurt, after all it was my post you 'poked fun at'.
     
  7. Jun 14, 2009 #6
    Re: Mistakes in Books....

    i'm thinking more in text books, where they give an answer section and within, there are many incorrect answers. always makes for a confusing waste of time until you realize the answer must be wrong.
     
  8. Jun 14, 2009 #7

    JaredJames

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    Re: Mistakes in Books....

    I have a good text book on engineering mathematics, not many mistakes but one or two (and always the questions I choose to do as well). I spent ages on a complex differentiation question, couldn't for the life of me get the answer at the back. The good thing about this book is their website has a solutions section with the full answers (not just the number) and when I checked there they had corrected it. Still, not until after 2 hours of attempting to get the answer in the back and convincing myself I was doing it wrong.
     
  9. Jun 14, 2009 #8
    Re: Mistakes in Books....

    This is my site dedicated to errata. I haven't kept it up to date.
    http://www.erratapage.com" [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  10. Jun 14, 2009 #9

    arildno

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    Re: Mistakes in Books....

    I don't recall the historical work's title, but my ire was certainly roused when Ibn Hazm was classified as a Maliki scholar, rather than a Zahiri. :mad:
     
  11. Jun 14, 2009 #10

    George Jones

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    Re: Mistakes in Books....

    See, for example, the review article

    http://www.iop.org/EJ/abstract/0034-4885/56/7/001.
     
  12. Jun 14, 2009 #11
    Re: Mistakes in Books....

    Some of my older books are riddled with typos. There was one in particular, I don't remember which, where there seemed to be one on every other page and in some instances it was even hard to tell what the sentence was supposed to be in the first place.
    Yours is fairly new though which is odd. You'd think it was typed up on a computer with a spell check. Of course I usually turn mine off because it often does not know some words I use and gets annoying. Manuscripts are still submitted in hardcopy but I would imagine they take them in file form for editing and printing once they are accepted. The editor ought to have had spell check.

    But you inspired me. Isn't that good? ;-)
     
  13. Jun 14, 2009 #12

    Redbelly98

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    Re: Mistakes in Books....

    There are a lot of books out there to help students prep for the SAT and many other standardized tests. Most of them look pretty good, except for ones I've seen from REA (Research and Education Association). Their books are wrought with errors, and the SAT problems bear little resemblance to the actual SAT.

    If you need to prep for a standardized test, get any book not put out by REA.
     
  14. Jun 14, 2009 #13
    Re: Mistakes in Books....

    A great service you do Jimmy! I'll pour over some dusty tomes and submit material. I have a book or two printed by some idiot who insisted on using 'f' instead of 's' in too many places to even count!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  15. Jun 14, 2009 #14
    Re: Mistakes in Books....

    There are some history textbooks (along with Wikipedia) which assert that, during WWII, polish people fought Nazis on horseback in one of the battles. My history teacher told us that, according to a history book he'd read, this is a complete myth and never happened. I don't know what book that was so I can't be sure that it didn't happen but if it's a myth then it's a prevalent one.
     
  16. Jun 15, 2009 #15
    Re: Mistakes in Books....

    Thomas Jefferson?
     
  17. Jun 15, 2009 #16
    Re: Mistakes in Books....

    I've seen more than one textbook claiming that Euclid's Elements was an advanced mathematics text or contained just about everything the Greeks knew about geometry. In reality, it was more of an introductory text. Euclid himself wrote a more advanced treatise on conics, never mind the works of Archimedes and Apollonius.
     
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