Fabulous Science: Fact and Fiction in the History of Scientific Discovery [NOOK Book]

Overview

The great biologist Louis Pasteur suppressed data that didn't support the case he was making. Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity was only 'confirmed' in 1919 because an eminent British scientist massaged his figures. Joseph Lister's famously spotless hospital wards were actually notoriously dirty. Gregor Mendel, supposed father of the science of heredity, never grasped the fundamental principles of 'Mendelian' genetics. Often startling, always enthralling, Fabulous
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Fabulous Science: Fact and Fiction in the History of Scientific Discovery

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Overview

The great biologist Louis Pasteur suppressed data that didn't support the case he was making. Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity was only 'confirmed' in 1919 because an eminent British scientist massaged his figures. Joseph Lister's famously spotless hospital wards were actually notoriously dirty. Gregor Mendel, supposed father of the science of heredity, never grasped the fundamental principles of 'Mendelian' genetics. Often startling, always enthralling, Fabulous
Science reveals the truth behind these and many other myths in the history of science. - ;The great biologist Louis Pasteur suppressed data that didn't support the case he was making. Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity was only 'confirmed' in 1919 because an eminent British scientist massaged his figures. Joseph Lister's famously spotless hospital wards were actually notoriously dirty. Gregor Mendel, supposed father of the science of heredity, never grasped the fundamental principles of 'Mendelian' genetics.

The history of science used to be presented as a heroic saga, in which a few far-seeing geniuses overcame the petty opposition of lesser minds to establish new scientific truths. But over recent decades, historians of science have cast a much more critical eye over their subject. Delving into laboratory notebooks and reconstructing once-fierce debates, they have challenged many of our basic assumptions about the nature of science and the roles its greatest heroes played.

Fabulous Science reveals many of these findings to the general reader for the first time. Often startling and always enthralling, they show that some of our most important scientific theories were initially accepted only because famous scientists fudged data, pulled rank, or were propped up by religious and political elites. Striking case-studies show that science is not always driven on by pure rationality: human factors can play at least as big a role in the origin and reception of
scientific ideas. Even poorly attested theories can gain widespread acceptance if put forward by scientists with sufficient clout.

The new history of science also demonstrates that many standard portraits of scientific heroes are little more than romantic inventions. Classic accounts of men before their time who battled to overcome ignorant opposition before achieving scientific immortality exaggerate the originality of the few and underplay the crucially important contributions of the many. Fabulous Science argues that our view of the history of science has been egregiously distorted by individuals seeking to
glorify disciplines and nations, and by famous scientists who unfairly garnered credit properly due to others.

Fabulous Science restores to the history of science its complex personalities, bitter rivalries, and intense human dramas which until recently have been overlain by sanitising myths and misconceptions. Above all, its richly entertaining vignettes will transform the way we think about science, past, present, and future. -
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780191578533
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, UK
  • Publication date: 9/26/2002
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

John C. Waller is a Research Fellow at both the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College London and Harvard University. He currently lives with his wife in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations
Acknowledgements
Introduction: What is history for? 1
Pt. 1 Right for the wrong reasons 10
1 The pasteurization of spontaneous generation 14
2 'The battle over the electron' 22
3 The eclipse of Isaac Newton: Arthur Eddington's 'proof' of general relativity 48
4 Very unscientific management 64
5 The Hawthorne studies: finding what you are looking for 78
Conclusion to Part 1: Sins against science? 99
Pt. 2 Telling science as it was 108
6 Myth in the time of cholera 114
7 'The Priest who held the key': Gregor Mendel and the ratios of fact and fiction 132
8 Was Joseph Lister Mr. Clean? 160
9 The Origin of Species by means of use-inheritance 176
10 'A is for ape, B is for Bible': science, religion, and melodrama 204
11 Painting yourself into a corner: Charles Best and the discovery of insulin 222
12 Alexander Fleming's dirty dishes 246
13 'A decoy of Satan' 268
Conclusion to Part 2: Sins against history? 284
Notes on sources 296
Index 302
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