How Science Works

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Overview

One week, red wine is good for the heart. The next week, new reports say it's bad for the health. So which is true? Anyone who's ever read science news with fascination, or who's ever been confounded by conflicting stories will appreciate this book. Taking a look at some true to life contemporary news stories, the author assesses recent studies on topics ranging from vitamin C and caffeine to pollution and cancer. With straight talk and a passion for the whole project of science, he demysifies the cult of the expert and sheds light on the nitty-gritty details of scientific processes. Any scientist loves a challenge, but the biggest challenge of all, observes Jenkins, is shared by scientists and nonscientitsts alike: how to make practical decisions in light of ambiguous evidence. Promising no simple answers, this book does offer excellent food for thought for people pondering that next glass of wine.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195158946
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/29/2004
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

University of Nevada, Reno
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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 3
2 Do Vitamin C and Other Antioxidants Benefit Health? Using Observational and Experimental Studies to Test Medical Hypotheses 14
3 Can Police Dogs Identify Criminal Suspects by Smell? Using Experiments to Test Hypotheses about Animal Behavior 36
4 Why Are Frogs in Trouble? Complementary Observations and Experiments to Test Hypotheses in Ecology 53
5 How Do Animals Find Stored Food? Strong Inference by Testing Alternative Hypotheses 73
6 What Causes Cancer? The Complexities of Causation 92
7 Why Do We Age? Different Levels of Causation as Complementary Explanations 112
8 How Does Coffee Affect Health? Combining Results of Multiple Studies 137
9 How Will Climate Change Affect the Spread of Human Diseases? Models and the Perils of Prediction 159
10 Conclusion: How Science Works and Its Role in Society 181
App. 1 Using Data for Twins to Estimate Genetic and Environmental Contributions to the Risk of Cancer 191
App. 2 Precision and the Power of Statistical Tests 193
Notes 197
References 207
Index 219
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