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Nibbling on Einstein's Brain: The Good, the Bad and the Bogus in Science

Overview

Science affects every part of our lives. It can determine the foods we eat, the clothes we wear — even the video games we play. But how do you tell the good science from the bad?

Bite into Nibbling on Einstein's Brain and learn some winning strategies for sorting the good from the misleading in science. Through playful scenarios and fascinating real-world examples, each chapter encourages critical thinking. You'll find tips for spotting bad science, ideas for identifying reports...

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Overview

Science affects every part of our lives. It can determine the foods we eat, the clothes we wear — even the video games we play. But how do you tell the good science from the bad?

Bite into Nibbling on Einstein's Brain and learn some winning strategies for sorting the good from the misleading in science. Through playful scenarios and fascinating real-world examples, each chapter encourages critical thinking. You'll find tips for spotting bad science, ideas for identifying reports that misrepresent facts and ways to keep your own brain from muddling the science news you receive.

Bursting with "Baloney Buster" information, quick "Your Turn" activities and playful new illustrations, this brightly redesigned edition offers a fun approach to becoming a sharp-minded watchdog of reliable science.

A Science Books and Film "Editor's Choice" selection, May/June 2002 for 2001.

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Editorial Reviews

January Magazine
This new edition is more-ish in every way: it's longer, brighter and better realized, intended to provide children with a gentle foundation for scientific learning.... Nibbling on Einstein's Brain is really quite good. Where non-fiction books aimed at this age group can be overly simplistic and facile, Swanson is expert at sharing information in a fashion that is both lucid and interesting.... A whimsically illustrated treasure trove of learning for young minds.
January Magazine - Monica Stark
Nibbling on Einstein's Brain is a newly revised edition of a book that was initially published in 2001. This new edition is more-ish in every way: it's longer, brighter and better realized, intended to provide children with a gentle foundation for scientific learning. In a way, the book is based on the idea that a little science can take you quite a distance, especially when it comes to dispelling the myths that bad science spread around. Nibbling on Einstein's Brain is really quite good. Where non-fiction books aimed at this age group can be overly simplistic and facile, Swanson is expert at sharing information in a fashion that is both lucid and interesting. And, truth be told, she should be good at it: she's over 70 books into a career of doing just that! Subtitled The Good, The Bad and the Bogus in Science, Nibbling on Einstein's Brain is the perfect primer to the way science works in our lives and the various roles it can play. In some ways, the book does even more than that:
touching at times on ideas that are quite philosophical in nature, at others sharing skills crucial to critical thinking. Nibbling on Einstein's Brain is a whimsically illustrated treasure trove of learning for young minds.
Book Report - David Lininger
(praise for the first edition) This humorous and useful book attempts to help students learn to analyze the "science" that's reported in the news.
Booklist - Carolyn Phelan
(praise for the first edition) A good introduction to bad science ... a highly readable text and jaunty line illustrations, the book encourages critical thinking and skepticism when evaluating science reporting and media hype.
(praise for the first edition) A good introduction to bad science ... a highly readable text and jaunty line illustrations, the book encourages critical thinking and skepticism when evaluating science reporting and media hype.
Florida Times-Union - Brandy Hilboldt Allport
(praise for the first edition) A lighthearted but reliable explanation of the scientific method of research ... written for children 8 to 12, but even high school students or college students assigned a science project would find this simple explanation of the scientific method useful.
Science Books and Films - Mary Purzycki
(praise for the first edition) Editor's Choice: A great resource for K-12 teachers and students about how to perform, analyze and assess research, but also on how to look critically at data generated by the various types of media ... Anyone who is trying to get their students to question facts should get their hands on this book. The chapter summaries are an invaluable resource in themselves.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books - Deborah Stevenson Bulletin of the Center for Chil
(praise for the first edition) An extremely useful introduction to a subject that is rarely broached effectively.
Canadian Materials - Barbara McMillan
(starred review) Swanson's goal is to assist readers in distinguishing good science from bad science, "and the bad reporting of good science," by helping them to know and develop the necessary skills. Foundational to these skills are attitudes of skepticism and open-mindedness and an enduring desire to know and understand science and scientific research. It is the cleverness with which Swanson brings this all together for adolescent and pre-teen readers that makes the book unique, engaging, and utterly informative... This is a book that should be required reading for all teachers, whether generalists or science specialists, who are responsible for teaching Grades 4 through 10 science. I suspect it will be on the list of required texts in many teacher education programs with science specific curriculum and instruction courses. Highly Recommended.
National Science Teachers Association - Sarah Haines
(praise for the first edition) National Science Teachers Association-Recommended Product. An engaging combination of accuracy and humor ... After reading this book students should have a clear understanding of the differences between sound and unsound scientific inquiry.
Detroit News/Free Press - Cathy Collison Detroit News/Free Press 2001 09 0
(praise for the first edition) Challenges the reader to be a critical thinker ... funny illustrations make this brain-booster book worth nibbling on.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books - Deborah Stevenson Bulletin of the Center for Children
(praise for the first edition) An extremely useful introduction to a subject that is rarely broached effectively.
Book Report
This humorous and useful book attempts to help students learn to analyze the "science" that's reported in the news.
Mary Purzycki
A great resource for K-12 teachers and students about how to perform, analyze and assess research.
Science Books and Films
Deborah Stevenson
An extremely useful introduction to a subject that is rarely broached effectively.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Cathy Collison
Challenges the reader to be a critical thinker ... funny illustrations make this brain-booster book worth nibbling on. —Detroit News/Free Press
Brandy Hilboldt Allport
A lighthearted but reliable explanation of the scientific method of research. —Florida Times-Union
Children's Literature
Part of growing up is the ability to make wise decisions based upon information gathered from solid research. The author explains the generally accepted rules for good research and then shows how this is often overlooked or misinterpreted by the general public. A list of questions that should be asked by the consumer evolves during the reading, questions such as—Who funded the research? Was the research published in a professional scientific journal? Are the conclusions based on the reporter's own assumptions? Through "mind trap scenarios," "baloney busters," and "media alerts," the author teaches the reader to be more aware of information that is received in everyday life. Thinking clearly and critically is important to the modern citizen. Innocence can be very detrimental or even deadly if individuals do not have the skills to look behind the products or ideas that they are being encouraged to buy or assimilate. Magazines, books and Internet sites that will help consumers to make wise decisions are listed at the end of the book. 2001, Annick Press, $14.95. Ages 9 up. Reviewer: Barbara Youngblood
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Almost every day the public reads or hears about a new and amazing scientific discovery guaranteed to make important changes in our lives; some are even true. But how can people learn to tell the difference between "good" and "bad" science? According to Swanson, they just have to be willing to ask questions and think clearly. This fascinating and kid-friendly book gives budding scientists and others an introduction to the tools and strategies needed to evaluate and understand scientific information. First, it differentiates between what is faulty science and what isn't, and offers a checklist of characteristics that apply to valid studies. There are chapters on what can go wrong in research (biased questions, incomplete data, "data dredging"), how reporting can confuse or misrepresent information, and how the human mind can muddle the news it receives. Amusing black-and-white illustrations are scattered throughout. "Your Turn" suggestions give readers the opportunity to put the strategies they read about into practice. The layout features bold headings, shaded sidebars, and quotes. The strategies learned here can easily be applied to history and social science research, making this title an intriguing choice for any school or public library.-Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books - Deborah Stevenson
An extremely useful introduction to a subject that is rarely broached effectively.
Detroit News/Free Press - Cathy Collison
Challenges the reader to be a critical thinker ... funny illustrations make this brain-booster book worth nibbling on.
Canadian Materials - Julie Chychota
Teachers, parents, librarians, and other adults who want to make science attractive to young people will snap up Nibbling on Einstein's Brain with gusto. Highly recommended.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554511860
  • Publisher: Annick Press, Limited
  • Publication date: 2/20/2009
  • Edition description: Updated and Newly Illustrated
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 112
  • Sales rank: 966,201
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Diane Swanson is the award-winning author of more than 70 factual books for children, including Turn It Loose: The Scientist in Absolutely Everybody. She lives in Victoria, BC.

Francis Blake is an illustrator whose work has appeared in magazines, books and advertising campaigns in North America, Europe and the Far East. He lives in London, England.

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Read an Excerpt

From Chapter 2, Science Watch

Baloney Buster 12: Questioning Questionable Questions

Beside wording question carefully, good researchers avoid asking poor questions through pretesting — trying out the questions on a sample of people similar to the test subjects. After a pretest, the researchers discuss the questions with the people who answered them. The object is to learn which questions were too hard, too confusing, or too limiting. That information helps the researchers pinpoint questions that should be reworded, dropped, or added.

Here are some examples of questions before pretesting and the changes that might result. Unfortunately, poor researchers seldom pretest their questions, so they don't catch problems before they carry out their studies.

Before Pretest:
Do you ever watch hockey and soccer on TV?
Problem:
Combining two questions.
After Pretest:
Do you ever watch hockey on TV?
Do you ever watch soccer on TV?
Before Pretest:
Like most people your age, do you watch TV documentaries only rarely?
Problem:
Biased
After Pretest:
How often do you watch TV documentaries?
- frequently? - occasionally? - rarely? - never?
Before Pretest:
About how much time do you spend watching TV in a normal week?
Problem:
No problem
After Pretest:
No change is needed
Before Pretest:
What impact has TV had on your family?
Problem:
Unanswerable. Respondent can't say how TV affects each individual
After Pretest:
Drop thequestion.
ALWAYS ASK: Were the questions pretested?

YOUR TURN: Try your own question pretest. Ask some of your friends the unanswerable question and the vague question in Baloney Buster #11, and see what kinds of responses you get. Then ask your friends why they had a tough time answering.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

1 Beware of Bad Science

2 Science Watch

3 Media Watch

4 Mind Watch

5 Winning Strategies

Where to Get Help

Glossary

Solutions

Index

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