The Unnatural Nature of Science / Edition 1

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Overview


How is it that nobody--except maybe scientists--sees science for what it is? In this entertaining and provocative book, Lewis Wolpert draws on the entire history of science, from Thales of Miletus to Watson and Crick, from the study of eugenics to the discovery of the double helix. The result is a scientist's view of the culture of science, authoritative and informed and at the same time mercifully accessible to those who find cohabiting with this culture a puzzling experience. Science is arguably the defining feature of our age. For anyone who hopes to understand its nature, this lively and thoughtful book provides the perfect starting point.

Quoting scientists from Aristotle to Einstein, British researcher Lewis Wolpert describes science as a special mode of thought. Once we understand science as "unnatural, " we can begin to negotiate its murkiest, most misunderstood terrain. Wolpert is the author of The Triumph of the Embryo and coauthor of A Passion for Science.

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Editorial Reviews

Nature

The unnaturalness of science is held to lie both in the superior clarity of its thought over everyday notions...and in the counterintuitive character of regimes far from common experience. The unnaturalness is to be commended, and Lewis Wolpert's book is a kind of hymn of praise from one of science's practitioners...[An] entertaining book.
— John Polkinghorne

New Scientist

The implications of Wolpert's thesis are important and widespread, especially to anyone concerned with education and the public understanding of science...Wolpert is a passionate defender of science. All he asks is that we understand what we are defending.
— Tony Jones

New York Times Book Review

Wolpert's book is...a lively presentation of points we need constantly remember as we reflect on the role of science in our world.
— Philip Kitcher

Los Angeles Times

[A] wonderful book...Wolpert's prose is measured and thoughtful...In an age when fundamental ideas about the nature of truth are assailed, when scientists are derided as madmen who threatened the world with nuclear weapons and genetic engineering, it is a pleasure to read a clear, level-headed and persuasive defense of the scientific enterprise.
— Lee Dembart

Nature - John Polkinghorne
The unnaturalness of science is held to lie both in the superior clarity of its thought over everyday notions...and in the counterintuitive character of regimes far from common experience. The unnaturalness is to be commended, and Lewis Wolpert's book is a kind of hymn of praise from one of science's practitioners...[An] entertaining book.
New Scientist - Tony Jones
The implications of Wolpert's thesis are important and widespread, especially to anyone concerned with education and the public understanding of science...Wolpert is a passionate defender of science. All he asks is that we understand what we are defending.
New York Times Book Review - Philip Kitcher
Wolpert's book is...a lively presentation of points we need constantly remember as we reflect on the role of science in our world.
Los Angeles Times - Lee Dembart
[A] wonderful book...Wolpert's prose is measured and thoughtful...In an age when fundamental ideas about the nature of truth are assailed, when scientists are derided as madmen who threatened the world with nuclear weapons and genetic engineering, it is a pleasure to read a clear, level-headed and persuasive defense of the scientific enterprise.
Library Journal
Science is not common sense, and technology is not science. These are some of the basic ideas that Wolpert ( The Triumph of the Embryo , LJ 10/1/91) presents as he defines what science is from the point of view of a scientist. Drawing on fascinating examples from early Greek science to the present day, he discusses science's ``unnatural nature'' and explains how science relates to the general public and how scientists relate to each other. He also examines the interaction between science and religion. Several years ago, Wolpert and Alison Richards published A Passion for Science ( LJ 3/1/89), a collection of interviews with scientists on how they view their profession; this readable and understandable work expands and clarifies the introduction to that book. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.-- Eric D. Albright, Galter Health Sciences Lib., Northwestern Univ., Chicago
Booknews
One scientist's view of the culture of science and why the public's understanding of that culture is so much in error. A thoughtful analysis which concludes that scientific thought is unnatural--which is exactly why the scientific process is so compelling. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674929814
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1998
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 191
  • Sales rank: 1,051,724
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 8.23 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Meet the Author

Lewis Wolpert is Professor of Biology as Applied to Medicine, University College, London. He is the author of The Triumph of the Embryo and coauthors of A Passion for Science.
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Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction

Technology is not Science

Thales's Leap: West and East

Creativity

Competition, Coorperation, and Commitment

Philosophical Doubts, or Relativism Rampant

Non-Science

Moral and Immoral Science

Science and the Public

References

Index

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