Download and read online Not a Scientist How Politicians Mistake Misrepresent and Utterly Mangle Science in PDF and EPUB An eye-opening tour of the political tricks that subvert scientific progress. The Butter-Up and Undercut. The Certain Uncertainty. The Straight-Up Fabrication. Dave Levitan dismantles all of these deceptive arguments, and many more, in this probing and hilarious examination of the ways our elected officials attack scientific findings that conflict with their political agendas. The next time you hear a politician say, "Well, I’m not a scientist, but…," you’ll be ready.
Download and read online Not a Scientist in PDF and EPUB In 1980, Ronald Reagan created one of the dumbest talking points of all time: I m not a scientist, but . . . Since then, politicians have repeatedly committed egregious transgressions against scientific knowledge prefaced by this seemingly innocuous phrase. Yet, as science journalist Dave Levitan reveals, that line is just the tip of the melting iceberg when it comes to rhetorical tools wielded to attack scientific findings that don t cooperate with political agendas. Just listen to Mike Huckabee dismiss climate change as a sunburn, Donald Trump suggest that vaccines cause autism, or Todd Akin s infamous invention of legitimate rape. With a taxonomer s eye, Levitan captures and categorizes these deceptions by chapter, assigning delightful names like The Butter-Up and Undercut, The Literal Nitpick, The Straight-Up Fabrication, and many more. His sharpelbowed humor dismantles our leaders deceptive arguments while illuminating the real science behind the worst soundbites from our elected nonscientists."
Download and read online Mistakes Were Made But Not by Me in PDF and EPUB “Entertaining, illuminating and—when you recognize yourself in the stories it tells—mortifying.” —Wall Street Journal “Every page sparkles with sharp insight and keen observation. Mistakes were made—but not in this book!” —Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness Why is it so hard to say “I made a mistake”—and really believe it? When we make mistakes, cling to outdated attitudes, or mistreat other people, we must calm the cognitive dissonance that jars our feelings of self-worth. And so, unconsciously, we create fictions that absolve us of responsibility, restoring our belief that we are smart, moral, and right—a belief that often keeps us on a course that is dumb, immoral, and wrong. Backed by years of research, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) offers a fascinating explanation of self-justification—how it works, the damage it can cause, and how we can overcome it. This updated edition features new examples and concludes with an extended discussion of how we can live with dissonance, learn from it, and perhaps, eventually, forgive ourselves. “A revelatory study of how lovers, lawyers, doctors, politicians—and all of us—pull the wool over our own eyes . . . Reading it, we recognize the behavior of our leaders, our loved ones, and—if we’re honest—ourselves, and some of the more perplexing mysteries of human nature begin to seem a little clearer.” —Francine Prose, O, The Oprah Magazine
Download and read online The Death of Expertise in PDF and EPUB People are now exposed to more information than ever before, provided both by technology and by increasing access to every level of education. These societal gains, however, have also helped fuel a surge in narcissistic and misguided intellectual egalitarianism that has crippled informed debates on any number of issues. Today, everyone knows everything: with only a quick trip through WebMD or Wikipedia, average citizens believe themselves to be on an equal intellectual footing with doctors and diplomats. All voices, even the most ridiculous, demand to be taken with equal seriousness, and any claim to the contrary is dismissed as undemocratic elitism. As Tom Nichols shows in The Death of Expertise, this rejection of experts has occurred for many reasons, including the openness of the internet, the emergence of a customer satisfaction model in higher education, and the transformation of the news industry into a 24-hour entertainment machine. Paradoxically, the increasingly democratic dissemination of information, rather than producing an educated public, has instead created an army of ill-informed and angry citizens who denounce intellectual achievement. Nichols has deeper concerns than the current rejection of expertise and learning, noting that when ordinary citizens believe that no one knows more than anyone else, democratic institutions themselves are in danger of falling either to populism or to technocracy-or in the worst case, a combination of both. The Death of Expertise is not only an exploration of a dangerous phenomenon but also a warning about the stability and survival of modern democracy in the Information Age.
Download and read online Einstein s Mistakes The Human Failings of Genius in PDF and EPUB “A thought-provoking critique of Einstein’s tantalizing combination of brilliance and blunder.”—Andrew Robinson, New Scientist Although Einstein was the greatest genius of the twentieth century, many of his groundbreaking discoveries were blighted by mistakes, ranging from serious errors in mathematics to bad misconceptions in physics and failures to grasp the subtleties of his own creations. This forensic biography dissects Einstein’s scientific mistakes and places them in the context of his turbulent life and times. In lively, accessible prose, Hans C. Ohanian paints a fresh, insightful portrait of the real Einstein at work, in contrast to the uncritical celebrity worship found in many biographies. Of the approximately 180 original scientific papers that Einstein published in his lifetime, about 40 are infested with mistakes. For instance, Einstein’s first mathematical proof of the famous formula E = mc2 was incomplete and only approximately valid; he struggled with this problem for many years, but he never found a complete proof (better mathematicians did). Einstein was often lured by irrational and mystical inspirations, but his extraordinary intuition about physics permitted him to discover profound truths despite—and sometimes because of—the mistakes he made along the way. He was a sleepwalker: his intuition told him where he needed to go, and he somehow managed to get there without quite knowing how. As this book persuasively argues, the defining hallmark of Einstein’s genius was not any special mathematical ability but an uncanny talent to use his mistakes as stepping stones to formulate his revolutionary theories.
Download and read online Brilliant Blunders in PDF and EPUB Drawing on the lives of five great scientists, this “scholarly, insightful, and beautifully written book” (Martin Rees, author of From Here to Infinity) illuminates the path to scientific discovery. Charles Darwin, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), Linus Pauling, Fred Hoyle, and Albert Einstein all made groundbreaking contributions to their fields—but each also stumbled badly. Darwin’s theory of natural selection shouldn’t have worked, according to the prevailing beliefs of his time. Lord Kelvin gravely miscalculated the age of the earth. Linus Pauling, the world’s premier chemist, constructed an erroneous model for DNA in his haste to beat the competition to publication. Astrophysicist Fred Hoyle dismissed the idea of a “Big Bang” origin to the universe (ironically, the caustic name he gave to this event endured long after his erroneous objections were disproven). And Albert Einstein speculated incorrectly about the forces of the universe—and that speculation opened the door to brilliant conceptual leaps. As Mario Livio luminously explains in this “thoughtful meditation on the course of science itself” (The New York Times Book Review), these five scientists expanded our knowledge of life on earth, the evolution of the earth, and the evolution of the universe, despite and because of their errors. “Thoughtful, well-researched, and beautifully written” (The Washington Post), Brilliant Blunders is a wonderfully insightful examination of the psychology of five fascinating scientists—and the mistakes as well as the achievements that made them famous.
Download and read online The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge in PDF and EPUB A forty-year tightening of funding for scientific research has meant that resources are increasingly directed toward applied or practical outcomes, with the intent of creating products of immediate value. In such a scenario, it makes sense to focus on the most identifiable and urgent problems, right? Actually, it doesn't. In his classic essay "The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge," Abraham Flexner, the founding director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and the man who helped bring Albert Einstein to the United States, describes a great paradox of scientific research. The search for answers to deep questions, motivated solely by curiosity and without concern for applications, often leads not only to the greatest scientific discoveries but also to the most revolutionary technological breakthroughs. In short, no quantum mechanics, no computer chips. This brief book includes Flexner's timeless 1939 essay alongside a new companion essay by Robbert Dijkgraaf, the Institute's current director, in which he shows that Flexner's defense of the value of "the unobstructed pursuit of useless knowledge" may be even more relevant today than it was in the early twentieth century. Dijkgraaf describes how basic research has led to major transformations in the past century and explains why it is an essential precondition of innovation and the first step in social and cultural change. He makes the case that society can achieve deeper understanding and practical progress today and tomorrow only by truly valuing and substantially funding the curiosity-driven "pursuit of useless knowledge" in both the sciences and the humanities.
Download and read online Pandora s Lab in PDF and EPUB What happens when ideas presented as science lead us in the wrong direction? History is filled with brilliant ideas that gave rise to disaster, and this book explores the most fascinating--and significant--missteps: from opium's heyday as the pain reliever of choice to recognition of opioids as a major cause of death in the U.S.; from the rise of trans fats as the golden ingredient for tastier, cheaper food to the heart disease epidemic that followed; and from the cries to ban DDT for the sake of the environment to an epidemic-level rise in world malaria. These are today's sins of science--as deplorable as mistaken past ideas about advocating racial purity or using lobotomies as a cure for mental illness. These unwitting errors add up to seven lessons both cautionary and profound, narrated by renowned author and speaker Paul A. Offit. Offit uses these lessons to investigate how we can separate good science from bad, using some of today's most controversial creations--e-cigarettes, GMOs, drug treatments for ADHD--as case studies. For every "Aha!" moment that should have been an "Oh no," this book is an engrossing account of how science has been misused disastrously--and how we can learn to use its power for good.
Download and read online Descartes Error in PDF and EPUB In the centuries since Descartes famously proclaimed, 'I think, therefore I am,' science has often overlooked emotions as the source of a person's true being. Even modern neuroscience has tended until recently to concentrate on the cognitive aspects of brain function, disregarding emotions. This attitude began to change with the publication of Descartes' Error. Antonio Damasio challenged traditional ideas about the connection between emotions and rationality. In this wonderfully engaging book, Damasio takes the reader on a journey of scientific discovery through a series of case studies, demonstrating what many of us have long suspected: emotions are not a luxury, they are essential to rational thinking and to normal social behaviour.
Download and read online The War on Science in PDF and EPUB "Wherever the people are well informed," Thomas Jefferson wrote, "they can be trusted with their own government." But what happens when they are not? In every issue of modern society--from climate change to vaccinations, transportation to technology, health care to defense--we are in the midst of an unprecedented expansion of scientific progress and a simultaneous expansion of danger. At the very time we need them most, scientists and the idea of objective knowledge are being bombarded by a vast, well-funded, three-part war on science: the identity politics war on science, the ideological war on science, and the industrial war on science. The result is an unprecedented erosion of thought in Western democracies as voters, policymakers, and justices actively ignore the evidence from science, leaving major policy decisions to be based more on the demands of the most strident voices. Shawn Otto’s compelling new book investigates the historical, social, philosophical, political, and emotional reasons why evidence-based politics are in decline and authoritarian politics are once again on the rise on both left and right, and provides some compelling solutions to bring us to our collective senses, before it's too late.
Download and read online The Vaccine Race in PDF and EPUB “Riveting . . . [The Vaccine Race] invites comparison with Rebecca Skloot's 2007 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”—Nature “This is a story about the war against disease—a war without end—and the development of enormously important vaccines, but in telling that story, in showing how science works, Meredith Wadman reveals much more. I loved this book.” —John M. Barry, New York Times bestselling author of The Great Influenza The epic and controversial story of a major breakthrough in cell biology that led to the conquest of rubella and other devastating diseases. Until the late 1960s, tens of thousands of American children suffered crippling birth defects if their mothers had been exposed to rubella, popularly known as German measles, while pregnant; there was no vaccine and little understanding of how the disease devastated fetuses. In June 1962, a young biologist in Philadelphia, using tissue extracted from an aborted fetus from Sweden, produced safe, clean cells that allowed the creation of vaccines against rubella and other common childhood diseases. Two years later, in the midst of a devastating German measles epidemic, his colleague developed the vaccine that would one day wipe out homegrown rubella. The rubella vaccine and others made with those fetal cells have protected more than 150 million people in the United States, the vast majority of them preschoolers. The new cells and the method of making them also led to vaccines that have protected billions of people around the world from polio, rabies, chicken pox, measles, hepatitis A, shingles and adenovirus. Meredith Wadman’s masterful account recovers not only the science of this urgent race, but also the political roadblocks that nearly stopped the scientists. She describes the terrible dilemmas of pregnant women exposed to German measles and recounts testing on infants, prisoners, orphans, and the intellectually disabled, which was common in the era. These events take place at the dawn of the battle over using human fetal tissue in research, during the arrival of big commerce in campus labs, and as huge changes take place in the laws and practices governing who “owns” research cells and the profits made from biological inventions. It is also the story of yet one more unrecognized woman whose cells have been used to save countless lives. With another frightening virus imperiling pregnant women on the rise today, no medical story could have more human drama, impact, or urgency today than The Vaccine Race.
Download and read online A Terrible Mistake The Murder of Frank Olson and the Cias Secret Cold War Experiments Large Print 16pt in PDF and EPUB Following nearly a decade of research, this account solves the mysterious death of biochemist Frank Olson, revealing the identities of his murderers in shocking detail. It offers a unique and unprecedented look into the backgrounds of many former CIA, FBI, and Federal Narcotics Bureau officials - including several who actually oversaw the CIA's mind-control programs from the 1950s to the 1970s. In retracing these programs, a frequently bizarre and always frightening world is introduced, colored and dominated by many factors - Cold War fears, the secret relationship between the nation's drug enforcement agencies and the CIA, and the government's close collaboration with the Mafia. This edition is in three volumes. The second and third volume ISBNs are 9781458716569 & 9781458716576.
Download and read online The Signal and the Noise in PDF and EPUB One of Wall Street Journal's Best Ten Works of Nonfiction in 2012 New York Times Bestseller “Not so different in spirit from the way public intellectuals like John Kenneth Galbraith once shaped discussions of economic policy and public figures like Walter Cronkite helped sway opinion on the Vietnam War…could turn out to be one of the more momentous books of the decade.” —New York Times Book Review "Nate Silver's The Signal and the Noise is The Soul of a New Machine for the 21st century." —Rachel Maddow, author of Drift "A serious treatise about the craft of prediction—without academic mathematics—cheerily aimed at lay readers. Silver's coverage is polymathic, ranging from poker and earthquakes to climate change and terrorism." —New York Review of Books Nate Silver built an innovative system for predicting baseball performance, predicted the 2008 election within a hair’s breadth, and became a national sensation as a blogger—all by the time he was thirty. He solidified his standing as the nation's foremost political forecaster with his near perfect prediction of the 2012 election. Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.com. Drawing on his own groundbreaking work, Silver examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data. Most predictions fail, often at great cost to society, because most of us have a poor understanding of probability and uncertainty. Both experts and laypeople mistake more confident predictions for more accurate ones. But overconfidence is often the reason for failure. If our appreciation of uncertainty improves, our predictions can get better too. This is the “prediction paradox”: The more humility we have about our ability to make predictions, the more successful we can be in planning for the future. In keeping with his own aim to seek truth from data, Silver visits the most successful forecasters in a range of areas, from hurricanes to baseball, from the poker table to the stock market, from Capitol Hill to the NBA. He explains and evaluates how these forecasters think and what bonds they share. What lies behind their success? Are they good—or just lucky? What patterns have they unraveled? And are their forecasts really right? He explores unanticipated commonalities and exposes unexpected juxtapositions. And sometimes, it is not so much how good a prediction is in an absolute sense that matters but how good it is relative to the competition. In other cases, prediction is still a very rudimentary—and dangerous—science. Silver observes that the most accurate forecasters tend to have a superior command of probability, and they tend to be both humble and hardworking. They distinguish the predictable from the unpredictable, and they notice a thousand little details that lead them closer to the truth. Because of their appreciation of probability, they can distinguish the signal from the noise. With everything from the health of the global economy to our ability to fight terrorism dependent on the quality of our predictions, Nate Silver’s insights are an essential read. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Download and read online Statistics Done Wrong in PDF and EPUB Statistics Done Wrong describes how researchers often go wrong and teaches you the best practices for avoiding their mistakes.
Download and read online Einstein s Greatest Mistake in PDF and EPUB Widely considered the greatest genius of all time, Albert Einstein revolutionised our understanding of the cosmos with his general theory of relativity and helped to lead us into the atomic age. Yet in the final decades of his life he was also ignored by most working scientists, his ideas opposed by even his closest friends. This stunning downfall can be traced to Einstein's earliest successes and to personal qualities that were at first his best assets. Einstein's imagination and self-confidence served him well as he sought to reveal the universe's structure, but when it came to newer revelations in the field of quantum mechanics, these same traits undermined his quest for the ultimate truth. David Bodanis traces the arc of Einstein's intellectual development across his professional and personal life, showing how Einstein's confidence in his own powers of intuition proved to be both his greatest strength and his ultimate undoing. He was a fallible genius. An intimate and enlightening biography of the celebrated physicist, Einstein's Greatest Mistake reveals how much we owe Einstein today - and how much more he might have achieved if not for his all-too-human flaws.