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Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Janet Stemwedel
Ruth Francis
D. P. Dash
Russell Blackford

Frederick Grinnell

Everyday practice of science

Science is sometime perceived to be a purely logical pursuit but in Everyday Practice of Science: Where Intuition and Passion Meet Objectivity and Logic Frederick Grinnell explains how this perception leaves out much of what actually happens in scientific research.

The book starts with a look at the process of scientific discovery, contrasting the way scientific results are written up with the way things actually happened. Grinnell then discusses credibility in science, with an explanation of peer review and the importance of citations, and a look at times when bad science has slipped through the net. This leads on to a chapter on scientific integrity, looking at the possibilities for conflict of interest when scientific discoveries may lead to profitable products, and when one scientist is deciding on the funding for another scientist. The next chapter is on the risks of scientific discoveries, and in particular new medical treatments, and the final chapter looks at the relationship between science and religion.

I felt that Grinnell's style seemed a bit distant for a book which is supposed to spill the beans about what really happens in science. The examples were of the form of case studies rather than biographies, and were mostly from several decades ago - there is no mention of the internet, a critical part of communicating science with the public. The book is OK as a general overview of the way science is done, but doesn't give the insider view of the struggles and successes of scientists, which it what it seems to promise.

Product Description
Scientific facts can be so complicated that only specialists in a field fully appreciate the details, but the nature of everyday practice that gives rise to these facts should be understandable by everyone interested in science. This book describes how scientists bring their own interests and passions to their work, illustrates the dynamics between researchers and the research community, and emphasizes a contextual understanding of science in place of the linear model found in textbooks with its singular focus on "scientific method."

Everyday Practice of Science also introduces readers to issues about science and society. Practice requires value judgments: What should be done? Who should do it? Who should pay for it? How much? Balancing scientific opportunities with societal needs depends on appreciating both the promises and the ambiguities of science. Understanding practice informs discussions about how to manage research integrity, conflict of interest, and the challenge of modern genetics to human research ethics. Society cannot have the benefits of research without the risks. The last chapter contrasts the practices of science and religion as reflective of two different types of faith and describes a holistic framework within which they dynamically interact.