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Robert B Silvers

Hidden Histories of Science

Hidden histories of science is based on a series of talks given by well known scientists. It looks like the idea of the talks was to highlight scientific discoveries which were dismissed, only to be rediscovered at a later date. Oliver Sacks looks at examples of this in medicine. Jonathan Miller describes the theatrical origin of hypnotism, and how it was frowned upon but later became more respectable. Daniel J Kevels looks at how early work linking viruses and cancer was unpopular until it provided a basis for the 'War on Cancer' in the 1970's.

The other two authors seemed to depart more from the 'hidden histories' idea. Stephen J Gould criticises the popular idea of evolution as inevitable progress and Richard Lewontin argues against the separation of environmental from genetic effects in biology. If you have read other work by these two authors then it's unlikely that these essays will tell you anything new. Overall I felt that the chapters in this book weren't particularly memorable - it's likely that they came over better as talks - but that if you like to spend the odd half hour reading a scientific essay then this book might suit you.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 192 pages  
ISBN: 1590170520
Salesrank: 3574800
Weight:0.47 lbs
Published: 2003 New York Review Books
Marketplace:New from $19.95:Used from $2.98
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 192 pages  
ISBN: 1590170520
Salesrank: 2744474
Weight:0.47 lbs
Published: 2003 New York Review of Books
Marketplace:New from £31.87:Used from £0.98
Buy from Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.ca info
Paperback 192 pages  
ISBN: 1590170520
Salesrank: 3497372
Weight:0.47 lbs
Published: 2003 New York Review Books
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 66.83:Used from CDN$ 8.81
Buy from Amazon.ca





Product Description
We often think of science as continuously advancing. In this collection of essays, five world-renowned writers explore obscure and neglected episodes in the history of science which suggest instead that the process of understanding the significance of scientific discoveries can be erratic, contradictory, even irrational. Jonathan Miller, Oliver Sacks, and Daniel Kevles show how promising new ideas may at first fail to be noticed or accepted, and then, years after they have been dismissed or forgotten, are recognized in a different form as important. R.C. Lewontin and Stephen Jay Gould discuss the ways that words and images used by scientists and popularizers alike, from the murals on the walls of natural history museums to such ubiquitous terms as "adaptation" and "environment," reflect serious and often unacknowledged distortions in the way we conceive of both individual organisms and the natural history of the world.

These essays demonstrate that science is, in the words of Oliver Sacks, "a human enterprise through and through, an organic, evolving, human growth, with sudden spurts and arrests, and strange deviations, too. It grows out of its past, but never outgrows it, any more than we outgrow our childhood."