Contrary to common belief, scientific theories are not true or false but are provisionally accepted pending disproof. Computer scientist Ben-Ari spells out this modest but far-reaching claim in two parts: one describes the elements that qualify something as science, and the second dissects the logical deficiencies of pseudoscience. Far from dryly defining the hallmarks of a valid theory, Ben-Ari illustrates these elements with examples from the history of science, such as Galileo's formulas for acceleration and Newton's for gravity. Further discussing aspects of a valid theory, such as whether it's susceptible to falsification, or the social environment in which new theory supplants reigning theory, Ben-Ari is ready for the bemusing task of contemplating the assertions of astrology and so-called intelligent design in biology. He concludes that the predictive power of both is vague, and the mechanism for each is typically an ad hoc explanation of a particular observation, not of a wide class of observations, as a scientific theory insists upon. A readable precis that will best suit science majors. Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
Moti Ben-Ari is associate professor in the Department of Science Teaching at the Weizmann Institute, Israel, and the author of six textbooks on computer science. He has received the 2004 ACM SIGCSE Award for Outstanding Contributions to Computer Science Education.