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The Truth of Science: Physical Theories and Reality Paperback – May 31, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0674001817 ISBN-10: 0674001818

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Editorial Reviews

Review

This is an excellent, erudite and interesting book. It portrays science as an extremely productive method and underlines the fact that the prosperity of our world is the fruit of our scientific endeavour. Newton makes you proud to be a scientist. Read this, and pat yourself on the back. (David Hughes New Scientist)

Newton offers us fascinating non-technical accounts of many physical theories and an obviously sincere and passionate defence of the standing of his discipline. As he rightly points out, much that is written in the name of social constructivism shows ignorance of and even hostility to science. (James W. McAllister Times Literary Supplement)

Much has been written...about the Science Wars. Attacks on science come from many fronts, ranging from postmodern deconstructionists to penny-pinching congressmen to Christian fundamentalists to ordinary citizens who feel confused by conflicting discoveries, intimidated by the difficulty of understanding modern theories, and threatened by a world view that seems to rob their lives of the security and comfort of religion...In The Truth of Science Newton quotes the physicist Percy Bridgman's definition of the scientific method: 'to use your noodle, and no holds barred.' For those who want to pursue a better understanding and appreciation of the world of science, its methods and results, there is no better place to start than this eminently readable work by the distinguished physicist, R. G. Newton. (Lucy Horwitz Boston Book Review)

[The Truth of Science] makes very interesting reading for its analysis of how science works. It also provides for the scientist particularly a useful introduction to relativist ideas. (B.D. Josephson Endeavour)

It is, of course, useful for scientists to be reminded that others often have very different views of science and that they should be prepared to talk to them. However, such discussions are often surprisingly difficult, and this book should help scientists to have a reasonable public debate...The author says that his book is intended for anyone with some scientific education...not for professional philosophers or sociologists of science. However, I think it would be useful for both groups. It would help the former to widen their horizons and provide the latter with some professional guidance in language that is not too technical...[One] philosopher who specializes in the history of quantum theory...intends to buy the book--and I hope others like her will do so too. (Douglas Morrison Physics World)

A welcome, unpretentious exposition of a physicist's view of how the process of science can lead to reliable results, fantastic as those results often seem to be...its level, length, and lucidity make it accessible to a broad readership that would find most current discussions of scientific epistemology to be tedious, murky, or otherwise unattractive. Newton gives a forthright, sensible response to the 'relativistic social constructionism' that has become remarkably pervasive and strident in many recent books dealing with 'science studies.' (Dudley R. Herschbach, Harvard University, 1986 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry)

Review

A welcome, unpretentious exposition of a physicist's view of how the process of science can lead to reliable results, fantastic as those results often seem to be...its level, length, and lucidity make it accessible to a broad readership that would find most current discussions of scientific epistemology to be tedious, murky, or otherwise unattractive. Newton gives a forthright, sensible response to the 'relativistic social constructionism' that has become remarkably pervasive and strident in many recent books dealing with 'science studies.' (Dudley R. Herschbach, Harvard University, 1986 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (May 31, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674001818
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674001817
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,570,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Irfan A. Alvi TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is essentially a book on the philosophy of science, using physics as the main example of a science, but with a few examples from chemistry, biology, and other sciences also thrown in here and there. It covers standard topics such as conventionalism and constructivism, explanation, observation and facts, models and theories, role of mathematics, causality, determinism and probability, physical scales, and truth and objectivity.

The author, Roger Newton, is himself a practicing physicist, and he has clearly also done his homework with respect to philosophy of science and philosophy in general.

Newton reveals himself to be a fairly mainstream defender of science. In the spirit of the "science wars," he acknowledges that those who criticize science on various grounds have some valid points, but he argues that the most vocal critics of science go overboard and thereby create a distorted and unbalanced picture of science which grossly neglects the virtues of science. He especially takes issue with "relativistic social constructivism" and argues against it throughout the book.

While Newton's arguments and overall position could be considered reasonable (though conservative), he does tend to present the arguments of his opponents in a somewhat weakened form, so readers are exposed to only a watered-down version of the debates. This makes the book somewhat bland and perhaps also a bit misleading for readers who are new to these questions.

Overall, I think this is decent book on the philosophy of science, presented from the viewpoint of an experienced scientist, with all the pros and cons that often entails.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard E. Noble VINE VOICE on September 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
The Truth of Science

By Roger G. Newton

Book Review

By Richard Edward Noble

This book is said to be designed for the general reader. I would say it is more accurately designed for the scientifically inclined - college level, junior or senior science majors. To say it is for the general reader would be a stretch.

In the first chapter the author states his goal and he comes on strong, using terms like "ignoramuses" and "pseudo-science" which may lead the reader to think he is in store for a rant. But this is hardy the case. This is a well organized and thought out book but nevertheless difficult for the general reader to understand fully because of the many technical scientific issues involved.

The author is concerned that the hard sciences like physics, math, biology etc. are losing their credibility via attacks from primarily right wing groups. Influences who want to smear the line between science and speculation or theory. The people in question are according to the author involved in an active campaign to diminish the importance of science for various reasons - some political, others religious. They are pushing creationism and anti-evolution theories on the religious side and anti-global warming notions on the political side.

The author tells of a group of sociologists who conducted a study observing physicists or biologist assiduously at work in their laboratory. The sociologist were not interested in the science but in the interaction of the scientists - studying the scientists as if they were a radical religious cult. The author compares this overall assault on science as nothing short of a return to the dark ages.
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