Customer Review

27 of 38 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An Epistomological Rabbit-Hole, October 3, 2012
This review is from: The Half-life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date (Hardcover)
Author Arbesman is an expert on the topic, and I picked up the book expecting to read a credible summary of how fast knowledge is increasing and changing. Instead, some generalities (eg. smoking has gone from doctor recommended to deadly, we used to think the Earth was the center of the universe), followed by data on the pace of new information in a few areas that seems suspect to me. Specifically, that major contributions to medicine and hygiene double in 87 years - that doesn't seem right considering the fact that medical experts assert that one-third of medical treatment is given w/o evidence of efficacy, the anticipated contributions of DNA research, automated drug research, and the promise of government-sponsorship under ObamaCare to greatly expand clinical research. As for chemistry, the author reports a much shorter doubling time - 35 years, and 32 years for genetics. Arbesman then expounds a bit on Moore's Law, adding comparative data on the progress in digital cameras, Internet speed, etc.

Overall - too many of the 'knowledge changes' Arbesman referred to are obvious and of little import. Examples would include new population figures, counts of new planets discovered, etc. Basically - academic trivia.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 19, 2012 1:28:43 PM PDT
M. Bast says:
One of the few Amazon reviews I've seen lately that actually addresses the book and gives useful info. Thank you.

Posted on Oct 23, 2012 11:31:01 AM PDT
Peregrino says:
What the first note said and appreciating the measured character of your review. It might have been easy to launch into a longer but less useful critique. Thanks.
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Location: Phoenix, AZ.

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