- Hardcover: 208 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 23, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0199828075
- ISBN-13: 978-0199828074
- Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 1 x 5.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 76 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ignorance: How It Drives Science 1st Edition
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"Firestein, a popular professor of neurobiology at Columbia...describes clearly how scientists continually uncover new facts that confront them with the extent of their ignorance, and how they successfully grapple with uncertainty in their daily research work. With ample examples from neuroscience he describes the limits of what we currently know, what the uncertainties are, and why they arise especially in the study of complex systems like the brain, the olfactory system, human vision, climate change, and earthquakes." --The New York Review of Books
"[A] sparkling and innovative look at ignorance . . . We should remember that when a sphere becomes bigger, the surface area grows. Thus, as the sphere of scientific knowledge increases, so does the surface area of the unknown. Firestein's book reminds us that it is at this interface that we can claim true and objective progress."
--MIchael Shermer for Nature
"Firestein challenges our culture's pat view of science as a simple process of placing one brick of knowledge on top of another in a simple progression toward greater knowledge."
"[I]t's the latter - the unanswered questions - that makes science, and life, interesting. That's the eloquently argued case at the heart of Ignorance: How It Drives Science, in which Stuart Firestein sets out to debunk the popular idea that knowledge follows ignorance, demonstrating instead that it's the other way around and, in the process, laying out a powerful manifesto for getting the public engaged with science - a public to whom, as Neil deGrasse Tyson recently reminded Senate, the government is accountable in making the very decisions that shape the course of science."
"Ignorance, it turns out, is really quite profound, and this is a good introduction to the subject." --Library Journal
"Stuart Firestein's Ignorance offers a pithier and more nuanced look at the fallibility of science." --Slate
Chosen by New Scientist's Culture Lab as one of the Ten Books to look out for in 2012
"This is a fascinating little book . . . it's Ignorance: How It Drives Science by Stuart Firestein, and it will blow your mind as we used to say back in the '60s..."
--Ira Flatow, NPR's Science Friday
"An excellent read, Ignorance would be a fine companion text for potential scientists at the beginning of their studies. The book reminds us that although we are repeatedly given the impression our world contains an endless amount of knowledge, most of that is inaccessible to us, and it is the absence of knowledge that should concern us. Firestein's short account may even make you embrace your ignorance, wearing it like a badge of
honor." -- Science
"[A] short, highly entertaining book aimed at nonscientists and students who want to be scientists. The book comes at an important time. Today's most vociferous scientific controversies turn on different interpretations of facts - about climate change, about contraception, about evolution. When politics are injected, the shouting grows louder, the thinking muddier. Uncertainty is a dirty word. Dr. Firestein, by contrast, celebrates a tolerance for uncertainty, the pleasures of scientific mystery and the cultivation of doubt. If more people embraced the seductive appeal of uncertainty, he says, it might take some acrimony out of our public debates." --Sandra Blakeslee, New York Times
"[I]ntelligent and entertaining." --Wall Street Journal
"Firestein's ideas about how science works will strike most scientists as obvious. But his examples are interesting enough to keep those already committed to his thesis turning the pages, and for the non-scientist he offers a valuable counterbalance to know-it-all scientists and the portrayal of science by the media." --Books & Culture
"This is a lovely little book, which is truly about what drives science; and it's not about physics, or chemistry, or engineering, but real biology." --The Biologist
About the Author
Stuart Firestein is Professor and Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University, where his highly popular course on ignorance invites working scientists to come talk to students each week about what they don't know. Dedicated to promoting science to a public audience, he serves as an advisor for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's program for the Public Understanding of Science and was awarded the 2011 Lenfest Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award for excellence in scholarship and teaching. Also, he was recently named an AAAS Fellow.
Top customer reviews
I loved that the book was short and pithy--Dr. Firestein took the time to write the short letter, and to collapse the arguments and stories down to their essence. He illustrates the fascination of science, its challenge, its compulsion, and its joy in a way no other book I have ever seen comes close.
I've been a scientist for 30 years, and this book says things I've known and understood for most of that career, but says it in a way that is fresh and novel. Even for me, its a rejuvenating reminder of why I went into science. A useful reminder when most of the day can get caught up in meetings and business instead of 'real' science.
J. Ibeh Agbanyim, author of 3 books, The Power of Engagement, Fear, and The Five Principles of Collaboration.
Firestein's writing is accessible to lay readers with an interest in the sciences. His prose is clear and easy to understand, and his ideas flow nicely from chapter to chapter. There are chapters in the middle which feel a bit redundant - perhaps an effort to reach a publisher's desired word/page count. The book is quite slim, and fast readers will blaze through it. The book would have benefited from the addition of more case studies interspersed through the chapters of ideas in a cyclical theory-evidence structure.
Ultimately, Firestein's "Ignorance" makes some excellent points about science and how new discovers can and should be made. A very good, if quick, read.
The problem is, somehow ignorance acquired a "bad rep" and that's precisely the misconception that Stuart Firestein addresses in this book: if you want to succeed, you need to embrace ignorance - that's how science works! In fact, it's not just science: that's how new products are developed, companies are built, and all new discoveries are made. In short, ignorance drives progress!
Fantastic book and I wish that every university and school taught this to every student... Instead of focusing all of our efforts on rote memorization and standardized tests.
Most recent customer reviews
AS soon as you start reading, you notce haw the questions are more important than answers.