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Reliable Knowledge: An Exploration of the Grounds for Belief in Science (Canto original series) Hardcover – January 31, 1979

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'He is one of the cleverest and most urbane liberal scientists writing about science today.' The Guardian

Book Description

A challenging investigation of the reliability of scientific knowledge results in a revealing exploration of worldly perception--and surprising connections between scientific methods and everyday understanding.
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Product Details

  • Series: Canto original series
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (January 31, 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521220874
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521220873
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,739,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Crisp, concise and to the point, clearly and ably written, and extremely informative. I wish I'd discovered it much earlier. If you want to understand when, why and how science works best, the discussion in this remarkably timeless book is the place to start.
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Format: Paperback
Just as Will Durant says Epistemology "ruined" the beauty of philosophy, splitting hairs on decidability theories, correct vs. complete, big O (as in my field), and many other recent nits and minuscule details in method can lead us to forget the breathtaking range, big picture, and deeply metaphoric roots of the scientific method (yes, and even beauty!). If I could pick one book that would leave both atheists/selectionists and intelligent design advocates breathless, this is it!

In his equally magnificent book on the "underbelly" of the historic process (The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past), John Lewis Gaddis says: "The best introduction I know to the scientific method, (op cit Ziman), points out that scientific insights often arise from such realizations as 'the behavior of an electron in an atom is 'like' the vibration of air in a spherical container, or that the random configuration of the long chain of atoms in a polymer molecule is 'like" the motion of a drunkard across a village green..." (Ziman, p. 21).

Gaddis goes on to say that Ziman uniquely captures the often missed intersection of scientific method with the metaphorical tools of the human mind. Things like hierarchical recursion, odds vs. utility functions and other unexpected bonuses keep popping up in what could have been a dry discussion of method, here elevated to include the poetry of discovery, invention and creativity. This book will make you a smarter, better person, and each page contains nuggets and "essences" of method that have guided researchers for years, but are hardly ever taught due to the "little picture" requirements of technology education today.
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