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Science and Sensibility: The Elegant Logic of the Universe Hardcover – July 30, 2004
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
"...very satisfying and imformative." -- Bookviews.com, December 2004
From the Inside Flap
The vast information explosion that science has produced continues to barrage us daily with both the trivial and the profound. How should we cope with this massive influx of new ideas about science and related areas? Though the public seems eager if not infatuated with acquiring more and more information, few understand how to make use of or how to integrate it to create a coherent worldview. Paradoxically, as the amount of information increases, knowledge-the result of our brains selecting and processing information to form an intelligible view of the world-has declined.
SCIENCE AND SENSIBILITY is exquisitely designed to provide a thorough grounding in the methods of science, stressing the importance of arriving at rational conclusions by carefully considering and evaluating the evidence available. Acclaimed science writer and chemistry professor Keith J. Laidler begins by reviewing the major contributions of the different branches of science-including biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, and geology-and showing how, together, the research conducted in these areas leads to a unified conception of our place in the universe. He asserts that by dispelling the air of mystery that pervades the public's perception of science, we can more fully appreciate the beauty of the universe. Although much still remains to be discovered. Laidler stresses that evidence from every scientific field supports an elegantly logical and internally consistent picture of the formation and development of the universe and of life within it.
Dr. Laidler also explores the relationship between science and culture. Focusing on such topics as the nature-nurture debate, the importance of chance in everyday events, and the relationship between religion and science, he demonstrates how many of the important lessons learned from a study of science apply to many issues and situations faced by society. He points out that the scientific method of reaching the truth is used by judges in courts of law and by scholars in a wide variety of academic fields in the humanities and elsewhere, as well as by scientists. By learning to weigh relevant evidence in an unbiased fashion, we can objectively judge the enormous glut of information that surrounds us, integrate the useful portions into a scientific understanding, and still retain our sense of wonder.
This elegantly written and lucid explanation of science, both historically and in contemporary life, will not only spark interest in the wonders of many fascinating scientific disciplines but will stimulate readers to think more critically.
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There are more complete discussions about science for the non-scientist than within this slender volume but the focus on how we know things is of special value. He is probably lecturing to the choir and those who need to read the book are not likely to stay with it!