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Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Alice Bell
The Independent
Sam Santosh
Popular Science

Michael Brooks

Free radicals

Science is often seen as a pure search for truth in which scientists argue using logic alone, staying away from personal and political battles. Michael Brooks sees things rather differently, in Free radicals: the secret anarchy of science he argues that scientist will use all sorts of tricks to promote their ideas.

Brooks shows that supressing data which disagrees with your ideas is far more common than you might think - even Einstein went in for it. And the word 'Prion' - does it indicate a discovery of a new way diseases can be transmitted, or can its meaning be changed to reflect later discoveries? The book also describes the lengths that those in authority will go to in order to hold on to their power.

To start with I wasn't very comfortable with the direction the book was taking. Brooks seemed to be following Feyerabend's 'Anything goes', implying that it was all pretty much a sham. In fact that isn't the path the book takes, Brooks is very much in favour of science and want more scientists to be 'free radicals'. This book is really about the uneasy relationship of scientists with authority structures, and looked at in that light it is well worth reading. info
Paperback 288 pages  
ISBN: 1846684056
Salesrank: 4219019
Published: 2011 Profile Books
Amazon price $22.26
Marketplace:New from $4.49:Used from $1.73
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Paperback 320 pages  
ISBN: 1846684056
Salesrank: 896319
Weight:0.88 lbs
Published: 2011 Profile Books
Marketplace:New from £0.45:Used from £0.01
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ISBN: 1846684056
Salesrank: 2934603
Weight:0.88 lbs
Published: 2011 Profile Books
Amazon price CDN$ 28.90
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 27.40:Used from CDN$ 1.74
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Product Description
This is a bold expose of science's mavericks. For more than a century, science has cultivated a sober public image for itself. But as bestselling author Michael Brooks explains, the truth is very different: many of our most successful scientists have more in common with libertines than librarians. This thrilling exploration of some of the greatest breakthroughs in science reveals the extreme lengths some scientists go to in order to make their theories public. Fraud, suppressing evidence and unethical or reckless PR games are sometimes necessary to bring the best and most brilliant discoveries to the world's attention. Inspiration can come from the most unorthodox of places, and Brooks introduces us to Nobel laureates who get their ideas through drugs, dreams and hallucinations. Science is a highly competitive and ruthless discipline, and only its most determined and passionate practitioners make headlines - and history. To succeed, knowledge must be pursued by any means: in science, anything goes.