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Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Peter T. Landsberg
David Ludden

Moti Ben-Ari

Just a theory

When someone criticises part of science for being 'Just a theory' you know that that person really has very little idea what scientists really do. In Just a theory : exploring the nature of science Moti Ben-Ari takes a look at such misunderstandings, and more generally at the way science works. There's a chapter on the way scientists use words and how the this may conflict with everyday usage. Ben-Ari also discusses the philosophy of science, such as Popper's falsificationism, whether Kuhn's paradigms are an accurate description of what goes on, and what distinguishes real science from pseudoscience.

Ben-Ari examines the ideas from the sociology of science, and at how these all too easily descend into the nonsense of postmodernism. There is then a look at the relationship between religion and science followed by a chapter on the nature of reductionism. The last few chapters are a bit less argumentative, dealing with statistics, how logic and mathematics are used in science and a chapter on the Wegener's ideas on continental drift, and how they were originally laughed at. The final chapter is about the future of science - Ben-Ari predicts there won't be any more scientific revolutions, which seems a bit tame for my liking. Overall the book is clearly written and easy to read, and just what you need if you want to argue with the muddled ideas about science which some people have.

Product Description
Some people claim that evolution is "just a theory". Do you know what a scientific theory really is? Just a theory is an overview of the modern concepts of science. A clear understanding of the nature of science will enable you to distinguish science from pseudoscience (which illegitimately wraps itself in the mantle of science), and real social issues in science from the caricatures portrayed in postmodernist critiques.

Prof. Ben-Ari’s style is light (even humorous) and easy to read, bringing the latest concepts of science to the general reader. Of particular interest is his analysis of the terminology of science (fact, law, proof, theory) in relation to the colloquial meaning of these terms.

Between chapters are biographical vignettes of scientists — both familiar and unfamiliar — showing their common commitment to the enterprise of science, together with a diversity of backgrounds and personalities.

This accessible, informative, and comprehensive work will give lay readers a good grasp of real science.