Books  General Natural History  History of Science 

Science's First Mistake: Delusions in Pursuit of Theory

By: Ian Angell(Author), Dionysios S Demetis(Author)

A & C Black

Paperback | Sep 2012 | #200186 | ISBN-13: 9781780932330
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NHBS Price: £18.99 $25/€21 approx

About this book

Taking examples from across the natural and social sciences, this ambitious book examines the deep-seated assumptions that underpin the discovery of knowledge, and claims that all scientific methods are delusions in pursuit of theory. Using Systems Theory, in particular the concept of self-reference, the book argues that the process of observing tricks the human mind into developing a self-consistent description of itself; and a belief in the certainty of a causal 'reality'.

Our theories and ways of thinking about the world around us are, in fact, distinct from the 'reality' being observed. This fresh, audacious work makes an important contribution to the study of scientific method, and takes readers out of the comfort zone of their perceived scientific certainty.

"A very interesting and important book."
- Professor Guy Fitzgerald, Brunel University, UK

"Excellent and ground breaking. Very well written. Engaging. It is a much needed and original contribution, which will become a key reference in contemporary academic social sciences thinking."
- Professor Fernando Ilharco, Universidade Catolica Portuguesa, Lisbon

"The questions posed by the authors in their book are important. They are also a good reminder to constantly consider the dialectic between knowledge, authority, and its relationship with certainty."
- New York Journal of Books


List of Figures
Preface to the New in Paperback edition

1. Introduction
2. Divination and Theory Construction
3. Delusion
4. Individual Allusions Contra Sensory Overload
5. Patterns of Categorical Delusions
6. Tidy Minds, Technology, and the Myth of Control
7. Systems Theory
8. On the Premises of Observation
9. The Frame of Observation & the Functional Differentiation of Science
10. Higher Order Observations
11. Asymmetry and Self-Reference
12. Collapsing Systems
13. The 'Reality' of the Real

Epilogue: Science's First Mistake


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Ian O. Angell is Professor Emeritus at the London School of Economics. His many publications include The New Barbarian Manifesto: How to survive the information age. Dionysios S. Demetis is a Research Fellow and member of the Scientific Board of the Geolab Institute at the Ionian University in Corfu. He is the author of Technology and Anti-Money Laundering: A Systems Theory and Risk-Based Approach.

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