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Shows that many of the greatest heroes of science were less than totally honest about their experimental data and not above using friends in high places to help get their ideas accepted. Their celebrity often obscures vital contributions made, their unsung contemporaries and the merits of ideas they overturned. These distortions of the historical record mostly arise from our tendency to read the present back to the past.
List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; Introduction: what is history for?; PART 1: RIGHT FOR THE WRONG REASONS; 1. The pasteurization of spontaneous generation; 2. 'The battle over the electron'; 3. The eclipse of Isaac Newton: Arthur Eddington's 'proof' of general relativity; 4. Very unscientific management; 5. The Hawthorne studies: finding what you are looking for; Conclusion to Part 1: sins against science?; PART 2: TELLING SCIENCE AS IT WAS; 6. Myth in the time of cholera; 7. 'The priest who held the key': Gregor Mendel and the ratios of fact and fiction; 8. Was Joseph Lister Mr Clean?; 9. The Origin of Species by means of use-inheritance; 10. 'A is for ape, B is for Bible': science, religion, and melodrama; 11. Painting yourself into a corner: Charles Best and the discovery of insulin; 12. Alexander Fleming's dirty dishes; 13. 'A decoy of Satan'; Conclusion to Part 2: sins against history?; Notes on sources; Index