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Scientific advances have transformed the world. However, science can sometimes get things wrong, and at times, disastrously so. Understanding the basis for scientific claims and judging how much confidence we should place in them is essential for individual choice, societal debates, and development of public policy and laws. We must ask: What is the basis of scientific claims? How much confidence should we put in them? What is defined as science and what is not? What Science Is and How It Really Works synthesizes a working definition of science and its properties, as explained through the eyes of a practicing scientist, by integrating advances from philosophy, psychology, history, sociology, and anthropology into a holistic view. Crucial in our political climate, the book fights the myths of science often portrayed to the public. Written for a general audience, it also enables students to better grasp methodologies and helps professional scientists to articulate what they do and why.
1 The Knowledge Problem, or What Can We Really “Know”?
2 Adding More Building Blocks of Human Reasoning to the Knowledge Problem
3 Holistic Coherence In Thinking, or Describing a System of How Humans Reason and Think
4 How Scientific Reasoning Differs From Other Reasoning
5 Natural Properties of a Rule-Governed World, or Why Scientists Study Certain Types of Things and Not Others
6 How Human Observation of The Natural World Can Differ From What the World Really Is
7 Detection of Patterns and Associations, or How Human Perceptions and Reasoning Complicate Understanding of Real-World Information
8 The Association of Ideas and Causes, or How Science Figures Out What Causes What
9 Remedies That Science Uses to Compensate For How Humans Tend to Make Errors
10 The Analysis Of A Phantom Apparition, or Has Science Really Been Studied Yet?
11 The Societal Factor, or How Social Dynamics Affect Science
12 A Holistic World of Scientific Entities, or Considering the Forest and the Trees Together
13 Putting it all Together to Describe “What Science is and How it Really Works”
James C. Zimring is Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Hematology at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Director of the BloodworksNW Research Institute, Seattle, WA, USA. The recipient of many awards for his research and teaching, James C. Zimring is recognized as an international expert in the field of transfusion biology and routinely delivers academic lectures both nationally and internationally. He has served on the board of directors of the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) and is an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI).
"We live in a world where the discoveries of well-done science are rapidly improving the lives of millions; but at the same time poorly done inquiry that fails to meet the foundational principles of science, even when carried out with all good intentions, can result in harmful false conclusions resulting in wasting of resources, bad results for individuals and bad public policy for nations. Dr Zimring has produced a marvelously cogent and eminently readable book that explains how to recognize good science and know when to question poor 'scientific' conclusions. Reading this book places scientists and non-scientists on the same playing field when discussing critical issues and making important decisions. I would feel much better going to the polls if every voter understood the lessons that Zimring effortlessly communicates."
– Brian R. Smith, Yale University, Connecticut
"The message of this extraordinary book is loud and clear: we need a better understanding of science. That it is written by a scientist – and aimed in part at a scientific audience – makes the message all the more credible [...] and urgent. Science may not be perfect, but it is the best hope we've got. Zimring has written an engaging and accessible book on the importance of digging beneath what we think we know about science."
– Lee McIntyre, Boston University and author of The Scientific Attitude: Defending Science from Denial, Fraud, and Pseudoscience