Fabulous Science: Fact and Fiction in the History of Scientific Discovery

Paperback | April 23, 2004

byJohn Waller

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The great biologist Louis Pasteur suppressed 'awkward' data because it didn't support the case he was making. John Snow, the 'first epidemiologist' was doing nothing others had not done before. Gregor Mendel, the supposed 'founder of genetics' never grasped the fundamental principles of'Mendelian' genetics. Joseph Lister's famously clean hospital wards were actually notorious dirty. And Einstein's general relativity was only 'confirmed' in 1919 because an eminent British scientist cooked his figures. These are just some of the revelations explored in this book. Drawing on current history of science scholarship, Fabulous Science shows that many of our greatest heroes of science were less than honest about their experimental data and not above using friends in high places to help get their ideas accepted. It also reveals that the alleged revolutionaries ofthe history of science were often nothing of the sort. Prodigiously able they may have been, but the epithet of the 'man before his time' usually obscures vital contributions made their unsung contemporaries and the intrinsic merits of ideas they overturned. These distortions of the historicalrecord mostly arise from our tendency to read the present back into the past. But in many cases, scientists owe their immortality to a combination of astonishing effrontery and their skills as self-promoters.

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The great biologist Louis Pasteur suppressed 'awkward' data because it didn't support the case he was making. John Snow, the 'first epidemiologist' was doing nothing others had not done before. Gregor Mendel, the supposed 'founder of genetics' never grasped the fundamental principles of'Mendelian' genetics. Joseph Lister's famously cle...

John C. Waller was born in England in 1972. He gained a 'double first' in Modern History at the University of Oxford and went on to take Masters degrees in Human Biology and the History of Science and Medicine. He completed his Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science at University College London in 2001. He is now a Lecturer in...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 7.72 × 5.08 × 0.68 inPublished:April 23, 2004Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198609396

ISBN - 13:9780198609391

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Table of Contents

List of illustrationsAcknowledgementsIntroduction: what is history for?Part 1: Right for the wrong reasons1. The pasteurization of spontaneous generation2. 'The battle over the electron'3. The eclipse of Isaac Newton: Arthur Eddington's 'proof' of general relativity4. Very unscientific management5. The Hawthorne studies: finding what you are looking forConclusion to Part 1: sins against science?Part 2: Telling science as it was6. Myth in the time of cholera7. 'The priest who held the key': Gregor Mendel and the ratios of fact and fiction8. Was Joseph Lister Mr Clean?9. The Origin of Species by means of use-inheritance10. 'A is for ape, B is for Bible': science, religion, and melodrama11. Painting yourself into a corner: Charles Best and the discovery of insulin12. Alexander Fleming's dirty dishes13. 'A decoy of Satan'Conclusion to Part 2: sins against history?Notes on sourcesIndex

Editorial Reviews

`Waller tells these stories well ... [his] examples are a valuable look sideways at the rolling juggernaut of modern science.'Martin Ince, New Scientist