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The Undergrowth of Science By Walter Gratzer

The Undergrowth of Science
by Walter Gratzer

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The themes in the stories related in this work are collective delusion and human folly. Science is generally seen as a process bound by rigorous rules, which its practitioners must not transgress. Walter Gratzer explores the spread of scientific gossip which can result in mass hysteria.
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The Undergrowth of Science Summary


The Undergrowth of Science: Delusion, Self-deception and Human Frailty by Walter Gratzer

Walter Gratzer's themes in the stories he relates in this book are collective delusion and human folly. Science is generally seen as a process bound by rigorous rules, which its practitioners must not transgress. Deliberate fraud occasionally intrudes, but it is soon detected, the perpetrators cast out and the course of discovery barely disturbed. Far more interesting are the outbreaks of self-delusion that from time to time afflict upright and competent researchers, and then spread like an epidemic or mass-hysteria through a sober and respectable scientific community. When this happens the rules by which scientists normally govern their working lives are suddenly suspended. Sometimes these episodes are provoked by personal vanity, an unwillingness to acknowledge error or even contemplate the possibility that a hard-won success is a will o' the wisp; at other times they stem from loyalty to a respected and trusted guru, or even from patriotic pride; and, worst of all, they may be a consequence of a political ideology which imposes its own interpretation on scientists' observations of the natural world. Unreason and credulity supervene, illusory phenomena are described and measured, and theories are developed to explain them - until suddenly, often for no single reason, the bubble bursts, leaving behind it a residue of acrimony, recrimination, embarrassment, and ruined reputations. Here, then, are radiations, measured with high precision yet existing only in the minds of those who observed them; the Russian water, which some thought might congeal the oceans; phantom diseases that called for heroic surgery; monkey testis implants that restored the sexual powers of ageing roues and of tired sheep; truths about genetics and about the nature of matter, perceptible only to Aryan scientists in the Third Reich or Marxist ideologues in the Soviet Union; and much more. The Undergrowth of Science explores, in terms accessible to the lay reader, the history of such episodes, up to our own time, in all their absurdity, tragedy, and pathos.

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Table of Contents


INTRODUCTION. CHAPTER 1: BLONDLOT AND THE N-RAYS. CHAPTER 2: PARADIGMS ENOW: SOME MIRAGES OF BIOLOGY; GURWITSCH AND HIS MITOGENIC RADIATION; THE CURSE OF THE DEATH-RAY; ABDERHALDEN AND THE PROTECTIVE ENZYMES; THE CASE OF THE AMOROUS TOAD; MEMORY TRANSFER, OR EAT YOUR MATHEMATICS. CHAPTER 3: ABERRATIONS OF PHYSICS: IRVING LANGMUIR INVESTIGATES; CAPTURING ELECTRONS; ALLISON'S MAGNETO-OPTICAL EFFECT; LANGMUIR'S RULES. CHAPTER 4: NOR ANY DROP TO DRINK: THE TALE OF POLYWATER. CHAPTER 5: THE WILDER SHORES OF CREDULITY. CHAPTER 6: ENERGY UNLIMITED. CHAPTER 7: WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED. CHAPTER 8: SCIENCE, CHAUVINISM, AND BIGOTRY. CHAPTER 9: A CLIMATE OF FEAR; THE TRAGEDY OF SOVIET GENETICS; THE SPREAD OF THE CONTAGION; SOVIET PHYSICS: IDEALISM, PRAGMATISM AND THE BOMB; IS THERE A MARXIST CHEMISTRY? CHAPTER 10: SCIENCE IN THE THIRD REICH: BIGOTRY, RACISM AND EXTINCTION; THE ROOTS OF FASCIST BIOLOGY; THE AHNENERBE: HIMMLER THE INTELLECTUAL; ; DIE DEUTSCHE PHYSIK, ITS FRIENDS AND ENEMIES, A DEUTSCHE CHEMIE, ANTI-SEMITISM AND MATHEMATICS, THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE NAZI INCURSION INTO SCIENCE. CHAPTER 11 NATURE NURTURED: THE RISE AND FALL OF EUGENICS, THE BIRTH OF EUGENICS, EUGENICS AND POLITICS IN EUROPE AND AMERICA, EUGENICS IN THE THIRD REICH, EUGENIC NEMESIS IN THE SOVIET UNION, THE RISE AND FALL OF EUGENICS: A PATHOLOGICAL SCIENCE

Additional information

GOR001165532
The Undergrowth of Science: Delusion, Self-deception and Human Frailty by Walter Gratzer
Walter Gratzer
Used - Very Good
Paperback
Oxford University Press
2001-09-13
340
0198604351
9780198604358
N/A
Book picture is for illustrative purposes only, actual binding, cover or edition may vary.
This is a used book - there is no escaping the fact it has been read by someone else and it will show signs of wear and previous use. Overall we expect it to be in very good condition, but if you are not entirely satisfied please get in touch with us.