Currently reading

Paul Hanley
A Month in the Country
Michael Holroyd, J.L. Carr
A Tale of the Dispossessed: A Novel
Laura Restrepo, Dolores M. Koch
Mesabi Pioneers
Jeffrey Smith, Russell Hill
The Crusades Through Arab Eyes
Jon Rothschild, Amin Maalouf
Island of a Thousand Mirrors
Nayomi Munaweera

Failure: Why Science Is so Successful

Failure: Why Science Is so Successful - Stuart Firestein Firestein makes the point that, while failure's essential role in science advancement is obvious to scientists, it is not known to the general public. So he's set out to remedy that. He makes a very good point. And then in the pursuit of a neat picture, he over-simplifies things here and there, but I can forgive him for that.

Firestein's previous book, on how ignorance drives science (title: Ignorance), was more directed at explaining science as a process to the general public. While that is his stated audience for this one as well, I felt that it would be much more useful for students of science, teachers, and practitioners of science. There's whole chapter on what's wrong with science funding these days, and while I found that great as a scientist, I can't imagine many members of the general public are going to get excited about it.

So here's my advice: read it. If the current chapter you're on doesn't thrill you, move on to the next. The chapters are independent of each other, sort of mini-essays, variations on the theme of failure in science. It is not an argument that builds cumulatively. I really like Firestein's approach to science and explaining it, and I'd recommend it to most people I know even remotely interested in science.

I got a free copy of this from Net Galley.