The Scientific Attitude: Defending Science from Denial, Fraud, and Pseudoscience

Lee McIntyre. MIT, $27.95 (296p) ISBN 978-0-262-03983-3
McIntyre (Dark Ages), a Research Fellow at Boston University’s Center for Philosophy and History of Science, achieves his goal of laying out what makes science distinct from other intellectual pursuits in this accessible analysis. He begins by demolishing the widespread notion that following the scientific method is the distinguishing factor, noting acerbically that if “there is one thing that the majority of philosophers of science agree on, it is the idea that there is no such thing as ‘scientific method.’ ” Instead, McIntyre walks readers through various ways of thinking about the scientific endeavor, including Karl Popper’s falsification model, which postulates that science employs theories capable of being disproven. McIntyre’s counterintuitive answer is that it is the titular “attitude” that sets science apart from other disciplines, summarizing it as resting on two basic principles—a commitment to empirical evidence and a willingness to change one’s mind upon receiving new evidence. He concedes that defining and measuring this attitude is not easy, but should nonetheless appeal to many lay readers with his simple and commonsensical formulation. At a time of concern over assaults to scientific authority, McIntyre’s intelligent treatise articulates why the pursuit of scientific truths, even if inevitably flawed and subject to human error, matters. (May)
Reviewed on : 04/25/2019
Release date: 05/01/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-68457-180-2
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