We are in the midst of a culture war between science and religion. In this struggle science portrays itself as the white knight of enlightenment truth defending humanity against the dark forces of religious fundamentalism, ignorance and gullibility that threaten free thinking and progress. But is there really the fundamental difference between science and religion that the culture warriors like us to believe? This book takes the reader on an inside journey through science showing how scientific beliefs are made. It will show science as a human activity that is shaped by power struggles, personal interests, cultural prejudices, beliefs and values...and yes, experimental data as well.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
A Guide to Science Studies that Even Richard Dawkins Can Understand.
There is no scarcity of books that claim to reveal what science "really" is. Most of them have exactly one of two virtues: Either they are historically, philosophically or sociologically well-informed, or they show a profound knowledge of present-day cutting edge science from the scientific practitioners' view. In a remarkable accomplishment, scientist and philosopher Dominique Chu combines both: His book combines scholarly sophistication with up-to-date discussions about "hot topics" such as complex systems, systems biology, evidence-based health care, neuroscience and more. Written in a language that anybody above the age of 14 can understand, the book offers ample food for thought for everyone - for university students; science vs religion combatants; citizens thrilled or concerned by modern science and technology; and not the least scientists themselves. In particular, practising scientists will finally have a book that translates contemporary philosophical and sociological research on science, technology and society into messages that they can understand and relate to. I will not be surprised if "The Science Myth" finds its way into science curricula all the way from the high school level to the PhD.
~ Prof. Roger Strand, University of Bergen, Norway
This is an important and a special book, that I gave to my daughters to read and I would suggest as mandatory reading for college students.
The book is important because of the subject – the intoxication determined by the myth of scientific progress supposed to be capable of taking control over the evolution of humankind. This intoxication is becoming, in the third millennium, a quite dangerous new form of fundamentalism. The goal of this book is to expose it and “stop the insanity”. The chosen argument is that science is not about nature, but about idealizations of natural processes. It is certainly true that science has an immense power – it did incredible things for humankind - but it is also true that there are limitations to what science can do in human affairs. Thus it is essential to understand the proper role that science can and should play both in modern societies and in our personal life in order to avoid dangerous confusions.
The book is special because of the peculiar style chosen by the author: First, Dominique Chu effectively transmits his first-hand knowledge about science. His science is about getting dirty hands when crunching numbers; suffering in the lab with uncooperative experiments; creating, patching and defending either dubious or fantastic models; struggling for funds; battling with departments for more space. Second, the author has chosen to use a Buddhist-Zen approach: he does not patronize the reader by telling her what is important to know, neither does he use an academic style based on quotes and references to available literature to back-up his statements. All the evidence needed to back-up his statements is included in the text (like Ikea flat-pack furniture to be assembled by the user). Following this strategy he literally hand-leads the reader both in the shoes and in the lab of Galilei, Monod as well as in the moving head of the Turing Machine to see first-hand what happens there. These painstaking and careful descriptions have the goal of making the reader “feel” what the text is talking about, in order to get in the head of the reader the needed material on which to build, later on, his conclusions. Third, Dominique Chu has a writing style free from any prejudice, full of cynicism, fantasy, humour, and poetry, qualities always associated with deep thinking. For instance, he explains the concept of the inertial frame by adopting the perspective of the Baron of Munchhausen flying on cannon balls, the problem of regulation of operons in molecular biology by using the analogy with the struggle of a dictatorial regime to hamper information flows to and from the “resistance”, the discussion on the nature of consciousness using a gedankenexperiment about what actually happens to Captain Kirk in the transporter chamber aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise when activating the teleportation; and so on.
The book, though, is not an easy reading, especially if you are not familiar with the details of the various scientific issues illustrated and used as a piece of evidence. At times the amount of information to be processed may very well exceed the computational capability of the processor of many readers. However, this is not a major problem. It is not essential that the reader gets all the details about all the explanations found in the different chapters. What is important is that the explanations are there and that they, when combined together, do generate the needed emergent property, that is, the point the author wants to make in this book: science is not about nature, but it is about idealizations of natural processes. ~ Prof. Mario Giampietro – Research Professor, ICTA, Universitat Autonoma Barcelona.
A clever, stimulating and idiosyncratic book about science and not only. Dominique Chu's "The Science Myth" seems at the beginning an outreach book of which we have seen many. This first impression is deceptive; although it starts with a simple (but very competent) narrative about physics, biology and the new and emerging. ~ Silvio O. Funtowicz