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Reliable Knowledge: An Exploration of the Grounds for Belief in Science (Canto original series) Paperback – 12 Jan 2008

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Product Description


'He is one of the cleverest and most urbane liberal scientists writing about science today.' The Guardian

Book Description

Reliable Knowledge offers at once a valuably clear account and a radically challenging investigation of the credibility of scientific knowledge, searching widely across a range of disciplines for evidence about the perceptions, paradigms and analogies on which all our understanding depends.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! 18 Dec. 2004
By 'probabilist - Published on
Format: Paperback
Crisp, concise and to the point, clearly and ably written, and extremely informative. I wish I'd discovered it much earlier. If you want to understand when, why and how science works best, the discussion in this remarkably timeless book is the place to start.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Key Undiscovered Gem in Scientific Methods 6 Aug. 2014
By Let's Compare Options Preptorial - Published on
Format: Paperback
Just as Will Durant says Epistemology "ruined" the beauty of philosophy, splitting hairs on decidability theories, correct vs. complete, big O (as in my field), and many other recent nits and minuscule details in method can lead us to forget the breathtaking range, big picture, and deeply metaphoric roots of the scientific method (yes, and even beauty!). If I could pick one book that would leave both atheists/selectionists and intelligent design advocates breathless, this is it!

In his equally magnificent book on the "underbelly" of the historic process (The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past), John Lewis Gaddis says: "The best introduction I know to the scientific method, (op cit Ziman), points out that scientific insights often arise from such realizations as 'the behavior of an electron in an atom is 'like' the vibration of air in a spherical container, or that the random configuration of the long chain of atoms in a polymer molecule is 'like" the motion of a drunkard across a village green..." (Ziman, p. 21).

Gaddis goes on to say that Ziman uniquely captures the often missed intersection of scientific method with the metaphorical tools of the human mind. Things like hierarchical recursion, odds vs. utility functions and other unexpected bonuses keep popping up in what could have been a dry discussion of method, here elevated to include the poetry of discovery, invention and creativity. This book will make you a smarter, better person, and each page contains nuggets and "essences" of method that have guided researchers for years, but are hardly ever taught due to the "little picture" requirements of technology education today. Fun, challenging, packed with insights, a true classic. Our goal on Amazon is to highlight undiscovered gems, and this work is in the highest reaches of that class. Highly recommended, including as a gift to that budding scientist in your life.

Frankly, reading Ziman would also contribute a LOT to the often dumbed down arguments of materialistic vs. creationist debates citing the scientific method (on both sides). Ignoring metaphysical and metaphorical (/qualia) elements in method, whether of neuro or spiritual etiology, causes losses and blind spots in both "camps," and Ziman is (often with a sparkle in his eye) nuanced enough to point out what we often miss or exclude in our adulation of methods that themselves are either rapidly evolving, or imbued with gifts and graces, depending on your frame of reference. Great read, you'll return to it often, and be better for it each trip.
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