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Scientific Feuds: From Galileo to the Human Genome Project Hardcover – 25 Aug 2010

3.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: New Holland Publishers Ltd (25 Aug. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847735142
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847735140
  • Product Dimensions: 20.7 x 2.2 x 27 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,509,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


It's nicely written, with timelines and full-colour artwork throughout -- BBC Focus magazine, August 2010

"This book is both enjoyable and informative"
--Chemistry World, December 2010

Customer Reviews

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Format: Hardcover
Scientific Feuds (From Galileo To The Human Genome Project) is a fairly large hardback book, coming in at 224 pages including glossary, index and acknowledgements. While the majority of science based books take the approach of just telling us the facts, Scientific Feuds takes a look behind the science at the conflicts between scientists and other notable persons and organisations. The book is split into four main chapters, each covering a particular scientific discipline, and then within in each of these chapters there are a varying number of `cases'. Among the topics discussed are the age of the earth, descent of man and the big bang theory, so aspects of both modern and older sciences are covered.

The language used in the book is reasonably accessible to the lay-person, but there are a few words that may need to be looked up (there is a handy glossary at the back). For me, personally, there were one or two that I had to think about and I like to think of myself as extremely well read. Disappointingly for a science based book that does use some high brow language there are a few glaringly obvious spelling mistakes, possibly not just the authors fault, but these should have been easily picked up on during the editorial stage. The actual format also makes reading through and assimilating facts from the various cases quite difficult. This is down to the text boxes inserted throughout the main text, these are often placed in positions that break the flow of the main story, leading to the reader being forced to jump backwards and forwards through the pages.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a very nice-looking book with beautiful illustrations and printed on quality paper.

At the same time it is not that interesting. While it presents many fascinating stories, they are all written like wikipedia articles. They are only facts, carefully narrated but without a trace of intrigue. Such writing style is fine for some books, but I certainly didn't expect a red book with boxing Galileo to be that bland.

Apart from that there is not even a place in the book where you would say: "Wow! I certainly was not expecting that!". Two stories about Freud are more interesting but still the book is not worth buying.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A lot of the topics are familiar - but it shows that you don't have to be to overwhelmed by whatever the current accepted scientific understanding is - give it a few years, decades or sometimes centuries and it's likely to have changed....
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 3.3 out of 5 stars 4 reviews
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More Coffee Table than serious scholarship 22 Oct. 2010
By Sam Sloss - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is not what I expected. Of the 200 pages, at least half the space is devoted to photos and graphics with minimal text. Essentially, this is a collection of twenty-six pissing matches between scientists. You get a few interesting factoids but no serious analysis. It will look nice on your coffee table.
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking look at the human element in scientific controversies 4 Jan. 2013
By E. Jaksetic - Published on
Format: Paperback
The ideal of dispassionate objectivity in scientific research exists in tension with the reality that scientific research is conducted by fallible human beings who exhibit a wide range of different personalities, emotions, and personal interests. This book provides a thought-provoking look at how the personalties, emotions, and personal interests of scientific researchers can threaten the ideal of dispassionate scientific research. The author discusses 26 disputes in the history of science to show how the ideal of dispassionate objectivity occasionally has been forgotten, ignored, or blatantly abandoned by some researchers determined to promote their theories, attack opposing theories, seek personal fame, or vilify opponents.

The book is too brief and episodic to provide a thorough or scholarly history of contentious scientific disputes. Furthermore, the author occasionally lapses into bare speculation and undocumented surmise about the motives and thought processes of some of the disputants he discusses. However, the book does provide an interesting perspective on the history of science.

Readers interested in other books about how personalities, emotions, and personal interests can affect the history of medicine, mathematics, and technology might consider also taking a look at Dana Mackenzie, The Universe in Zero Words: The Story of Mathematics as Told through Equations; F. Gonzalez-Crussi, A Short History of Medicine (Modern Library Chronicles); and Robert V. Bruce, Lincoln and the Tools of War. And, readers interested in how rhetoric and argumentation have played a role in the history of science might consider also taking a look at Jeanne Fahnestock, Rhetorical Figures in Science.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good light summer read 23 May 2011
By Donald E. Fulton - Published on
Format: Paperback
You can tell from the title and cover that this book does not take itself too seriously. Levy here has done a good job assembling a fun, light summer read. It's a big book, colorful with a lot of nice pictures, and its cheap! List is $14.95, but it can be had for around $10.

Nearly all of the 26 topics chosen are important, and at one time or another most of these disputes got a lot of press, so much of this material will be familiar to technical people, still I think almost everyone will find some interesting new material here. For example I knew nothing about the disputes Freud had had with Jung and Adler in the early 1900's, the subject of two of the articles. I was unaware that Montagnier and Gallo, who I remember battled over credit for discovering the HIV retrovirus, are now friends, but only Montagnier was included in the Nobel prize. Or polio vacine guys, Sabin and Salk, do you remember which used the killed virus and which the weakened? Levy has read up on these 26 cases and generally does a good job giving a pithy and even handed summary of the dispute in a few pages, and when helpful he includes a timeline.

The disputes are grouped into four categories:
1) Earth Sciences
2) Evolution and Palaeobiology
3) Biology and Medicine
4) Physics, Astronomy and Math

Most articles start with unlabeled picture/portrait of the disputants. I finally figured that a dispute titled A vs B has A's picture left and B's right. But sometimes there is still portrait uncertainty. For example the article on who invented fingerprints for criminal identification is titled Faulds vs Galston and Herschel. There are two portraits. The left I presume is Faulds, but who is the man on the right, Galston or Herschel?

I think this book should be three stars, but as the only other reviewer gave it two stars I am giving it four to raise the average to three.
4.0 out of 5 stars Scientific feuds - good value 14 Jun. 2012
By William P. Palmer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Review of `Scientific feuds from Galileo to the human genome project' by Joel Levy in 2010 published by New Holland Publishers of London.

Reviewed by Dr W. P. Palmer

"Scientific feuds from Galileo to the human genome project" is what might be called a coffee table book. Looking at the pricing is instructive as paperback editions are more expensive than the hardback edition, said to be available at $2.02 new or used. It is the hardback edition that is being reviewed here. I have some criticisms of the book, but it is certainly good value at this price. The book is 224 pages long, nicely printed, with twenty-six feuds and eight features considered in very short attractively illustrated articles. A feature is used here to mean a generalized theme, such as `fraud in science' and `science and politics', which add to the books general usefulness. My dictionary defines a feud as `lasting mutual hostility' and the feuds chosen all seem to fit this definition.

Most articles contain a diagrammatic timeline summarizing the times when various events took place and these are useful. The criticism must be the lack of depth, but there is a broad sweep of science covered worldwide from the fourteenth century to the present day. The purpose of the book is to interest a wider audience than just those already interested in science's fascinating history. I enjoyed the rival publication is "Great Feuds in Science" by Hal Hellman subtitled, "Ten of the liveliest disputes ever" (already reviewed by this reviewer), where article length averaged twenty pages, but this too was criticized by others as being insufficiently detailed. For those of us who want more depth about a particular dispute, perhaps about Newton, with three of his feuds given some prominence in this book, there are numerous options such as "Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton" by Richard S. Westfall, "Isaac Newton" by James Gleick, or "Isaac Newton" by Gale E. Christianson amongst many alternatives.

The hope and purpose of books like "Scientific feuds" is that it will interest some readers sufficiently to become motivated enough to tackle some of the deeper `history of science' literature. For value and presentation, this book is recommended.

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