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

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3.80  ·  Rating details ·  45 ratings  ·  8 reviews
An argument that what makes science distinctive is its emphasis on evidence and scientists' willingness to change theories on the basis of new evidence.

Attacks on science have become commonplace. Claims that climate change isn't settled science, that evolution is "only a theory," and that scientists are conspiring to keep the truth about vaccines from the public are
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Hardcover, 296 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Mit Press
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Brian Clegg
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Like many with a science background, I generally struggle to take philosophy of science seriously - it can too inward-looking and generally more fond of using impenetrably big words than having any true meaning. However, Lee McIntyre manages to make his take on the scientific method and the demarcation between science and either non-science or pseudoscience (we'll come back to that split) genuinely interesting.

Most of us come across the idea of the scientific method - the approach taken by
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Mark Fallon
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I thought this book would be more "pop philosophy", but it's a serious philosophical treatise on science. It would be great to take a class with the author, because I still have so many questions.
Phi Beta Kappa Authors
Lee McIntyre
ΦBK, Wesleyan University, 1984
Author

From the publisher:

Attacks on science have become commonplace. Claims that climate change isn't settled science, that evolution is "only a theory," and that scientists are conspiring to keep the truth about vaccines from the public are staples of some politicians' rhetorical repertoire. Defenders of science often point to its discoveries (penicillin! relativity!) without explaining exactly why scientific claims are superior. In this book, Lee
...more
Isaac
Oct 04, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was good, but not quite what I had hoped and I am having a difficult time putting my finger on why. I like when McIntyre talks science philosophy, I enjoyed all the Popper and Kuhn the problems of induction and demarcation. I even think his prescription of a more flexible scientific "attitude" instead of a method is interesting and makes sense, but he spends a good part of the book mapping that attitude (or a lack of it) onto fields and researchers but many fo the examples just didn't ...more
Groucho42
Jul 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
Page 50: "It might shock those outside the philosophy of probability and statistics..." is a great example of why this book is so terrible. He might have meant that there are philosophies surrounding the use of statistics, and just be ignorant of English, or he might be so wrapped up in his own education that he thinks mathematics is a philosophy. Either way, his opinion doesn't matter.

People who study philosophy too often think everything is relative and that everything is as fuzzy as their
...more
Pauline
Nov 19, 2019 rated it liked it
A good book explaining that the essence of science is using evidence to come to an understanding of things, and willing to change one's mind based on new evidence, with some interesting examples of when it has worked to correct misunderstandings and where people have sometimes gone wrong, though he shows in those cases how it is eventually corrected. I would have liked more examples, discussed in more detail, particularly in the chapter on pseudoscience, and it did not seem that he really was ...more
Dylan Borgman
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
I had high hopes that this book would be engaging but after four chapters I gave up.

I found it via an article this author wrote for the New York Times about climate change deniers and flat earthers. In the article he described having a dialogue with these people and the strategies he used to advocate for science. I hoped this book would be more of the same, but it was not.

What I got instead was more like a book of philosophical logic. I can’t speak for the entire book but at least the first
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Beau Brownlee
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a powerful, philosophical defense of science and its position as 'special' above other ways of knowing. McIntyre is ruthless in his openness and honesty in the mistakes practitioners have made and how these mistakes and their subsequent error corrections only serve to increase the credibility of science and give further justifiable warrant for belief. He demonstrates how the scientific attitude differs from pseudo-science such as 'intelligent design' or alchemy and the fatal mistakes they ...more
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I am a philosopher and my goal is to write books that engage our minds and connect with issues that we all care about. In my non-fiction, I am particularly interested in defending science against all forms of science denial and post-truth. In my fiction, I seek to raise moral questions that push us to the limit of what we would do to protect the people we love. It gets me excited when I reach an ...more