The Best Science Books

Posted on November 21, 2006  Comments (3)

An interesting post from John Dupuis discusses several lists of the best and worst science books. Some of the best books from the lists, based on importance, what strikes my mood right now, what I enjoyed… (those I list could easily change on another day):

Please share your favorite science books.

Related: our science and engineering book page2005 Science book gift suggestions (from the list above The Selfish Gene, Chaos, A Brief History of Time and The Mismeasure of Man are likely the best gifts for the widest audiences).

3 Responses to “The Best Science Books”

  1. Tom
    November 22nd, 2006 @ 7:36 am

    The Character of Physical Law, by Richard Feynman
    The Meaning of Quantum Theory, by Jim Baggott (most readable introduction to quantum physics that I’ve found)

  2. Ben
    December 12th, 2008 @ 12:53 am

    Regarding ‘The Mismeasure of Man’, it has to be one of Gould’s worst books? He sets out to discredit IQ testing. Unfortunately, in the public consciousness the book had a big impact, despite IQ testing continuing to be extremely effective in predicting academic performance, and also being associated with occupational and even health outcomes (see Dr Ian Drury’s recent work on this).

    While the nonscientific reviews of The Mismeasure of Man were almost uniformly laudatory, the reviews in the scientific journals were almost all highly critical (Davis, Bernard D. (1983). Neo-Lysenkoism, IQ, and the press. The Public Interest, 74, 41-59).

    – Gould also makes some misleading comments about the early performance of Jewish migrants on psychometric tests. Goddard never found that Jews as a group did poorly, and there is no evidence the tests were used in passing the 1924 Immigration Act (see, Franz Samelson (1975, 1982), Snyderman & Herrnstein 1983).

    – Gould overlooks identical twin studies.

    – Gould’s factor analysis is incorrect (also see John Carroll’s review Intelligence 21, 121-134 (1995), (also, Jensen Contemporary Education Review Summer 1982, Volume 1, Number 2, pp. 121- 135.) David J. Bartholomew, from London School of Economics, who has writtena textbook on factor analysis, also explains in “Measuring Intelligence: Facts and Fallacies” where Gould goes wrong in this area.

    -Gould states that Morton “doctored” his collection of results on cranial size, but J. S. Michael (1988) remeasured a random sample of the Morton collection he found that very few errors had been made, and that these were not in the direction that Gould had asserted.

    – The Army actually still uses IQ tests, and more generally, the tests have been shown to strongly predict academic performance.

    – Gould largely attacks old tests. Jensen responded to a large amount of Gould’s criticism in Contemporary Education Review
    Summer 1982, Volume 1, Number 2, pp. 121- 135.) I don’t think Gould ever replied.

    -He attacks Cyril Burt for fabricating his twin studies, but books since Gould’s first edition came out have vindicated Burt (Joynson (1988) and the other by Ronald Fletcher (1991). Further, twin studies since show average heritability from these studies of 75%, almost the same as Burts supposedly ‘faked’ heritability of 77%.

    The links to these papers are available on wikipedia.

  3. Curious Cat Science Blog » Beautiful Basics of Science
    December 12th, 2008 @ 3:48 pm

    Natalie Angier’s recent book, The Canon, is a great overview of the world of science…

Leave a Reply