Science Gap: Dispelling the Myths and Understanding the Reality of Science

The Science Gap: Dispelling the Myths and Understanding the Reality of Science
by Milton A. Rothman

Prometheus Books
YA-T, GA **


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The subtitle of Rothman's book describes the content of this extraordinary volume. The author, a professor of physics and a research physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, is in an excellent position, at the frontier of science and engineering, to speak with great authority. This work is directed to the educated lay reader. It has no equations and no technical language; yet so clear is the exposition, that both the novice and the self-styled expert can benefit from its demolition of the widespread fallacies concerning both the physical universe and the community of scientists who observe, explore, and explain it. In the terminology of the trade, Rothman is a "critical realist." He defends this position with relentless logic. For a generation that has grown up with Star Trek, an immense library of science fiction, and media that entertain rather than educate, this book will be harsh but desperately needed therapy. The myths demolished range from such old chestnuts about perpetual motion machines to more contemporary mythologies concerning the way scientists reach communal certainty. Those who believe in UFOs, ghosts, telepathy, and other arcana of the Twilight Zone will find no comfort here. Of immediate contemporary significance is the author's careful analysis of the cold fusion hoopla. The National Science Foundation would be well advised to put a copy of this book in every high school and college.

--Reviewed by Robert G. Colodny in Science Books and Films, 28/5 (June/July 1992), p. 140.