The Sciences

Everyday Practice of Science


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The first book I'd like to highlight for Book Week is Frederick Grinnell's Everyday Practice of Science: Where Intuition and Passion Meet Objectivity and Logic. This one came out last year, but I didn't have a chance to read it until more recently. In short, it's a fantastic example of science written for broad audiences.

Grinnell describes how real life researchers bring their own interests and passions to their work. Through the discovery process, they try to learn new things about the world. Through the credibility process, they try to convince other scientists that what they have learned is correct. Diversity of interests and backgrounds amongst researchers enhances both discovery and credibility. Achieving success depends on intuition and commitment as well as on logic and objectivity. Grinnell scratches the surface of the anonymous and somewhat boring “scientific method” and shows readers the excitement, risk and adventure underneath.

Grinnell does a wonderful job of making science relevant to those outside of a so-called academic bubble who are interested to learn more about the process. He also provides a multidimensional view of who scientists are and what drives them. Not surprisingly, Everyday Practice of Science was chosen to receive the Royal Society Prize for Science Books. Also of interest to intersection readers, Grinnell eloquently closes with a piece on humility and the relationship between science and religion:

Given the global level of poverty, disease, and depletion of environmental resources, I worry that the scientific attitude conflates power with progress. Perhaps solving global problems will require scientific and religious attitudes--both types of faith--rather than one or the other.

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