To Know a Fly

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Pickle Partners Publishing, Jun 28, 2017 - Nature - 81 pages
First published in 1962, this book by esteemed American physiologist and entomologist Vincent Dethier provides an array of helpful examples of how ingeniously controlled experiments are designed and used. Other processes of scientific inquiry are also explained, such as observation, correlation, cause and effect, gathering and interpreting data, hypothesizing, and theory building.

Recommended to scientists of all ages!

“...This is a superb natural history book and is highly recommended for anyone twelve or older.”—Scientific American

“The author never ‘talks down’ to his readers but preserves such delightful and sparkling informal style throughout that we tend to overlook the professional skill with which he attacks his problems, the beauty of the experiments he describes. The book is such pleasant reading that we may not realize that this all represents biological research of a very high order. Among the many excellent features we may note the author’s commentaries on scientific method, which are extremely acute, informative, and provocative.”—Journal of the American Medical Association

“Highly recommended enrichment reading for biology teachers and secondary students in general science or biology.—The Science Teacher

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User Review  - Arseny - LibraryThing

Great book, and it reads surprisingly well. The only sign of age really is the use of pronouns (the scientist is always "he", even despite the fact that female science students are mentioned several ... Read full review

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User Review  - juglicerr - LibraryThing

I thought that this book was hysterical. It is not the book for people wanted all the scientific facts about flies, although it does have some interesting tidbits along the way. Instead, it cheerfully ... Read full review

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About the author (2017)

Vincent Gaston Dethier (20 February 1915 - 8 September 1993) was an award-winning American physiologist and entomologist. Considered a leading expert in his field, he was a pioneer in the study of insect-plant interactions and wrote over 170 academic papers and 15 science books. He also wrote natural history books for non-specialists, as well as short stories, essays and children’s books.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, one of the four children of Jean Vincent and Marguerite (Lally) Dethier, he received his undergraduate degree and PhD from Harvard University. His first post-doctoral position was as a biology instructor at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio where he taught from 1939-1941.

He joined the Army Air Corps during WWII, serving part of his time in Africa and Middle East. He wrote his first book, Chemical Insect Attractants and Repellents, in the bomb bay of a B-25. He worked in the Army Chemical Corps as a research physiologist until 1946, and at the Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland in a long series of experiments analyzing the effects of chemicals on the chemosensors of flies.

At war end, he taught at Johns Hopkins University from 1947-1958. He was a professor of zoology and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania from 1958-1967 and then held the Class of 1977 Chair as Professor of Biology at Princeton University.

From 1975 until his death in 1993, he was the Gilbert L. Woodside Professor of Zoology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he was the founding director of its Neuroscience and Behavior Program and chaired the Chancellor’s Commission on Civility.

He was a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society and the recipient of the Entomological Society of America’s 1967 Founders’ Memorial Award, as well as the John Burroughs Medal in 1993 for distinguished nature writing.

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