The Strange Case of the Spotted Mice and Other Classic Essays on Science

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Oxford University Press, 1996 - Science - 236 pages
Sir Peter Medawar was not only a Nobel prize-winning immunologist but also a wonderful writer about science and scientists. Described by the Washington Post as a "genuinely brilliant popularizer" of science, his essays are remarkable for their clarity and wit. This entertaining selection presents the very best of his writing with a new Foreword by Stephen Jay Gould, one of his greatest admirers.
The wide range of subjects include Howard Florey and penicillin, J. B.S. Haldane, whom he describes as a "with-knobs-on variant of us all," and, in the title essay, scientific fraud involving laboratory mice. There is Medawar's defence of James Watson against the storm of criticism that greeted the publication of The Double Helix. A merciless debunker of myths, he reveals the nonsense to be discovered in psychoanalytic interpretations of Darwin's illness and launches devastating attacks on Arthur Koestler, IQ psychologists, and, most notably, Teilhard de Chardin. He raises questions about the nature of scientific endeavour--he famously defined science as the art of the soluble--and a common theme is his desire to communicate the importance of science to the widest possible audience.

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User Review  - comixminx - LibraryThing

Blimey, that took longer than I thought it would - partly because, being composed of short articles, you need to digest each one separately and then decide when you feel like moving on to the next one ... Read full review

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User Review  - mbmackay - LibraryThing

Collection of short essays on science from a master practitioner. Read June 2007 Read full review


The Phenomenon of Man
Hypothesis and imagination
Is the scientific paper a fraud?
The Act of Creation
Darwins illness
Two conceptions of science
Science and the sanctity of life
Unnatural science
Florey story
In defence of doctors
Expectation and prediction
Scientific fraud
Son of stroke
The question of the existence of
On living a bit longer

Lucky Jim
On the effecting of all things possible
Further comments on psychoanalysis
The strange case of the spotted mice

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About the author (1996)

bout the Author: Sir Peter Medawar, OM, 1915-87, was born in Rio de Janeiro and educated at Magdelen College, Oxford. He began research in H. W. Florey's department at Oxford in the early days of the development of penicillin. After professorships at Birmingham and University College London, he became Director of the National Institute for Medical Research. His scientific reputation is based mainly on his research in immunology, which helped make transplant surgery possible. In 1960 he won the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work on tissue transplantation. Elected to the Royal Society at the age of 34, he was also a Fellow of the British Academy - a rare honour for a scientist. Sir Peter wrote a number of books for a general audience, including Pluto's Republic (1982), The Limits of Science (1985), and Aristotle to Zoos (1983, with Jean Medawar). A further collection of his essays, The Threat and the Glory (1990), was published after his death.

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