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Ignorance: How It Drives Science


Posted June 30, 2012 by Moran Cerf PhD

"Ignorance by Stuart Firestein"


n excellent read, Ignorance: How It Drives Science would be a fine companion text for potential scientists at the beginning of their studies.

The book reminds us that although we are repeatedly given the impression our world contains an endless amount of knowledge, most of that is inaccessible to us, and it is the absence of knowledge that should concern us.

Author Stuart Firestein’s short account may even make you embrace your ignorance, wearing it like a badge of honor. You may gradually become more and more ignorant as you read, and you will enjoy the journey. Ignorance in this telling is truly bliss.

Read the article, Known Unknowns by Moran Cerf in Science Magazine.

More Ignorance

How It Drives Science
by Stuart Firestein
Oxford University Press, New York, 2012. 207 pp. $21.95, £14.99. ISBN 9780199828074.

The reviewer, Moran Cerf, is at the Department of Neurosurgery, University of California, Los Angeles, and the Stern School of Business, New York University.

Authorized excerpt from previously published review by Moran Cerf: 15 JUNE 2012    VOL 336    SCIENCE    www.sciencemag.org Published by AAAS

Author Stuart Firestein, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University. Professor Firestein teaches biology and the popular “Ignorance,” a course that invites professors to speak to students about what they don’t know and what they question in their field. He was recently recognized for his “pioneering work” on the mammalian olfactory system and elected as fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Firestein’s lab focuses on understanding how mammals, equipped with what he describes as “possibly the best chemical detector on the planet,” are able to sense and discriminate a vast number of molecules known to us as odors. Dedicated to promoting the accessibility of science to a public audience, Firestein also serves as an advisor for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s program for the Public Understanding of Science.

Recently he was awarded the 2011 Lenfest Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award for excellence in scholarship and teaching. He has a forthcoming book on the workings of science for a general audience called Ignorance, to be published by Oxford University Press in the spring of 2012. His areas of research include Stem Cell Biology, Biophysics/Ion Channels; specialization — Molecular physiology of olfactory transduction.

Moran Cerf PhD



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