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Letters to a Young Scientist av Edward O.…
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Letters to a Young Scientist (urspr publ 2013; utgåvan 2013)

av Edward O. Wilson

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
318761,299 (3.92)6
Edward O. Wilson has distilled sixty years of teaching into a book for students, young and old. Reflecting on his coming-of-age in the South as a Boy Scout and a lover of ants and butterflies, Wilson threads these twenty-one letters, each richly illustrated, with autobiographical anecdotes that illuminate his career--both his successes and his failures--and his motivations for becoming a biologist. At a time in human history when our survival is more than ever linked to our understanding of science, Wilson insists that success in the sciences does not depend on mathematical skill, but rather a passion for finding a problem and solving it. From the collapse of stars to the exploration of rain forests and the oceans' depths, Wilson instills a love of the innate creativity of science and a respect for the human being's modest place in the planet's ecosystem in his readers.… (mer)
Medlem:jsholmes
Titel:Letters to a Young Scientist
Författare:Edward O. Wilson
Info:Liveright (2013), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 256 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
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Letters to a Young Scientist av Edward O. Wilson (2013)

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An interesting book - not least for those of us doing and communicating science.

Adding to it I have two long standing concerns:

1) There is an important distinction between science and scientists. The former (science) is a collective outcome of a process that broadly swims towards an improved understanding of some abstract and probably unattainable truth. It's knocked sideways from time to time by a big wave - but mostly and soon the process of science puts it back on a more reasoned course.

Periodically the wave overwhelms the earlier course and establishes a new and more robust direction from which the incremental process of day to day science again progresses.

The second (scientists), are people who aspire to practice the (a?) scientific method/process, etc., but can never escape certain inalienable human traits. We get locked into process and paradigms that all too easily subvert some idealised objective search for 'truth'. We, typically, want a nice house to be liked by our colleagues and appreciated by our institutions - so we generally stick to the funding constraints and make incremental adjustments to the accepted science wisdom of the day. We seldom ask fundamental questions about the boundaries within which we work - yet every day we may be working quite objectively but within highly subjective boundaries. And it is here that our expertise is often misused/misplaced - by us as much as it is by others.

Broadly speaking we've come to believe we're clever - good with numbers, can differentiate between assertion and argument; yet I see little evidence that we're any better than a Jane or Joe on the street at setting our work within a bigger context. Yet, disturbingly, I think we almost all have developed a layer of well-meant arrogance that assumes we know better than others over these big picture issues. Hence, in the climate change realm, we often hear 'experts' claim that nuclear power will save the day; that we can transition to 100% renewables in a timely fashion; that energy efficiency is 'the' way forward; that individual action or mass social movements, etc., will bring about some climate utopia -or, often with no better reasoning - we need diversity and a portfolio of technologies.

Personally, I've witnessed no greater wisdom from academic colleagues on these big picture issues, context setting, recognition of boundaries, etc., than I have from chatting with my cycling and climbing friends - few if any have any formal 'expertise' in climate change or energy.

Put simply - I think we conflate science and scientists - and that unpicking these would help us understand how to communicate more effectively - and that often (especially with big picture and context issues) we have no more 'expertise' to be communicated than the next person - and then we really need to listen.

2) There is an important distinction between science and engineering - one that I think has key implications for communication ... but that's for another day. ( )
  antao | Aug 29, 2020 |
I saw this at the library and it seemed Highly Relevant to my current interests/life situation. From the prologue (titled You Made the Right Choice) through the end, E.O. Wilson counsels budding scientists to stay on the path and how/why to go about it. The most important thing is passion for what you do, although there are a number of other factors. Wilson uses vignettes from his life to illustrate his advice, and though they come from a biological background the ideas apply to other scientific fields. Potentially a good gift for new graduates (or at least, more useful than "Oh The Places You'll Go!" even though that is an uplifting book). ( )
  Daumari | Dec 30, 2017 |
This is a personal account of the life of an eminent entomologist (he studied ants). It is partly a autobiographical story of how he rose from being a child in the southern U.S. to a professor of biology at Harvard. As such, it is inspiring. His main message is that there are ways in which anyone, regardless of their basic skills and interests, can make a scientific contribution. ( )
  DLMorrese | Oct 14, 2016 |
Filled with pearls of wisdom. You don't have to be a scientist to appreciate this book, only a human being.
"But don't just drift through courses in science hoping that love will come to you.Maybe it will, but don't take the chance.As in other big choices in your life, there is too much at stake. Decision and hard work based on enduring passion will never fail you."
"..courage in science born of self confidence (without arrogance!), willingness to take a risk but with resilience, a lack of fear of authority, a set of mind that prepares you to take a new direction if thwarted, are of great value - win or lose." ( )
  joellegc | Aug 15, 2014 |
Library Journal August 2013
  smsulibrary2 | Apr 7, 2014 |
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Edward O. Wilson has distilled sixty years of teaching into a book for students, young and old. Reflecting on his coming-of-age in the South as a Boy Scout and a lover of ants and butterflies, Wilson threads these twenty-one letters, each richly illustrated, with autobiographical anecdotes that illuminate his career--both his successes and his failures--and his motivations for becoming a biologist. At a time in human history when our survival is more than ever linked to our understanding of science, Wilson insists that success in the sciences does not depend on mathematical skill, but rather a passion for finding a problem and solving it. From the collapse of stars to the exploration of rain forests and the oceans' depths, Wilson instills a love of the innate creativity of science and a respect for the human being's modest place in the planet's ecosystem in his readers.

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