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by Clifford D. Conner

  • ISBN: 1560257482
  • Category: Math & Science
  • Author: Clifford D. Conner
  • Subcategory: History & Philosophy
  • Other formats: mobi docx rtf lrf
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Nation Books (November 8, 2005)
  • Pages: 568 pages
  • FB2 size: 1336 kb
  • EPUB size: 1347 kb
  • Rating: 4.3
  • Votes: 755
Download A People's History of Science fb2

However, this book also has clear and evident downsides

However, this book also has clear and evident downsides. Conner's own specialization seems to be in the history of science during the period of the Renaissance through the 18th-19th Centuries, for it is the chapters on this that are by far the best part of the book and particularly worth reading. On other subjects, however, he is much less informed.

Clifford (Cliff) D. Conner (born 1941) is an American historian of science, author, and faculty member at the School for Professional Studies of the City University of New York Graduate Center. Born in New Jersey, Conner grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. He received his BA at the Georgia Institute of Technology and his P. from the City University of New York Graduate Center.

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Conner Clifford D. (EN). We all know the history of science that we learned from grade school textbooks: How Galileo used his telescope to show that the earth was not the center of the universe; how Newton divined gravity from the falling apple; how Einstein unlocked the mysteries of time and space with a simple equation. This history is made up of long periods of ignorance and confusion, punctuated once an age by a brilliant thinker who puts it all together.

There is an emphasis on disenfranchised, the oppressed, the poor, the nonconformists, and otherwise marginal groups. The authors are typically on the left and have a Marxist model in mind, as in the approach of the History Workshop movement in Britain in the 1960s.

We all know the history of science that we learned from grade school textbooks: How Galileo used his telescope to show that the earth was not the center of the universe; how Newton divined gravity from the falling apple; how Einstein unlocked the mysteries of time and space with a simple equation.

A people's history of science. Miners, Midwives, and "Low Mechanicks. By Clifford D. Conner thinks this kind of snobbery has distorted the writing of history from ancient times to the present, because historians are scribes themselves and it is a clean, soft hand that holds the pen. In writing about science, for instance, historians celebrate a few great names - Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Einstein - and neglect the contributions of common, ordinary people who were not afraid to get their hands dirty.

A People's History of Science shows how ordinary people participate in creating science and have done so. . Conner teaches at John Jay School of Criminal Law in New York. His previous writings on the era of the French Revolution include a biography of Jean-Paul Marat.

A People's History of Science shows how ordinary people participate in creating science and have done so throughout history. It documents how the development of science has affected ordinary people, and how ordinary people perceived that development. Библиографические данные.

We all know the history of science that we learned from grade school textbooks: How Galileo used his telescope to show that the earth was not the center of the universe; how Newton divined gravity from the falling apple; how Einstein unlocked the mysteries of time and space with a simple equation. This history is made up of long periods of ignorance and confusion, punctuated once an age by a brilliant thinker who puts it all together. These few tower over the ordinary mass of people, and in the traditional account, it is to them that we owe science in its entirety. This belief is wrong. A People's History of Science shows how ordinary people participate in creating science and have done so throughout history. It documents how the development of science has affected ordinary people, and how ordinary people perceived that development. It would be wrong to claim that the formulation of quantum theory or the structure of DNA can be credited directly to artisans or peasants, but if modern science is likened to a skyscraper, then those twentieth-century triumphs are the sophisticated filigrees at its pinnacle that are supported by the massive foundation created by the rest of us.
Reviews about A People's History of Science (7):
Mr.jeka
I am a slow reader, so I'm still reading this book, but what I've seen so far has been a very interesting change of pace from typical "Great Man" histories of science. I found the discussion (early on) of the Polynesian navigators and how they crossed the Pacific especially fascinating.
Jube
Written as a survey of all the fields of science in which people investigated and explored the truths of nature out of necessity. This book gives credit to unknown and unsung informal scientists. Very well written and entertaining.
Thordibandis
Being of a generally socialist bent, I am very sympathetic to the project of "people's histories", ever since it was conceived by A.L. Morton's excellent A people's history of England, but that does not mean that we should be uncritical towards what is actually written. Not just Howard Zinn's prototype book (People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present) in the modern series should be evaluated with care, but this goes as well for other books in this series, including this one, the "People's History of Science" by Clifford Conner.

Conner's thesis is that although the history of science has often been portrayed in the usual "Great Men" style as the work of a privileged few brilliant men (and yes, almost only men) seeing further than anyone elses and inventing wondrous new sciences and technologies, in reality most of established academia during the ages was of no value whatever, and real scientific progress resulted through the experiments and practice of artisans, painters, miners, etc., not through the academic thinking of the learned.
Tracing a chronology of technological development, Conner gives a convincing if not entirely open-and-shut case for this thesis, in particular when it comes to demonstrating the great advances in science made by the lowly and unacademic during the ancient periods as well as the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Equally, Conner gives women and non-Europeans their due, quite correctly emphasizing the large advances in technology made by the Chinese, the Native American societies, the Arabs, and so on, often ages before any European ever conceived of the thought. Conner does this quite well, in the process also repudiating the popular view of the natives as the "noble savages living in communion with nature"; in reality the various Indian tribes were masters at the manipulation of nature to their advantage, such as forestry and the genetic selection of edible plants to improve agriculture.

However, this book also has clear and evident downsides. Conner's own specialization seems to be in the history of science during the period of the Renaissance through the 18th-19th Centuries, for it is the chapters on this that are by far the best part of the book and particularly worth reading. On other subjects, however, he is much less informed. Especially the chapter on science in ancient Greece is woefully erroneous: Conner has bought completely into the oft-refuted theories of Martin Bernal, including even the slanderous commentary on Karl Otfried Müller, which even Bernal himself has since withdrawn. The entire "out of Africa" tendency of this chapter is as wrong and unscientific as that idea itself. But that's not all, since Conner's understanding of Plato is also horribly mangled, leading him to either ignore or completely misunderstand the possibly progressive elements in Plato's "Republic". For example, when discussing Plato's political views, Conner at no point even deems it worth mentioning that in Plato's ideal society men and women would have an equal opportunity to lead if worthy, surely a very revolutionary view in his time (compare it to Aristoteles!). He also does not understand Plato's conception of the various classes in his society, which are explicitly opposed to the idea of castes one are born into, unlike what Conner seems to assume. Conner even quotes Marx who refutes the point he is trying to make in that context.

I do not know enough about most of the other subjects Conner writes on without being specialized in them, like classical China, prehistoric societies, and so on, to judge whether that suffers from similar flaws, but at least if he gets these things that I do happen to know so horribly wrong, that bodes ill for the trustworthiness of the entire book. So do take his analysis with a grain of salt at all times, and check the sources elsewhere. Additionally, the book contains many minor spelling errors and wrong expressions in foreign languages cited; not a big deal, but something a competent editor should have caught and removed.

On the whole, the book's chapters on the so-called Scientific Revolution are very good, and his commentaries on other historians of science are worth reading. His thesis is also sufficiently proven to be convincing, if not enough to be certain; it may be added though that he does not establish very well that the Great Men theory of the history of science is actually still supported by contemporary historians, making his case seem a bit obsolete. And his use of sources is very narrow and occasionally wholly incorrect at times, so be skeptical when reading.
Doomblade
To say that the scientific profession is removed from the "common" elements of society in that they are more intelligent, insightful, dispassionate, objective, and trustworthy is perhaps one of the most inaccurate historical (and scientific) myths that have permeated Western society. And to say that scientific or technological progress is due to a small number of "great" individuals (mostly men) throughout history is also completely unsubstantiated scientifically. It would take an enormous amount of research to substantiate either of these two beliefs, which, anecdotally speaking, seem to be held by a vast amount of people. Hero worship, the great men theory of history, and false imputations of genius occur in the scientific profession as they do in any others. For those interested in an accurate view of the history of science, these beliefs must be subjected to severe scrutiny. Intuitively, it would seem more accurate to believe that scientific ideas or even revolutions find their origins in many different people, some of who have chosen to not engage in scholarship, but have instead used these ideas because of their value in practical application.

But if some ideas, or indeed most, are the result of anonymous individuals, this would be of course be difficult to prove, because of the lack of historical records. The author of this book therefore has a difficult job, for he wants to show that it was the common people, the `miners, midwives, and low mechanicks' that were primarily responsible for scientific advances. But `the people' did not write down their contributions, and so any credit to be granted to them will have to find its origin in the statements and writings of those who interacted with them.

The author has done a fair job in his attempt to substantiate this claim, but there are many places in the book where he displays an anger that is best left out of an objective, professional study. His politics is definitely to the left end of the spectrum, and he interjects various politically charged statements at various places in the book. In addition, he has a somewhat bizarre condemnation of the profit motive, considering this book itself would not have appeared in print if it were not for those who are motivated by profits.

Readers will be exposed to assertions that are very different from the ones they perhaps grew up with. Even if these assertions are not factual, they could still encourage critical thinking on the part of these readers. There is some very interesting content in the book, with appropriate references given. One will learn for example that the first oil well was drilled using techniques that were imported from China. Indeed, the author spends an entire section on the contributions to modern science from `Chinese artisans.' In addition, the author asserts that "Henry the Navigator" did not in fact arrive at any knowledge of navigation by himself but merely purchased it. Many, many other interesting discussions can be found in the book, some of which are "radical." Those who do not wish their cognitive equilibrium disturbed should avoid reading this book.

The author also wants to fast forward to the current situation in scientific research circles. When reading this part of the book one can perhaps take a more relaxed notion of evidence and argue that there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that there are severe problems in the halls of academia, that the predominant emotion there is envy, that there is more joules of energy expended on infighting than there is on research, that patronage and favoritism governs promotions rather than competence, that thesis advisors take credit for the ideas of their students, and that many of its members are so hypersensitive to criticism that reviews of their work must be done anonymously lest the reviewer be subjected to unrelenting criticism and pressure. But this reviewer knows of no scientific study that would corroborate this (anecdotal) evidence. Such a study would be of great interest to those interested in the sociology and psychology of scientific research, and to those young people who are interested in entering the scientific profession. But even if these attitudes were shown to be characteristic of the majority of academia, the fact remains that some individuals, be they famous or completely unknown, be they in academia or industry or in a garage, are responsible for the incredible rate of scientific and technological advance in the twenty-first century. These individuals whether they be `scholars' or `craftsman', and whether they documented their efforts or not, are certainly greatly appreciated, and they have left an immutable mark on history, whether this was their intent or not.
Gavirim
Excelent!!
Goktilar
Purchase this book for the course. It is actually very interesting and good book to read.
Conner is surely a very good writer and all information very educational and many of them
will shock you because the detail analyze.

Recommend to people who is interested to know about how human develop in history in world.
happy light
Excellent read. Eye opening and revealing literature. Much research and thought was put into this account. Easy for the everyday man to the highly educated to comprehend and enjoy.

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