Synopses & Reviews
"In preparing this remarkable book, Ernest Hook persuaded an eminent group of scientists, historians, sociologists and philosophers to focus on the problem: why are some discoveries rejected at a particular time but later seen to be valid? The interaction of these experts did not produce agreement on 'prematurity' in science but something more valuable: a collection of fascinating papers, many of them based on new research and analysis, which sometimes forced the author to revise a previously-held opinion. The book should be enthusiastically welcomed by all readers who are interested in how science works."and#151;Stephen G. Brush, co-author of Physics, The Human Adventure: From copernicus to Einstein and Beyond
"Prematurity and Scientific Discovery contains interesting and insightful papers by numerous well-known scientists and scholars. It will be of wide interest, not only to science studies scholars but also to working scientists and to science-literate general readers."and#151;Thomas Nickles, editor of Scientific Discovery, Logic, and Rationality
For centuries, observers have noted the many obstacles to intellectual change in science. In a much-discussed paper published in Scientific American in 1972, molecular biologist Gunther Stent proposed an explicit criterion for one kind of obstacle to scientific discovery. He denoted a claim or hypothesis as "premature" if its implications cannot be connected to canonical knowledge by a simple series of logical steps. Further, Stent suggested that it was appropriate for the scientific community to ignore such hypotheses so that it would not be overwhelmed by vast numbers of false leads. In this volume, eminent scientists, physicians, historians, social scientists, and philosophers respond to Stent's thesis.
About the Author
Ernest B. Hook is Professor at the School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley.
Table of Contents
List of Figures and Tables
List of Contributors
Part 1. Introduction
1. A Background to Prematurity and Resistance to "Discovery"
2. Prematurity in Scientific Discovery
Part 2. Observer and Participant Accounts
3. Prematurity, Nuclear Fission, and the Transuranium Actinide Elements
4. Resistance to Change and New Ideas in Physics: A Personal Perspective
5. The Timeliness of the Discoveries of the Three Modes of Gene Transfer in Bacteria
6. Scotoma: Forgetting and Neglect in Science
Part 3. Historical Perspectives
Section A. Relatively Unproblematic Exemplars
7. Prematurity and Delay in the Prevention of Scurvy
8. A Triptych to Serendip: Prematurity and Resistance to Discovery in the Earth Sciences
9. Theories of an Expanding Universe: Implications of Their Reception for the Concept of Scientific Prematurity
10. Interdisciplinary Dissonance and Nuclear Fission: Ida Noddack and the Premature Suggestion of Nuclear Splitting
Section B. Disputable Cases
11. Michael Polanyiand#8217;s Theory of Surface Adsorption: How Premature?
12. Prematurity and the Dynamics of Scientific Change
13. Barbara McClintockand#8217;s Controlling Elements: Premature Discovery or Stillborn Theory?
14. The Work of Joseph Adams and Archibald Garrod: Possible Examples of Prematurity in Human Genetics
Part 4. Natural Selection and Evolution from the Perspective of Prematurity
15. The Prematurity of Darwinand#8217;s Theory of Natural Selection
16. Prematurity, Evolutionary Biology, and the Historical Sciences
Part 5. Perspectives from the Vantage Point of the Social Sciences
17. Prematurity in Political "Science": Three Paradigms
18. The Impact and Fate of Gunther Stentand#8217;s Prematurity Thesis
19. Premature Discovery Is Failure of Intersection among Social Worlds
Part 6. Philosophical Perspectives
20. Fleck, Kuhn, and Stent: Loose Reflections on the Notion of Prematurity
21. The Concept of Prematurity and the Philosophy of Science
Part 7. Closing Considerations
22. Prematurity and Promise: Why Was Stentand#8217;s Notion of Prematurity Itself So Premature?
23. Reflections on Hulland#8217;s Remarks
25. Extensions and Complexities: In Defense of Prematurity in Scientific Discovery
Contributors: Kenneth J. Carpenter, Nathaniel Comfort, Elihu Gerson, Michael Ghiselin, William Glen, Norris S. Hetherington, Frederic L. Holmes, Ernest B. Hook, David Hull, Martin Jones, Ilana Land#246;wy, Arno G. Motulsky, Gonzalo Munand#233;var, Mary Jo Nye, Michael Ruse, Oliver Sacks, Glenn T. Seaborg, Gunther S. Stent, Lawrence Stern, Charles H. Townes, George Von der Muhll, Norton Zinder