Scientific uncertainty puzzles many people. The confusion arises when scientists have more than one answer, and disagree among themselves. By acquainting readers with the ways that uncertainty arises in science, how scientists accommodate and make use of uncertainty, and how they reach conclusions in the face of uncertainty, this book enables them to confidently evaluate uncertainty from their own perspectives, in terms of their experiences. Henry N. Pollack is a professor of Geology in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Michigan. He has published extensively in the field of geophysics. This is his first popular science book.
Acknowledgments; About the author; 1. Setting the stage; 2. Uncertain about science; 3. Can the media help?; 4. Unfamiliarity breeds uncertainty; 5. Fever or chill?; 6. A fifty-fifty chance; 7. How does this work?; 8. Let's see what happens if...; 9. Reconstructing the past; 10. Predicting the future; 11. Out of the blue; 12. A climate of uncertainty; Index.
"Uncertain Science...Uncertain World is extremely well written and compulsive reading." Education in Chemistry
"Pollack has a pleasant style and a light touch...an informative and enlightening account of how science works in practice and how scientists learn to be at ease in an uncertain universe." --Wilson Quarterly
"Too often, scientists fall into the quicksand of technical jargon and fail to communicate important information to the general public. In Uncertain Science...Uncertain World, Henry Pollack uses plain English and engaging examples to explore uncertainty both in science and everyday life." --Neal Lane, Professor, Rice University, former Science Advisor to President Clinton and former Director of the US National Science Foundation
"Uncertain Science...Uncertain World gives the layman an excellent inside look at how science works and flourishes even though it is immersed in uncertainty. Pollack analyzes the paradox that society is unable or unwilling to address environmental problems of global scale-often under the pretense that there's not enough scientific certainty to take action-while at the same time the insurance industry and other businesses routinely hedge the risks attendant to an uncertain future. It's my hope that this very clearly written book, devoid of both polemics and equations, will be widely read by the general public and policy makers." Paul Crutzen, Winner of 1995 Nobel Prize for Chemistry
"Uncertain Science...Uncertain World is certain to clarify one of the most fundamental popular misconceptions about science-that it is exact and certain. Henry Pollack demolishes the mythology about certainty in science with short and clear examples of how uncertainty is both endemic to science and not a cause for paralysis or inaction. This well-written book is a welcome antidote to the misrepresentations of special interests who misuse scientific uncertainty to stall public policy and advance their own agendas." Stephen Schneider, Stanford University
"This excellent book will serve as a blast of common sense to counter two dangerous attitudes. One is the desperate search for impossible certainties in a complex world where few comprehend the meaning of probability. The other is a belief that scientists are the magicians of today who can deliver certainty by 'scientific tests.' Pollack writes with vigour and clarity about big issues such as global warming, and reading this book ought to help us become better judges when 'facts' conflict. There are few more important attributes we need for the 21st century." Aubrey Manning, University of Edinburgh
"Public policy debates are constantly getting stuck in the mire of perceptions about scientific uncertainty and risk. Yet science is no different to many other areas of human experience in that uncertainty and risk are inevitably present. In a readable, entertaining presentation, Henry Pollack removes some of the mystery surrounding uncertainty by placing it alongside examples from everday life." Sir John Houghton, Co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and author of Global Warming-The Complete Briefing
"Important...an admirable job...Pollack provides a tremendous service with his clear exposition of scientific uncertainty." EOS goal...
"At last we have a solid, scientific look at the vexing subject of uncertainty. You may not be more certain about some subjects when you finish this book, but you'll understand why." James Trefil, Professor of Physics, George Mason University and author of A Scientist in the City
"...Pollack's writing is clear, and should change the way the both policymakers and the general public evaluate scientific developments, especially those associated with global climate change." Research News and Opportunities in Science and Theology