Scientific method: How science works, fails to work, and pretends to work
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© 2018 Taylor & Francis. All rights reserved. This book shows how science works, fails to work, or pretends to work, by looking at examples from such diverse fields as physics, biomedicine, psychology, and economics. Social science affects our lives every day through the predictions of experts and the rules and regulations they devise. Sciences like economics, sociology and health are subject to more 'operating limitations' than classical fields like physics or chemistry or biology. Yet, their methods and results must also be judged according to the same scientific standards. Every literate citizen should understand these standards and be able to tell the difference between good science and bad. Scientific Method enables readers to develop a critical, informed view of scientific practice by discussing concrete examples of how real scientists have approached the problems of their fields. It is ideal for students and professionals trying to make sense of the role of science in society, and of the meaning, value, and limitations of scientific methodology in the social sciences.
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Until my retirement in 2007, my laboratory did experimental research on learning and adaptive behavior, mostly with animals: pigeons, rats, fish, parakeets. We were particularly interested in timing and memory, feeding regulation, habituation and the ways in which pigeons and rats adapt to reward schedules. The aim is to arrive at simple models for learning that can help to identify the underlying neural mechanisms. I continue to do theoretical and historical work on the power law in psychophysics, operant learning, timing and memory, habituation and feeding regulation. I have applied some of these ideas to economics and financial markets and social issues such as traffic control (Distracting Miss Daisy, The Atlantic, 2008; Death by Stop Sign) and smoking (Unlucky Strike, Private Health and the Science, Law and Politics of Smoking, with David Hockney, UBP, 2013). A second edition of Adaptive Behavior and Learning (Cambridge UP) was published in 2016. Most recently I have published Scientific Method: How Science Works, Fails to Work, and Pretends to Work. published by Routledge in December, 2017, Unlucky Strike Second Edition, and Science in an age of unreason (Regnery, 2022).
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