Being the drip I am I don’t do that much fiction. The audio book I’ve been having the most fun with recently is Steven Weinberg’s “To Explain the World” (the discovery of modern science). My first listen through over a year ago or two - I found it slightly irritating, but with repeated listens it’s seems to keep getting more interesting.
I’ve just now read the New York Times’ caustic book review by Kean. Interesting how subtle spin is added:
The book begins with the ancient Greeks — from Thales to Aristotle — sometimes described as early scientists, but Weinberg classifies them as poets instead. They chose their words “for aesthetic effect,” he writes, not clear communication, and they made no serious attempt to justify their theories with evidence.
Failing to mention he makes a damned good case for classifying them as poets rather than “scientists” -
plus it didn’t seem to me like he faulted them for it - crawling before walking and all that.
If anything whatever fault there is lies with the unskeptical followers of later centuries and millennia, when one would expect awareness to have increased.
After this detour, the action returns to Europe, and Weinberg resumes sorting out the saved from the damned.
Makes it sound like a very judgmental book, though Weinberg doesn’t sound unreasonable or judgmental to me
plus I think Weinberg did a better job of framing the time periods of the people he’s discussing, then Kean gives him credit for.
Scientists haven’t made much progress here, and Weinberg suggests that perhaps there isn’t any deep reason. ... The universe is the way it is just because.
That notion seems to upset Kean, I pity him.
It’ll be interesting returning to the book with Kean’s challenges running around in my mind.
The most surprising sentence in Kean’s review had nothing to do with the book:
“Most scientists today believe there’s no deep reason the planets orbit at the distances they do. It’s random, an accident “
Hmmm, I vaguely know that exo-planets seem to have a surprisingly huge variety of sizes and guess their orbital distances are rather scattered and unlike our solar systems. But being most familiar with our solar system - it seems a stretch to claim that planet placement is random.
TO EXPLAIN THE WORLD
The Discovery of Modern Science
By Steven Weinberg
Illustrated. 416 pp. Harper/HarperCollins Publishers. $28.99.
also at Audiobooks.com