Issue 39

Mindboggling: Preliminaries to a science of the mind   by Roy Harris.  Do you have a mind?  Answers to this question have divided Western thinkers for centuries, and still do.  Mindboggling sets out to identify a nucleus of basic issues about the mind, and present the main arguments for and against in each case.  Targeted to a lay readership, each chapter discusses a different theory, myth or idea about the mind.  Anticipate wails from theorists whose theories have been given short shrift.  Mindboggling is available on Amazon, from Bookshops or direct from Publishers.


Science on Television by Bienvenido León.

The book is a clear and systematic guide to the narrative and rhetorical techniques used by science documentary filmmakers. The book is priced at £18.50, but for direct orders we are offering a 20% discount.


Motivating Science is a collection of articles from the first five years of The Pantaneto Forum.  We are offering a 20% discount for direct orders.




There has been over the last couple of decades an intensive debate on appropriate standards for the admissibility of expert scientific testimony in the courts.  In “Expert Scientific Testimony in Courts: The Ideal and Illusion of value-free science”, David Caudill traces the history of science and the law in the US judicial system over the last 90 years.  Trusting “the adversary system to keep bad science out of court” may not be as reliable as people have thought in the past.  On the other hand, the law, according to Caudill, has enough problems of its own, without importing new ones from the sciences.


Writing from the realm of anthropology teaching, Zvi Bekerman addresses basic issues in science and human complexity.  In “It’s we, the researchers, who are in need of renovation”, he inveighs against the idea that research methods are able to be so objective, that “the researcher given a good methodology, is almost irrelevant in the research equation”.  Based on a course, which he gives, teaching qualitative methodology, Bekerman tries to overcome his student’s fear of theory and inculcate the “need for familiarity with a variety of disciplines”.  In so doing he calls for courses which reshape the compartmentalized curriculum, which are such a feature of many universities.


As Universities in the UK, (and many other places), face budget cuts over the next few years, attention will be focused on the “cost-effectiveness” of teaching.  In “ The Costs of Scholarly Teaching and Learning”, Amy Goodburn explains the importance of making visible the economic benefits of supporting teaching development, so as to retain students and save money, by not losing tuition fees.


All cultures have their myths and even in science many fallacies have gained currency.  In “Some Physics teaching whispered fallacies”, Carlos Wörner identifies a number of such “old wives tales” – I particularly like the one about the year(s) of Galileo’s death and Newton’s birth.


The proceedings of the Science Matters conference, which we reported in Issue 28, October 2007, have just been published and are available from the publishers – World Scientific.


Nigel Sanitt Editor

ISSN 1741-1572



Expert Scientific Testimony in Courts: The Ideal and Illusion of value-free science”, David Caudill

It’s we, the researchers, who are in need of renovation, Zvi Bekerman

The Costs of Scholarly Teaching and Learning, Amy Goodburn

Some Physics Teaching Whispered Fallacies, Carlos Wörner