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Sam Arbesman's <em>The Half-Life of Facts</em> is "Easily One of the Best Science Books This Year"
Science | October 15, 2012

Sam Arbesman's The Half-Life of Facts is "Easily One of the Best Science Books This Year"

The Half-Life of Facts by Samuel Arbesman encourages its readers to challenge what they know, or think they know, to be empirically true. Facts change all the time, the author says, but knowing how to navigate and adapt to those changes can make that realization a little less unsettling. Describing it as "easily one of the best books of the year on science," a recent review by Stephen L. Carter in Bloomberg gives praise to Arbesman's "lively" book. A law professor at Yale, Carter writes that although Arbesman's book is about science, it is also relevant to politics. 

"Candidates and their ardent supporters could learn much from [Arbesman's] fascinating account of how both knowledge and errors spread," Carter writes. "Partisans have an embarrassing tendency to rest comfortably on the certainties that have brought their movements this far."

This is an important point that Arbesman, an expert in scientometrics (which translates to "the science of science") stresses in his book. If things were never to change, and knowledge were to never expand, “we [would] remain stuck at the factual level of our grade-school selves,” he writes. He translates this message in his articles for The Atlantic and the New York Times, as well as in his well received keynotes. He presents a revolutionary talk, where he explains that although facts are not set in stone, and that the shifting nature of truth is actually a testament to human advancement. Understanding how to predict and adapt to changes in knowledge is an essential asset to any industry, and Arbesman explains how to constantly navigate the changing world without becoming overwhelmed in the process.
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