Sacred Bovines: The Ironies of Misplaced Assumptions in Biology

ISBN : 9780190490362

Douglas Allchin
256 ページ
156 x 235 mm

Some assumptions about biology are so deeply rooted in our thinking that they seem beyond question. These concepts - expressed in playful jargon - are our sacred bovines. With a light-hearted spirit, Douglas Allchin sets out to challenge many of these common beliefs about science and life. Allchin draws on fascinating insights from science to illustrate the ironies in many widespread beliefs. Be prepared to challenge the notion that male and female are fixed natural categories. Or that evolution implies cutthroat competition in human society. Or that we struggle against a fundamental immoral nature. Or that genes establish our identity. Or that science progresses through rare leaps of genius. Or that politics and emotions inevitably taint good science. Sacred Bovines revels in revelations about the nature of science. Reflecting on the many errors in commonly accepted, everyday ideas also fosters creative thinking. How do we challenge assumptions? How do we think outside the box? The many examples here provide inspiration and guidance, further elaborated in a retrospective epilogue. An additional "Afterword for Teachers" highlights how the essays can foster learning about the nature of science and describes some practical classroom strategies.


Prologue: The Ironies of Misplaced Assumptions

The Way of Science
1 Monsters and Marvels
2 The Messy Story Behind the Most Beautiful Experiment in Biology
3 Ahead of the Curve
4 Marxism and Cell Biology
5 The Dogma of the Scientific Method

Darwin, Evolution & Society
6 Was Darwin a Social Darwinist?
7 Social Un-Darwinism
8 A More Fitting Analogy
9 The Domesticated Gene

Making Mistakes
10 A Comedy of Scientific Errors
11 Nobel Ideals and Noble Errors
12 Celebrating Darwin's Errors

What Counts as Science
13 Science Beyond Scientists
14 Skepticism and the Architecture of Trust
15 Science Con-Artists

Naturalizing Cultural Values
16 Male, Female, and/or -?
17 Monsters and the Tyranny of Normality
18 To Be Human
19 Genes R Us
20 The Peppered Moths, A Study in Black and White

21 Alexander Fleming's Eureka Moment
22 Round vs. Wrinkled: Gregor Mendel as Icon
23 William Harvey and Capillaries
24 The Tragic Hero of Childbed Fever

Values & Biology Education
25 Respect for Life
26 Hands-Off Dissection?
27 Organisms, Modified, Genetically
28 Close to Nature

Epilogue: Challenging Our Sacred Bovines

Afterword for Educators
Image Credits


Douglass Allchin is is a historian and philosopher of science and science educator. He holds a PhD in Conceptual Foundations of Science from the University of Chicago. He has taught at the University of Minnesota since 2001. Allchin has published extensively on history of science, philosophy of science and science education. His research focuses primarily on error and disagrement in science. He also edits the SHiPS Resource Center, a website for helping teachers teach about the nature of science.