The best science books 📚

Browse the best books on science as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Changing Order: Replication and Induction in Scientific Practice

Changing Order: Replication and Induction in Scientific Practice

By Harry Collins

Why this book?

Collins is a brilliant and lucid exponent of the (mainly British) “strong programme” in the sociology of science. He is one of the numerous “children of Kuhn,” in the sense that like Kuhn he understands scientists to be (usually) honest and serious human beings, not machines implementing an alleged Scientific Method.

From the list:

The best books on the rhetoric of science (from a distinguished professor)

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Book cover of Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy

Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy

By Michael Polanyi

Why this book?

Polanyi, an eminent Hungarian Jewish chemist who spent his career at the University of Manchester, was the smarter brother of the more famous Karl Polanyi, the socialist economic historian. Michael (Mihály) shows in the book how science depends on ordinary, “personal” knowledge, as for example in riding a bicycle. He was a “liberal” in the European sense, unlike his brother, and saw the scientific community as analogous to a free market, and the free market as analogous to a scientific community.

From the list:

The best books on the rhetoric of science (from a distinguished professor)

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Book cover of The Voyage of the Beagle

The Voyage of the Beagle

By Charles Darwin

Why this book?

In 1831 at the age of 22 and freshly minted by his university education, Darwin was offered the chance of a lifetime: to accompany Captain Robert Fitzroy on HMS Beagle for a circumnavigation of the globe. He was in the right place, at the right time, and knew the right people – and although he was only 3rd choice for that position, fate would insist on his being chosen. His experiences on that voyage laid the foundations for his theory of evolution by means of Natural Selection some 28 years later. We are so familiar with the image of Darwin…
From the list:

The best books to stretch your imagination

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Book cover of A Short History of Nearly Everything

A Short History of Nearly Everything

By Bill Bryson

Why this book?

Bryson’s classic is so good, I have re-read it several times. This book sums up the history and major developments of practically ALL the sciences, geology included. Written with zest and humor, and the wide-eyed wonder of a passionately interested amateur, this book is mind-boggling in its scope. No scientist could have written it—we are all too specialized. Only an author of Bryson’s skill could have cast his net so broadly. The result is a triumph. 

From the list:

The best books about geology that tell great stories

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Book cover of The Essential David Bohm

The Essential David Bohm

By Lee Nichol

Why this book?

I first encountered the philosophy of physicist Bohm in another book by the philosopher Renée Weber (Dialogues with Scientists and Sages) in which she, the Dalai Lama, and Bohm (among others) explore, well, everything. But Bohm’s own exploration blends Buddhist concepts with physics. One of the many reasons I am Buddhist myself is its architecture and allowance for new concepts including physics theory and the reality of light itself. His implicate order for the universe explains more about its reality than accepted current theory. I’m no physicist nor towering intellectual, but I am following the Buddha’s advice to…

From the list:

The best books for the rest of us to absorb Buddhist essence

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Book cover of Unnatural Nature of Science

Unnatural Nature of Science

By Lewis Wolpert

Why this book?

I spend a lot of my time trying to clarify the bilge poured out by the merchants of fake science: the flat-earthers, creationists, and climate deniers mainly, but also medical quacks and other fruitloops who throw out alternative science, stuff which is like normal science, with one small exception. I was already fighting these fights when Wolpert came to Sydney, and I chaired a lecture he gave. He showed us where the problem lay in combatting idiocy: the idiots depend on naïve and naked intuition.

Invariably, these unhinged pseudo-realities rely on a simple misreading of scientific lore, and Lewis explained…

From the list:

The best books about history and science

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