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Advice to a Young Scientist Book Review Summary

Detailed Plot Synopsis of Advice to a Young Scientist

Professor Medawar here shares his experience of a distinguished career in science for the benefit of the aspiring scientist. This book would probably be useful to anyone entertaining the idea of a science-based career, certainly up to the graduate stage. This is an original and personal book, by a writer who won a Nobel prize in 1960 for his research in the area of human tissue transplants. Literate and highly practical, he distills the wisdom of a lifetime normally only acquired slowly by personal life experience, and delivers it with dry humour.

The chapters cover: 'How can I tell if I am cut out to be a scientific research worker?', which contains a revealing and exceedingly quick intelligence test, (and which would probably be of great value as a suprise question in executive job interviews). 'What shall I do research on?' contains the observations of a typical biologist, very down to earth. Likewise, 'How can I equip myself to be a scientist?'. 'Aspects of scientific life and manners' is the best chapter; an excellent set of observations on teamwork, respect for colleagues, the scientist's moral requirement of dedication to Truth, how to handle mistakes, giving fair credit for discoveries, and how to keep your friends (by handling the critical scientific habit of mind correctly! I have taken notes...). 'The Scientific Process' analyses Kuhn's theory of scientific 'paradigms', and 'Scientific Meliorism versus Scientific Messianism' throws some enjoyable light on his debates with C. S. Lewis, whom he knew well. This latter debate proves (although he would deny it), that although he approaches C. P. Snow's ideal of the man who can bridge the two cultures - of those schooled in the humanities, and those in the sciences - he fails. The disparity in the cultural worldviews is too great. The book is usefully rounded off with an index. All in all, Medawar is the best of teachers, teaching with his heart and his head: he dispels stereotypes, he advises on how to handle your emotions, he inspires.
This report prepared by Michael JR Jose








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Chapter Analysis of Advice to a Young Scientist

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Plot & Themes

Political/social rights fight    -   Yes Plotlet:    -   fights between different pol/social groups    -   fighting discrim. (other than racial/gender) job/profession:    -   teacher    -   scientist/inventor Ethnic/Relig. of subject (inside)    -   British Job/profession/poverty story    -   Yes If this is a culture clash:    -   visiting a different culture Ethnic/regional/gender    -   Yes

Subject of Biography

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   scientist Ethnicity    -   White Nationality    -   British

Setting

How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   1 () Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   England/UK Misc setting    -   scientific labs Century:    -   1980's-Present

Writing Style

Book makes you feel?    -   encouraged    -   like laughing If this is a kid's book:    -   Age 16-Adult Pictures/Illustrations?    -   None How much dialogue in bio?    -   little dialog How much of bio focuses on most famous period of life?    -   0-25% of book

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Peter B. Medawar Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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