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Download The Half-life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date Audiobook (Unabridged)

Extended Audio Sample The Half-life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date (Unabridged), by Samuel Arbesman
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (155 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Samuel Arbesman Narrator: Sean Pratt Publisher: Gildan Media LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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New insights from the science of science....

Facts change all the time. Smoking has gone from doctor recommended to deadly. We used to think the Earth was the center of the universe and that Pluto was a planet. For decades, we were convinced that the brontosaurus was a real dinosaur. In short, what we know about the world is constantly changing. But it turns out there's an order to the state of knowledge, an explanation for how we know what we know.

Samuel Arbesman is an expert in the field of scientometrics - literally the science of science. Knowledge in most fields evolves systematically and predictably, and this evolution unfolds in a fascinating way that can have a powerful impact on our lives. Doctors with a rough idea of when their knowledge is likely to expire can be better equipped to keep up with the latest research. Companies and governments that understand how long new discoveries take to develop can improve decisions about allocating resources. And by tracing how and when language changes, each of us can better bridge generational gaps in slang and dialect. Just as we know that a chunk of uranium can break down in a measurable amount of time - a radioactive half-life - so too any given field's change in knowledge can be measured concretely.

We can know when facts in aggregate are obsolete, the rate at which new facts are created, and even how facts spread.

Arbesman takes us through a wide variety of fields, including those that change quickly, over the course of a few years, or over the span of centuries. He shows that much of what we know consists of mesofacts - facts that change at a middle timescale, often over a single human lifetime. Throughout, he offers intriguing examples about the face of knowledge: what English majors can learn from a statistical analysis of The Canterbury Tales, why it's so hard to measure a mountain, and why so many parents still tell kids to eat their spinach because it... Download and start listening now!


Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Alexandria Steele | 2/14/2014

    " This book was really interesting, but I feel like he jumped around. Some of his supporting arguments felt very underdeveloped. Still, it kept my attention. Lots of good facts. I'm not sure what I took away from it that I can apply to my life, other that than math is really cool. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Robert | 2/12/2014

    " There are a few interesting observations in here, but you have to work to find them. I skimmed the last couple of chapters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Michelle | 2/9/2014

    " This was pretty interesting; more theoretical than I had counted on, but the examples and stories in there WERE very good. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Brock Ray | 1/31/2014

    " I kept hoping for more meaning to the book. It just didn't have the impact it should have. In addition the book should have been titled, "The Half-Life of Human Knowledge". It played a little too loose with the word "fact" for my taste. "

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