How Science Works

  • John Ellis


The practice of science is sometimes described as a coldly rational route that follows rigid guidelines to reach certain truth. The reality is very different, and much more interesting and exciting. To be a good scientist you need curiosity, imagination, a sceptical attitude and the willingness to admit mistakes when you make them, which you will.


Religious Belief Identical Twin Intentional Stance African Savannah Ancient Greek Philosopher 
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Further Reading

  1. 1.
    How Science Works: David Goodstein. A useful discussion about the criteria that distinguish the practice of science.
  2. 2.
    Religion Explained: The human instincts that fashion gods, spirits and ancestors. Pascal Boyer. Published by Vintage, 2001. ISBN 0 099 282763. This book discusses the evidence for the intentionality argument for the origin of religious beliefs.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    In Gods We Trust: The evolutionary landscape of religion. Scott Attran. Published by Oxford University Press 2002. ISBN-13 978-0-19-517803-6. An anthropologist’s view of the naturalistic origins of religious beliefs.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. Daniel C. Dennett. Published by Allen Lane 2006. ISBN-13 978-0-713-99789-7. This book argues that religious beliefs originate from the cognitive systems that have evolved in the human brain.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    How We Believe; The Search for God in an Age of Science. Michael Shermer. Published by W.H Freeman and Company 2000. ISBN 0-7167-4161-x. This book addresses the question as to why people believe in God, as determined from surveys, and examines the validity of the different reasons they give.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    The Believing Brain. Michael Shermer. Published by Constable & Robinson Ltd. 2011. ISBN:978-1-78033-529-2. In this book Shermer uses his thirty years of research as a psychologist to draw the conclusion that, contrary to common expectation, human beliefs come first, and it is only later that we seek evidence to support themGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    The Origins of Virtue. Matt Ridley. Published by the Penguin Group 1996. ISBN 0-670-86357-2. This book discusses the origins of co-operation as an evolutionary strategy that led to human society.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    The Chronic Dependence of Popular Religiosity upon Dysfunctional Psychosociological Conditions. Gregory Paul, Evolutionary Psychology vol.7, 398–441 (2009). This paper uses 25 indicators of social health to determine the association between degrees of religious belief and the moral health of first world democracies.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    The Evolution of Superstitious and Superstitious-like Behavior. Kevin Foster and Hanna Kokko. Proceedings Royal Society B 276, 31–37 (2009).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Life’s Greatest Secret. Matthew Cobb. Published by Profile Books 2015. ISBN −101781251401. A detailed account of the tortuous path to unravelling the role of DNA.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Ellis
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WarwickCoventryUK

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