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See Inside Scientific American Volume 307, Issue 4

Recommended The Half Life of Facts

The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date



Current

Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date
Samuel Arbesman
Current, 2012 ($25.95)

Many medical schools tell their students that half of what they've been taught will be wrong within five years—the teachers just don't know which half. Arbesman, a Harvard University–affiliated practitioner of scientometrics—which looks at how we know what we know—sets out to make readers more comfortable with changes in scientific knowledge, from the status of Pluto to the age at which women should get mammograms. Facts change in a regular, predictable manner and obey mathematical rules, he argues: “Once we recognize this, we'll be ready to live in the rapidly changing world around us.”

COMMENT AT ScientificAmerican.com/oct2012

This article was originally published with the title "The Half-Life of Facts."

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