Getting It Right in Science and Medicine

Can Science Progress through Errors? Fallacies and Facts

  • Hans R. Kricheldorf

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Insights and Definitions

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Hans R. Kricheldorf
      Pages 3-8
    3. Hans R. Kricheldorf
      Pages 9-32
    4. Hans R. Kricheldorf
      Pages 33-51
    5. Hans R. Kricheldorf
      Pages 53-69
    6. Hans R. Kricheldorf
      Pages 71-87
    7. Hans R. Kricheldorf
      Pages 89-102
  3. From Fallacies to Facts: Prominent Mistakes and How They Were Revised

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 103-103
    2. Hans R. Kricheldorf
      Pages 105-144
    3. Hans R. Kricheldorf
      Pages 145-182
    4. Hans R. Kricheldorf
      Pages 183-222
    5. Hans R. Kricheldorf
      Pages 223-277
    6. Hans R. Kricheldorf
      Pages 279-279
  4. Back Matter
    Pages 281-285

About this book


This book advocates the importance and value of errors for the progress of scientific research! Hans Kricheldorf explains that most of the great scientific achievements are based on an iterative process (an ‘innate self-healing mechanism’): errors are committed, being checked over and over again, through which finally new findings and knowledge can arise. New ideas are often first confronted with refusal. This is so not only in real life, but also in scientific and medical research. The author outlines in this book how great ideas had to ripen over time before winning recognition and being accepted. The book showcases in an entertaining way, but without schadenfreude, that even some of the most famous discoverers may appear in completely different light, when regarding errors they have committed in their work.
This book is divided into two parts. The first part creates a fundament for the discussion and understanding by introducing important concepts, terms and definitions, such as (natural) sciences and scientific research, laws of nature, paradigm shift, and progress (in science). It compares natural sciences with other scientific disciplines, such as historical research or sociology, and examines the question if scientific research can generate knowledge of permanent validity. The second part contains a collection of famous fallacies and errors from medicine, biology, chemistry, physics and geology, and how they were corrected. Readers will be astonished and intrigued what meanders had to be explored in some cases before scientists realized facts, which are today’s standard and state-of-the-art of science and technology. 
This is an entertaining and amusing, but also highly informative book not only for scientists and specialists, but for everybody interested in science, research, their progress, and their history!


Blood circulation Childbed fever Heliocentric universe History of science Laws of nature Mistakes in medicine Paradigm shifts Phlogiston theory Scientific errors Scientific knowledge

Authors and affiliations

  • Hans R. Kricheldorf
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for TechnicalUniversität HamburgHamburgGermany

Bibliographic information

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