Summary of The Half-Life of Facts

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The Half-Life of Facts book summary


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For decades, doctors and athletes appeared in print ads vouching for cigarettes. As a result, many people came to believe that smoking was beneficial. Now, everyone understands its dangers. That’s how fleeting knowledge can be. In this fascinating explanation of how “facts” come and go, mathematician Samuel Arbesman details why much of what people know to be true today will turn out to be false tomorrow. He offers thought-provoking ideas, theories and scientific findings to explain the impact of his main point: facts have a dwindling lifespan. getAbstract recommends his rundown on why information expires to people who want to be in the know – even when what they know tonight may be wrong by morning.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why facts have limited lifespans,
  • What scientometrics measures
  • How to think more clearly despite “theory-induced blindness” and “factual inertia,” and
  • Why the pace of “knowledge change” follows a discernable pattern.

About the Author

Applied mathematician and network scientist Samuel Arbesman was a senior scholar at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Currently, Arbesman is a senior adjunct fellow of the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology and Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado, and an associate of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University.



True Today, False Tomorrow
People used to believe that the more meat you ate, the healthier you would become. Later, they believed that meat was bad for you; later still, they again believed that meat was good for you; now it’s all a matter of conjecture. The debate over red wine’s health...

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