Introduction: Reading, Reasoning, and Writing about Science, by James Crosswhite, Professor of Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Oregon
Nothing is more familiar than science. Our daily lives are permeated with the results of modern science. . . . Our cars and buses and aircraft are all designed and tested using the best science available. We all expect this, and we are troubled to learn that scientifically established knowledge has been ignored when it comes to the design and use of the things we rely on every day.
However, science is also a matter of controversy. What is science? Is it one thing? What is the difference between good science and bad science? The best science and the rest of science? How do we evaluate scientific studies, observations, experiments, arguments, theories? How do we use science to develop good public policy or make good choices about health care? What do we do when experimental results seem to point to opposite conclusions? How seriously should we take correlation studies? What should we do when scientific knowledge seems to conflict with religion, or with common sense? Can everything be explained scientifically? Are there other sources of knowledge besides science? If we are not ourselves scientific experts, at what point should we defer to the judgments of people who are? Scientists themselves struggle with these questions, and non-scientists find that they often do, too.
These issues make the culture of science an especially appropriate focus for a course in written reasoning, in which exploring, understanding, and acknowledging the different sides of an issue are essential parts of the writing process (xi-xii).