Galileo’s Gout: Sci­ence in an Age of Endarkenment

Ger­ald Weissmann
  • Review
By – March 26, 2012

A friend of mine, an Ortho­dox Jew, took an exam sev­er­al years ago on dinosaurs and their era. After each answer, he put in paren­the­sis I don’t believe this.” Such may be the per­son that Weiss­mann had in mind when he wrote Galileo’s Gout: Sci­ence in an Age of Endarkenment. 

My friend aside, most read­ers will enjoy Weissmann’s lat­est book. It offers sev­er­al vignettes regard­ing sci­en­tif­ic and med­ical dis­cov­ery over the past four cen­turies, mas­ter­ful­ly inter­twin­ing sci­ence, pol­i­tics, reli­gion, and cul­ture. Sev­er­al rel­e­vant top­ics are cov­ered, includ­ing stem cell research, faith-based alter­na­tive med­i­cine, the decod­ing of the genome, and the cure of typhus. Each tale is told in an eru­dite, enter­tain­ing, occa­sion­al­ly polem­i­cal style, with mul­ti­ple lit­er­ary ref­er­ences to regale the read­er. The book is con­struct­ed such that the read­er can peruse chap­ters that are of inter­est, or digest the sto­ries consecutively. 

The book will be of spe­cial inter­est to the mod­ern-day Jew, for the wis­dom impart­ed to counter this age of sci­en­tif­ic endark­en­ment” will allow for expan­sion of the mind with­out demand­ing an unteth­er­ing of the bedrock of one’s faith.

Paul M. Arnold, MD, is pro­fes­sor of neu­ro­surgery and direc­tor of the Spinal Cord Injury Cen­ter at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Kansas.

Discussion Questions