Thursday, December 17, 2009

The bestselling science book of all time

Who wrote and what is the title of the bestselling science book of all time?


Anonymous Matt W. said...

I would guess "The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care" by Dr. Spock. Over 50 Million Sold.

12/17/2009 07:40:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Matt W., Nope. The book I'm talking about is still in print by a major publisher who makes the bestselling claim on the book's web page.

However, as an aside, I've wondered for more than three decades whether the title you mention was the target of this comment published in 1973:

-------------- quote --------------
"We are living in a scientific age when some modern mothers have adopted theories of training their children that forbid sharp corrections and stern discipline lest the initiative and personality of the little child be curbed to his own hurt. I have often wondered just who these teachers are who are masters of the techniques of bringing up children in this age of license and indulgence. Are they always successful parents of successful children who are giving us lessons from their own books of life?

"...Remember that our grandparents and parents didn't do such a poor job in raising their children and as the products of their teachings, you and I may think we have not turned out so badly. If they failed it wasn't because of their discipline." (Harold B. Lee, Decisions for Successful Living, 1973, pp.22–23.)
-------------- end quote --------------

12/17/2009 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Jeff G said...

I'm gonna guess Carl Sagan's Cosmos, altough Darwin's Origin has to be in the top 3.

12/17/2009 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jeff G, Yes! (By the way, it strikes me that I too often say that word in response to your comments.) According to RandomHouse.com, Cosmos is "the best-selling science book ever published in the English language."

Carl Sagan was Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences at Cornell University. He played a leading role in the Mariner, Viking, Voyager, and Galileo spacecraft expeditions to the planets for which he received the NASA Medals for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and (twice) for Distinguished Public Service. He died in 1996 at the age of 62.

And just in case anyone is interested, my own Dad died the same year Sagan died and I am now the age Sagan was when he died.

12/17/2009 03:58:00 PM  
Anonymous SteveP said...

His show Cosmos was one of the reasons I became a scientist. I loved his book and bought it when I was a very poor undergraduate student who could barely afford a meal, but it was too amazing to pass up.

12/18/2009 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Matt W. said...

I dunno. Cosmos has only sold 5 Million copies, where as Dr. Spock's book claims over 50 million sold....

I'm pretty sure Dr. Spock is still in print also, but maybe most would not consider it a "science" book.

I've never read it, but It is interesting to Juxtapose Lee's statement with Hicnkley's later statements.

12/18/2009 02:22:00 PM  
Anonymous John Mansfield said...

Given that the book Cosmos was an appendage to the PBS TV series, its best-selling status most be a little depressing to book writers. A bit like when the highest point in a state is a point on the border approaching a higher point in the neighboring state.

12/18/2009 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

SteveP: It's nice to hear from you again. Sagan really does capture the imagination of non-scientific minds.

Matt W. (re the Spock book): Amazon.com has only used copies available. Also there is no sales rank. And, at Spock ten to every Sagan one, it's obvious that Random House doesn't count Spock as a science book.

John Mansfield: I'm not sure I understand why the Sagan book's best-selling status would be "depressing to book writers."

12/18/2009 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger Doug Towers said...

I would pose that the Bible is the largest selling science book.

Matt W
It should be noted that Dr. Spock's grandson committed suicide and was schizophrenic. This in spite of Dr. Spock's supposed knowledge of how to raise children.

12/25/2009 08:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doug said:

"It should be noted that Dr. Spock's grandson committed suicide and was schizophrenic. This in spite of Dr. Spock's supposed knowledge of how to raise children."

Nobody knows what causes schizophrenia, but the current research indicates a wide range of factors, including possibilities of a biological link.

The notion that schizophrenia and other mental disorders result from poor parenting (as you seem to be suggesting) is hopelessly archaic and deeply hurtful and unfair to parents and relatives of those with mental illness.

I don't know the details of Spock's grandson's death (and I suspect that neither do you), but to suggest that it resulted from Spock's theories or his parents' possible use of those theories, rather than his disease, is ignorant and offensive.

1/16/2010 07:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave C. said...

I don't care about the bestselling science book. More importantly is the most influential science book of all time: Newton's mathematical principles of natural philosophy (Principia).

1/29/2010 11:26:00 AM  

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