Science is a Sacred Cow

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Science is a Sacred Cow is a book writen by the chemist Anthony Standen. It was first published in 1950 by E.P. Dutton and Co. It was in print for 40 years[1]. The book argues that some scientists and many teachers of science have "inflated egos"[1] or, in the words of Standen, "a fabulous collective ego, as inflated as a skillfully blown piece of bubble gum"[2]. The book was widely reviewed[3].


Part of the book's thesis is that the general public and students of science hold the words of scientists in awe even when these are merely "latinized nonsense"[1]. According to a March 1950 issue of Time magazine, Standen's concerns are that scientists can be and have been "overbearing," "overpraised," and "overindulged"[4]. The book was once praised by one of the great scientists: Albert Einstein[1]. An editorial note in the March 27, 1950 issue of Life magazine introducing several pages[5] of excerpts and a half dozen editorial cartoons from Sacred Cow states "With tongue-in-cheek hyperbole, [Standen] suggests that a group that takes itself so seriously deserves some serious skepticism. Life—without taking all Mr. Standen's funmaking too seriously—thinks he deserves a happy hearing"[6].


The book is 221 pages in length. It has eight chapters. Chapter one "They Say It's Wonderful." Chapter two "How They Dish It Out." Chapter three "Science at Its Best: Physics." Chapter four "Biology, or Know Thyself" Chapter five "The Proper Study: Psychology." Chapter six "The Social Animal." Chapter seven "True Sciene: Mathematics." Chapter eight "Watch Those Scientists."


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Obit of Anthony Standen, June 25, 1993, New York Times
  2. Life, March 27, 1950, page 104
  3. List of review citations
    • Chemical and Engineering News, R. L. Kenyon, volume 28 (June 19 1950), page 2122
    • Chicago Sunday Tribune, Fritz Leiber (Mar. 12 1950), page 14
    • The Christian Science Monitor, Karl Willenbrock (Mar. 31 1950), page 18
    • Commentary magazine, Nathan Glazer (August 1950), "Science Is a Sacred Cow, by Anthony Standen" (abstract of review)
    • New York Herald Tribune, Stuart Chase (Apr. 23 1950), page 12
    • The New Yorker, volume 26 (Mar. 11 1950), page 104
    • The Quarterly Review of Biology, Volume 25, Issue 3 (September 1950), pages 317-318
    • Saturday Review of Literature, E. DeGolyer, volume 33 (Apr. 8 1950), page 29
    • Science, Morrison, P., Volume 111, Issue 2893 (June 1950), page 636
    • Time, "Is vs. Ought", (Monday Mar. 27 1950)
  4. Time magazine, "Is vs. Ought", (Monday Mar. 27 1950)
  5. Life, March 27, 1950, pages 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 110, 112, and 114
  6. Life, March 27, 1950, page 103

External links