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Biology: Science for Life


Author: Colleen M. Belk and Virginia M. Borden

Publisher: Prentice Hall


Publish Date: July 7, 2003

ISBN-10: 130892416

Pages: 477

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

As you worked your way through high school, or otherwise worked to prepare yourself for college, you were probably unaware that an information explosion was taking place in the field of biology. This explosion, brought on by advances in biotechnology and communicated by faster, more powerful computers, has allowed scientists to gather data more quickly and disseminate data to colleagues in the global scientific community with the click of a mouse. Every discipline of biology has benefited from these advances, and today’s scientists collectively know more than any individual could ever hope to understand.

Paradoxically, as it becomes more and more difficult to synthesize huge amounts of information from disparate disciplines within the broad field of biology, it becomes more vital that we do so. The very same technologies that led to the information boom, coupled with expanding human populations, present us with complex ethical questions. These questions include whether or not it is acceptable to clone humans, when human life begins and ends, who owns living organisms, what our responsibilities toward endangered species are, and many more. No amount of conceptual understanding alone will provide satisfactory answers to these questions. Addressing these kinds of questions requires the development of a scientific literacy that surpasses the rote memorization of facts. To make decisions that are individually, socially, and ecologically responsible, you must not only understand some fundamental principles of biology but also be able to use this knowledge as a tool to help you analyze ethical and moral issues involving biology.

To help you understand biology and apply your knowledge to an everexpanding suite of issues, we have structured each chapter of Biology: Science for Life around a compelling story in which biology plays an integral role. Through the story you will not only learn the relevant biological principles but you will also see how science can be used to help answer complex questions. As you learn to apply the strategies modeled by the text, you will begin developing your critical thinking skills.

By the time you have read the last chapter, you should have a clear understanding of many important biological principles. You will also be able to think like a scientist and critically evaluate which information is most reliable instead of simply accepting all the information you read in the paper or hear on the radio or television. Even though you may not be planning to be a practicing biologist, well-developed critical thinking skills will enable you to make decisions that affect your own life, such as whether or not to take nutritional supplements, and decisions that affect the lives of others, such as whether or not to believe the DNA evidence presented to you as a juror in a criminal case.

It is our sincere hope that understanding how biology applies to important personal, social, and ecological issues will convince you to stay informed about such issues. On the job, in your community, at the doctor’s office, in the voting booth, and at home reading the paper, your knowledge of the basic biology underlying so many of the challenges that we as individuals and as a society face will enable you to make well-informed decisions for your home, your nation, and your world.

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