"Wherever the people are well informed," Thomas Jefferson wrote, "they can be trusted with their own government." But what happens when they are not? In every issue of modern society - from climate change to vaccinations, transportation to technology, health care to defense - we are in the midst of an unprecedented expansion of scientific progress and a simultaneous expansion of danger. At the very time we need them most, scientists and the idea of objective knowledge are being bombarded by a vast, well-funded, three-part war on science: the identity politics war on science, the ideological war on science, and the industrial war on science.
The result is an unprecedented erosion of thought in Western democracies as voters, policymakers, and justices actively ignore the evidence from science, leaving major policy decisions to be based more on the demands of the most strident voices.
Shawn Lawrence Otto's provocative new book investigates the historical, social, philosophical, political, and emotional reasons for why and how evidence-based politics are in decline and authoritarian politics are once again on the rise, and offers a vision, an argument, and some compelling solutions to bring us to our collective senses, before it's too late.
©2016 Shawn Otto (P)2016 Post Hypnotic Press Inc.
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In an emergency, medics are taught to look for those that are not speaking among those who are screaming for help. In a similar light, we may be missing those most important scientific voices because they can’t be heard above the din of media attention some unscientific work gets. In the audiobook, The War on Science: Who's Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It, by Shawn Otto, it’s clear that the issue is complex and he doesn’t shy away from the whole story. In this 20- hour volume, which resembles an eloquent offering from the Great Courses line-up, we get the full story from beginning to end, that we as a country, are often in the dark.
The volume couldn’t be timelier as the new administration, whether you are for or against, puts stops on the dissemination of information from the USDA, the CDC, and EPA. Before tackling the current issues, it makes sense to look back at the rise and decline of our leader's desire for scientific evidence.
Who would want to listen to twenty hours of content? Scientists. policymakers, and those with a vested interest in science and government that want the free and transparent distribution of information. The writing is at a very high and sometimes inaccessible level for many and the sheer depth of research would normally make it difficult to digest. However, the logic is sound, the arguments clear, and well documented. The expectation for many would be to listen from beginning to end, but with multiple parts, chronological movement from a presidential policy of one administration to another, it becomes difficult to follow if in that way. It is really, I believe, a great catalyst for upper-level undergraduate or graduate classroom discussion. The book provides a great return on investment for the single credit Audible charges.
About the Narrator
Peter Berkrot is a veteran narrator with a few hundred titles on Audible.com alone. I first listened to him with The Design of Everyday Things, a classic from Donald A. Norman and his voice works especially well for non-fiction. With his readings of the 30-hour Untold History of the United States and other classics, it’s not just a veteran narrator, but a key fit.
Audiobook was provided for review by the publisher.
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His style of breathless excitement punctuated with pregnant pauses conjures up a vision of a revival preacher- exactly not the tone needed. Way too many "air quotes" phrasing.
while I already agree with most of the aim of the book, Otto ironically drops the ball on several issues of fact. e.g. I went back to listen again to Ike's farewell speech- he did indeed warn of the Military Industrial Complex, but that had NO spill-over to the Science establishment. Also- I am part of the Baby Boomers who hid under desks & heard the bomb survival instructions. I am not, as are my classmates, horribly scared into an anti-science trance. Did not happen.
Worst, he several times mentions the Toxic Chemicals things in the environment (Pesticides!! Run!!) with no mention of any science about the actual toxicity or effect on human disease. The Skeptical Community spends a lot of time debunking those kind of rants and try to demonstrate perspective. Otto fails badly.
An important topic, but I can't comment on the writing because I threw in the towel before the end of the first chapter. The narration is extremely over-dramatic and sales-y - to a degree that would put me off under any circumstance, but especially as the delivery of a rational political and scientific arguement.
In all fairness..... I only listened to about 20% of this book before i stopped... (I am only writing this because there was no review that informed me as to the type of book it is)... from the few hours I did listen... I came away with the following distinct impression:
If you're in the camp that takes AGW (anthropogenic global warming ) as a given, and that anyone who does not agree is a "Climate Denier" (on par with a Holocaust denier), ... then this is your book. If you take it for granted that atheistic materialism is the only a-priori understanding for "Science", and that the big bang and evolution (pre-biotic as well as biological evolution) are a fact.....then this is the book for you.
If you think that Science has some more proving to do before it can make these giant claims --- and therefore be able to argue morally, philosophically and politically how you should understand the world..(predominately from a progressive perspective...where consensus driven Scientism properly informs your world-view) then this book will only frustrate you.
.just and an FYI.
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