New Yorker staff writer Michael Specter has twice won the Global Health Council’s Excellence in Media Award, as well as the Science Journalism Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In Denialism, he fervently argues that people are turning away from new technologies and engaging in a kind of magical thinking that is hindering scientific progress.
©2009 Michael Specter (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC
This book is an example of how “common sense” is not all that common. Tackling many myths about science – and the growing popular belief that science is “evil” but alternatives are “good,” Michael Specter shows us how the scientific method holds the key to the continuing existence of our species. He urges us not to go back to the era when we believed that “science” was all good and urges us to investigate discoveries rationally – not hysterically. He does raise some serious ethical questions – some of which do not have ready answers. This is all the more reason for us to learn how to neither investigate new discoveries with hysteria nor compete faith and acceptance. The book is well narrated – fast paced – and very compelling.
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First, the narrator gives the book the exciting breathless manner the book deserves. Science and education are the best defense we have against the denialist of the scientific method and believers in anecdotal data over reason. Oddly, the best chapter in the book is on Vioxx and how the pharmaceutical companies purposely mislead us on its side effects. That leads to a partial defense wrongly used by anti-immunization zealots justifying their positions for not trusting everything "they" tell us.
I think the book made the conflict of science against denialist a little more pessimistic than things really are. I'm betting on science to win out.
BTW, for the author, if your writing a book on science make sure you get all of your science right. You made a brief statement that how following science would lead one with iron deficiency to eat more iron. Read the book "Half Life of Facts" on how spinach does not contain loads of iron and is just a falsehood.
Raised by humans. Living at the intersection of necessity and free will.
Interesting, though disjointed. Philosophically, the premise of rational thinking will only go as far as incentives to be rational will allow. Only when the individual cost of irrationality is greater than the collective benefit will the behavior change.
The second half of the book is far more interesting from a practical standpoint. Genomics, bio-ethics, bio-engineering, and the framework of knowledge pursuits are all compelling subjects worthy of their own books.
The author sneaks in a fair number of assumptions (or facts with weak bearing to his premise), which is ironic given his position on irrationality.
The summary accurately states "...he fervently argues that people are turning away from new technologies and engaging in a kind of magical thinking that is hindering scientific progress." It is unfortunate that the book was not written by someone with a more scientific and focused approach because his theme is so very important to our future. Surely he would admit that ideology, whether it is religious or nationalistic, is a fundamental force in denialism. A good book would have spent more time on that then on a few anti-vaccine crusaders. Where are the chapters on the evolution deniers, climate change deniers, over population deniers, etc. While his thesis is laudable his approach, which can be insulting and demeaning, can do more harm than good. Never before have I started a book in more agreement with an author and ended it more doubtful.
perhaps but not likely
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