Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America” as Want to Read:
Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  396 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
"Whenever the people are well informed," Thomas Jefferson wrote, "they can be trusted with their own government."

But what happens in a world dominated by complex science? Are the people still well-enough informed to be trusted with their own government? And with less than 2 percent of Congress with any professional background in science, how can our government be trusted t
Hardcover, 376 pages
Published October 11th 2011 by Rodale Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Fool Me Twice, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Fool Me Twice

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Richard Derus
Nov 14, 2011 Richard Derus rated it it was amazing
#ReadingIsResistance to lies. The ones about science aren't far behind the whoppers the White House issued on Day 1 about the small crowds attending the inauguration. FOOL ME TWICE at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud got 4+ stars when I first read it with a worried frown six years ago; now the stakes are huge, please please go and educate yourself before the Great and Powerful Oz blows smoke in your eyes!
Nov 26, 2011 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, politics
This is an excellent book about the attitude toward science in America. Both Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin strongly believed that science and knowledge are important to democracy, and Timothy Ferris, in his book The Science of Liberty: Democracy, Reason, and the Laws of Nature showed how important democracy is to the development of science. However, more and more in our society, science is either ignored or even assaulted on many fronts.

The media do not do a good job in presenting the f
Aug 31, 2011 Andrew rated it really liked it
Shelves: amazon-vine
[This review is based on an Advanced Uncorrected Manuscript copy]

From the continuing battles over the teaching of evolution in our schools, to those politicians that deny the validity of the scientific evidence of global climate change and to the celebrities that continue to publicly support the idea that vaccines are linked to autism in spite of the lack of supporting evidence, it seems that science is under attack from all sides. Science, it is argued, is no longer the solution, but part of th
Nov 17, 2011 Nancy rated it liked it
Shelves: science
The author identifies three anti-science movements -- religious fundamentalism, vested business interests and postmodern identity politics. With enemies on all sides, no wonder science is in trouble.

Otto includes suggestions for engaging various anti-science advocates but this is not a book that would appeal to (or convince) someone in any of three groups mentioned above. Hopefully more scientists will reach out as sales representatives for the scientific method and for the science behind the is
Kyle Worlitz
Oct 20, 2011 Kyle Worlitz rated it it was amazing
This may be the biggest problem facing America today. Anti-science crazies have hijacked a large percentage of public discourse. One of the reasons I'm in education.
Amy L. Campbell
Note: Received free advance reader copy from FirstReads program.

This book explained so much to me about why the American political system is stuck in rhetoric and unwilling to base decisions on fact and sound judgment rather than political platform or party byline. Otto outlines several factors for the degradation of respect for science including science itself due to a lack of focus on outreach and mishandling misinformation and mistakes that were published. Other culprits include sloppy journa
Leanna Aker
Dec 04, 2011 Leanna Aker rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I have read in years, no joke. I am a science teacher, and continually shocked and frustrated by the number of students who say science is irrelevant to them.... Despite cool labs and structures I have in place. This book chronicles the aspects of loss of respect for science, including historical effects, religion, politics, psychology, rhetoric, etc. It is full of interesting ideas and anecdotes, and some suggestions for how to address (and not address) the problem ...more
Steve Van Slyke
Jan 10, 2012 Steve Van Slyke rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Science lovers
Recommended to Steve by: GoodReads:David
This is an important book for anyone who loves science. As one who shudders when he hears beliefs put forth as facts, and scientific theories described as unproven alternatives to equally viable answers, it is comforting to read such a well-reasoned and clearly written defense of the scientific process and the knowledge that it provides.

But at the same time it is depressing because it is hard to argue the author's conclusion that the USA is, and has been for some time, on a downward slide from t
Genine Franklin-Clark
Wow. This book is so worth reading. Told from a scientist's perspective, it informs about a wealth of subjects, all linked, giving evidence for claims, describing why we have become so anti-science, (scientists are largely to blame)and offering concrete, rational solutions to the problem.

I urge everyone to read it, whatever your political or religious leanings. It makes sense. How often do you get that?
Bradley Jarvis
Jan 08, 2012 Bradley Jarvis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
"Fool Me Twice" provides a valuable perspective on the history of science in the U.S., in terms of how it's been perceived and used in shaping people's lives. Otto makes the case that now, more than ever, public policy depends on the reality-based understanding of the world that it is science's main job to provide, yet for several reasons it is being disregarded, demonized, and sabotaged. Meanwhile, much of the rest of the world is nurturing scientific inquiry and taking its insights seriously, ...more
Jan 17, 2012 masttek rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-2012
Some choice quotes:

The larger issue is that science is walled off form the general population, a subject left to experts, science museums, universities, and the odd science festival. It has become commoditized and the public is merely presented with the conclusions and not exposed to the process. And in its absence, other powers have rushed in to fill the vacuum in the public dialogue, making science into their whipping boy when its conclusions don't support their ideological predilections. This
Oct 03, 2011 Keelan rated it it was amazing
This book should be mandatory reading, especially during the current election season. I could only read this book in small doses because the portrait it paints for America's future is a bit discouraging, and I needed time to really think about what I was reading. The book is written with a sense of urgency, and at times I felt as though the author was almost desperate to connect with the reader, to demonstrate how very serious things are getting in American society. The book has been researched ...more
Nov 27, 2011 Sandra rated it it was amazing
I found this book of enormous personal help since I have been grappling with why, why, why Americans have become so rejecting of science and scientists and what this bodes for our future. Over-population, fuel depletion, global warming, environmental degradation and the takeover of our country (and other countries) by fundamental religious fanatics of various stripes is of enormous concern to me, and Shawn Otto does a phenomenal job of explaining exactly how and why that has happened, no holds b ...more
Alison Coe
Oct 11, 2011 Alison Coe rated it it was ok
While I think this book intended to have a good message that all people should know of before the next election, it just isn't written for the masses. It is dry, terribly organized, and just very dull. As a scientist I found that this should have been tailored to the general masses who may not realize that this is a problem rather than the persons in the scientific community who know all too well this problem exists.
Jan 11, 2012 John rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, history
Imagine if you will, a United States of America in which the Republican Party was extolling the virtues of scientific knowledge and its implications for American public policy, while the Democratic Party was seen as the one acting contrary to our best interests, woefully ignorant in current understanding of science; a most unlikely historical "fact" stolen from the pages of some vividly imagined, ornately written, steampunk science fiction novel. Impossible, you, the intrepid reader might say, o ...more
Oct 28, 2011 Book rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America by Shawn Lawrence Otto

"Fool Me Twice" is the direct, non-apologetic book about the anti-science crisis in America. Shawn Lawrence Otto provides the reader with not only the current state of science illiteracy in America but also the background and what we can do to combat it in the best interest of our democracy. This hard-hitting 384-page book is broken out into the following five parts: Part I. America's Science Problem, Part II. Yester
Mar 20, 2012 Ginny rated it liked it
There's little to disagree with here. Yep - science is under attack and if this country is going to keep from falling into a state of abject disgrace, we need once again to value science in the public sphere. Yep - this country is religious to an extent seldom seen in the developed world and if science is going to get the backing it needs, it should find a way to work with religious leaders. Yep - if we don't get back on track in valuing science in this country, we're going to (continue to) make ...more
Emily Park
Oct 07, 2011 Emily Park rated it it was amazing

This review is of a digital copy provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley.

In Fool Me Twice, Shawn Lawrence Otto discusses the divide between politics and science present in America today. Pointing out that we are living in an increasingly scientifically complex world, Otto writes about the implications of having a Congress where less than 2% of the members have a background in a science field. He also talks about how the media has done very little to
Gerald Kinro
Mar 10, 2012 Gerald Kinro rated it it was ok
The author does establish the disconnect between science and the general public. I especially enjoyed the historical aspects of this divide. I felt his representation of science as two-dimensional or “my way or the highway,” not to my thinking however. I somehow feel that the scientific world is much more complex than two apples plus three apples equals five apples. Doubts come from the conclusions incurred by the sum or how the sum was obtained, the methodology. Much of the scientific informati ...more
May 10, 2012 josh rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all of the world
Recommended to josh by: shelf @ UAPL
if you care at all about the future of our nation, planet, our common stock of knowledge and the scientific endeavors (or you don't) - i would classify this book as a "must read" in the pursuit of Disciplina in civitatem & a better informed citizenry.

wow. i don't even know where to begin. first up, i rarely ever dole out 5-star ratings. so that's saying something right there.

i'm a social scientist. i'm also a public administration professional. this book looks at a handful of huge issues tha
Mar 11, 2014 Matt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
Amazing book. It starts slow, then seems to diverge from the subject and go into a history of science itself. Otto ties this into the subject perfectly by showing how the Enlightenment shaped the founding fathers' viewpoints on freedom (in particular the influence on Jefferson's Declaration of Independence). From this, he launches into the history of science in America, which seems to be another divergence, but the shift from science to anti-science happened so gradually, that this is the heart ...more
Jan 15, 2012 David rated it really liked it
The author addresses an important topic, namely the increasingly strident opposition to modern science seen in the American media. There has always been an undercurrent of anti-science thought, notably by creationists and others who view modern science as an assault on the Bible. But in recent years, this has extended to issues such as global warming (and numerous others that the author so deftly describes).

On the other hand, the author is less clear in what can be done. My own view is that only
Jan 18, 2012 Kirsten rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. Pulls no punches on how we got here. Scientists, society, culture, religion-all play a role. At times it was so anger inducing I had to put it down. The truth hurts. Not only does the author systematically break down how we've reached this point, he explains what needs to be done to move away from it. So it is not just one long complaint. The chapters and detailed explanations on evolution, climate change deniers, and vaccines are particularly noteworthy. Anti-science comes from ...more
Andrew Jones
Nov 04, 2011 Andrew Jones rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Fantastic book exploring the deeply troubling conflicts the American people have with science. He deftly explores the history and evolution of antiscience sentiments. Though the majority of the modern antiscience viewpoint resides in the right wing, Otto does a great job of making it clear that the problem permeates all of American society and can be found on both the right and left of the political spectrum. Though science is political in the sense that it challenges any claim to authority, it ...more
Aug 24, 2012 Nathan rated it it was ok
Shelves: law-policy
I agree entirely with the sentiment of this book, and it contains some good points. But it's simply not that well written, and far too slanted in its approach for me to rate it very highly. It also approaches a lot of deep, fascinating topics in a fairly shallow manner. Anyone who agrees with the author is likely to enjoy the book, but anyone who disagrees is simply going to throw it out the window, defeating the purpose of authoring such a work.
Mar 23, 2012 Michelle rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. Helps clarify why there is so much public discord on science and some of the changes that have caused these difficulties. Gives scientists a number of ideas of things we can do to help rectify the situation.
Jan 05, 2012 Terry marked it as to-read
I keep buying books way faster than I read them. This does not bode well for whoever cleans out my house when I die.
Aug 11, 2012 Caroline rated it it was amazing
If you need a good book to read before the next election - read this!
Tom Nyman
Nov 22, 2016 Tom Nyman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well researched and well written.

I am puzzled by how a few scientists can deny climate change in the face of overwhelming evidence and I expected some sort of a rant from Mr. Otto. Instead I got a thoroughly researched and well reasoned book about the battle for science throughout the years. The book is comprehensive. It approaches the issue from a number of facets. I come from a religious background and I am ashamed of the religious people hide behind archaic religious beliefs to deny the real
Samuel Lubell
Dec 11, 2016 Samuel Lubell rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is an interesting account on how politics and religion have fought against science (since it presented a rival version of truth) and how science let this happen. It could have done more to admit that one political party has taken the lead in denying science, but it tried to be evenhanded (even though it admits that for the media portraying both sides as legitimate is part of the problem).
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Myth of Choice: Personal Responsibility in a World of Limits
  • Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future
  • Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives
  • Don't Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style
  • Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud
  • Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul
  • Pinched: How the Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures and What We Can Do About It
  • Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming
  • The Best Science Writing Online 2012 (Open Laboratory)
  • What's Wrong with Fat?
  • Before the Lights Go Out: Conquering the Energy Crisis Before It Conquers Us
  • Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk
  • The Borderlands of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense
  • What's My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States
  • Michelle Obama: In Her Own Words
  • Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science
  • Suckers: How Alternative Medicine Makes Fools of Us All
  • Doubt Is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health
Shawn Lawrence Otto is an award-winning screenwriter, novelist and science advocate who wrote and coproduced the movie House of Sand and Fog, which was nominated for three Academy Awards. Sins of Our Fathers, a literary crime novel, is his first novel. It earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly and is a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Otto is also the producer of the US Presi
More about Shawn Lawrence Otto...

Share This Book

“...Today the invisible hand seems confused and indecisive...Ideology and rhetoric increasingly guide policy decision, often bearing little relationship to factual reality. And the America we once knew seems divided and angry, defiantly embracing unreason.” 4 likes
More quotes…