The Geek Manifesto: Why science matters
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The Geek Manifesto: Why science matters

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  263 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Britain's leading science journalist makes an agenda-setting argument that science matters to every aspect of politics with a rallying call to all geeks, wannabe geeks, and secret geeks to join together in a new force our leaders cannot ignore. There has never been a better time to be a geek (or a nerd, or a dork). What was once an insult used to marginalize those curious...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 10th 2012 by Bantam Press (first published May 1st 2012)
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Marc
I am nearly finished, and struggling to finish. Not that I don't agree with most of what Henderson says, just that he uses so many words to say it. I guess I am what you call the choir he is preaching to, and I have lived in the world of science geeks for a lot of my adult life. Most of what I read, has been painfully obvious to me every day so I guess I'm not the best person to review it. I still think that most of the arguments could have been a bit more concise.
Brian Clegg
It’s interesting that the ‘added puff’ fake sticker on the front of this book calls it ‘important’ because that is actually a very informative word about this book. What is packed into ‘important’ is that this is a really essential topic with lots of well argued material… but it’s a bit boring. And that’s kind of how I felt about the book.

In a way it suffers from the target of my agent’s non-fiction mantra: ‘Is this a book or is it an article?’ I felt that this really was more an article taken t...more
Bob Drake
This is a great book for those with a science/engineering background or anyone with an interest in rationality and the importance of the scientific method. Henderson's premise is simple; the world needs more rational thinking, in politics, economics, government etc, but the very people who embody rational thought, the Geeks, are under-represented in these areas. The Geek Manifesto is a call to arms for rational thinkers to take back the ground lost to the pseudo-scientists, the religious zealots...more
Simon Clare
I'd only have given it 2 stars until I got to the "Geeks and Greens" chapter, which was the only part I thought that actually contributed anything to the world.
While I generally agree with Henderson's views, there is nothing new here at all. I was expecting so much more considering the gushing reviews given by skeptics. I can't see this book changing the minds of anyone who didn't already value science. It's kind of a summary of the things that are already happening with a wish for more of the...more
Bastian Greshake
A call for action for scientists and geeks alike. A great book on why it's important that geeks get involved with politics, why science is important for politics and what actions can be of help to make science matter for politicians. While the book has its focus strongly on the UK (most examples which are given are from there. I think because Henderson is UK-based and works as Head of Communications for the Wellcome Trust) most ideas are equally suited for other countries. Worth reading for all...more
Cathy
"The Geek Manifesto: Why Science Matters to Government" is an attempt to encourage the active participation of scientists and geeks in political life. Henderson primarily addresses the misuse of science for political reasons. Themes within the media, justice, education and health are given as examples to explain the lack of knowledge about the scientific method and science-based evidence, and the distortion that is often made in the name of a "higher polical cause."
Personally, I enjoyed listeni...more
Paul
I have an issue with how to rate this book.

on the one hand it's powerful and important, a much needed scientific injection in the otherwise person-led domain of politics. It is important that every voter pays attention to the information imparted here, but they probably won't get it from this book.

Mark Henderson, for everything he's got right in this book, has failed to inspire enthusiasm in his writing. I myself am one of the geeks that this book claims to be a manifesto for - I get excited whe...more
Julia Maddock
Important reading for those who care about science, but even more so for those who care how society functions and whether decisions are made based on evidence or dogma. The need for evidence touches every area of life, from how we educate children to which health services we provide. Mark Henderson explores how science and evidence interact with politics, education, the media, healthcare and the environment. A very knowledgeable insight in some of the major decisions taken in the UK and whether...more
Aurelien
It's a sad fact that, in societies relying so much on science and technology the great majority of our policy makers (politicians etc.) and, people truly having an impact on public opinion at large (the media) have no clue about what science really entails. If part of science is, indeed, a set of knowledge and all the products coming out of that knowledge (for instance, the technologies our economies rely so much upon) it is, also and most of all, a way of thinking -a critical scepticism strongl...more
Sam
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand it is very informative and shows how important science really in to the world and how it influences pretty much everything from health to the environment despite how little credence is actually given to it. Then on the other hand Henderson is very much preaching to the converted. There is little in here that will get the non-geek up in arms about the lack of importance given to science and those of us who work in it, which to me should've been a...more
Jill
In Geek Manifesto, Mark Henderson makes a compelling case for why scientific thinking matters and how it is relevant to every aspect of society - whether in politics, the economy, policymaking, education, justice, etc. It is perhaps a book most useful for those who haven't really thought about the relevance of science in our society, who have spent most of their lives in the humanities and think of science as the esoteric stuff of labs and white coats. Henderson unpacks how and why science is wo...more
Andrew
The title of this book makes me wince. I know that a lot of scientists, engineers and techy folk like to think that the word ‘geek’ is no longer pejorative and is now a label to be worn with pride; however I am pretty sure that the anti-intellectual culture that has resided within the majority of UK society since the War means that the rest of the population would disagree with that. Those it’s seeking to influence might well deride something called a Geek Manifesto. Which is a shame, because it...more
Elizabeth Hauke
The book may be subtitled "Why Science Matters', but actually it's about a whole lot more than that. The book tackles how science is being used and abused in our political system (and a little about the US political system). However, in taking us through the problems in various areas - such as science in the media, policy making, education, justice and healthcare - it talks about much more than the simple (or rather complex) interface of scientific evidence and method with politics. It talks abo...more
Tim
This book has some interesting ideas and points. It is an interesting and generally well written and uses lots of examples to illustrate the extent of the problem. It would be good if we could encourage government and other policy makers to use evidence based methods and used randomised trials to establish the effectiveness of policies. And the author is right that people involved or interested in science could do better at explaining the benefits of this approach.

I guess I have a couple problem...more
Leonard Entwistle
Afraid this just wasn't my cup of tea. Admire anyone who has the stamina, conviction, and doggedness to wade through it. Had to bale out at page 26. This is the sort of book you'd read in the dentist waiting room if nothing else was available!
Hayley Fletcher
A must read. It's a sad state of affairs that such a book is needed. The unwillingness to assess policies and do what works is a pitiful failure. The section on education contains some crucial observations about the curriculum it would be nice to know were being seriously considered.

Perhaps I am one of the converted and I've read many books on this topic, but it wasn't totally engaging throughout. There were one or two factual errors and a little bit of self-indulgence in parts that didn't sit t...more
Ernest


Clearly written and clearly passionate about the subject, Henderson presents both a disappointing and at times despairing look at the misuse, abuse and ignorance of science and the times where the scientific method and science has been rationally used. His call for not only more scientific thinking and rationale but also a greater awareness of the use and misuse of science is not only welcomed but also needed. I do wonder, however, how much traction this call will get - those who hold this view...more
Paul
In an unashamedly direct appeal to the geek community, Mark Henderson presents a discussion of the multitude of areas in which good science and critical thinking are ignored, misunderstood or actively attacked. He also talks about the harm that arises from these non-scientific attitudes and what we, as geeks, can do about it.

The Geek Manifesto isn't a set of specific policy prescriptions. Rather, it is concerned with the way in which policy is developed (often very badly indeed) and calls for a...more
Timothy
Fantastic! I cannot recommend this enough. Henderson articulates perfectly how science and evidence are lacking from politics and society in general and what should be done about it. People who liked 'Bad Science' will love this.
Amjad
If only the author was brief in most of what he has discussed!
Wally Muchow
The manifesto part of this book concerns what the author calls geeks getting more involved in society and the political process in order to enforce their view of reality as an important component of civilization. By geeks the author seems to include scientists and those interested in science or skeptical about such pseudo scientific issues as homeopathy and and anti-vaccination believers as well as global warming deniers.
It is full of anecdotes of what happens when Geeks are not involved as well...more
Patrick
I agree with nearly everything that Mark Henderson says in this book, but it's not the most interesting read. He doesn't really say anything that Ben Goldacre didn't say more eloquently in 'Bad Science' - save perhaps for the chapter on education, which contained a few ideas I hadn't seen before. It's also rather repetitious, as if it began life as a series of newspaper articles that got stretched out into a book. And can we please not start using 'geek' as a verb?
Steve Davis
Overall it wasn't too bad. The main point was pretty sensible, but it dragged on and on and on. It probably could have been a third of the length without really missing too much. Even though the book was preaching to the choir in my case, I still took away a few new things to think about.

Well worth the read, but it might be better to read a chapter at a time every now and then rather than reading it in one go so the repetition doesn't get too tedious.
Graham
Given that it's called a 'Manifesto' I was expecting a forward plan rather than a series of case studies. It's in a very similar style to Ben Goldacre's 'Bad Science'. I'm glad I read it, and I learned a lot of details, but I'm not sure it gave me any new insights. I suspect it will help consolidate the strength of 'geek' opinion, but I doubt it will do more than preach to the converted...unless it is widely discussed in the media. Love the cover.
Robert
Although I agree with the point(s) at that Mr. Henderson labours on about, it really did feel like I was reading a book wrote by some old granny who never stops whining about every single topic that the human race can cultivate. Not sure about the usage of the word Geek in this title either. I would not recommend this to anyone.
Campbell
A very interesting take on science and its current role in public policy. I really appreciated that he took time to examine science in policy domains outside of health and the economy. In particular, I feel that I benefited from his discussion about randomly controlled trials in education.
Solange
very interesting and important book for all scientists/geeks/nerds out there.
rhythm of the book can be a bit slow and sometimes feels like a newspaper column, but this doesn't detract from the research and clear exposition of his thoughts and opinions

highly recommended
David
I agree with a lot of what gets put forth in the book, but I'm not sure if that's just conformation bias. I would recommend it to someone who wanted to be involved in Science Politics, as long as it's read with a critical eye.
Holstein
Makes some good points, but if policies were more evidenced-based, politicians in today's world would be accused of being unreliable if they adjusted their position too far, even if it was in light of newly published data.
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“Politicians know that if they fail to engage with the gay community, and fail to develop coherent positions on the issues that concern them, they risk punishment at the ballot box. If we can do that for science, we will have made an outstanding start.” 0 likes
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