Blake Nelson's Reviews > Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives

Denialism by Michael Specter
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Mar 03, 10

bookshelves: science

I have noticed more and more lately that there is a strong anti-science, anti-expert sentiment going around. I've never really understood it - if an important decision needs to be made, then I want the most qualified people involved in making that decision. Why is it that in some circles, advertising how much you don't know seems to be a qualification for high positions or power? A particular pet peeve of mine - why do people trust politicians or other lay people about climate change more than they do climatologists who know what they are talking about? Why do people trust Jenny McCarthy or Oprah when dealing with their health than a doctor?

This book tries to explain some reasons why this may be happening. In a nutshell, scientists are people too, and are subject to the same failings that everyone else is. We recognize these failing in other areas in life, and we have checks and balances to deal with it. For some reason, people want to point at failures in the scientific method as proof that we should not trust any scientist about anything, ignoring the incredible amount of good that has come from science, and ignoring that the checks and balances inherent in science are what exposed and fixed the problems in the first place.

I found the case studies of failure to be instructive (the first chapter talks about Vioxx and how its effects on people with a history of heart issues was suppressed).

The book was a little repetitive at times, but overall it was a good read.
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