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The Best American Science Writing 2011

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  445 ratings  ·  21 reviews
The 2011 edition of the popular annual series that Kirkus Reviews hailed as “superb brain candy,” Best American Science Writing 2011 continues the tradition of gathering the most crucial, thought-provoking and engaging science writing of the year together into one extraordinary volume. Edited by Rebecca Skloot, award-winning science writer, contributing editor for Popular ...more
Paperback, 327 pages
Published September 27th 2011 by Ecco (first published September 13th 2011)
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Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, essays
This is a wonderful collection of essays about science. Here, the word "science" is loosely defined, and includes a grab-bag of topics, all absolutely fascinating.

Here I learned that the explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig was not the worst aspect of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The disaster was worsened by BP's actions; cover-up, and terrible clean-up operations that worsened the disaster instead of mitigating it. BP used a chemical called Corexit to disperse the oil in and abov
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Short essays in all fields of science and medicine. Nearly every one of them captured my attention at some level. Everything from an essay calculating how far it is possible for a human to hit a baseball to why some of us are human pack rats to a description of some Americans with extremely bizarre appetites to dispensing of medical care on the streets of India. All 21 of the essays are well written, easy to understand and stimulate the curious mind. My favorites are those that cover topics in m ...more
Jan 17, 2012 rated it liked it
As you might expect from a collection like this, you may need to put your cell phone on silent and put the TV on mute: you're about to get some learnin'. Although not every essay is heady or stuffed with esoteric lexicon of the hard sciences, some of them grapple with subjects that, if you wield no working knowledge of its focus, you may feel the vertigo of information overflow (likely to happen in a max of 3 essays that mostly deal with microbiology).

This is not a very large collection; there a
Apr 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: own, 2012
A decent collection of science writing, although a bit on the bleak side. The first three stories were about the author discovering he is a hoarder, a father being kept alive by pacemaker while suffering dementia, and a mother who has two sons diagnosed with a rare form of muscular dystrophy, and her attempts to procure funding for research. What's great about these articles is that even when they occasionally get technical, they never feel too pretentious or bogged down.

May 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
I love this series and always find it thought-provoking and full of good writing - this year is no exception. The pieces on hoarding (written by a hoarder!) and the craziness of medical care for the elderly (and our messed up health care system) were especially good. Very recommended.
Sep 20, 2011 rated it liked it
While some of the stories were a bit boring, most of them (especially "The Mess He Made") were quite interesting! ...more
Aug 30, 2016 rated it really liked it

Good times!

Pick this up and learn about the following, and more:

- The incredibly-sad story of a pacemaker extending a family's suffering and a look at the policies and ethics of life extension etc.

- A mother sets out to slow or cure a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy (Duchenne) to save people from the disease that killed her sons. She fights hard to change the minds and policies of doctors and administrators, and to fight against a corrupt and broken financially-motivated medical system. Incident
Feb 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Really interesting collection of reprinted articles on science-related topics taken from (mainly) non-scientific magazines and newspapers (New Yorker, NYT, Washington Post, Vanity Fair etc). Covers topics as diverse as Deepwater Horizon, the psychopathology of hoarding, technological advances in the fight against TB, mathematical models of the behaviour of terrorist groups, moronic weathercasters in the US who don’t know the difference between weather and climate and are providing unwitting assi ...more
Sep 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best anthologies I've ever read. Rebecca and Floyd Skloot gathered some of the most engaging and compelling pieces of science writing in this volume; my favorites include: "The Animal Cruelty Syndrome" by Charles Siebert, "Mother Courage" by John Colapinto, and "The Estrogen Dilemma" by Cynthia Gorney. It's hard to review anthologies, because by nature they are fragmented and composed of so many different styles, but this extremely digestible volume is a must read for anyone w ...more
I obviously like the Best American series since I have ten volumes from six different series on my bookshelf here. I have more of them on my real wooden bookcases, that I glance through from time to time. I know that trying to keep up with these series is an impossible task, but I keep acquiring them.

I suspect family and friends would prefer that I didn't read this kind of book. My inclination when I learn new facts that are fascinating to me, is to share them with anyone within earshot. So whil
Nov 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011-reads
The standouts in the collection were Charles Homans's unsettling expose "Hot Air," on TV weathercasters' conservative and anti-scientific views of global warming and climate change (and their tendency to apply metereological models to climatological events); Cynthia Gorney's "The Estrogen Dilemma" on new medical thinking on estrogen replacement therapy since the Women's Health Initiative (and some vital missing- and mis-information that has not been corrected in the public's minds); the particul ...more
A very well-curated collection of science essays spanning from perennial sources The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, and Discover to Vanity Fair and Mother Jones to the Speakeasy Science and Not Exactly Rocket Science blogs. Great breadth of sources.

Must-read articles include "What Broke My Father's Heart" (included in The Best American Essays 2011, "BP's Dark Secrets", "The Estrogen Dilemma" (this one is really good, I took a course in clinical epidemiology from one of the original res
Charles Eliot
Mar 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Good collection of informative and thought-provoking articles.

The article about why TV weathermen are sceptical about climate change was particularly scary. Two of the common arguments against the reality of climate change go like this. Argument 1: "If temperatures are gradually going up, why are we getting such severe winters?" Argument 2: "Weather is notoriously variable and hard to predict. How can you be confident you've found this small signal you're calling climate change in all the normal
Margaret Sankey
Apr 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Somehow I missed this one and had to double back--another fine anthology of popular science writing, with the highlights being pieces on the psychological basis of hoarding, the damage done by many TV weather people being climate change deniers, the connection between domestic and animal abuse, Cary Grant's therapy using LSD, the statistician responsible for tracking catastrophic high school sports injuries, how gut bacteria acquired from eating nori helps many Japanese extract better nutrition ...more
Feb 20, 2012 added it
Shelves: nonfiction
"The Mess He Made" -- author's personal experience with hoarding. Not very science-y, but interesting.

"What Broke My Father's Heart" -- another personal essay, about the downside of a pacemaker artificially extending the life of an elderly man unable to care for himself after a stroke. Powerful & informative.
Jun 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Always like this series.
Dec 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Definitely worth a read!
May 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, essays
Well worth reading, the articles are still timely. I recommend it.
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Rebecca Skloot is an award winning science writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine; O, The Oprah Magazine; Discover; and many other publications. She specializes in narrative science writing and has explored a wide range of topics, including goldfish surgery, tissue ownership rights, race and medicine, food politics, and packs of wild dogs in Manhattan. She has worked as a co ...more

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