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

Denialism by Michael Specter
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's review
Apr 04, 2011

liked it

An OK survey of 'deniers' of modern science such as the anti-vaccine or alternative healing crowds. On one level it's a well written and well researched polemic--I certainly learned quite a bit about various movements, something about the science of different areas, and got quite worked up in places.

On another level, though, it's sort of oddly unsatisfying. By the end I got the feeling that Specter was primarily an optimist who just likes scientists as people and gets annoyed with idiotic conspiracy theories about pharmaceutical companies. But while he's aware that not every invention is good, or put to good use (the Vioxx chapter is excellent), he's mostly picking fights with popular-but-ignorant movements that don't require engagement on more challenging questions. Good if you want to stock up on arguments, so-so if you're curious about actual scientific work.

The decision not to give a chapter to creationism or climate skeptics (although he acknowledges both as 'deniers' in passing) is also a bit strange--is the homeopathic crowd really causing more damage than they are? I do suspect it's because his main focus is on fallacies embraced by the sorts of people he knows. and he doesn't hang out with that sort of person at dinner parties.
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