Steve Van Slyke's Reviews > Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America

Fool Me Twice by Shawn Lawrence Otto
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's review
Jan 10, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: current-events, kindle, science, skepticism
Recommended to Steve by: GoodReads:David
Recommended for: Science lovers
Read from January 06 to 12, 2012

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 the top rank of countries in terms of its leadership in science education, respect for scientists, and its trust in reason over faith and opinion.

He discusses how journalists over the last several decades have dropped the ball in their responsibility to inform the public based on knowledge rather than opinion. Perhaps it's a generation-gap issue for me, but I somehow missed the whole post-modernist idea that it is only fair to give competing ideas equal weight even if one is based on hard-won, experimentally determined facts while the other is nothing more than the opinion of an ideology. Maybe that's why it seems to me that journalists today, particularly the mainstream variety, are afraid to really tackle sensitive but hugely important topics such as human population growth and its effects.

Here's one of many great quotes:

“If knowledge does not have primacy in public decision-making, then no truth can be said to be self-evident and we are left with the tyranny of ideology enforced by might.”

I found enlightening his description of why Al Gore's documentary/book, “An Inconvenient Truth,” not only failed to sway conservatives, it hardened their positions. The author says, “If you want to get people to vote against something, particularly Republicans, you need to get them angry about it, not scared of it, and if you want them to vote for something, you sell them hope and freedom.” He adds that you need to make science the answer, not the messenger, and avoid using a partisan political figure as the spokesperson.

His discussion of Garrett Hardin's concept the, “tragedy of the commons” was similarly instructive. We are no longer in an age where one more smokestack or one more high-tech tuna boat won't make an impact on the “common property of humankind.” I am appalled at the stupidity and/or greed of politicians and those who voted for them who fail to understand this.

“In a capitalistic and democratic system, my freedom to do as I wish is moral and just to the degree that it does not reduce your freedom to do the same.”

Perhaps I should not care because in one sense I have no dog in this hunt (no children), and yet I do care and this book only increased that feeling.
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