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Book of relevance for climate debate

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9781594202308-0

Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives

by Michael Specter

 

Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives Cover

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In this provocative and headline- making book, Michael Specter confronts the widespread fear of science and its terrible toll on individuals and the planet.

In Denialism, New Yorker staff writer Michael Specter reveals that Americans have come to mistrust institutions and especially the institution of science more today than ever before. For centuries, the general view had been that science is neither good nor bad-that it merely supplies information and that new information is always beneficial. Now, science is viewed as a political constituency that isn't always in our best interest. We live in a world where the leaders of African nations prefer to let their citizens starve to death rather than import genetically modified grains. Childhood vaccines have proven to be the most effective public health measure in history, yet people march on Washington to protest their use. In the United States a growing series of studies show that dietary supplements and natural cures have almost no value, and often cause harm. We still spend billions of dollars on them. In hundreds of the best universities in the world, laboratories are anonymous, unmarked, and surrounded by platoons of security guards-such is the opposition to any research that includes experiments with animals. And pharmaceutical companies that just forty years ago were perhaps the most visible symbol of our remarkable advance against disease have increasingly been seen as callous corporations propelled solely by avarice and greed.

post #2 of 6
Certainly sounds relevant.  Do you know if it specifically discusses climate science?
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dana1981 View Post

Certainly sounds relevant.  Do you know if it specifically discusses climate science?

Just ordered it, haven't read it yet.  Specter is on a speaking tour through the U.S.  You could see if he's coming somewhere near you. 
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
I got my copy and am now reading it.  The context of the book is pharmaceuticals and genetically modified food rather than climate.  Specter does draw a lot of parallels to climate, but the focus is on bioethics and denialism in that context.  Still an interesting read, just not directly about climate skeptics. 
post #5 of 6
I'll be heading to the bookstore tonight and considered adding this to my list.  Is it worth my while, or just more preaching to the choir?  I read Dan Agin's Junk Science last year which gives pretty good treatment to things like GMOs, bioethics and the like. 
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
It's "ok" but not great.  Chris Mooney's "The Republican War on Science" was more interesting.  I would wait for it to come out in paperback, or hit the remainder shelves and save some money.  He has a long chapter or two on vitamins and supplements, which I thought was a little overdone.  His take on GMO was somewhat simplistic, since he equates inserting DNA from animals into the genes of food crops as being equivalent to farmers developing new varieties and improving yields by selecting seeds based on the best traits of the parent plants.  I find that notion absurd, and in my opinion that argument should not be used to justify all GMO products. 

I also don't see why he didn't discuss climate skeptics as a classic case of denialism.  Perhaps he didn't want to get hammered by the climate skeptics as well as the food greenies, vitamin fanatics etc. 
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