Denialism : how irrational thinking hinders scientific progress, harms the planet, and threatens our lives / Michael Specter
- Specter, Michael
- New York, N.Y. : Penguin Press, 2009.
- Physical Description:
- 294 pages ; 24 cm
- Vioxx and the fear of science -- Vaccines and the Great Denial -- The organic fetish -- The era of echinacea -- Race and the language of life -- Surfing the exponential.
- "Americans mistrust science more today than ever before. For centuries, the general view had been that science was neither good nor bad - that it merely supplied information, and that new information was always valuable. Now, science is viewed as a special-interest group that doesn't always serve our best interest. In some African nations, leaders prefer to let their citizens starve to death rather than import genetically modified grains. Americans spend billions of dollars on dietary supplements and "natural" cures that many studies show have almost no value and often cause harm. Pharmaceutical companies that were once symbols of our remarkable advance against disease are increasingly seen as callous corporations propelled solely by greed. And in Washington, protesters march against childhood vaccines, one of the most effective public health measures in history." "As Michael Specter explains, this amounts to a dangerous case of denialism. Just as an individual who is uncomfortable with the truth will go into denial, so will a larger group go into denialism when confronted with complex or unnerving realities. The issues we face may be complex but our choices are not: Will we continue to embrace new technologies while acknowledging their limitations and threats, or are we ready to slink back into an era of magical thinking? In Denialism, Specter makes an argument for a new Enlightenment, the revival of an approach to the physical world that was stunningly effective for hundreds of years: What could be understood, and reliably repeated by experiment, is what nature regarded as true. Now, at the time of humanity's greatest scientific advances - and our greatest need for them - that deal must be renewed." "Specter does more than merely identify the phenomenon of denialism; he explains how it arises. One source is our burgeoning difficulty in accepting what we used to take for granted: that progress always entails some risk. Our poor grasp of history can also spawn denialism. Like those parents who've never faced the deadly diseases they refuse to vaccinate their kids against, we forget too easily how good a life science has granted us and how vigilant we must be to maintain the advantages we have attained. Denialism also arises from our propensity to perceive things we don't understand in terms of conspiracies and other false explanations. By exposing all these traps - and several more - Denialism offers a defense against dangerous ignorance and a road map back to hard-earned, life-saving truths."--BOOK JACKET.
- Bibliography Note:
- Includes bibliographical references (pages -279) and index.
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