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

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

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.

As Michael Specter sees it, this amounts to a war against progress. The issues may be complex but the choices are not: Are we going to continue to embrace new technologies, along with 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 can be understood and reliably repeated by experiment is what nature regarded as true. Now, at the time of mankind’s greatest scientific advances—and our greatest need for them—that deal must be renewed.

Title:Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9781594202308
Format Type:

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

  • Lena

    Over the last few years, I've become increasingly interested in the gap between scientific and technological developments and the public perception of those developments. In Denialism, journalist Mich...

  • Emily

    I really wanted to like this book, especially since I agree with the author's premise that some segments of our society have developed a knee-jerk distrust of all things scientific which is endangerin...

  • David

    I'm sure there's some good stuff in this book - possibly enough to raise the review to two stars. However, Specter's starting point is so horribly flawed that I can't continue reading this, and wouldn...

  • David

    This book is a polemic, railing against counter-culture anxiety toward technological progress and scientific illiteracy, as expressed in the anti-vaccination movement, organic ideology, GMO hysteria, ...

  • John Anderson

    This book is excellent for what it is: a general overview of several examples which illustrate "denialism".No, it doesn't offer much in the way of solutions to the issues it addresses: I didn't expect...

  • Susan

    I read about two thirds of this book. The point that it generally makes is good: that it's good to embrace scientific progress and be logical. However, I find in a number of his arguments he is rather...

  • Mark

    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 ...

  • Paul

    Very, very interesting book to read. Changed my thinking about a lot of things. The author's basic premise is that some people, for whatever reason, want to believe whatever lunacy they've chosen to b...

  • Amanda

    Not a good book. For the most part, it read like an extended blog post, with some case studies on cool technologies, but without a lot of discussion on why people tend towards being anti-science, or e...

  • Menglong Youk

    3.5/5 starsAs many reviewers have pointed out, this book has some flaws in terms like science and technology, contains harsh treatments to the denialists, and lacks of supportive evidence and further ...