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

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  • Posted November 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Denialism: How Science Has Become Mistrusted and Ignored

    When I purchased this book, what attracted me to it was its subtitle. As an educator I marvel at how many times policy makers and the powers that be make decisions about education that flies right in the face of scientific knowledge and fact. Irrationalism does rule many of the decisions that are made in our society, and Michael Specter does an excellent job of providing several examples of where we have allowed unclear thinking, myth, fable, whatever you want to call it, rule our decision-making. He does not advocate blindly following science, but he does call for a more rational approach to making sense of our world and to guiding our policy decisions. When he points out the fallacies of the "all natural movements" and the "all organic movements" it becomes very clear that for all our braggadocio about being more advanced than ever, we do cling to irrational ways that have no basis in fact or science. I would agree with Specter wholeheartedly, that if we are going to make it as a planet, irrational thinking and its products are going to have to make way for a more rational approach to our problems that relies on scientific thinking and fact. The denialists who keep saying all is well with our climate can't be silenced with facts. They do not want to let go of their irrational thinking. Instead, those who are forward thinking are going to have to move onward without them. Specter's book provides so much food for thought about science, our society, politics, education, and even religion, it is one of the most thought-provoking books of the year. I easily would place it on the shelf beside Friedman's "The World Is Flat." Its call for a change in how we view science is no less compelling than Friedman's call to a global view of our place in the world. This is a book that I will ponder for quite some time.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Fear that Grips Us

    I found the book to be an insight into the fear mongering that irrational thinking and uninformed action spurs in today's America. It explores the incomprehensible mindset which has cropped up in society that doesn't trust authority, the scientific method and embraces panicked, illogical beliefs. Further Specter explores the some of the reasons (scientific and moral failures) that have lead to this condition. The overall tone is leaning very left which I found a little distasteful at times - being fairly moderate myself - but there wasn't anything egregious that couldn't be overlooked unless you have bought into the "religion" of denialism in which case you're likely to be wholly offended. The book reads well and although it can be a little tangential at times, is easy to follow and is easily understood. Specter does a good job illustrating points and, I feel, makes a very persuasive argument against willful scientific ignorance.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2010

    An interesting read.

    This book is worth reading. Its easy to read and very interesting. It helps break down some of the preconceived notions many have about and toward science.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 25, 2009

    Grab a Roll of TP

    Specter has regurgitated into one book a months worth of MSN pablum.

    The book has a good cover. Just don't drink the aqua Kool-Aid.

    "To cope, Africans will need better goverments." Way to dis a whole continent.

    Clear and Organized writing.

    2 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Specter Is a Follower

    I must say that Specter is a follower. The USA is not the brilliant country it is because of followers. The brilliant scientist are and never have been followers.

    Specter has never been a mother that saw a simple "MANDATORY" vaccine damage her child. DO YOU THINK THE MOTHER WANTS TO SAY HER CHILD IS ILL ? NO! A MOTHER WANTS A BOUNCING HAPPY BABY BOY OR GIRL !

    BUT that all has changed for millions of moms thanks to "MANDATORY", mercury filled childhood vaccines.

    Until Mr. Specter can walk in one of these mother's and father's shoes,,,,,he need not be writing.

    Truthfully and sincerely,
    MARNA MORAN

    2 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Superb essays against activism based on denial

    Debunking those who believe in bunk - medical, dietary, scientific bunk - and showcasing the research that refutes their denial of the truth, Michael Specter writes with the easy grace expected of a New Yorker magazine staff writer. Specter looks at the willful denial of the facts regarding Vioxx, vaccines and their relationship to autism, organic and genetically engineered food, and the future of genomics - the science of genes. Informative, readable, amusing and sure to make you wonder whether you practice a bit of "denialism" in your own beliefs (well, of course not).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2010

    Biased and one sided.

    This book was not worth my time. The title was "catchy" but that is about all. Although the author has every right to his point of view I thought that the book was very biased. Based upon the title and subtitle, I thought that he would be very rational in presenting both sides and then point out why he thought his side was right. While he did present both sides, he presented the opposing side in a very limited, very biased way. He presented the best of his side, he would present the worst of the other. For instance on the discussion of vaccines, he would quote government and industry spokesmen who are pro-vaccine and then would quote Jenny McCarthy, using statements by her that have cuss words. He failed to note the many researchers and research studies that support those who chose not to vaccine or to do so on an alternative schedule. This is just one of the many examples. This is not a book on science, but a book that has a specific agenda and utilizes logical fallacies, group stereotypes and sweeping generalizations to accomplish that task.

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I really like this subject matter

    Sometimes one just wants to give up on people. Maybe give them what they want, doubled, in a place they will notice its presence. Who knows if the science is right or wrong. It's the best attempt of a blind man to determine the extent of an elephant. If we put aside our greed and made a good faith effort not to blow the planet to smithereens, I think we could claim the joy the Buddhists tell us is our birthright.

    In this book Specter voices his frustration at the illogic, misinformation, and downright politicking plaguing important discussions of the planet's future. Sometimes it is hard to want to save mankind from itself. But we need to keep trying to keep the discussion as honest as we can make it, to bolster the weary. I still want that g-d joy. This was a good attempt to make a compelling argument, but don't think that he unequivocally succeeded.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted March 11, 2010

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    Posted July 12, 2010

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    Posted December 12, 2009

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    Posted November 8, 2009

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    Posted December 2, 2009

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    Posted February 9, 2010

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