Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Harms the Planet and Threatens Our Lives

Overview

"A superb and convincing work."
-Malcolm Gladwell

At a time when our planet is in dire peril, Americans mistrust science more than ever. Few journalists appreciate what is at stake better than Michael Specter, who has spent the last twenty years reporting on everything from the AIDS epidemic to the digital revolution. In Denialism, he eloquently shows how, in a world where protesters march against childhood vaccines and Africans starve to death...

See more details below
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (59) from $1.99   
  • New (14) from $2.27   
  • Used (45) from $1.99   
Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Harms the Planet and Threatens Our Lives

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$12.99
BN.com price

Overview

"A superb and convincing work."
-Malcolm Gladwell

At a time when our planet is in dire peril, Americans mistrust science more than ever. Few journalists appreciate what is at stake better than Michael Specter, who has spent the last twenty years reporting on everything from the AIDS epidemic to the digital revolution. In Denialism, he eloquently shows how, in a world where protesters march against childhood vaccines and Africans starve to death rather than import genetically modified grains, we must reconnect with the rational thinking that has underpinned the advance of civilization since the eighteenth century. What emerges is a manifesto that brilliantly captures one of the pivotal clashes of our era.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
As a longtime New Yorker staff writer specializing in science issues, Michael Specter has recognized a growing trend among Americans to distrust institutions and view science as belonging to this category -- or, even worse, as a political constituency or a self-seeking lobby. In Denialism, he describes how science's traditional functions as information provider and lifesaver have been undermined by heated controversies involving everything from childhood vaccines and research involving animals to stem-cell research and global warming. As relevant as this morning's news.
Janet Maslin
In this hotly argued yet data-filled diatribe, Mr. Specter skips past some of the easiest realms of science baiting (i.e., evolution) to address more current issues, from the ethical questions raised by genome research to the furiously fought debate over the safety of childhood vaccinations.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Although denialists, according to Specter, come from both ends of the political spectrum, they have one important trait in common: their willingness to “replace the rigorous and open-minded skepticism of science with the inflexible certainty of ideological commitment.” Specter analyzes the consequences of this inflexibility and draws some startling and uncomfortable conclusions for the health of both individuals and society. For example, though every reputable scientific study demonstrates the safety of major childhood vaccines, opponents of childhood immunization are winning the publicity war; childhood immunizations are tumbling and preventable diseases are increasing, often leading to unnecessary deaths. Specter, a New Yorker science and public health writer, does an equally credible job of demolishing the health claims made by those promoting organic produce and all forms of “alternative” medicine. Specter is both provocative and thoughtful in his defense of science and rationality—though he certainly does not believe that scientists are infallible. His writing is engaging and his sources are credible, making this a significant addition to public discourse on the importance of discriminating between credible science and snake oil. (Nov. 2)
Library Journal
Written in a journalistic style similar to Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, this is a self-proclaimed polemic against all who would deny the promise and progress of science, people whom the author calls "denialists." Using the word to refer to a range of people and views, Specter, a New Yorker staff writer who focuses on science, technology, and public health, argues they "replace the rigorous and open-minded skepticism of science with the inflexible certainty of ideological commitment." Much of what Specter writes is good and true. People are not good judges of risk. Vaccinations are vital to people's health. And politics and ideology should not replace science. Yet Specter's extreme scientific exceptionalism, his oversimplification of complex issues and historical episodes, and his near-comical characterization of the denialist make this a hard pill to swallow. VERDICT Many, especially the skeptical and the scientifically inclined, will find arguments that trade on generalities, ignore subtleties, and caricature the opposition suspect. Thus, Specter's book is unlikely to ring true to the believer in science or to convert the unbeliever. Not recommended.—Jonathan Bodnar, Georgia Inst. of Technology Lib. & Information Ctr., Atlanta
Kirkus Reviews
From New Yorker staffer Specter, a sarcasm-drenched denunciation of all who will not kneel at the altar of science. "Denialists," as Specter calls such people, "shun nuance and fear complexity, so instead of asking how science might help resolve our problems, they reject novel strategies even when those strategies are supported by impressive data and scientific consensus." Never mind that consensus once supported the idea of an Earth-centric universe and of epilepsy as a sign of demonic possession, and never mind Specter's own lack of nuance in lumping climate-change deniers, GM-food opponents, anti-vaccination activists and other such types into a single category. Are those who worry about the prospect of eating genetically altered food really on a par with Holocaust deniers? Specter seems glad to equate them, and to accuse any such worriers of being glad to condemn African villagers to lives of famine and misery. Are organic foodies evil? Apparently so ("the Western cult of organic food is nothing more than a glorious fetish of the rich")-never mind the fact that nonorganic farming is an innovation scarcely a century old and that eating fossil fuel is not very good for anyone. Specter rolls a few fuzzy-math dice along the way-at one point he gives the appearance that the 2,000-odd Americans who died of aspirin poisoning in 2008 were merely victims of bad luck-and he advances a few straw-man lines of argument that would make a college-composition student blush. Readers will need to be comfortable with the idea that Big Pharma loves them, corporate culture cares, industrial agribusinesses are in it for the public good and bacteriologists stand next to the Godhead. Denialism, it wouldseem, includes denying that science has ever caused harm. Specter's spirited approach to his subject is admirable, but his brush is far too broad and his disdain far too deep.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143118312
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/26/2010
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 382,276
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Specter writes about science, technology and global public health for the New Yorker, where he has been a staff writer since 1998. He has twice received the Global Health Council’s Excellence in Media Award, as well as the Science Journalism Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Vioxx and the Fear of Science 23

2 Vaccines and the Great Denial 57

3 The Organic Fetish 103

4 The Era of Echinacea 147

5 Race and the Language of Life 187

6 Surfing the Exponential 225

Afterword 265

Acknowledgments 273

Notes 277

Bibliography 285

Index 291

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2011

    Thought provoking

    Brings many relevant points to light but becomes quite repetative

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 13, 2011

    Interesting, but....

    The book seems to lose its primary impetus about halfway through, right when you get to the chapters on biotech. Then it becomes a paen to why everyone should embrace creating synthetic life and if you don't, you're a denialist. It's not badly written at all, but it clearly changes its tone to equate being alarmed at these concepts as being on the wrong side. The last two chapters left me disturbed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)