Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America

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"Whenever the people are well informed,” Thomas Jefferson wrote, “they can be trusted with their own government.”


But what happens in a world dominated by complex science? Are the people still well-enough informed to be trusted with their own government? And with less than 2 percent of Congress with any professional background in science, how can our government be trusted to lead us in the right direction?


Will the media save us?  Don't count on it.  In early 2008, of the 2,975 questions asked the candidates for president just six mentioned the words "global warming" or "climate change," the greatest policy challenge facing America.  To put that in perspective, three questions mentioned UFOs.


Today the world’s major unsolved challenges all revolve around science. By the 2012 election cycle, at a time when science is influencing every aspect of modern life, antiscience views from climate-change denial to creationism to vaccine refusal have become mainstream.


Faced with the daunting challenges of an environment under siege, an exploding population, a falling economy and an education system slipping behind, our elected leaders are hard at work ... passing resolutions that say climate change is not real and astrology can control the weather.


Shawn Lawrence Otto has written a behind-the-scenes look at how the government, our politics, and the media prevent us from finding the real solutions we need. Fool Me Twice is the clever, outraged, and frightening account of America’s relationship with science—a relationship that is on the rocks at the very time we need it most.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

In this incredible book, Otto, the great-grandson of Charles Darwin, explores the devaluation of science in America. His exhaustively researched text explains the three-pronged attack on science: how right-wing Christian fervor discredits evolution; how post-modernism and cultural sensitivity makes people believe that objective truth doesn't exist; and how corporations discredit scientists in order to further economic agendas. Otto also shows how Christian beliefs aren't traditionally anti-science, and how America went from a nation that valued scientific achievement to one suspicious of it. By attacking science, America diminishes its capacity to compete in the global marketplace, and endangers the world for future generations. The accessible book will inform scientists about what has happened to their field, provide an overview for laypeople, and allow educators to equip themselves to address these issues for the next generation and reverse this troubling trend.
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Kirkus Reviews

The public's perception of the role of science in culture and medicine has changed amid an increasingly anti-intellectual movement in politics and religion, and unless scientific literacy increases among citizens and lawmakers, environmental and other crises will exacerbate and threaten the United States' role as a global superpower.

Fueled partly by right-wing politicians and lobbyists and partly by a scientific community that has lost its engagement with the general public, scientific facts are suddenly vulnerable to being"subjective" and even "partisan." Important issues like vaccinations (see Paul Offit's Deadly Choices) and global warming have become heated debates in the media and in election cycles, andscience in generalis mistakenlyperceived asjust another "way of knowing" and can be "debunked" by an articulate (if inaccurate) counter-argument.The result is oftenpublic policy that is disastrous for the long term but benefits a few powerful people in the short term.Otto, co-founder and CEO of Science Debate 2008 and writer and producer of the filmHouse of Sand and Fog, argues that an uninformed, or misinformed, country, including members of Congress, may be ill-equipped to make the enormous decisions that will affect future generations. The members of the incoming GOP class almost unanimously agree that climate change is a hoax, despite the fact that the U.S. stands alone among all other developed nations in this opinion. Combined with a loyalty to free-market economic policies that no longer make sense in a rapidly growing population, this could spell ecological and economic disaster. Only by competing with other countries to find renewable energy and by committing to science education and unbiased reporting can the U.S. remain a global leader. Otto writes that "there is no greater moral, economic, or political question" at stake, but that our legacy of freedom and leadership can guide us to make the right decisions.

A gripping analysis of America's anti-science crisis.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605292175
  • Publisher: Rodale Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/11/2011
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 784,586
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

S H A W N  L A W R E N C E  O T T O  is the cofounder and CEO of Science Debate 2008, the largest political initiative in the history of science. He is also an award winning screenwriter best known for writing and coproducing the Academy Award–nominated House of Sand and Fog. He lives in Minnesota.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2011


    This is an excellent history and summary of why our current Congress makes no progress on formulating policy regarding climate change, stem cell research, birth control, energy resources, science education, evolution etc. - all the important scientific issues facing our country (and the world) for which Congress is stuck in a morass of it's own making. The book encourages citizen involvement (if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.) This book should be mandatory reading for every Senator and Representative.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2012

    Read This Title Before You Vote in Nov.

    Right now, ideology and party politics are driving public discourse and policy making in the U.S. This title shows the whys and who's doing it, and for what reasons. Brings to mind the top-notch book "Censoring Science," which explores, in depth, how the W. Bush administration attacked and stifled the climate change work of Dr. James Hansen of NASA.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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