Our culture has in recent decades been characterized by a widespread antagonism toward science and the not-always-welcome messages it brings. Large sections of our population deny scientific evidence and even call into question the competence of science as a descriptor of reality. In short, as John Grant forcefully points out in this important book, they reject reality.
- Is global warming just scaremongering by climatologists conspiring to protect their jobs?
- Is evolution “just a theory”?
- Do vaccinations cause autism?
- Can vitamin supplements cure AIDS?
The answer to all of these questions is, of course, no. The scientific evidence is now in, and it’s conclusive, on these and many further issues that are fundamental to our knowledge and well-being – even our survival. Yet the popular media are full of stories claiming there's still "debate" or "controversy" on these matters – despite the fact that, among the relevant scientists themselves, all debates and controversies about the central conclusions were settled long ago.
What motivates people to deny science? In some cases the answer is ignorance and lack of the ability to think critically: scientific answers can be complicated and nuanced and require some education to understand, while the answers of gurus and quacks seem simpler . . . and thus, to use Stephen Colbert's term, more "truthy." Far more sinister are the active campaigns mounted, through "think tanks" and fake grassroots organizations, by ideological and commercial entities in a deliberate and often far too successful attempt to deceive the public – from fundamentalists promoting Intelligent Design Creationism to the tobacco giants muddling the science on the health effects of smoking to the fossil-fuel corporations claiming climate change is a hoax. Grant surveys these and a gamut of other denials of established science raised by various panics, urban legends and deliberate distortions amid a general climate of misinformation.
Witty, passionate and on occasion outrageously funny, Denying Science reminds us that the future of free, increasingly complex societies depends on an educated citizenry able to think clearly and critically based on reliable information.
For the past few years, John Grant has been intrepidly documenting instances of bogus, corrupted, and discarded science. Now he's back with perhaps the best of the lot: Denying Science. As topical and as cutting as past volumes have been, Denying Science gets to the heart of the problem in today's world – and does so with fascinating, brilliantly written accounts that may curl your toes but also contain elements of humor and absurdity. Highly recommended.
Denying Science is John Grant's masterpiece... Through painstaking research and legwork, Grant challenges the worst of these bad science practitioners, revealing their tricks, their bogus sources, and their flat-out lies, in the hopes of curbing at least some of the bad science out there. (He even goes so far as to compile a list of the offenders to watch out for. Utterly brilliant.)
Thankfully, for all his bluster and frustration, Grant is never condescending or grandstanding. He's simply passionate about the subject. We need more voices like Grant's and more books like Denying Science. Read it.
—Glenn Dallas, City Book Review
There's a lot about this book that should make you angry at the shortcomings of those denying real science in this world we live in. Grant makes note of the key players involved in all of this and their motivation. Not all of them are driven by religion. Certainly, this book should be on most judges' and politicians' reading list as quickly as possible. . . . Read and be angry.
—G.F. Willmetts, SF Crowsnest
Mr. Grant thoroughly and logically demolishes any of the arguments that these science naysayers could muster . . . Read Denying Science as a testimony to a curious (and hopefully soon a past) era that enjoyed the fruits of technology while ignoring the science it sprang from. One can only hope it arrived in time to not become our epitaph!
—David Dickinson, Astro Guyz
Grant cogently presents his case for how corporations as well as religious and political groups can skillfully present ostensibly scientific information that is utterly untrue or biased for their own self-serving purposes, confusing and misleading the general public. Of particular use to readers are the connections Grant notes among people, news networks, and other organizations, revealing who knows whom, with regard to each topic he covers. . . . Recommended.
—Michael D. Cramer, Schwarz BioSciences, Library Journal
Denying Science is a grim portrayal of the demise of the ability to think critically.... . . . Despite its bleak subject, I enjoyed reading this book and I look forward to sharing this with my students. [It] has persuaded me that I do need to follow these stories and do what I can to encourage my students and members of the community to think critically and not accept at face value assertions that don't make sense.
—C.M. Woodbridge, Journal of Chemical Education
One of the blurbs on this book describes John Grant as "the living heir of Martin Gardener"; this is, I think, less than fair to Grant. Martin Gardner often took on soft targets and subjected them to ridicule, Grant takes on the big boys.
—Peter Rogerson, Magonia
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