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The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science (Politically Incorrect Guides) Paperback – November 14, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"If the globe is warming, is mankind responsible, or is the sun?" Such a statement does not appear out of place in Bethell's entertaining account of how modern science is politically motivated and in desperate need of oversight. Bethell writes in a compulsively readable style, and although he provides legitimate insight into the potential benefits of nuclear power and hormesis, some readers will be turned off when he attempts to disprove global warming and especially evolution. Throughout the book, Bethell makes questionable claims about subjects as varied as AIDS ("careful U.S. studies had already shown that at least a thousand sexual contacts are needed to achieve heterosexual transmission of the virus") and extinction ("It is not possible definitely to attribute any given extinction to human activity"), and backs up his arguments with references to the music magazine SPIN and thriller-writer Michael Crichton. Ironically, Bethell ends up proving his own premise by producing a highly politicized account of how liberal intellectuals and unchecked government agencies have created a "white-coated priesthood" whose lust for grant money has driven them to produce fearsome (but in Bethell's view, false) tales of ozone destruction and AIDS pandemics. In the end, this book is unlikely to sway readers who aren't already in Bethell's ideological camp, as any points worthy of discussion get lost in the glut of unsourced claims that populate this latest installment of "The Politically Incorrect Guide" series.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Inside Flap

Science is neutral, right?

Of course it’s reliable, based on fact, unprejudiced, and trustworthy, isn’t it? Well, guess again. A lot of what passes for science these days is pseudo-science, and a lot of scientific fact is hidden from public view because it’s not politically correct.

Science has been politicized—not by the Right, but by the Left, which sees global warming, Darwinism, stem cell research, and innumerable other issues as tools to advance its agenda (and in many cases expand the reach of government).

When liberals trot out scientists with white coats, debate is supposed to be silenced. But many of the high priests of science have something to hide—from blind intolerance of religion to jealous guarding of their federally financed research budgets.

Luckily, science journalist Tom Bethell is here with the necessary and bracing antidote: The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to Science.

Here’s a handy one-volume guide to some of the most contentious issues of our day, including:

· Why fears of nuclear power aren’t science, but unscientific scaremongering · Why species are increasing, not disappearing · Why global warming (and other temperature changes) are not caused by humans (remember the Ice Age?) · Why embryonic stem cell research is snake oil medicine (which is why it needs government subsidies) · Why Darwinism is crumbling · Why the story line of the brave scientist Galileo versus an ignorant Church is wrong · And much, much more

The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to Science busts myths, reveals hidden agendas, and lets you in on some of the little-known secrets about what’s really going on in science. If you’re tired of being hoodwinked by liberals who use science to justify all sorts of misbehavior, you need The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to Science.

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Product Details

  • Series: Politically Incorrect Guides
  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing (November 14, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 089526031X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895260314
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #628,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Haugh VINE VOICE on February 16, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Whenever you decide to read something with "politically incorrect" in the title, you are basically guaranteed that that book will be politically charged. Reading politically charged books can be quite fun. On the other hand, reviewing these books is often pointless because a person's political passions have already determined their reactions. Still, as a physics teacher and someone who likes to see both sides, I thought I'd put down a few thoughts.

First, let me say that there are many things Mr. Bethell asserts here with which I agree. His main point seems to be that the growth of government as the primary investor in science has perverted the scientific method into a political one. I certainly think that government money has politicized science though I believe conservatives have co-opted science for their political purposes as much as liberals. And I think that government support has a significant place in science.

I also agree with some of the purely scientific things that Mr. Bethell asserts. I have long been a believer in nuclear technology and the general safety of radiation when used correctly (think of x-rays & CAT scans--no one seems to worry much about this radiation). I agree that unreasonable fear has kept us from pursuing nuclear technologies that could make us much less dependant on foreign oil, for example. Mr. Bethell discusses the DDT ban and how its benefits clearly outweigh any supposed dangers it might have and there is certainly plenty of evidence to back that up. He also discusses the "flat earth" issue and I have long taught in my class that no educated person since the time of the Greeks has believed the earth was flat. The argument in Columbus' time was about the size of the earth, not the shape.
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619 of 830 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Woods on November 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
Tom Wolfe describes Tom Bethell as one of America's best essayists. We can see why. Bethell, an Oxford graduate, has written on a variety of scientific topics over the years and distills them in this outstanding book. He shows -- and quotes his sources copiously, so you don't need to take Bethell's word for things -- case after case of scientific "consensus" that has led the world down a dead end. But once an established view takes hold, it becomes extremely difficult for dissenting views to get a hearing. They certainly don't get government funding -- and the role that government funding plays in propping up poor science is a fascinating and consistently overlooked point that this book drives home again and again. The establishment media, meanwhile, fearful of questioning our new priesthood, consistently goes along with whatever they're told to say.

The book is not only beautifully and intelligently written, but it's also fun to read, believe it or not. Bethell's engaging style makes this book hard to put down.

Some of the points Bethell raises are quite surprising. He is skeptical of stem cell research, not for religious reasons (though he may have those as well for all I know) but because in recent months we have begun to learn that science has over-promised, so to speak. The grandiose claims of major cures being around the corner, he shows, are massively overstated. Stem cells don't seem to behave the way researchers thought they might.

Or take African AIDS. We've heard almost ludicrous figures regarding the number of Africans with AIDS. Wait till you read this chapter and you learn what it takes to qualify as having AIDS in Africa. You don't even need to test positive for HIV.
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78 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Roberts on December 16, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
OK, this is an odd book. From reading the "other reviews" of everyone who's given this book a one star review it's clear that they are *mostly* -even some admittedly- members of the far left and reacting emotionally. Or they're the admittedly far right "Mr. Truth." My sincere apologies to him for failing to predict his one star review and political persuasion before I sat down to write my initial review. This is not a great book, but it is definitely better than 1 star or calling it trash or ranting and raving about science from people who aren't scientists. This is a book about how science can be politicized.

Having a master's degree in engineering (not the same as science but close) and having worked in R&D for several years (very near the same as science) I can tell you this: No one really knows all that much about science and anyone claiming you should listen to them because they're a scientist and an engineer is full of it. (Me especially)

So let's start on another path.

Science is a method (quite surprisingly named the Scientific method) which really is an epistemological way to define fact. (As opposed to truth, which gives meaning to fact. Religion and philosophy do that, but meaning isn't verifiable whereas facts are.) Science depends first on collecting data on a system: What are the inputs to the system, what is the configuration of the system, what are the outputs of the system. For example the system could be studying global warming of the earth. The configuration could be the Earth's natural atmosphere and atmospheric chemistry, the amount of solar radiation, etc. The inputs could be antrhopogenic CO2 and other pollutants and the output would be temperature.
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