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Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fallacies and the Rise of the Anti-Scientific Left [Kindle Edition]

Alex Berezow , Hank Campbell
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)

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Book Description

To listen to most pundits and political writers, evolution, stem cells, and climate change are the only scientific issues worth mentioning—and the only people who are anti-science are conservatives. Yet those on the left have numerous fallacies of their own. Aversion to clean energy programs, basic biological research, and even life-saving vaccines come naturally to many progressives. These are positions supported by little more than junk-science and paranoid thinking.

Now for the first time, science writers Dr. Alex B. Berezow and Hank Campbell have drawn open the curtain on the left’s fear of science. As Science Left Behind reveals, vague inclinations about the wholesomeness of all things natural, the unhealthiness of the unnatural, and many other seductive fallacies have led to an epidemic of misinformation. The results: public health crises, damaging and misguided policies, and worst of all, a new culture war over basic scientific facts—in which the left is just as culpable as the right.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The authors spend a fair amount of time at the outset of this unsettling book explaining that they don’t have a political agenda, but the book’s subtitle, combined with its stated purpose—“to inform you about a disturbing trend among highly influential progressive activists who misinterpret, misrepresent, and abuse science to advance their ideological and political agendas”—might lead some readers to conclude otherwise. Leaving politics aside, though, there is much here to recommend. The science is clearly explained, and the issues surrounding the science laid out with clarity. There are a lot of hot-button topics here: environmentalism, genetically modified organisms, organic food, product testing on animals, solar power, clean energy, and more. The authors explore the issues in detail, working very hard to give the appearance of political neutrality, and the book does an excellent job of opening readers’ minds to the possibility that these issues aren’t as cut-and-dried as they might have been led to believe by politicians and the media. Open-minded readers, those who don’t mind being asked to reassess their long-held beliefs, should find much here to think about and debate. --David Pitt


Michael Medved, nationally syndicated talk radio host, author of THE 10 BIG LIES ABOUT AMERICA
“Entertaining, enlightening and important. This valuable book should shatter the left's smug certainty that science registers as a partisan Democrat. Berezow and Campbell provide persuasive evidence and argument that should reshape conventional wisdom on a wide variety of current controversies."

“A sophisticatedly vitriolic, somewhat tongue-in-cheek addition to the current election debate.”

Publishers Weekly
“Their nonpartisan message is clear: Washington as a whole is woefully uninformed when it comes to the scientific underpinnings of pertinent topics like stem cell research, green energy, organic food, vaccines, and gender issues."

Huntington News
“Groundbreaking…If I were teaching journalism, this is a book that I would require my students to read and absorb -- and keep for reference.”

The Progressive Contrarian
“A no-nonsense, sometimes brutal and sometimes funny book that progressives should read.”

Red, Green, and
“Anyone who talks for very long with a genuine American leftist -- as opposed to the vastly more numerous moderate liberals -- can quickly see that romantic-nostalgic spite toward science and technology is not the sole province of Fox-watchers."

“The people who are skeptical of the benefits of vaccination or think that organic food is healthier will undoubtedly find [Science Left Behind] problematic. And they should. The prominent activists and politicians highlighted in this book are spreading misinformation and causing serious harm in some cases, and it's good to see scientists and science writers making some noise about it. You should read what they have to say. Go buy this book.”

Wall Street Journal
“In Science Left Behind, journalists Alex B. Berezow and Hank Campbell show that conservatives hardly have a monopoly on motivated reasoning, usefully revealing how pervasive scientific misinformation is in progressive arguments on organic and genetically modified foods, clean energy, nuclear waste and other matters.”

“Alex Berezow and Hank Campbell, co-authors of Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fallacies and the Rise of the Anti-Scientific Left, make a nuanced and convincing counter argument: Ludditism is not a partisan issue. In fact, on many of the most critical issues of our time, the “progressive” perspective is often rooted in out-dated, anti-empirical, junk science paradigms that threaten innovation—and are beginning to unnerve the most scientifically minded thinkers on the left….This soft conspiracy, promoted by mainstream Democrats, infects a broad array of science issues and highlights the religious-like iconic beliefs of the left (as Kloor has noted): Nature is sacred, big business is dangerous and corrupt, technology can cause more problems than it helps solve, the world is on the verge of an eco-apocalypse, and we need more precaution, regulation and legislation. I call it enviro-romanticism, a criticism documented in distressing detail in Science Left Behind…Read Science Left Behind. It’s a clarion call for the empirically minded amongst us regardless of your ideological persuasion.”

“There are a lot of hot-button topics here: environmentalism, genetically modified organisms, organic food, product testing on animals, solar power, clean energy, and more. The authors explore the issues in detail, working very hard to give the appearance of political neutrality, and the book does an excellent job of opening readers’ minds to the possibility that these issues aren’t as cut-and-dried as they might have been led to believe by politicians and the media. Open-minded readers, those who don’t mind being asked to reassess their long-held beliefs, should find much here to think about and debate.

Commentary Magazine
“Alex  B.  Berezow  and  Hank  Campbell  are  on  solid ground  in  Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fallacies and the Rise of the Anti-Scientific Left…Their  arguments  slice  quickly  and  powerfully,  supported  by  the kinds of skillfully chosen facts…Science Left Behind does much-needed work in drawing attention to what the authors  call  the  “feel-good  fallacies”  that constitute the worldviews of so many on the left—often the very individuals who proudly claim membership in the “reality-based com-munity.” More important, Berezow and Campbell articulate a valuable observation that deserves constant reiterating:  with  great  frequency, politics  invites  us  to  inhabit  an imaginary world populated by fictions  that  conform  to  our  desires about how things ought to be.”

San Francisco Book Review
Science Left Behind challenges the notion that poorly informed anti-science rhetoric is solely the province of the right wing…Berezow and Campbell offer numerous examples of progressives hijacking legitimate programs and research and twisting them to suit a backwards-ass anti-science agenda. In this way, reading Science Left Behind is as infuriating as it is eye-opening. A fundamental lack of familiarity with science is rampant in government as a whole, and Science Left Behind does an impressive job drawing attention to this alarming disparity.”

Portland Mercury
“ Nevertheless, Berezow and Campbell's message is jarring and necessary. Science is vilified in American political life. People believe things because they wish to, not because of what is true. This has real-world consequences when it comes to the implementation of beneficial technology. Anti-scientism is everywhere, and acknowledging that much of it comes from our own political tribe is a hard and inconvenient truth.”
“This is — as far as I know — the best and first book to tackle many of these anti-science claims, and while it is not the definitive work on any of these subjects, it’s worth a read for anyone who is infuriated by claims that republicans are anti-science…[T]he book does an excellent job of bringing together a large survey of different ways that elements of the political left in America fail to heed what science has to say."

New Scientist
“There is more, and recent, antiscience fare from far-left progressives, documented in the 2012 book Science Left Behind by science journalists Alex B. Berezow and Hank Campbell, who note that “if it is true that conservatives have declared a war on science, then progressives have declared Armageddon….Whereas conservatives obsess over the purity and sanctity of sex, the left's sacred values seem fixated on the environment, leading to an almost religious fervor over the purity and sanctity of air, water and especially food.”

Scientific American
“There is more, and recent, antiscience fare from far-left progressives, documented in the 2012 book Science Left Behind (PublicAffairs) by science journalists Alex B. Berezow and Hank Campbell, who note that “if it is true that conservatives have declared a war on science, then progressives have declared Armageddon.” On energy issues, for example, the authors contend that progressive liberals tend to be antinuclear because of the waste-disposal problem, anti–fossil fuels because of global warming, anti-hydroelectric because dams disrupt river ecosystems, and anti–wind power because of avian fatalities. The underlying current is “everything natural is good” and “everything unnatural is bad.”

Science Based Medicine
"The chapter on “vaccines and Viagra” is pure music to the ears of science-based medicine. They agree that the anti-vaccine movement is based on outright lies, they call the Huffington Post a laughingstock of the scientific community for its endorsement of CAM, they call for the NCCAM to be abolished, [and] they explain why presenting data about relative risks rather than absolute risks is misleading."

Product Details

  • File Size: 1488 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Trade Paper Edition edition (September 12, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008EMEHG4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #437,869 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
92 of 118 people found the following review helpful
Confession up front: I bring a bias to this review: I write on 'scientific literacy' and run a genetics program, and therefore have little patience for activists across the ideological spectrum who see science and science journalism as a playpen for their pet ideological beliefs. I'll confess I liked the leftwing version of this book, "The Republican War on Science", because it cold bloodedly pointed out the anti-science proclivities of the religious and uber conservative right on such issues as climate change (yes, it's happening, and its a genuine threat) and evolution. Author Chris Mooney lost his wheels in his follow up book, "The Republican Brain", which veered heavily into the ideological lane, but nonetheless he did science a service with his first book. But there is lots he left out...including the sensibility of a large part of what might Hank Campbell and Alex Berezow call the "progressive left" in their refreshing new book, "Science Left Behind."

In a nutshell, this book is smart, on point and witty. Although it hits its share of bloopers, it slams an amazing number of home runs, particularly when it comes to the left's aversion for risk and/or cost benefit analysis. Fracking? It's all about the environmental damage it might cause (as there is no evidence yet it causes any actual problems) and no discussion of the geopolitical game changing role it plays, the dramatic reduction in greenhouse gasses that if offers, and the huge economic benefits. Chemicals? The things that are in every product, and have helped transform society in the twentieth century?
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42 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Debut by Berezow and Campbell October 13, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I recently finished Alex Berezow and Hank Campbell's "Science Left Behind" and find it remarkable that as of the posting of this review, 85% of the reviews rate this book as either 5 stars or 1 star. Only two people who've read it find it to be somewhere between "great" and "terrible"? No wonder it's difficult for conservatives and liberals/progressives to have meaningful conversation about the improtance of science when it's just easier to use as a weapon against the other.

Overall, I think the story Berezow and Campbell tell is an important one that needs to be told and is done in an eloquent and entertaining way. Conservatives are frequently chided for taking "anti-science" views that seem as often to be a balancing of other factors/considerations above the opinions of scientists rather than a carte blanche rejection of science itself. Berezow and Campbell do a great job of pointing out that progressives/liberals do exactly the same thing. That said, I take issue with their definition of "anti-science" and think their better case is that the term "anti-science" (as used) applies across the board and one side should not cast it so promiscuous on the other. If everybody is anti-science does it really even mean anything? Science is a tremendously useful tool, but not all tools are sufficient for all tasks. Respect for science and its capabilites should be maintained but we should not denigrate other considerations in a way that makes science the only legitimate consideration. That said, I think they start an important conversation and effectively make the case that being "anti-science" is not as one sided as seems to be prevailing opinion.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Liberal from California: This book was great!! January 13, 2013
This book does a great job of highlighting some of the unscientific wackiness of the far (and not so far) left. Of course, if you look at the title, it's clear the focus is on the left, but it doesn't spare Republicans either or come off as all that biased (well, mostly). The book isn't perfect and does hightlight a few extreme examples, but, if you live somewhere where there are a lot of hypocritical hippies you will definitely be able to relate and probably find a few parts of the book pretty funny. The writing style does get a little snarky, but if you're so politically entrenched that a few jabs at the left upsets you, you probably wouldn't check out a book like this anyway. I highly recommend this book to any moderate liberals. Just as moderate conservatives need to seperate themselves from the extremists in the republican party, I think liberals also need to recognize some of the craziness that is part of the extreme hippie/progressive left.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science without politics March 23, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book for putting modern day hysterics into perspective. Campbell ends up skewering both sides, with just enough humor to make you squirm, and while he acknowledges the power of human emotion, he argues persuasively against letting it blind us to objective fact. He also shows real concern for the human race, rejecting those who equate humans to a cancer. It is sad to think that such an attitude, in some circles, could feel refreshing.
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44 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Book Committed to Science, Not Politics September 26, 2012
An excellent discussion of the scientific blindness of progressives, who focus on evolution on other issues while ignoring their anti-science approach to science that truly improves human lives. The book carefully documents the progressive attack on important, life-saving science like vaccinations, using science to improve crop yields and reduce the need for pesticides and support for feel-good (but failed) technologies like solar power.

It is not a rebuttal to left-wing books that critique some of the anti-scientific fallacies of the right. It is, however, a response to left-wing pseudo-scientists who choose fear over scientific consensus by claiming that precaution dictates we ignore what we know in favor of what we don't. Rather than rebut, the book does a good job of completing the discussion of science and politics.

The authors, both with deep experience in science (Berezow has a PhD in microbiology), also address the failure of science education in the universities and the trend toward poor science journalism.

It is a quick, but clear read that is an important addition to the discussion about science and politics.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Prompt delivery, as promised.
Published 12 days ago by Jonathan Greene
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent fact based reporting.
Published 20 days ago by richard j dinubila
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun, quick read
A fun, quick read. Whatever your political persuasion, at least one of the authors' points will rub the wrong way (I disagree with them on stem cell research, for reasons i htink... Read more
Published 1 month ago by G in Ohio
5.0 out of 5 stars Good
Got to read this for yourself.
Published 2 months ago by Neal A. Barncard
1.0 out of 5 stars I regret buying this
I'm sorry I bought this book, and so encouraged its authors. Why the regrets? biased and muddled logic, erroneous arguments, sweeping generalizations... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ann T
5.0 out of 5 stars Science Left Behind
Great read and loaded with lots of real world examples of illogical groupthink and thought skewed by political ideology emanating from the left.
Published 4 months ago by Mike D.
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written and entertaining but biased
I found this book interesting to read and challenging some of my views (which I thought was positive). Read more
Published 5 months ago by Kasia
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, sorry to say
I'm all about balance: political inclination is no excuse for bad thinking. If the so-called Left is guilty of poor critical thinking about issues such as GMOs and nuclear energy,... Read more
Published 5 months ago by M. Bendzela
5.0 out of 5 stars This was long overdue.
Excellent read. We should have seen this one years ago. I love how they call out the far left on their gross hypocrisy, while championing good science.
Published 6 months ago by Garvey McKenzie
1.0 out of 5 stars Very little here to see
This book is solidly in support of a right-wing agenda, as is co-author Hank Campbell's "Science2.0" website. Read more
Published 7 months ago by whit
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