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

Alex Berezow , Hank Campbell
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 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

Review

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."

Kirkus
“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 Blue.org
“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."

PolicyMic
“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.”

Forbes
“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.”

Booklist
“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.”

Scienceblogs.com
“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:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #538,776 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
96 of 125 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Confession up front: I bring a bias to this review: I write on 'scientific literacy' and run a genetics program, GeneticLiteracyProject.org 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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43 of 55 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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47 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Book Committed to Science, Not Politics September 26, 2012
Format:Hardcover
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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83 of 113 people found the following review helpful
By lx
Format:Hardcover
I was pretty excited to receive this book, as I myself rail against the anti-scientific left and the politicization of science. Ironically, the book is more political than scientific.

First, the good points that they touch on:

- The widespread adherence to the naturalistic fallacy on the left is terribly anti-scientific and damaging.

- Yucca mountain should never have been shut down, and nuclear energy should be more vigorously pursued. (they actually don't spend nearly enough time on this topic)

- Organic food is, by and large, a scam.

- Fuel ethanol is worse than useless.

- GMOs are probably key to feeding our growing population, and people opposed to them due to health concerns are ignorant. (points for mentioning the superiority of Bt corn, minus several points for using the typical weak "Golden Rice" example)

- Anti-vaccine activists are evil and stupid.

- Progressives are inconsistent about their support of clean energy versus other environmental concerns.

But those are the high points in a sea of sludgy rhetoric - the book's tone veers erratically from reasoned arguments to straight up childish mocking of straw men, digging up the wackiest left-wing beliefs they can find and tarring all "progressives" with that brush. They repeatedly drag out tired conservative tropes like "banning happy meals and plastic bags". They outright say things like "animal rights activists are crazy", and that feminists, by saying that most psychological gender differences are not innate, are basically equivalent to creationists. Any pretense of impartiality is completely obliterated by the time you make it halfway through.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Anti-science exists on the left, but not to the degree these authors...
In this book, Beresow and Campbell provide some useful discussion of anti-scientific beliefs held by "progressives" (or "liberals" or "Democrats"). Read more
Published 15 days ago by Christopher Paul Winter
4.0 out of 5 stars Careful though. As Kahneman warns, look first to ...
Careful though. As Kahneman warns, look first to your base rates: science is rare everywhere, left and right, and folly is plentiful everywhere. Read more
Published 29 days ago by John Hicks
2.0 out of 5 stars Science as the New Religion
I consider myself to be libertarian/conservative, so I thought this book would be good, judging by all the unhappy liberals complaining in the reviews. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Pipsqueak
1.0 out of 5 stars Just don't waste your time and money
This is a political FAUX News screed pretending to be science. I suppose the authors are likely to end up making their living shilling for agri-business, big pharma, or whatever. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Strohnson
1.0 out of 5 stars Misleading
The book opens with stories showing that politicians usually come to “politically correct” rather than “scientifically correct” conclusions. Read more
Published 4 months ago by David N Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read. I have fun keeping up with Berezow ...
Great read. I have fun keeping up with Berezow and Campbell on Science 2.0.
Published 7 months ago by W. McConnell
1.0 out of 5 stars Written by people who don't know how to think.
Extremely un-rigorous, leaps of logic, unsubstantiated political viewpoints abound. Extremely characteristic of not knowing how to think, or being able to self-filter logical... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Strategist
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the money.
I see nothing very scientific here; just a bunch of seemingly unsubstantiated ideas written with a political agenda of some sort - "progressive" I guess. Save your cash.
Published 7 months ago by Rita
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Prompt delivery, as promised.
Published 8 months ago by Jonathan Greene
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent fact based reporting.
Published 9 months ago by richard j dinubila
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