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43 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Debut by Berezow and Campbell, October 13, 2012
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This review is from: Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fallacies and the Rise of the Anti-Scientific Left (Hardcover)
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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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 31, 2013 6:00:30 PM PDT
Leo Buzalsky says:
I have not read the book (I'm thinking about purchasing it, which is why I'm here), so I don't know what their definition of anti-science is, but it would seem, from my point of view, that this term is really describing people who will abandon science when it comes into conflict with their political and/or religious ideology. I doubt there are many Americans who are anti-science across the board (except maybe the Amish?).
Otherwise, one part of your comment leaves me scratching my head, and it's where you say, "we should not denigrate other considerations." What other considerations would these be? What other type of "consideration" (not entirely sure what you mean by that) has demonstrated itself to be anywhere near as legitimate as science? I would agree that it's good to be on the lookout for other options, but I know of no other options at this time. This comment almost seems like an anti-scientific one, suggesting that you would abandon science if it were to get in the way of a personal belief. I hope I'm wrong.

In reply to an earlier post on May 20, 2014 9:19:37 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 20, 2014 9:55:36 PM PDT
Mr. Buzalsky,

By "other considerations", I think Matthew Shuh meant things people consider when deciding what political positions to support which things, science in general, or the science done in the given instance/issue do not handle well or handle at all. Things like clinical judgment in individual cases (in medicine), and, if you value the following- considerations like religion, the precautionary principle, preferences as to (re)distribution of wealth, the value of intangibles such as the experience of breathing fresh air, knowing that future generations will be 'insured' against the costs of global climate change.

Valuing these things in addition to the results of scientific studies does not necessarily (except for, in my view, religion) make one anti-science, AS LONG AS ONE IS EXPLICIT in stating that one's views depend in some, or large part, on these non-science considerations.

One is anti-science when one knowingly falsely claims that the science supports one's views. This is a separate issue from simply valuing other considerations. It seems to me that these separate issues are sometimes conflated in accusations that some views are 'anti-science.'

In particular, one must be very mindful of the limits of science. While it is true, that over the course of long stretches of time, we have come to at least a relatively solid tentative knowledge of a huge amount of information, it takes, in some instances a very long time to get there, and even then there is often a large amount of uncertainty. When a relatively new issue arises (and new in the realm of science means years or decades) that has a potential to cause a lot of harm, like global warming or emerging diseases, one must make choices quickly in the face of very limited scientific certainty. It becomes a huge problem when interested parties (such as oil corporations or health or disability insurers) have their hired or influenced scientists say "we shouldn't do anything because there is no scientific consensus that harmful effects (of e.g. global warming) or benefits (of a potentially lifesaving treatment) are not proven yet." Again, it can take decades for a scientific consensus to emerge on an issue, especially when interested parties are doing their own potentially biased science and/or fake "science" to try to influence the result.

So be very aware of interested parties doing the science and the fact that we often HAVE to act quickly to stop devastating harm in the face of uncertain science. (this comes from my years of reviewing the science on 'contested illnesses' such as ME"cfs", Lyme Disease and Gulf War Illness where extremely biased and sometimes knowingly deceptive 'science' occurs, and bonafide biomedical science funding is denied in order to relieve health and disability insurers- including national governments- from paying for disability and basic medical care)
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