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Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threa tens Our Lives Hardcover – October 29, 2009
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His discussion of food production is similar, the conflict being between non-organic (GMO varieties, industrial farming, etc.) production and organic/local production. To boil it down, in order to feed the ever-growing world population the only possibility is non-organic, industrial food production and a reduced reliance on meat in the diet of developed economies. Also Specter presents that there is no scientific evidence that organic production produces better food from a nutritive stand point. Being a foodie I am closer to this subject though again without diving into the literature I cannot effectively argue either stance. From a dining enjoyment point of view local/organic is much better, but that's a different discussion.
Ostensibly this book is promoting decision making based on facts generated from the scientific method. A good thing. The sub-text though is very pro big-business, big-pharma, big-oil, etc., and that gives me pause. When Specter argues that plant hybrids created by splicing together chromosomes in the lab are essentially no different that hybrids developed through selective breeding it is amazing to me. Selective breeding won't get a fish gene into a tomato. Also selective breeding can create bad things itself, weaker hybrids that need to be destroyed so they don't harm the species. I'm not opposed to "Franken-foods", an asparagus the didn't make my urine stink, had a full days worth of vitamins, could keep in the 'fridge for 2-weeks and whitened my teeth, sign me up. But I also want to be sure it has been rigorously tested and doesn't do new things to my excrement, damage my liver or cause a 10-fold increase in my chance of getting cancer. So yes when Monsanto tells me their GMO corn is perfectly fine I'm skeptical because Monsanto exists to make money and as we've learned over and over and over again the making money part will often beat out the consumer safety and/or long-term negative effects part.
It was a good vacation read. Enough facts, experts and bibliography to be authoritative without getting lost in the minutiae. And provocative enough to get you thinking.
I really enjoyed reading it and think it might be eye-opening to some people. However I think it misses the psychology which enables these movements to grow, understanthing of which is the first necessary step to educate people and diffuse a more educated perspective.
There's a lot of truthiness out there, and sadly much of it is pushed by people like the soon-retiring Larry King and the also soon-retiring Oprah Winfrey. They feed into the belief that vaccines are dangerous, that vitamin pills are a great idea, and that personal experience is more important than scientific fact.
This book serves as a great remedy against truthiness. It exposes the lies of the anti-vax movement quite eloquently (and leaves me wondering what it's going to take for those people to wake up to sanity. What, you folks need another polio epidemic before reality sets in?), and tears apart alternative "medicine" for the total BS that it is.
If there's anywhere the book fails it's that the tone is sometimes a bit inconsistent and some might find it condescending. I'm also not entirely sure what the example of Vioxx at the beginning is supposed to be all about. Perhaps some cautionary tale that had the company been up front about the heart issues with the product, it might still be in use, just not with people who have heart problems.
I also would've liked to have seen a bit more about climate change denalism (especially as I have some thoughts on the issue that aren't entirely along the mainstream and it would've been nice to have seen arguments against what I think), and certainly something about evolution would be nice, but that's already been covered recently in a very good book by Lala Ward's husband.
Really this is a fine book, and though I doubt that the people who really subscribe to truthiness in their lives will read it, perhaps those of us who do read it will at least be better armed in dealing with their nonsense.
9/11 was an inside job, Moon landing hoax, JFK killed by accidental Secret Service bullet, Chemtrails, Wind farm syndrome.
Specter addresses only a narrow selection of medical topics - one drug which was sold after bad reports, vaccination, organic food, racial DNA differences.These themes he explores with great thoroughness, and if that is your interest, you will be satisfied.
The book is written in an engaging style - and my only criticism is that I would have preferred a better finish.