November 25, 2013

Review: Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future

Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future
Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future by Donald R. Prothero

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is scary and depressing as hell.

Not because it's a bad book. Far from it. It's a full-throated, no holds barred defense of science, reason and the scientific method. The author has no patience for people who don't believe in science, and tears new arseholes in those who don't accept evolution, climate change, peak oil, and other proven scientific concepts. As he points out, if you haven't studied in the relevant disciplines, you simply aren't qualified to comment; therefore, all the non-scientist talking heads (especially politicians) who get up on TV and YouTube and try to discredit climate change (for example) don't know shit.

(Yes, that means you, Senator James Inhofe.)

It's pretty strong stuff, and may turn off people who believe civility is still possible in our polarized culture. But the author has what he thinks are good reasons for being blunt and forceful, and insulting when the situation calls for it, and the title of the book is one of them. As he states, denying that HIV causes AIDS (and worse, working similar anti-science concepts into public policy, as so often happened during the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations) kills people. Scaring people into not vaccinating their children because of one discredited doctor kills people.

And denying the biggest boogeyman of them all, climate change, will not only kill people and wipe out entire countries, it may destroy the planetary ecosystem as well.

That's the biggest reason this book is so frightening. Chapter 5 goes into great detail what will happen if humans don't get their act together, and let's just say it made me want to run screaming into the night. I'd seen most of this before, but never in one place that hammers it so thoroughly home.

This is an important book. It should be widely promoted and read. If it gets under the skin of some religious science deniers, so be it. Our future depends on it.

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