- Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives © 2009
- 304 pages
Michael Specter is one frustrated and fiery man. He’s fed up with people’s mistrust of science and affection for homey remedies. Take the latest raw milk craze, for example. Before pasteurization, milk was a major source of food-borne illness in the world. Now people are beginning to mistrust the wisdom of pasteurization, longing for the good old days when their milk came unsullied from the cow. There is no evidence of people being harmed my the pasteurization process, but there’s plenty of evidence about the dangers of raw milk. That’s just one example he uses to make his case: denying scientific progress harms the human race as a whole.
His crusade against the anti-vaccination cult is particularly vehement. Humans have short memories. If we knew the terror of unrestrained cholera, tetanus, and even measles, we would think twice before refusing vaccines to our children.
I found myself agreeing with most of Specter’s. I fully agree, for example, that most of the natural homeopathic “remedies” that clutter health food stores and farmers markets across the Country are little more than 21st century snake-oil.
With all that said, even though I agreed with most of the book, I didn’t trust him. His passion comes off as arrogance all too often. Here’s an analogy. I’m a preacher. 99% of the people in front of my every Sunday morning are believers. I could rant and rave about the importance of being “born again”, but it would do not good to have every head nodding—I’d only be preaching to the choir (so to speak). Specter’s preaching to the choir. He’s given scientific-minded people fodder to help them feel superior to the brainless masses of humanity—but this sort of zealotry will do nothing to persuade those who desperately need to heed his message.