Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future

Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future


By (author) Donald R. Prothero, Foreword by Michael Shermer

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  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 392 pages
  • Dimensions: 239mm x 325mm x 56mm | 635g
  • Publication date: 1 September 2013
  • Publication City/Country: Bloomington, IN
  • ISBN 10: 0253010292
  • ISBN 13: 9780253010292
  • Illustrations note: 39 b&w illustrations
  • Sales rank: 508,949

Product description

The battles over evolution, climate change, childhood vaccinations, and the causes of AIDS, alternative medicine, oil shortages, population growth, and the place of science in our country - all are reaching a fevered pitch. Many people and institutions have exerted enormous efforts to misrepresent or flatly deny demonstrable scientific reality to protect their nonscientific ideology, their power, or their bottom line. To shed light on this darkness, Donald R. Prothero explains the scientific process and why society has come to rely on science not only to provide a better life but also to reach verifiable truths no other method can obtain. He describes how major scientific ideas that are accepted by the entire scientific community (evolution, anthropogenic global warming, vaccination, the HIV cause of AIDS, and others) have been attacked with totally unscientific arguments and methods. Prothero argues that science deniers pose a serious threat to society, as their attempts to subvert the truth have resulted in widespread scientific ignorance, increased risk of global catastrophes, and deaths due to the spread of diseases that could have been prevented.

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Author information

Recipient of the 2013 James Shea Award of the National Association of Geology Teachers for outstanding writing and editing in the geosciences. Donald R. Prothero is Emeritus Professor of Geology at Occidental College and Lecturer in Geobiology at the California Institute of Technology. He has published 32 books, including Rhinoceros Giants: The Paleobiology of Indricotheres (IUP, 2013); Earth: Portrait of a Planet; The Evolution of Earth; Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters; Catastrophes!; and After the Dinosaurs: The Age of Mammals (IUP, 2006).

Review quote

"Prothero is a skeptic. So am I. When we call ourselves skeptics we mean simply that we take a scientific approach to the evaluation of claims. Science is skepticism and scientists are naturally skeptical because most claims turn out to be false. Weeding out the few kernels of wheat from the substantial pile of chaff requires extensive observation, careful experimentation, and cautious inference to the best conclusion. Donald Prothero is a scientist's scientist in this regard... In this volume you will indeed get a reality check on some of the most important issues of our time." - Michael Shermer, author of The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies - How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths

Table of contents

1. Reality Check Introduction Belief vs. Reality 2. Science, our Candle in the Darkness A World Transformed What Is Science? Baloney Detection Whom Can We Trust? 3. Selling Out Science "Cancer by the Carton" The Truth Will Set You Free - If You Can Find It Secondhand Smoke Kills, Too Star Wars vs. Nuclear Winter - How To Crucify Carl Sagan 4. Making the Environment the Enemy: Acid Rain, the Ozone Hole, and the Demonization of Rachel Carson The Tragedy of the Commons Acid Rain: Death from the Skies The Ozone Hole: Another Environmental Crisis Resolved Rachel Carson and DDT: How Far Will the Anti-Environmentalists Go? 5. Warm Enough for You? Political Hot Air Global Climate Change: the Scientific Evidence The Global Climate Denialist Conspiracy It's all Politics - and Our Planet Is the Hostage 6. Gimme that Old Time Religion: Creationism and the Denial of Humanity's Place in Nature The Battle that Never Ends Why Do We Say Evolution Is Real? What Is Creationism? What Is Intelligent Design Creationism? The Creationists' Standard (Discredited) Arguments Why Should We Care? 7. Jenny's Body Count: Playing Russian Roulette with Our Children The "Good Old Days" The Anti-Vaxxers Vaccines and Autism: Is There a Link? Playing Russian Roulette--With Other People's Children 8. Victims of Modern Witch Doctors: AIDS Denialism The Strangest Denialism of All The Scourge of Africa Ignorance that Kills: AIDS Denialism Denying Death 9. If it Quacks like a Quack: Snake-Oil Con Artists in an Era of Medical Science Modern Snake-Oil Salesmen Homeopathy: The "Water Cure" Revisited Back-Cracking: The Chiropractic Con Game Where is the Evidence? 10. Down the Slope of Hubbert's Curve: The End of Cheap Oil and Natural Resources The Never-Ending Oil Crisis The Wealth of Nations The End of Cheap Oil What Do We Do? 11. Crowded Enough for You? Human Overpopulation and its Consequences The Ticking Time Bomb Once Upon a Time... Do the Math! In Growth We Trust The Limits of Human Population Our Fellow Planetary Passengers: Do They Count? 12. Rejection of Reality: How Denial of Science Threatens Us All Unscientific America Is our Children Learning Science? Why Do They Do It? Idiocracy Consequences Index