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Science, Nonscience and Nonsense : Approaching Environmental Literacy

Zimmerman, Michael

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ISBN 10: 0801850908 / ISBN 13: 9780801850905
Verlag: The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A., 1996
Gebraucht Zustand: As New Hardcover
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Bibliografische Details

Titel: Science, Nonscience and Nonsense : ...

Verlag: The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.

Erscheinungsdatum: 1996

Einband: hardcover

Zustand:As New

Zustand des Schutzumschlags: As New

Auflage: First Edition.

Art des Buches: Clean Copy

Über diesen Titel


A pesticide banned in the United States is sold instead to farmers overseas; their products are then exported to American supermarkets. How do you know your fruits and vegetables are safe from contamination?

. A mining company buys government land in Colorado at $5 an acre for possible mineral exploration, then sells it to a developer at $50,000 an acre for condominiums. Such procedures are both legal and increasingly widespread. Can a better-informed public stop them?

. Attempting to calm public fears about the safety of chemically treated fruits, a government official eats a treated apple at a televised press conference. How does the risk he takes compare--statistically--with yours and your children's?

As the role of science and technology in everyday life grows both more pervasive and more complex, it has become ever more difficult for a scientifically "illiterate" public to make informed judgments. In Science, Nonscience, and Nonsense, Michael Zimmerman takes on a wide range of falsifiers, disinformation specialists, and charlatans to provide readers with the scientific background necessary to evaluate environmental and other current issues that increasingly may be a matter of life and death.

Zimmerman begins by showing just what science is--and how the criteria of skepticism and falsifiability distinguish it from pseudo-science and mysticism. He offers intelligent, entertaining, and sometimes scathing analyses of bad science--from lottery "systems" and creationism to graphologists and homeopaths, from food and product safety scams to outright scientific fraud. In each case he shows exactly what to watch for--how the most outrageously false claims often contain a grain of truth, and how valid scientific findings may be distorted or selectively quoted to serve the ends of government, business, or special interest groups.

The author of a syndicated newspaper column on scientific and environmental issues, Michael Zimmerman has been hailed by supporters in environmental groups and sharply criticized by his opponents. Science, Nonscience, and Nonsense is sure to provoke both controversy and debate.

"Increasingly large portions of the American public are scientifically illiterate. By this I mean not that many people are unaware of specific scientific 'facts,' although there can be no doubt that they are. Rather, in pointing to scientific illiteracy I mean something far more rudimentary: an inability to differentiate science from pseudoscience. Science, based on skepticism and dependent on both falsifiability and experimentation, is dramatically different from pseudoscience, based on faith and dependent on gullibility. While pseudoscience can surely be entertaining, whether it be matching astrological signs with a date or playing paranormal parlor games, the situation becomes very different when the inability to distinguish between the two means that important decisions are made on the basis of superstitious drivel.--Michael Zimmerman, in Science, Nonscience, and Nonsense


""Zimmerman argues that Americans are so ignorant of basic scientific principles that they are easy prey for 'cynical disinformation campaigns'... He shows that you don't need a Ph.D. to avoid being deceived; you just need to combine the skepticism of a scientist with the common sense of an informed and intelligent citizen." -- Philadelphia Inquirer

""The book merits a wide readership among people who are concerned about the vaildity and integrety of scientific opinion in government, education, and among the general public. In political debate, many people appear to have difficulty knowing who or what to believe and why. This book could help readers understand that science is not merely a collection of facts and theories but rather a way of reasoning, and ability to appreciate the weight of evidence, and a means of separating the demonstrably false from the probably true." -- Environment

""In a highly readable and comprehensive fashion, the text succeeds in warning readers of the dangers of scientific illiteracy, in demonstrating the process of critical inquiry and in introducing a range of environmental issues in light of the larger discussion of the nature of scientific thought; it debunks the 'myth of the technological fix,' and it reveals the role of creativity, wonder, and a sense of responsibility in the scientific analysis of our environmental problems." -- American Scientist

""Zimmerman's mission is to promote scientific literacy, and so enable us to make decisions not based on 'superstitious drivel'... [He] makes the point well that scientific literacy is essential if ordinary citizens are to take part in decisions that affect their lives." -- New Scientist

""Zimmerman's account of [the battle between creationists and Darwinian evolutionists] is fascinating and at times frightening." -- Nature

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