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.
"Donald Prothero is a scientist's scientist.... 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)
"Prothero's treatise will give the science-minded something to cheer about, a brief summary of the real data that supports so many critical aspects of modern life." (Publishers Weekly)
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Reality Check is sure to piss you off
No--only because I rarely re-read (or re-listen) to books twice--there are too many new books I haven't gotten to yet! :-)
That said, it is a good reference tool if I have to challenge a denier on any of the many topics that Prothero covered--so there's a good chance I will revisit parts of the book.
"Merchants of Doubt" by James Conway and Naomi Oreskes. Prothero borrows heavily from this book in his first couple chapters.
It was smooth and unobtrusive. Stevens brought a gravitas to the book that often belied the snarky tone Prothero had. Eventually, however, you could occasionally hear some of Prothero's cynicism and snark creep into Stevens' voice.
As the title of this review may have clued you in, it does have the ability to piss the reader off--whether you get angry at the science deniers that have infiltrated our culture, our media, and our legislatures, or whether you are an anti-vaxxer conspiracist, climate denier, or believer in homeopathy, Prothero's calling you “ignorant”, “crazy”, “quacks” or “foaming at the mouth loonies”, or whether you are tired of the name-calling in our civil discourse, there is something in "Reality Checks" that is sure to raise the hackles on your neck.
Prothero covers lots of ground in this book, with chapters devoted to evolution, tobacco, climate change, vaccines to HIV, the SDI (or Star Wars) Missile Defense System, acid rain, ozone depletion, creationism, population growth, alternative medicines and astronomy, and other advocates of "junk science."
A great book for how to identify pseudoscience
thorough, interesting, surprising
the narrator has a easy to listen tone that does not annoy or bore.
This book is excellent for anyone interested in why people have unscientific and sometimes harmful beliefs.