Summary of The War on Science

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Rating

9

Qualities

  • Scientific
  • Comprehensive
  • Innovative

Recommendation

Journalist Shawn Otto persuasively argues that special interests, media personalities, corporate lobbyists and politicians with no respect for science and the scientific method have taken an uninformed populace hostage by discrediting and undermining science and facts. He believes that if science loses today’s “war on science,” it’s the end of knowing what is happening around you and to you. He traces the evolution of today’s mistrust of science to the beginning of the atomic age and then to the early 1960s, when a virus of doubt appeared under the bravura of the moon mission. The concept of objectivity further lost credibility in the face of postmodernism and the New Age. Thus began the undoing of science now seen in debates over climate change, health care and immigration, and in the marginalizing of scientists by US president Donald Trump’s administration. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends Otto’s well-researched, well-written, timely report. 

In this summary, you will learn

  • How special interests wage “war on science”;
  • How they exploit an uninformed public unaware of the impact of policy decisions;
  • How postmodernism weakened objectivity by claiming scientific truths are speculative;
  • Why re-establishing science requires broad, society-wide initiatives; and
  • Why defending science is a fight for democracy.
 

About the Author

Journalist Shawn Otto also wrote Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America and the novel Sins of Our Fathers. A film producer (House of Sand and Fog), he co-founded ScienceDebate.org and produced its US presidential science debates. He won the IEEE-USA National Distinguished Public Service Award for elevating science in the US public dialogue.   

 

Summary

New Knowledge

As the 21st century advances, science will create a tidal wave of new knowledge, particularly in its understanding of the natural world. Can people grasp the consequences of new technology?

Essential public questions include how to address climate change, stem cell research, genetically modified foods, immigration, biosecurity, droughts, the cyber world, vaccines and aging nuclear weapons. Other concerns await, such as pollinator colony collapse and human papillomavirus, as well as policy questions around curiosity-driven basic research and the effects of “science denial” on democracy. How much time does society have to address these issues, and in what order should it address them? Can policy makers keep up with engineers and scientists?

Attacks on Science

Science holds many solutions to the problems it uncovers. Yet fundamentalists, profit-at-any-cost corporations, lobbyists, politicians, climate deniers, and pundits undermine science. Some liberals peddle postmodern notions that “truth is always relative,” science is subjective, and the sciences are the province of “white men” who don’t understand...


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    ia ia 2 years ago
    Useful
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    Darren Murray 2 years ago
    Interesting read and agree that today's journalism lacks credibility with the public when it comes to important issues such as this. Lobbying interests need to take a back seat by politicians when it comes to the greater good of the public interest.
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    Gianfranco Rubanu 2 years ago
    Very useful!
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    Duncan Parkes 2 years ago
    A helpful analysis but slightly flawed as it presents this as a 'recent' problem. Galileo Galilei surfaced the same issue in the 16th and 17th century.
  • Avatar
    Duncan Parkes 2 years ago
    A helpful analysis but slightly flawed as it presents this as a 'recent' problem. Galileo Galilei surfaced the same issue in the 16th and 17th century.