Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives Summary

The SQUEEZE: New Yorker staff writer Michael Specter reveals much about the attitudes of Americans towards modern institutions, especially those whose mission is science-based. In Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives, Specter suggests that the general view of science had been neither good nor bad; in essence, science supplied information that was beneficial for understanding how the world operated. Today, science is viewed as a political constituency. Specter offers an example of the failure of African leadership. Specter suggests that African leaders blindly allow citizens to die of starvation rather than allow for the import of genetically-modified grains. In the United States, Americans are spending billions of dollars on dietary supplements that offer no nutritional value. Lastly, universities and laboratories tend to be anonymous, unmarked institutions whose purposes are to look for a cure to an incurable disease, but whose activities border on greed. Denialism is a must-read for policymakers.

Notable Endorsement: “A lucid and insightful book about a very frightening and irrational phenomenon—the fear and superstition that threaten human science and progress. A superb and convincing work.”—Malcolm Gladwell, New Yorker staff writer and author of Outliers, Blink, and The Tipping Point

Common Q’s Answered by this Book:

  • What are examples of science-based programs that have not accomplished their intended purposes?
  • What international policies have contributed to the threat of human life?
  • In what context is science viewed as a political constituency?


About the Author: Michael Specter is an American journalist. Specter has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1998, writing on such subjects as science, technology, and global public health. Specter has also written for The Washington Post and The New York Times. In 2009, Specter received the Robert P. Balles Annual Prize in Critical Thinking for Denialism. Specter completed studies at Vassar College.


Book Vitals:

  • Publisher: Penguin Press (October 2009)

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