Monday, December 12, 2005

It Ain't Necessarily So

1,500 years ago, everybody "knew" that the earth was the center of the universe. 500 years ago, everybody "knew" that the earth was flat. And 15 minutes ago, you "knew" that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll "know" tomorrow.
This interesting book looks at the effects of scientists becoming more politicized and how it has affected what "everybody knows."

I still remember a few years ago when I read the evolution had a few holes in it (for example that chart with the little horses becoming big horses is conjecture not based on fossil findings) ... it truly rocked my world's foundation because I thought it was rock solid, proven, and settled. The same thing happened a year or so later when reading about global warming. By the time I read an article disputing "common knowledge" about overpopulation I was more prepared.

However, this book takes on more than these subjects. For instance, the chapter about DDT rocked my world again. As well as the chapter about AIDS in Africa. The amount of conjecture that takes place with studies then done to support those findings is staggering. Also, the role of media in refusing to publicize conflicting studies is appalling. Often this happens even when the new studies are done by the original scientists as a follow up and published to refute or clarify earlier findings.

This sounds like a crank book, I admit. However, one of its strengths is that it is written by a journalist, not a scientist with a specific point to prove. It also serves more as an overview of these subjects, leading the reader to more indepth works on the various subjects if they are interested.

I encourage y'all to check this book out, if only to make us more aware that the government and general scientific consensus aren't always based on solid studies. The days when we can blindly accept scientific findings are gone thanks to the way science has abused our trust to get government funding. A healthy skepticism is called for and, if nothing else, this book helps remind us of that fact.

Naturally, I'll be posting interesting bits every so often.

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