Monday, February 01, 2010

Good Reading for Cold Nights

Now that the bright moon is waning and snow showers are headed our way, you might want to grab a few of the new books we just unpacked for the dark evenings ahead.

Science as a Contact Sport is my first choice, especially if you are concerned about the growing number of Americans who say they question the validity of scientific findings regarding anthropogenic climate change.  Author Stephen Schneider, Ph.D., National Geographic Society Fellow, recipient of a MacArthur "genius" grant, expert adviser to every president since Nixon, and recipient with his colleagues of the collective 2007 Nobel Peace Prize (awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), writes clearly of complex issues and the danger of stereotyping individuals as either "pro" or "con" advocates relative to action on climate change.  This excerpt comes from his chapter The Media Wars: "If the public is bamboozled into thinking that each 'side' in a typical media debate is credible, a typical reaction is to say, 'Well, if the experts don't know, how can I know!  Let's just wait a while until they figure it out.'  That is precisely the strategy of the climate deniers, to create public confusion and apathy, which slows policies that help the planet and our children but hurt special interests who are vested in the status quo."

Schneider points out the difference between necessary scientific skepticism and climate deniers, who "simply ignore the preponderance of evidence presented.  Skeptics should question everything but not deny where the preponderance of evidence leads.  The latter is, at best, bad science or, at worst, dishonesty."

Denialism considers the impact of deniers on scientific progress in a broader context, and received a good bit of attention when it was released last fall.  Read it yourself and see how much you agree with the author's premise.  The New York Times and Grist Magazine reviewed the book within days of each other, and you'll find plenty of customer reviews on

The new book shelf is burgeoning with many other great options, from Victorian-era science to modern day tragedies and triumphs of discovery.  Browse the shelves - online or in the library!

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