First, let me say it has been a pleasure to read Denialism, a book I’ve wanted to dig into ever since you came to speak about it to our Knight Science Journalism Fellows seminar at MIT. It’s heartening to see another author beating the drum about America’s dysfunctional relationship with science, and making the point so vividly and memorably. Your narrative about vaccine skeptics’ attacks on an unassuming and rigorous scientist like Harvard’s Marie McCormick—whom I have also interviewed—made me so angry I wanted to hurl the book across the room (and that’s a good thing!).
What’s more, your book looks past some of the more obvious cases of “denialism”—of climate change, HIV/AIDS, evolution, and so forth—to lesser known realms like personalized medicine and synthetic biology, where our qualms about where science is taking us are likely to manifest next. You don’t deny the older and more famous instances of anti-science sentiment, but you smartly move along to the ones we’re going to be dealing with for years to come.
That’s not to say I agree with everything in Denialism; I think there are some aspects of the big picture that you haven’t painted quite right. Take, for instance, the baffling fact that despite all of our irrationality on topics like vaccination, Americans aren’t actually “anti-science” in any meaningful sense of the term…..
You can read my full entry here. Michael Specter will be replying sometime this afternoon and we’ll take it from there…