For the past few years, John Grant has been intrepidly documenting instances of bogus, corrupted, and discarded science. Now he's back with perhaps the best of the lot: Denying Science. As topical and as cutting as past volumes have been, Denying Science gets to the heart of the problem in today's world"”and does so with fascinating, brilliantly written accounts that may curl your toes but also contain elements of humor and absurdity. In doing so, he tackles such question as "Is global warming just scaremongering?", "Is evolution 'just a theory'", and "Is autism caused by vaccinations?" Grant provides compelling evidence that the answers in all three cases is a resounding "no."
But his larger point in these instances and more is to comment on the role of popular media in presenting the interpretation of scientific data as having equally compelling and factual "sides", blurring the lines between critical thinking/scientific literacy and approaches more common to presenting opposing political pundits on morning talk shows.
The title comes from Grant's position that "Large sections of the supposedly sophisticated populations in the developed nations are in an active state of denial. Not only do they deny scientific evidence but they also call into question the very competence of science as a descriptor of reality. In short, they deny reality."
Chapter titles include "Unless We Think, We Aren't," "Puffing the Product," No Safe Classroom?," "Eugenically Speaking," and "Global Weirding." Grant is invested in showing how many issues are clouded by various panics, urban legends, and a general climate of misinformation. He also examines how special interests, from agribusiness to pharmaceutical companies to creationists, actively work to distort or suppress scientific findings.
It may seem odd, but Denying Science is nimble, clever, and darkly funny. Grant is an excellent writer and knows both how to present information in an entertaining way and how to underscore a particularly important point.
Chances are, no matter what your political persuasion, you'll find something that challenges your beliefs, but hopefully you'll also agree with one of Grant's main thoughts running throughout the series, as expressed in an interview I conducted with the author in 2008: "We all suffer whenever someone indulges in the wholesale falsification or suppression of knowledge."