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Books

Making Sense of Science: Separating Substance from Spin

Sada El Balad

“I’m not a scientist” is a familiar refrain among people asked to evaluate scientific claims they feel are beyond their ken. 

Most citizens learn about science from media coverage، and even the most conscientious reporters sometimes struggle to offer a clear، unbiased explanation to readers. Politicians، activists، business spokespersons، and religious leaders with their own agendas to pursue also influence the way science is reported and discussed. Meanwhile، anyone seeking factual information on climate change، vaccine safety، risk of terrorist attack، or other topics in the news must sift through an avalanche of bogus assertions and self-interested spin.

Making Sense of Science seeks to equip nonscientists with a set of critical tools to evaluate the scientific claims and controversies that shape our lives. Cornelia Dean draws on thirty years of experience as a science journalist with the New York Times to expose the flawed reasoning and knowledge gaps that handicap readers with little background in science. Shortcomings in K–12 education are partly to blame، but so too is the public’s indifference to the way science is done and communicated. Dean shows how venues such as courtrooms and talk shows become fonts of scientific misinformation. She also calls attention to the conflicts of interest that color scientific research، as well as the price society pays when science journalism declines and government funding for research dries up.

Timely and provocative، Making Sense of Science warns us all that we can no longer afford to make a virtue of our collective scientific ignorance.

Editorial Reviews

[An] engagingly written guidebook…Not only are we irrational، but we are mostly ignorant about science، and Dean explores both the reasons and the effects، including our erroneous ideas about probability and risk…Dean’s long and varied experience in the world of science reporting makes for an articulate، well-structured، and easily understood account filled with good stories and sound advice. (Kirkus Reviews 2017-01-15)

Current and future scientists and journalists، as well as advocates for science، will appreciate Dean’s effort to combat scientific illiteracy. (Nancy R. Curtis Library Journal 2017-02-24)

This engaging book offers non-scientists the tools to connect with and evaluate science، and for scientists it is a timely call to action for effective communication. (Laura Bowater Times Higher Education 2017-05-11)

This book is an accessible­-by-­all description of modern science and the societal gap of understanding. (C. Sokolik Choice 2017-08-01)

Hardcover: 296 pages
Publisher: Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press (March 13، 2017)
Language: English
Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches

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