The War on Science
"Wherever the people are well informed," Thomas Jefferson wrote, "they can be trusted with their own government." But what happens when they are not? In every issue of modern society--from climate change to vaccinations, transportation to technology, health care to defense--we are in the midst of an unprecedented expansion of scientific progress and a simultaneous expansion of danger. At the very time we need them most, scientists and the idea of objective knowledge are being bombarded by a vast, well-funded, three-part war on science: the identity politics war on science, the ideological war on science, and the industrial war on science. The result is an unprecedented erosion of thought in Western democracies as voters, policymakers, and justices actively ignore the evidence from science, leaving major policy decisions to be based more on the demands of the most strident voices. Shawn Lawrence Otto's provocative new book investigates the historical, social, philosophical, political, and emotional reasons for why and how evidence-based politics are in decline and authoritarian politics are once again on the rise, and offers a vision, an argument, and some compelling solutions to bring us to our collective senses, before it's too late.
Advance Praise for The War on Science
Evidence from science is one of the world's great equalizers, because it forms an objective basis for public policy. This book illustrates how central that notion is to the forming of modern democracy, and how current attacks on science endanger our freedom. Policymakers and voters everywhere would do well to read The War on Science.
—Walter Mondale, former Vice President of the United States
Science is not a body of facts, but rather a structured approach to uncovering the fundamental laws that govern the natural world. As The War on Science shows, policymakers who choose to ignore those fundamental laws imperil us all, for the laws of nature will always trump the laws of man.
—Marcia McNutt, incoming President of the US National Academy of Sciences
We're seeing right now a titanic battle between the power of science and the power of money--and money is winning. This book explains why, and offers some pointers that might get us back on the right track.
—Bill McKibben, author and co-founder of 350.org
Otto makes a case that can't be refuted. Science is important to all of us, especially in a democracy. He backs it up with peer reviewed studies, carefully researched numbers, and his own extensive experience. He uses the process of science to prove that we need science in order to remain free. Here's hoping all voters everywhere take him seriously—soon.
—Bill Nye, the Science Guy
One of the most important books published in the last decade.
—Don Shelby, Peabody-winning TV news anchor
Amazing, you will want to read it. You will definitely, absolutely, not want to not read it. It is a must read.
—Greg Laden, Scientist and Writer for Science Blogs
This insightful, heavily-researched book pulls back the curtain to show exactly where and how the rise of authoritarianism is being accomplished, via academic, fundamentalist, and public-relations attacks on scientists and the ideas of science that underly modern democracy. The War on Science is must reading for anyone wanting to understand what’s really going on in today's politics.
—Michael Mann, Climate Scientist and inventor of the “Hockey Stick” chart
In the struggle of people to be free, there has been one common denominator on which, like Sherlock Holmes, democracy depends—science, and the evidence it provides, as a guide to truth, fairness and justice. This insightful book explores how science became a necessary prerequisite for democracy, why it is under attack today, and what we can do to defend truth and freedom.
—Maria Konnikova, Bestselling author of “Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes"
Before you vote in the next election, read Shawn Otto's THE WAR ON SCIENCE.
—Ben Bova, Award-winning Author of the Grand Tour series and editor of Omni magazine
The War on Science dissects the factors creating a perfect storm of anti-intellectualism, persuading millions to actively vote against their own interests. This is not a book that will convert Limbaugh dancers. But it just might help you to draw that smart engineer uncle back toward the light. It might even encourage such fellows to join a newborn movement, reviving a science-loving version of conservatism out of the ashes.
—David Brin, Scientist and Award-Winning Author of Earth and The Transparent Society