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Lies, Damned Lies, and Science: How to Sort through the Noise Around Global Warming, the Latest Health Claims, and Other Scientific Controversies

Lies, Damned Lies, and Science: How to Sort through the Noise Around Global Warming, the Latest Health Claims, and Other Scientific Controversies
Author: Sherry Seethaler
ISBN 13: 9780137155224
ISBN 10: 137155220
Edition: 1
Publisher: FT Press
Publication Date: 2009-01-23
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 224
List Price: $24.99

“Comprehensive, readable, and replete with current, useful examples, this book provides a much-needed explanation of how to be a critical consumer of the scientific claims we encounter in our everyday lives.”

—April Cordero Maskiewicz, Department of Biology, Point Loma Nazarene University

“Seethaler’s book helps the reader look inside the workings of science and gain a deeper understanding of the pathway that is followed by a scientific finding—from its beginnings in a research lab to its appearance on the nightly news.”

—Jim Slotta, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

“How I wish science was taught this way! Seethaler builds skills for critical thinking and evaluation. The book is rich with examples that not only illustrate her points beautifully, they also make it very interesting and fun to read.”

—Julia R. Brown, Director, Targacept, Inc.

Don’t Get Hoodwinked! Make Sense of Health and Science News...and Make Smarter Decisions!

Every day, there’s a new scientific or health controversy. And every day, it seems as if there’s a new study that contradicts what you heard yesterday. What’s really going on? Who’s telling the truth? Who’s faking it? What do scientists actually know–and what don’t they know? This book will help you cut through the confusion and make sense of it all–even if you’ve never taken a science class! Leading science educator and journalist Dr. Sherry Seethaler reveals how science and health research really work...how toput scientific claims in context and understand the real tradeoffs involved...tell quality research from junk science...discover when someone’s deliberately trying to fool you...and find more information you can trust! Nobody knows what new controversy will erupt tomorrow. But one thing’s for certain: With this book, you’ll know how to figure out the real deal–and make smarter decisions for yourself and your family!

Watch the news, and you’ll be overwhelmed by snippets of badly presented science: information that’s incomplete, confusing, contradictory, out-of-context, wrong, or flat-out dishonest. Defend yourself! Dr. Sherry Seethaler gives you a powerful arsenal of tools for making sense of science. You’ll learn how to think more sensibly about everything from mad cow disease to global warming—and how to make better science-related decisions in both your personal life and as a citizen.

You’ll begin by understanding how science really works and progresses, and why scientists sometimes disagree. Seethaler helps you assess the possible biases of those who make scientific claims in the media, and place scientific issues in appropriate context, so you can intelligently assess tradeoffs. You’ll learn how to determine whether a new study is really meaningful; uncover the difference between cause and coincidence; figure out which statistics mean something, and which don’t.

Seethaler reveals the tricks self-interested players use to mislead and confuse you, and points you to sources of information you can actually rely upon. Her many examples range from genetic engineering of crops to drug treatments for depression...but the techniques she teaches you will be invaluable in understanding any scientific controversy, in any area of science or health.

^ Potions, plots, and personalities: How science progresses, and why scientists sometimes disagree

^ Is it “cause” or merely coincidence? How to tell compelling evidence from a “good story”

^ There are always tradeoffs: How to put science and health claims in context, and understand their real implications

^ All the tricks experts use to fool you, exposed! How to recognize lies, “truthiness,” or pseudo-expertise

Publishers Weekly

When judging media reports on science, one person's fact is another person's hooey, and in this brisk little book Seethaler helps readers decide for themselves which is which. Seethaler, a science writer and columnist for the San Diego Union Tribune, begins by explaining how the scientific process works in reality versus popular belief, and then discusses such subjects as how to identify the stakeholders in a scientific controversy and how science and public policy intersect. The author suggests other questions: what advocacy groups are the source for information reported in articles? is a "trend" really just a temporary blip in the data? Seethaler offers concrete advice on how to sort through such matters ("Beware of the 'Lake Wobegon effect' "), as well as useful tables and charts. While science buffs will be familiar with most of the material, news consumers who are puzzled by scientific debates will learn how to make sense of them, and high school and beginning college science students will find the book useful for putting science in a real-world context. (Feb.)

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