Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science by Dave Levitan

Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science

An eye-opening tour of the political tricks that subvert scientific progress.In 1980, Ronald Reagan created one of the dumbest talking points of all time: ā€œIā€™m not a scientist, but . . .ā€ Since then, politicians have repeatedly committed egregious transgressions against scientific knowledge prefaced by this seemingly innocuous phrase. Yet, as science journalist Dave Levita...

Title:Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:039335332X
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Paperback
Number of Pages:272 pages

Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science Reviews

  • Meg
    Aug 04, 2016

    I laughed, I groaned. I laughed, I groaned. That's my best summary of my experience reading this book. It was entirely enjoyable except when I considered the fact that these men (and a few women) direct our national scientific policy. Levitan's method of dividing the different styles of dissing and mis-explaining science was very well conceived. It is also a call to action: Don't be gullible, be informed, America!

  • jeanmarie
    Mar 28, 2017

    This book is well-written, interesting, packed full of interesting anecdotes and delivers exactly what it says it will: the many (13) ways politicians get science wrong.

    So why 3 stars? Honestly, I feel it's 3.5 but you can't do half stars, so here we are. The book is great in many respects and the different ways it lists are legitimately different ways (cherry picking vs over simplifying, for example).

    However, the problem for me was that this book just read as a (very interesting and engaging)

    This book is well-written, interesting, packed full of interesting anecdotes and delivers exactly what it says it will: the many (13) ways politicians get science wrong.

    So why 3 stars? Honestly, I feel it's 3.5 but you can't do half stars, so here we are. The book is great in many respects and the different ways it lists are legitimately different ways (cherry picking vs over simplifying, for example).

    However, the problem for me was that this book just read as a (very interesting and engaging) laundry list. I've been delaying writing this review because I'm really not sure what I was expecting or how the author could have done better -- this book LITERALLY is a compilation of how politicians get it wrong and it's so well-done. The examples are spot on and easy to interpret, clearly relating back to the chapter's point, for example.

    I still felt like something was missing. I feel like I learned how to spot the different types of mistakes, but there wasn't really an arc -- we don't see much beyond just 'how they get it wrong'. I guess that is why the book felt so unsatisfying. I'm not sure if it's fair to expect the book to deliver beyond its premise, but because of how it was laid out, I had a very hard time making myself read it. Each chapter was more of the same with a slightly different twist.

    So, who should read this book? People who a) engage in political debate or research and want some handy facts and anecdotes or who are b) dissatisfied with politics as-is and want a better way to catalogue, explain, or describe why this 'not a scientist' bit is unsatisfactory.

    Note: I received a copy of this book through a goodreads giveaway

  • Richard
    Mar 09, 2017

    Considering that the White House is currently occupied by the most disingenuous president in America's history, this book is a must read for anyone interested in recognizing how science is misused to buttress political agendas. Citing primarily modern examples of politicians employing scientific non-facts to mislead their constituents, Dave Levitan names names, quotes their own words, and then proceeds to disprove their statements with the real scientific facts, which he has scrupulously researc

    Considering that the White House is currently occupied by the most disingenuous president in America's history, this book is a must read for anyone interested in recognizing how science is misused to buttress political agendas. Citing primarily modern examples of politicians employing scientific non-facts to mislead their constituents, Dave Levitan names names, quotes their own words, and then proceeds to disprove their statements with the real scientific facts, which he has scrupulously researched.

    Written in a breezy, conversational style, "Not A Scientist" is a surprisingly quick and enjoyable read. The data used to rebut the political pseudoscience is presented in a simple and straight forward manner, enabling even scientifically challenged readers to get in on the fun.

    Unfortunately, even though the publishing date for this work is April 2017, it was clearly written in early 2016, and thereby completely misses The Donald's utter lack of scientific comprehension, and that of and his accomplices. However, this book is a primer on how to recognize when phony science is being employed for some political purpose, and that is a skill which is imperative for every citizen to master in order to avoid being led down the garden path by unscrupulous civil decision makers.

  • Erin
    Mar 07, 2017

    Available in April 2017

    Dave Levitan explores the ways in which American politicians( majority appear to be the Republican party candidates in the last presidential campaign) have misinterpreted and misused data all in the name of Science.

    The book is divided into twelve chap

    Available in April 2017

    Dave Levitan explores the ways in which American politicians( majority appear to be the Republican party candidates in the last presidential campaign) have misinterpreted and misused data all in the name of Science.

    The book is divided into twelve chapters:

    1) The Oversimplification

    2)The Cherry Pick

    3)The Butter-up and Undercut

    4)The Demonizer

    5)The Blame the Blogger

    6)The Ridicule and Dismiss

    7) The Literal Nitpick

    8) The Credit Snatch

    9) The Certain Uncertainty

    10) The Blind Eye to Follow up

    11) The Lost in Translation

    12) The Straight Up Fabrication

    Conclusion The Conspicuous Silence

    I must confess that reading a print copy of the text would have been thoroughly more enjoyable because many of the images didn't fit within the size of my e-reader. But I digress.

    I liked the way in which the author approaches the topic and repeatedly emphasizes the importance of equipping ourselves with the proper information. A timely reminder in 2017. Issues discussed in the book include: climate change, global warming, vaccinations, epidemics, and abortion.

    Thanks to NetGalley for an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review. Quotes are subject to change for final copy.

  • Robert Hausladen
    Mar 30, 2017

    A read disappointment. Lack of clear critical thinking about what science can and cannot do and about the role of politics in society.

  • Siobhan
    Apr 19, 2017

    The publication timing of this book is extremely appropriate. Not just because of our current political climate, but also literally -- debuting in April, it's something that I would want to assign as summer reading for high school and college students. While the political overtones may make it a difficult sell in that context (though it can't be denied that the bulk of scientific misinformation in media is heavily weighted towards one side of the aisle), nonetheless this is a fast, accessible re

    The publication timing of this book is extremely appropriate. Not just because of our current political climate, but also literally -- debuting in April, it's something that I would want to assign as summer reading for high school and college students. While the political overtones may make it a difficult sell in that context (though it can't be denied that the bulk of scientific misinformation in media is heavily weighted towards one side of the aisle), nonetheless this is a fast, accessible read with practical applications to developing critical thinking while consuming today's news media. Chapters are divided to address the different techniques (from "Oversimplification" to "Blame the Blogger" and "The Certain Uncertainty") used both intentionally and inadvertently by politicians using specific examples and quotes from the Reagan years to the present. It concludes with the "Conspicuous Silence", illustrating that silence on an issue (such as in the case of Reagan and the AIDS crisis) can be nearly as damaging as misinformation, and that "normalizing science and discussion of science" are imperative to the science literacy of the general public. In a sea of misinformation, we could all use all use a refresher. Highly recommended for everyone, and thanks to NetGalley for the review copy!

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