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13180All that you think you know is wrong

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  • Ian Pitchford
    Jun 30, 2001
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      All that you think you know is wrong

      The risk of skin cancer, the causes of global warming, the dangers of high
      cholesterol - one expert says it's all bunk. Report by Robin McKie

      Observer

      Sunday July 1, 2001


      Imagine a world where cholesterol is harmless, depression is beneficial and
      only suntan lotions cause skin cancer. Or a planet on which the industrial
      gases that pour from cars and factories are unconnected with increasing
      temperatures and rising ocean levels.

      This topsy-turvy world could have been dreamt up by George W. Bush - or a
      Glaswegian gorging on deep-fried Mars Bars - but it may be far closer to
      reality than we realise.

      Many of the medical and environmental horror stories that fill our newspapers
      and TV documentaries on subjects ranging from global warming to GM foods may be
      based on science that is 'so unreliable, so fragile, that it does not merit our
      emotional energy', according to a controversial new analysis of science in the
      modern world.

      In Fragile Science: The Reality Behind the Headlines, Dr Robin Baker, former
      reader in zoology at Manchester University, argues that confusion over
      statistical analyses, pressure to provide speedy answers, misguided belief in
      computer models and the desire to attract the attention of journalists and
      broadcasters have misled scientists to such a degree that 'we can scarcely
      believe anything they tell us'.

      Full text:
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4213851,00.html

      _______

      Fragile Science
      Robin Baker
      Hardcover - 269 pages (22 June, 2001)
      Macmillan; ISBN: 0333901029
      AMAZON - UK
      http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0333901029/humannaturecom/

      Synopsis

      Headlines bring news of the latest health scare, with worrying predictions for
      where developments in science will takes us. We want and need to understand the
      phenomena that influence our lives, but science is often more subtle and more
      complicated than the headlines would suggest. Over a diverse range of subjects,
      Robin Baker shows that the science we as consumers believe to be true is often
      an oversimplification - a convenient way of explaining complex subjects which
      are little understood. His investigations reach their own, startling
      conclusions. Could it be possible, for example, that using sun screen is
      actually increasing our chance of skin cancer? More and more people are taking
      Prozac, but does science have an easy answer to explain why? We all know the
      arguments in favour of conservation, but could there be strong biological
      arguments against it?