Don't get hoodwinked: make sense of news...and make smarter decisions for yourself, your family, and the world!
What's healthy? What's unhealthy? What's safe? What's dangerous? Watch the news, and it's easy to be overwhelmed by snippets of badly presented science: information that's incomplete, confusing, contradictory, out-of-context, wrong, or flat-out dishonest. In this book, Dr. Sherry Seethaler provides a "bag of tricks" for making sense of science in the news. You'll learn how to think more sensibly about everything from mad cow disease to global warming and 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 mere coincidence; figure out which statistics mean something, and which don't. Finally, drawing on her extensive experience as a science journalist, she reveals the tricks self-interested players use to mislead and confuse you, and points you to sources of information you can actually rely upon. Seethaler's 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.
Chapter 1: Potions, Plot, Personalities: Understand How Science Progresses and Why Scientists Sometimes Disagree 1
Chapter 2: Who’s Who?: Identify Those Who Hold Stake in an Issue and What Their Positions Are 29
Chapter 3: Decisions, Decisions: Elucidate All the Pros and Cons of a Decision 43
Chapter 4: Compare and Contrast: Place Alternatives in an Appropriate Context to Evaluate Tradeoffs 59
Chapter 5: What Happens If…?: Distinguish Between Cause and Coincidence 73
Chapter 6: Specific or General: Recognize How Broadly the Conclusions from a Study May Be Applied 89
Chapter 7: Fun Figures: See Through the Number Jumble 99
Chapter 8: Society’s Say: Discern the Relationships Between Science and Policy 113
Chapter 9: All the Tricks in the Book: Get Past the Ploys Designed to Simply Bypass Logic 139
Chapter 10: Fitting The Pieces Together: Know How to Seek Information to Gain a Balanced Perspective 161
Conclusions: Twenty Essential Applications of the Tools 177
About the Author 184