SCIENCE UNDER SIEGE by Michael Fumento

SCIENCE UNDER SIEGE

Balancing Technology and the Environment

KIRKUS REVIEW

 How to stop worrying about technology--and learn to love it; by the author of The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS (1989). According to Fumento, media scare-mongering, the agitations of special-interest groups, and irrational fears within the public have led to needless health and safety regulations that are hurting our economy and hampering our ability to compete with other nations. Fumento examines a few cases to illustrate--the scares involving Alar, Agent Orange, dioxin, irradiation of food, and electromagnetic fields--and he briskly challenges those who have called these technological advances hazards to be controlled. To help the reader judge similar situations as they occur, Fumento offers short, pithy courses on the principles of epidemiology, odds and risk evaluation, and rules of logic-- including tips on spotting weak arguments and dubious techniques. Some of Fumento's techniques are a bit dubious themselves--e.g., linking those opposed to food irradiation to the antifluoridation fanatics of an earlier decade, and introducing the chapter on electromagnetic fields with anecdotes about early, now laughable, fears about electric lights. Gentleness doesn't figure into Fumento's approach: Those he criticizes are seen as faddists and a self-appointed elite, and their efforts are described as vicious smear campaigns. Indeed, the author asserts that the environmental revolution has become a reign of terror. Here, though, he tries to restore what he sees as the proper balance between ``I don't care'' and ``react to every scare.'' Environmentalists may be outraged but, even so, Fumento sheds light as well as heat.

Pub Date: Jan. 13th, 1993
ISBN: 0-688-10795-8
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1992