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The Geek Manifesto: Why science matters Hardcover – 10 May 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press (10 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0593068238
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593068236
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.8 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 318,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Powerful and important, The Geek Manifesto eloquently lays out a programme to make the UK a more rational and therefore prosperous and successful country. And it's not that hard to do! Base policy decisions on evidence, invest in our knowledge-based economy by supporting education and research, and above all promote reason above opinion. Everyone interested in importing the scientific method into public life should read this book, and then lobby their MP!" (Professor Brian Cox)

"The Geek Manifesto is the most compelling, engaging and entertaining account I've read of the relationship between science and politics... Geek or non-geek, this is a manifesto we should all feel able to endorse" (James Wilsdon Financial Times)

"[Mark Henderson's] writing is urgent and for today... I would, if I could, force every politician in the land to read this book and act" (Nick Cohen Observer)

"A rallying cry... it is impossible not to admire Henderson's focused anger at the lack of science in policy making and his passion to change things" (Angela Saini New Scientist)

"The Geek Manifesto should be required reading for all those who question the value and importance of science" (Manjit Kumar Independent)

Book Description

One of Britain's leading science communicators makes an agenda-setting argument that scientific evidence is crucial to all aspects of public life with a rallying call to all geeks and wannabe geeks to take action.Shortlisted for the Political Book Awards Polemic of the Year 2012.

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4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sphex on 13 Aug. 2012
Format: Hardcover
The binary notion of politics as a contest between left and right is increasingly seen as out of date. Few of us are members of a political party, and fewer still believe we can influence what goes on in Whitehall. Despite this disconnect, no one is unaffected by the decisions made by government, and we all have an interest in those decisions being of the highest quality. While we may not be able to change the political principles of those in power, we can certainly hold their policies up to rigorous evidential scrutiny. In this tremendous book, Mark Henderson argues that politics has a third axis, which measures rationalism, scepticism and scientific thinking: "the willingness to base opinions on evidence and to keep them under review as better evidence comes along."

One recurring theme is politicians failing to see "how science might generate more informed debate about the risks of different activities." When Professor David Nutt, the government chief drugs adviser, compared taking ecstasy with horse riding, Jacqui Smith was outraged. Her political instincts to avoid the inevitable headlines may have been well tuned, but her "approach to drugs classification was class A evidence abuse". The subsequent sacking of Nutt by her successor, Alan Johnson, "took this insult to another level." By now, the government was entrusting drugs policy advice to, among others, a Manchester GP called Hans-Christian Raabe, "who was quite prepared to quote non-existent evidence to support a religious crusade."

Labour, of course, are not alone in playing fast and loose with the evidence. When Andrew Lansley could find no real evidence to back up his NHS reforms, "he cited fiction.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Galton321 on 2 Aug. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is surprising how many improbable things people will believe in,the supernatural, health giving properties of crystals and so on. It is not that such things are necessary wrong but simply that people accept them without question and without asking for supporting evidence. On the other hand the same people totally disregard or disbelieve things that are supported by evidence. Yes, a lot of science is difficult to understand but the scientific method is not. Science is sceptical: it is continually asking why. Mark Henderson in this book describes the scientific method and how it can be applied to everyday decision making, especially political decisions. The lack of understanding of the general population is reflected in the lack of rationality in political decision making which can be seen everywhere with changes to major areas of policy swinging in a cyclic manner with every change of government.There is a way to find out what really works by applying the scientific method. Mark Henderson asks everyone to challenge political decisions that are not supported by evidence and I do too. If the book has a weakness it is that it doesn't discuss the human element and the propensity of people to accept what they want to believe rather than what is "true". Leave your prejudices behind and read this book. When someone says "I believe..." you should ask them "how do you know?" Send a copy to your MP.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Half Man, Half Book on 5 Sept. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Henderson has written an interesting book about the political rise of scientists and engineers. He highlight lots of ways scientists have started to react against the current political machines, with targeted campaigns and lobbying.

He raises the interesting points that the majority of MP's have no science and engineering background, and because of that society is loosing the experience and knowledge these people can bring. He also covers the roles that science must play in the criminal justice system, and the enormous benefits that they bring to the economy.

He also rightly pushes for people who are interested in the science and engineering fields to engage with the political process and write to their MP when the government is not doing the sensible thing
However, the book can occasionally com across as being written in the style of the PR people that he opposes. I feel that whilst he strongly supports the nuclear campaign, he did not cover the possible use of Thorium reactors as a long term viable solution to the growing energy crisis.

Overall, a good read, and the general points on action and participation are well worth following. If you have read Bad Science then you will like this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Michael Heron TOP 500 REVIEWER on 17 July 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Absolutely a book with an axe to grind, but one that is used against unspeakably valid targets. It takes precise and justifiable aim at the shocking scientific illiteracy that plagues our political process, and contains with it a rallying cry that we as rationalists must take work harder to make our thoughts known. Unfortunately, while the cause is just it still comes across as a little naive - evidence based decision making is undeniably the ideal, but it's costly, time consuming, and difficult to communicate to non-specialists. You can hold a politician's feet to the fire as much as you might like, but the real-politik that comes from a largely disengaged electorate means that it's often a case of tilting at windmills.

That's not to say the book isn't worth reading - it absolutely is. It's just that when I came away from it, I felt more dejected than energised. He lays out a very convincing case that something must be done. Unfortunately, the somethings that are on offer are unlikely to bring about the change that is so obviously needed.
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