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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: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 292,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"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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Customer Reviews

4.2 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The binary notion of politics as a contest between left and right is increasingly seen as out of date.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 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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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Tsuchan on 8 July 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this review, I'm going to follow the author's lead and pretend that Geeks are a homogeneous community who speak and act - more or less - with a single accord.

This is an important book. It is a rallying cry to Geeks everywhere to organise ourselves as a lobby group to give science and rationalism a stronger voice in government and policy making, to counter the organised voices of vested interests whose political clout far exceeds their following.

Parts of this book will probably be illuminating to even to the politically aware geek. He talks much about how evidence is routinely abused by politicians. To whet your appetite, "spray on evidence", "cherry-picking evidence", "shopping list evidence", "veneer of evidence", "hand-picking advisers", "misunderstanding evidence", "cargo cult science", "confirmation bias", "cognitive dissonance" are all expounded concepts of evidence-abuse by our politicians in justifying their policies.

The Geeks, he says in a theme which runs through the book, are beginning to organise themselves to bring our policy makers to account for designing off-the-cuff, populist policies and pretending they're the result of scientific research. And he tells us how we can join in: how we can access information and resources, get Geek candidates into the halls of power, and persuade the organs of power to adopt scientific method to inform policy choices.

Numerous case studies of alleged science-abuse are covered, which include examples of missed opportunities, best practice, abuse of power, undermining scientific advisers, and - of course - the evidence misuse.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Michael Heron TOP 1000 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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