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The Geek Manifesto: Why science matters [Hardcover]

Mark Henderson
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
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Book Description

10 May 2012

The geeks are coming. And our world needs them.

Whether we want to improve education or cut crime, to enhance public health or to generate clean energy, we need the experimental methods of science - the best tool humanity has yet developed for working out what works. Yet from the way we're governed to the news we're fed by the media we're let down by a lack of understanding and respect for its insights and evidence. In The Geek Manifesto Mark Henderson explains why and how we need to entrench scientific thinking more deeply into every aspect of our society. A new movement is gathering. Let's turn it into a force our leaders cannot ignore.

Shortlisted for the Political Book Awards Polemic of the Year 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: 15.2 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 273,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignorance in target - a great case made 31 Mar 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A brilliant, engaging and impassioned shout-out for the worryingly (and surprisingly) imperilled cause of science, full of political vignettes which will make the blood of the sensible boil. The conclusions are worrying, to say the least - that politics and the media are rotten with a closed-mindedness and short-sightedness which is at the least ill-informed and careless, and at the worst completely idiotic. Prepare to be angered! That said, I'm writing from the perspective of the already-convinced - but there's certainly enough polemic in here to keep both sides of the fence pondering the big questions of the true value - and objectivity - of scientific knowledge.

It's not strictly a science book, but rather a social science one, raking through how different kinds of knowledge are valued variously in social worlds. If you're interested in how flows of information are evaluated, taken up and become mainstream (or not), Henderson has written a smashing account, and a great contribution to the debate on the production of knowledge. Make your MP / local councillors read it without delay!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Geeks of the world unite! 13 Aug 2012
By Sphex
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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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
By Tsuchan
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but needs refinement 5 Sep 2012
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The title actually describes it pretty well: it's a Geek Manifesto
It's well written. The title actually describes it pretty well: it's a Geek Manifesto. It also uses plenty of examples from both british and american politics. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Yeen
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring
Great book, makes me want to go out and make a difference. Everyone that is interested in Science should read this.
Published 5 months ago by Chris Morgan
4.0 out of 5 stars An important book - a must read for everyone!
Question: what is the role of government? Answer: to get themseles re-elected.

That's essentially the point that Henderson makes in this book. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Thomas D.
4.0 out of 5 stars An important issue well covered
Anybody interested in science either professionally or as a bit of an amateur geek like me should read this. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Mike
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat disappointing
Preaching to the converted in my case. Would be more relevant to those not convinced of the value of science to the modern world
Published 17 months ago by george birkby
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
Why dont we all think like this ? Dont be put off [ if you are ] by the word 'Science' in the title. Read more
Published 17 months ago by N Otmynameatallatall
4.0 out of 5 stars As a political manifesto it gets its message across
As a scientist and engineer I found myself torn with this book. I agree with the basic premise that decision makers should have a better understanding of the scientific method and... Read more
Published 22 months ago by A. J. Gauld
4.0 out of 5 stars " have nothing to lose but your ignorance"
If you're a fan of grumpy rationalists, consider yourself a child of the enlightenment, and choke on your muesli when you hear another government spokesman misrepresenting... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Dr. W. S. James
5.0 out of 5 stars So good I even sent a copy to....
A nice read. Straight forward and sensible. Very like the 'live show' where I saw Mark at a Skeptics in the Pub presentation. Read more
Published on 24 Aug 2012 by H. Furse
4.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking
This book comes as a welcome change from all the celebrity "I'm too cool to know anything" types around. Read more
Published on 16 Aug 2012 by L. White
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