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Customer Review

69 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Right or wrong, this is a hugely significant book, 10 Mar. 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Skeptical Environmentalist (Paperback)
Apparently, 83% of people will not make any effort to think critically about a statistic which supports something they already believe*. This is a problem for any debate that revolves around statistics, as any GLOBAL assessment of human impact on the environment must do - nobody can personally visit the entire planet to decide whether the mess humans can make locally is becoming a significant systemic hazard.
Lomberg's thesis is that a lot of what he terms "the Litany" - a view that humans are steadily sending the global environment to hell in a handcart and things will get catastrophically bad some time soon -is based on very shoddy use of the available data. He provides numerous cases of misleading conclusions that have reached the public. He does not claim that all is well, just that an accurate picture of what is going on is needed if we are to make the correct decisions about how much to do to reduce human impact on the globe. And that the current picture is not accurate.
I give this book 5 stars because having read it you will have to think hard about what you believe to be the truth and what kind of evidence would convince you (and why). This critical thought is something easily avoided on an issue where ready-made opinions are handed down by lobbyists of both camps. Personally I find it convincing that many environmentalists are guilty as charged of allowing their own preconceptions of what is happening to influence how they handle the available data. If this book leads to a higher standard of debate, great.
I agree with another reviewer that it is fascinating how the negative reviews of this book seem to concentrate on "Lomberg is a heretic" - a profoundly unscientific (and revealing?) reaction to what you'd suppose is a scientific debate.
The book is structured nicely into summaries (if you're one of the 83% who don't question) and much detailed argument if you're in the remaining 17% (and it looks as if more of us should be)
* One final note : I made that "83%" figure up as a joke when discussing this book with friends, to see if they'd challenge that "statistic" (no-one has yet). But creepily enough, having bandied this entirely bogus figure about a few times I almost begin to believe in it. It seems to be taking on a life of its own. It can only be a matter of time before I see it on the web...
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 18 Dec 2009 12:13:32 GMT
Shocking, I genuinly beleived that statistic without even thinking about it!

Posted on 1 May 2010 11:43:13 BDT
sleighgp says:
I'm pleased the first thing I did when reading that statistic was follow the asterisk to find out where that percentage came from! You can't trust anything people quote without checking where it comes from.
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