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Scared to Death: From BSE to Global Warming: Why Scares are Costing Us the Earth Paperback – 1 Feb 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 508 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum; Reprint edition (1 Feb. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826476201
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826476203
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 4.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 383,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

The book is well researched and well written, as well as fascinating to read, with extensive bibliographies at the end of each chapter. ... This book would be helpful for an academic library collection. It could be used to counterbalance the viewpoint of the media and other sources. --The Christian Librarian

About the Author

Christopher Booker was one of the founders of Private Eye and its first editor. He has a weekly column in the Sunday Telegraph and has published several books. Richard North is a political analyst and was formerly a consultant on public health and food safety. He has co-authored several books with Christopher Booker.


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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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Booker and North posit a "scare phenomenon" by analysing a series of scares, starting with HIV/AIDS and salmonella in the 80s, though BSE, the Y2K bug and passive smoking amongst others, to the global warming scare of today. They identify a pattern that starts with scientists making exaggerated claims based on inadequate evidence, becoming so obsessed with their theories that they manufacture evidence to support them while excluding consideration of contradictory data, and then actively suppress those who oppose their "new orthodoxy". The media, finding such scares make good copy, further hype them up, often finding scientists to speak in support of them whose own areas of research were quite different. Politicians, unable to distinguish between good and bad science and reliant on officials who have in many cases become members of the new orthodoxy themselves, and faced with media hysteria, overreact under cover of the "precautionary principle" by implementing policies that are scientifically suspect and economically damaging.

I purchased the authors' first joint book, "The Mad Officials", some dozen years ago after hearing Richard North speak, very entertainingly, on the excesses of environmental health officers. I was greatly entertained by that book's humorous, "if you didn't laugh you would cry" style. This is a much more scholarly work, although, thankfully, still flavoured by a wry sense of amusement at the irrational behaviour of many of those who would tell us how to live.

The book's longest chapter is on global warming, the biggest of these scares and one that is still gaining momentum.
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Format: Hardcover
.....then try reading the chapter on satanic child abuse when your children are in the same room watching the T.V. I did, and an icy chill went down my spine. Imagine at that point someone came into your house, took your children away, accused you of the most disgusting crimes and gagged any attempt you made to speak out. Orwell, Kafka? No. Cleveland, Rochdale and Nottingham in the Twentieth Century.
This book is not about denial. Booker and North do not try to deny or trivialise AIDS, BSE, smoking related diseases, E coli, Listeria or any of the issues raised. Indeed these are major issues that require a well thought out and appropriate response.
The authors take issue with the scientists who push their own research and exclude any notion that alternate research might show something to the contrary. They round on lazy jounalists who do not research facts for themselves and compete for the most sensational headline.
Mostly however, they condemn politicians who settle on the current orthodoxy and take disproportionate measures, cost millions or even billions to the taxpayer and yet fail to do any good whatsoever (what the authors call 'taking a sledgehammer and missing the nut')
What is most telling is that once the scare has been proved to be groundless, the powers that the authorities have taken for themselves to solve the problem are never given back.
An excellent read, concise and well referenced. A copy should be sent to evey politician bureucrat and pompous town hall official in the land.
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Format: Hardcover
Journalist Christopher Booker and former food safety consultant Dr Richard North have written a fascinating book on the rash of scares in the last 20 years. They earlier worked together on a brilliant book on the European Union The great deception.

They study the food scares - salmonella in eggs (1988-9), listeria in cheese, BSE in beef (1996-9) and dioxins in Belgian poultry (1999). Other scares they discuss include the Millennium bug (1999), DDT, the satanic child abuse mania (1987-94), lead, passive smoking, asbestos, SARS, bird flu (2005) (which the World Health Organisation absurdly called `the greatest single health challenge'), organophosphorus, and global warming.

They note that banning DDT has killed two million people every year, because DDT had cut malaria deaths by 95%. The EU backed the ban on DDT.

Organophosphorus, used in sheep dip, was `MAFF-approved', and an HSE leaflet warned of its `cumulative toxicity' leading to `irreversible' damage to the nervous system, akin to ME and Gulf War Syndrome (which also never happened, according to the MoD). The government suppressed the whole story, because it was directly responsible.

A review in the Independent claimed that their chapter on global warming had scarcely any scientific references. It has 117, including important articles in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the Journal of Geophysical Research, Energy and Environment, the International Journal of Climatology, six from Nature and five from Science. The authors expose as exaggerated the claims of climate doom. They point out that historically rising CO2 levels are associated both with rising and falling temperatures and that the overall ice mass of the Antarctic, which has 89.
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