Jul 2, 2010

Book Review

I just finished a book by Michael Crichton (an author that I love love love) that I had not heard about before, "State Of Fear".
State of Fear is, like many of Crichton's works, a fictional work that uses science and speculation for the storyline. The debate over global warming serves as the backdrop for the book. Crichton supplies a personal afterword and two appendices that link the fictional part of the book with real examples of his thesis.
The main villains in the plot are environmentalists. Crichton does place blame on "industry" in both the plot line and the appendices. Various assertions appear in the book, for example:
The science behind global warming is so incomplete that no reasonable conclusions can be drawn on how to solve the "problem" (or if the "problem" even exists).
Elites in various fields use either real or artificial crises to maintain the existing social order, misusing the "science" behind global warming.
As a result of potential conflicts of interest, the scientists conducting research on topics related to global warming may subtly change their findings to bring them in line with their funding sources.
Crichton argues for removing politics from science and uses global warming and real-life historical examples in the appendices to make this argument. In a 2003 speech at the California Institute of Technology he expressed his concern about what he considered the "emerging crisis in the whole enterprise of science—namely the increasingly uneasy relationship between hard science and public policy."
This book really makes you think about things. Yes it is fiction, yes it is from Mr. Crichton's imagination however the questions that it brings up are relevant. I believe in asking questions, ask anyone I know. They will tell you. I feel that the only way to ever really learn is to question everything! Even if you think you know everything about something, more than likely you do not.

The beginning of this book states:

This is a work of fiction. Characters, corporations, institutions and organizations in this novel are the product of the author's imagination, or, if real, are used fictitiously without any intent to describe their actual conduct. However, references to real people, institutions, and organizations that are documented in footnotes are accurate. Footnotes are real.
It's the footnotes and their context in the story that really makes you start to wonder. I found myself actually investigating these footnotes and their findings regarding Global Warming.
The end of the book includes the usual "Author's Message" as well 2 appendix's and a bibliography. I found appendix I to be the most interesting. Here Mr. Crichton uses past examples of scientific theory with their dire warnings that in retrospect were full of nothing but hot air and political maneuvering.
Any one out there ever hear of "eugenics"? The term was not something that I had really ever thought about until reading this appendix. Eugenics is the study and practice of selective breeding applied to humans. Think "master race", "Hitler". However, did you know that the United States began this prior to Hitler and WWII? Interesting isn't it. The list of those supporting this effort before WWII is also very interesting.
A little quote from appendix I in the book:
Eugenics research was funded by the Carnegie Foundation, and later by the Rockefeller Foundation. The latter was so enthusiastic that even after the center of the eugenics effort moved to Germany, and involved the gassing of individuals from mental institutions, the Rockefeller Foundation continued to finance German researchers at a very high level. (The foundation was quiet about it, but they were still funding research in 1939, only months before the onset of World War II.)
Now the parallels between pushing eugenics to the public and pushing the global warming theory to the public are extraordinary. It makes one think and wonder.

Now don't get me wrong, I still plan to do my part to help the environment. I don't see how that is a bad thing to do, however I am leaning toward the group that thinks this may be a bunch of hype, unproven and based on possibilities.

Either way, I do recommend this book. It is intriguing and I always love books that make me think!

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