But Bethell's book has 13 other chapters, each exploding the phony "science" behind some other liberal shibboleth. Think nuclear power is dangerous? By artfully playing on the confusion between nuclear power and nuclear weapons, activists have crippled the use of "the safest of all energy sources," and vastly increased the use of heavily polluting coal-fired power plants (Chapter 2). Worried about DDT thinning the shells of endangered eagles? It doesn't -- but a million people a year are dying of malaria in Africa alone for lack of it (Chapter 5). Convinced that the theory of evolution is essentially sound, and that critics of it are just wacky creationists? The truth seems to be that the origins of species are far more complex than simplistic Darwinists will admit (Chapter 14).
And so it goes. In a chapter of "Final Thoughts," Bethell calls attention to what is easily the biggest single incentive for the scientific exaggeration of many alleged dangers: federal funding. In 2005 the budget of the National Institutes of Health was $28.8 billion. Enormous sums are spent every year on what some scientist has decided is a new danger to public health. But how much do you suppose Uncle Sam would squander on a scientist who demonstrated that in fact it wasn't a danger?
As Michael Crichton declared two years ago in a lecture at Caltech, "Rather than serving as a cleansing force, science has in some instances been seduced by the more ancient lures of politics and publicity." In this book, Tom Bethell is calling it back to its true responsibility.
William Rusher is a Distinguished Fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy and author of How to Win Arguments .
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