State of Fear

I read Michael Crichton’s State of Fear last week. The story starts regarding George Morton, a millionaire philanthropist who supports the National Environmental Resource Fund and other such organizations … then a series of strange events happen with a racy pace. It even includes a trip to Antarctica.

At the end of it, you learn that global warming is a myth. Seriously. Crichton has done lot of research and points to so many real scientific papers, out of which many indicate that nobody really knows whether the current earth’s warming trend is natural or man-made, despite what many environmental organizations or industry organizations want you to believe.

It is best summed up in Appendix 1 “Why Politicized Science Is Dangerous”:

Imagine that there is a new scientific theory that warns of an impending crisis, and points to a way out.

This theory quickly draws support from leading scientists, politicians, and celebrities around the world. Research is funded by distinguished philanthropies, and carried out at prestigious universities. The crisis is reported frequently in the media. The science is taught in college and high school classrooms.

I don’t mean global warming. I’m talking about another theory, which rose to prominence a century ago.

Today, we know that this famous theory that gained so much support was actually pseudoscience. The crisis it claimed was nonexistent. And the actions taken in the name of this theory were morally and criminally wrong. Ultimately, they led to the deaths of millions of people.

The theory was eugenics, and its history is so dreadful – and, to those who were caught up in it, so embarrassing – that it is now rarely discussed. But it is a story that should be well known to every citizen, so that its horrors are not repeated.

Now we are engaged in a great new theory, that once again has drawn the support of politicians, scientists, and celebrities around the world. Once again, the theory is promoted by major foundations. Once again, the research is carried out at prestigious universities. Once again, legislation is passed and social programs are urged in its name. Once again, critics are few and harshly dealt with.

I am not arguing that global warming is the same as eugenics. But the similarities are not superficial. And I do claim that open and frank discussion of the data, and of the issues, is being suppressed.

I give the book a 10/10 rating. Don’t miss it.

15 thoughts on “State of Fear

  1. I liked the book, but do take it with a pinch of salt too. It surely is an eye-opener for many people.

    But all the stuff about rainforests etc is false. They are infact rapidly going away.

  2. I can understand how there might be political/corporate backing to try to prove that Global warming is a myth. But what motivation does anyone have to say that it’s a fact expect of course if they really thought so?

    And the Eugenics comparision is silly. Eugenics is not fake science. It’s real. It’s only that now people have realised that it’s inhumane to practise Eugenics. Doesn’t mean that Eugenics was “disproved” or anything. I don’t understand what the relevance to the validity of Global warming is. The argument isn’t even a logical fallacy. It’s just plain silly. The excerpt reads like a lame attempt to disparage the “Global Warming” camp through association with eugenics.

  3. @Kalyan: That’s due to deforestation, and not because of global warming, right?

    @Gavri: Eugenics is real science? Can you elaborate?

    @Patrick: Thanks for the link. That was an interesting article, although I couldn’t actually make out whether Gavin believes global warming is a myth or not.

  4. I haven’t read this book yet, but I’d take the “better safe than sorry” approach to things like global warming – hard to believe it’s all smoke, no fire.
    And did I remember reading that Crichton has sold out to the big-business-lobby with this book? I liked all his earlier books though.

  5. “@Gavri: Eugenics is real science? Can you elaborate?”

    A lot of diseases are hereditary. By restricting people afflicted with those diseases from reproducing (maybe by killing them or making it a crime for them to reproduce), the prevelance of those diseases can be minimized.

    That is a fact. It isn’t junk science.

    Practising eugenics of course is evil because it eliminates human rights based on genertic defects.

    Now how is a comparision of eugenics to “global warming” of any relevance at all?

    Maybe what Crichton means is this:

    Global Warming is real. But asking Big Business to stop what they’re doing is “evil” because Capitalism rocks and we don’t want to persecute the “Persecuted Minority” anymore.

    Maybe that was what in his sub-conscious and it slipped out :)

  6. @Kalyan: Thanks, I’ll take a look.

    @Pramod: I guess it’s more “more smoke than fire” and “there’s something underneath the smoke” than “all smoke no fire”, according to Crichton.

    @Gavri: I have no idea what Crichton is actually thinking about, so I can’t say anything about that :)

  7. About Eugenics – read ESR’s blog posts about racism and how any kind of science regarding race is being discouraged. For example, people don’t mind being told that black men ‘on the average’ can jump higher than white men. However, the moment you bring IQ into the picture, people start getting uncomfortable.

    You’ll be surprised at the number of scientific studies being suppressed.

    Whether or not you believe that IQ is relevant is another matter

  8. When I read this book, I was just like you – telling my friends how global warming doesnt exist. But browse the internet and you’ll see some very famous names debating with Crichton and tearing apart his evidence piece by piece

  9. Wish I had seen the above comments at the time they were posted But, here goes anyhow.

    How high an individual can jump is easily defined and verifed. IQ can be highly subjective. Certainly one cannot measure the IQ of Hottentots using Stanford-Binet. And IQ does not measure success in one’s life or environment.
    Eugenics in it’s classically defined sense had no basis in science or fact. The very basis of natural selection is random behavior. No one can predict the end result of attempting to control disease by selective breeding. According to those who promoted eugenics the Jews were “feeble-minded”. Jews, however while comprising only one quarter of one percent of the world’s population have acquired almost 50% of all Nobel prizes in certain areas. Have you heard of Teller, Oppenheimer, Feynman, Meitner or Einstein? Seems that when the US needed the world’s greatest minds to accomplish the impossible they looked to the feeble minded! Oh well, everyone knows that the Nobel Prize is nothing but a popularity contest!
    What Crichton attempted to convey by referencing eugenics was that just because well known and well respected people or institutions embrace & promote a cause or philosophy it is still BS, if it has no basis in fact or science. Much like someone who tries to surmise what someone might mean without actually reading the material.
    There is and has never been any demonstrated use of the “science” of eugenics to improve the human race. But, the science of evolution has demonstrated incontrovertibly that random combinations of genes will, when allowed to take their natural course, strengthen and improve organisms.
    Crichton’s evidence cannot be torn apart because he does not present evidence. First of all, his book is a novel and by definition it is fiction. Secondly, the sources he references are all listed in his bibliography. They are all from respected researchers and scientific sources. But, mainly he contends that there is no credible scientific evidence to draw any credible conclusion either way. He basically, supports the notion we should not go off half-cocked on the basis of fear.

    Does anyone believe that the best meteorologists or climatologists in the world can provide the temperature at a given locale within a few degrees, even 30 days from now? But, we take for granted that some computer simulation can predict the average temperature 100 years from now within a few degrees? Witness the spectacular failure of researchers to predict the 2006 hurricane season.

    How arrogant we are of our technological superiority and command of our world!

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