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State Of Fear by Michael Crichton

State Of Fear (original 2004; edition 2004)

by Michael Crichton (Author)

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7,164128830 (3.4)68
In Paris, a graduate student in a secret laboratory reveals a powerful new technology to a beautiful and mysterious woman. A few hours later, the student is drugged and dumped in a river. Radical environmental terrorists are launching a fanatical campaign--and the very future of the world they seek to protect may be at stake. Only MIT scientist and federal agent John Kenner can stop the deadly plot before the terrifying consequences are realized--and millions die.… (more)
Title:State Of Fear
Authors:Michael Crichton (Author)
Info:Harper Collins (2004), 624 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:global warming, environment, shelfari_import

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State of Fear by Michael Crichton (2004)


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Showing 1-5 of 120 (next | show all)
Typical Crichton novel, replete with various flavors of strawmen and soapboxes of different heights. As per usual, the writing was reminiscent of Dan Brown's prose-- which is to say, not good.

Again, his author's notes are better written than the entirety of his novel, and I'm amazed that he doesn't stick to nonfiction where his ability to break down scientific texts into layman's terms would really allow him to shine. ( )
  hatingongodot | Aug 12, 2019 |
A masterwork of climate change denial. I suspect it has been quite successful, too. If you want to understand the climate change debate, it's an important book to read.

It reminds me a little of Jacques Roubaud's Princess Hoppy novels, where he mixes fictional narrative with math exercises. Here, Crichton mixes real scientific data and reports into the action-packed thriller story. It certainly motivates the reader to think about the science involved! Crichton is not bashful in the least about the slant he is putting on the data.

It's hard to say what Crichton's goal is exactly. He has a grand time bursting the bubbles of the ignorant, but to what end exactly is unclear. He says that people will not be able to stabilize climate. I don't know all the proposals and goals that folks in the climate change world might have, but that's one I haven't heard. Crichton acknowledges that human activity most likely does affect climate. Crichton doesn't quite come out and say that climate change theory is a plot to establish a worldwide totalitarian regime. How else could people control the behavior of people? Hmmm, yet here is Crichton publishing propaganda! It's tricky territory, for sure!

Crichton attempts to refute the precautionary principle without quite defining it. It's a bit like atheists who deny God without being careful to define God. Of course there is an extreme version of the precautionary principle that would require people to refrain from any sort of risky activity. Of course just being alive involves a 100% chance of death. That extreme version of precaution is absurd. But to go to the other extreme - just do whatever you want because nobody can be absolutely certain about the results - that is absurd too. This puzzle is a nice example where some kind of middle way between extremes seems called for - I have been advocating a Buddhist Philosophy of Science as a way to cultivate such middle ways.

We really do not have the intellectual tools to confront the problem of climate change. Yeah Crichton says that forecasts of resource limits more generally are ridiculous because there have been so many failed predictions. Go back, friend, and read the Scientific American article by M. King Hubbert from I think 1980. The fact that many people are wrong doesn't mean that nobody has anything useful to say.

It's a crazy situation. If we were really to take the problem of climate change seriously, it would probably mean the end of the modern world. But if we don't take the problem seriously, it means that we have decided to stop trusting science as a guide to action. Crichton warns us that mixing up science and politics will taint science. But using science as a guide to action is to mix up science and politics. Crichton actually gives a rather confused version of double blind experimental methodology in this book - at least I have never seen double blind used to mean multiple independent teams of researchers. Usually it means that the researchers cannot tell e.g. which subjects are in the control group and which are in the experimental group. But Crichton's version, using independent teams, is a reasonable idea. But if the results are guiding high stakes decisions, at some point the rubber has to meet the road - somebody has to perform the meta-study that combines the reports from the various teams...

We seem to be getting to the point where preserving our way of life means we just have to discard science, which, uh, is actually the foundation of our way of life. Rather that walking forward, eyes open, into the end of the modern age, we are going to trip and stumble blindly into it.

This is definitely a book to get a person thinking! ( )
2 vote kukulaj | Oct 24, 2018 |
This is a good story, but the book is not deserving of either the hatred from the political left or the praise from the right. It's a fiction book, not a science book. It's fiction that is built around controversial science (and even more controversial interpretations of the data). Read it; enjoy it; and take everything with a grain of salt. ( )
  neverstopreading | Mar 14, 2018 |
This book got me started on Torrey House. I figured two could play this game. ( )
  Mark-Bailey | Jul 1, 2017 |
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There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact. - Mark Twain
Within any important issue, there are always aspects no one wishes to discuss. - George Orwell
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Introduction. In late 2003, at the Sustainable Earth Summit conference in Johannesburg, the Pacific island nation of Vanutu announced that it was preparing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States over global warming.
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