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State of Fear by Michael Crichton
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State of Fear (2004)

by Michael Crichton

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Showing 1-5 of 119 (next | show all)
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 |
In this tale of big money, conflicting theories regarding global warming and climate change, eco-terrorists launch a worldwide conspiracy to generate weather-related natural disasters while environmental lawyer Peter Evans and his team set out to stop them.

Page-turning suspense, cutting-edge technology, impeccable research combine to make this a thought-provoking, suspense-filled, factual tale as timely as the latest headlines. Readers will find it difficult to set this one aside. ( )
  jfe16 | Feb 6, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 119 (next | show all)
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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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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061015733, Mass Market Paperback)

Amazon.com Exclusive Content

A Michael Crichton Timeline
Amazon.com reveals a few facts about the "father of the techno-thriller."

1942: John Michael Crichton is born in Chicago, Illinois on Oct. 23.

1960: Crichton graduates from Roslyn High School on Long Island, New York, with high marks and a reputation as a star basketball player. He decides to attend Harvard University to study English. During his studies, he rankles under his writing professors' criticism. As an act of rebellion, Crichton submits an essay by George Orwell as his own. The professor doesn’t catch the plagiarism and gives Orwell a B-. This experience convinces Crichton to change his field of study to anthropology.

1964: Crichton graduates summa cum laude from Harvard University in anthropology. After studying further as a visiting lecturer at Cambridge University and receiving the Henry Russell Shaw Travelling Fellowship, which allowed him to travel in Europe and North Africa, Crichton begins coursework at the Harvard School of Medicine. To help fund his medical endeavors, he writes spy thrillers under several pen names. One of these works, A Case of Need, wins the 1968 Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Allan Poe Award.

1969: Crichton graduates from Harvard Medical school and is accepted as a post-doctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Science in La Jolla, Calif. However, his career in medicine is waylaid by the publication of the first novel under his own name, The Andromeda Strain. The novel, about an apocalyptic plague, climbs high on bestseller lists and is later made into a popular film. Crichton said of his decision to pursue writing full time: "To quit medicine to become a writer struck most people like quitting the Supreme Court to become a bail bondsman."

1972: Crichton's second novel under his own name The Terminal Man, is published. Also, two of Crichton's previous works under his pen names, Dealing and A Case of Need are made into movies. After watching the filming, Crichton decides to try his hand at directing. He will eventually direct seven films including the 1973 science-fiction hit Westworld, which was the first film ever to use computer-generated effects.

1980: Crichton draws on his anthropology background and fascination with new technology to create Congo, a best-selling novel about a search for industrial diamonds and a new race of gorillas. The novel, patterned after the adventure writings of H. Ryder Haggard, updates the genre with the inclusion of high-tech gadgets that, although may seem quaint 20 years later, serve to set Crichton's work apart and he begins to cement his reputation as "the father of the techno-thriller."

1990: After the 1980s, which saw the publication of the underwater adventure Sphere (1987) and an invitation to become a visiting writer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1988), Crichton begins the new decade with a bang via the publication of his most popular novel, Jurassic Park. The book is a powerful example of Crichton's use of science and technology as the bedrock for his work. Heady discussion of genetic engineering, chaos theory, and paleontology run throughout the tightly-wound thriller that strands a crew of scientists on an island populated by cloned dinosaurs run amok. The novel inspires the 1993 Steven Spielberg film, and together book and film will re-ignite the world’s fascination with dinosaurs.

1995: Crichton resurrects an idea from his medical school days to create the Emmy-Award Winning television series ER. In this year, ER won eight Emmys and Crichton received an award from the Producers Guild of America in the category of outstanding multi-episodic series. Set in an insanely busy an often dangerous Chicago emergency room, the fast-paced drama is defined by Crichton's now trademark use of technical expertise and insider jargon. The year also saw the publication of The Lost World returning readers to the dinosaur-infested island.

2000: In recognition for Crichton's contribution in popularizing paleontology, a dinosaur discovered in southern China is named after him. "Crichton's ankylosaur" is a small, armored plant-eating dinosaur that dates to the early Jurassic Period, about 180 million years ago. "For a person like me, this is much better than an Academy Award," Crichton said of the honor.

2004: Crichton’s newest thriller State of Fear is published.


Amazon.com's Significant Seven
Michael Crichton kindly agreed to take the life quiz we like to give to all our authors: the Amazon.com Significant Seven.

Q: What book has had the most significant impact on your life?
A: Prisoners of Childhood by Alice Miller

Q: You are stranded on a desert island with only one book, one CD, and one DVD--what are they?
A: Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (Witter Bynner version)
Symphony #2 in D Major by Johannes Brahms (Georg Solti)
Ikiru by Akira Kurosawa

Q: What is the worst lie you've ever told?
A: Surely you're joking.

Q: Describe the perfect writing environment.
A: Small room. Shades down. No daylight. No disturbances. Macintosh with a big screen. Plenty of coffee. Quiet.

Q: If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say?
A: I don't want an epitaph. If forced, I would say "Why Are You Here? Go Live Your Life."

Q: Who is the one person living or dead that you would like to have dinner with?
A: Benjamin Franklin

Q: If you could have one superpower what would it be?
A: Invisibility

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:29 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

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)

» see all 14 descriptions

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