Dan's Books

Future Babble

Dan's latest book is Future Babble, a critical look at expert predictions and the psychology that explains why people believe them even though they consistently fail. Renowned Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker says Future Babble "should be required reading" and Philip Tetlock, a leading researcher on decision-making and forecasting at the University of California, describes it as "a rare mix of superb scholarship and zesty prose."

In Canada, Future Babble was released October 12, 2010. In Australia, it will be published February, 2011. In the United States: March, 2011. In the United Kingdom: May, 2011.

Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear

Published in 2008, Dan's first book was Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear (The Science of Fear in the United States). This widely praised examination of risk perception was a best-seller in the United Kingdom and Canada. In 2009, the Canadian Science Writers' Association awarded Risk the "Science in Society Prize." In 2010, the Daily Telegraph declared Risk one of the top five "best brain science books", alongside classics from Steven Pinker and Daniel Dennett.

Risk has been published in 11 countries and 7 languages.

Intelligent, Informed And Utterly Deluded

This is a 1970s-era British anti-smoking film. Fascinating throughout. But fast forward to 4:31 to see an interview with a vice president of tobacco giant Philip Morris.

If you believed smoking kills, the interviewer asks him, would you keep selling cigarettes?

The executive's answer is a vivid illustration of how self-interest and commitment to a belief can delude people. And how neither intelligence nor knowledge are enough to defend against delusion. After all, this is clearly an intelligent man who, as he says, has probably read more of the evidence than those silly scientists who think smoking kills.

What does act as a defence against delusion is psychological awareness: an appreciation of one's own biases and how they can skew perceptions and conclusions. This man is oblivious to his biases. And so, as he proudly notes, he is so convinced smoking is harmless he permits his children to smoke. Very sad.

comments  

 
#3 Harold Brochmann 2011-07-29 18:16
Your main webpage has a problem with Firefox ("articles" button inaccessible)

:-)

HB
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#2 Cedric Katesby 2011-06-08 02:22
The tactics that worked so well to cynically mislead and confuse the public about the scientific consensus on tobacco smoking are useful today.

The same people that brought you cancer denialism are still in business.

See here and also here.
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#1 JonA 2010-12-17 11:37
Here's a link that takes you directly to the question
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