In 1980, Ronald Reagan created one of the most stupid talking points of all time: "I'm not a scientist, but...". Since then, politicians have repeatedly committed egregious transgressions against scientific knowledge prefaced by this seemingly innocuous phrase. Yet, as science journalist Dave Levitan reveals, that line is just the tip of the melting iceberg when it comes to rhetorical tools wielded to attack scientific findings that don't cooperate with political agendas. Just listen to Mike Huckabee dismiss climate change as "a sunburn", Donald Trump suggest that vaccines cause autism or Todd Akin's infamous invention of "legitimate rape". With a taxonomer's eye, Levitan captures and categorises these deceptions by chapter, assigning delightful names like "The Butter-Up and Undercut", "The Literal Nitpick", "The Straight-Up Fabrication" and many more. His sharp humour dismantles America's leaders' deceptive arguments while illuminating the real science behind the worst soundbites from these elected non-scientists.
Dave Levitan is a journalist whose work has appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Scientific American, Slate, and many other outlets. He lives near Philadelphia with his wife.
"A clever, timely guide to the sneaky ways sleazy politicians bamboozle us on climate change and other scientific issues. Ernest Hemingway said every good writer needs a built-in, shockproof BS detector, and now thanks to Dave Levitan we can all have one."
– Dan Fagin, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Toms River
"Levitan's anecdotes range from the ridiculous to the terrifying [...] If it were up to me, it would be required reading for all congressional staffers working on issues related to science, engineering, and technology."
– Sheril Kirshenbaum, Science
"Read Dave Levitan's bare-knuckled book for insight into the manipulations and distortions by anti-science politicians who have chosen to act as advocates for vested corporate interests rather than the people they're supposed to represent."
– Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor, Penn State University, and co-author of The Madhouse Effect
"With this compelling and enjoyable book, Dave Levitan may have put the "I'm not a scientist" line out to pasture for good. While I expect politicians may not read it, the public should! Science issues will be at the heart of every important decision our new President makes."
– Lawrence M. Krauss, theoretical physicist and author of The Greatest Story Ever Told [...] So Far
"Levitan's level-headed examination of these rhetorical gymnastics is a vital antidote to and warning against a dangerous, regressive future. A no-holds barred takedown of political idiocy and the terrifying reality of science denial."
– Kirkus Reviews