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my review of Prothero's new book REALITY CHECK

From: Tim C.
Sent on: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 4:51 PM


By Donald R. Prothero

Foreword by Michael Shermer

2013 Indiana University Press 269pp

Review by Tim Campbell


Donald Prothero is the author of one of my favorite books about evolution.  EVOLUTION: WHAT THE FOSSIL S SAY AND WHY IT MATTERS defends and explains the modern synthesis of biological evolution-as seen from the perspective of a professional working paleontologist and geologist.  He is Emeritus Professor at Occidental College and Lecturer in Geobiology at the California Institute of Technology.  He is the author of 32 books.


Now, in his latest book, REALITY CHECK, Donald takes on the equally complex task of defending evidence-based science and reality against the Denial-Virus that has stifled this nation since the 1920s. Denial of biological evolution, the origin of the Universe, along with anti -Human-caused global warming, anti-Vaccination, anti-environment, quack medicine, astrology, all come under fire here in an entertaining, well written, and mostly scary book.


This book was not written for the hard-core right-wing fundaloons and fundaliars who—funded and supported by right-wing organizations, right-wing ultra-wealthy individuals, and fundamentalist churches, fight a never-ending battle AGAINST truth, justice, and the American Way!


The loons will never “get”   it.  They are unlikely to read this book and if they do it will be only a cursory read followed by screaming, burying their heads under their pillows and possibly plucking out their offending eyeballs! 


No, critical thinking and evidence-based science will never break through a certain segment of our population.   This book WAS written for those on the fence.  Are you uncertain about the facts of science? Do you wonder who to trust, who to listen to, and where to go for truthful unbiased answers?  Do you suspect that Jenny McCarthy and the Creationist/ID proponents are not actually telling the whole truth? 


Then this book IS written for you!  The science is here—though written as easily for the layperson as for the professional scientist. The logic is here.  The references are here for those who wish to go further and learn more about how the fundaliars have been working hard to deliberately destroy American democracy, the actual Constitution, and our freedom to worship or to not worship as we see fit!  And to be blunt, the truth is here as well!


“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”  Aldous Huxley

“To treat your facts with imagination is one thing, but to imagine your facts is another.” John Burroughs



Hundreds of books have been written denying and denigrating, or explaining and defending the Fact of Evolution, its original theory as proposed in 1859 by Charles Darwin, and its modern synthesis: the result of 154 years of research and experiment by tens of thousands of scientists working in a multitude of relevant but independent fields.


Fact: “Life has evolved. It is still evolving and we can watch it happen.  Scientists, scholars, and virtually all educated people in the developed world (except for fundamentalist Protestants, Jews and Muslims) recognize this fact”  Donald R. Prothero

More than 99% of scientists around the world accept his fact, especially those who actually work in the relevant fields of geology, paleontology, and biology.  Yet, the fundamentalists continue to deny this well-confirmed and easily researched fact. (And easily disproved!  No need to argue; just show a series of fossils out of place or film an actual act of divine creation!)


It is not just evolution that comes under attack from those suffering from the Denial Virus.  There is some definitive relation between fundamentalist religion and the Denial Virus.  While not all Global Warming deniers are fundamentalists, for example, pretty much all fundamentalists are global warming deniers.  And anti-environment, anti-stem cell research, and basically anti any sort of science that even hints at contradicting their literal interpretation of the Bible.


Prothero demolishes the deniers’ arguments, but he also shows how much of this denial-virus is not just harmless fun (like Santa and Nessie and Bigfoot), but is extremely harmful to all of us.  The Jenny McCarthy anti-Vaxx movement is a form of science-denial that has helped to bring back such childhood memories as measles, mumps, chicken pox, and polio.  All based on their denial of actual science, their distrust of vaccine makers, and their complete acceptance of a fraudulent test done by a discredited and unfrocked quack doctor, who was working for a lawyer trying to find support for an anti-vaccine lawsuit, and who was trying to open the door for his own vaccine by fomenting fear of the existing MMR vaccine!


As a result of his criminal behavior and the misguided (at best) rantings of former Playboy Playmate and actress Jenny McCarthy (and the god-awful power of the Internet to spread lies as easily as facts), the refusal of parents to have their children vaccinated has resulted in actual deaths and the resurgence of the above-mentioned childhood diseases that vaccination had pretty much eradicated! 


As Donald points out (and this can easily be verified), not a single valid scientific test—by ANY legitimate unbiased testing organization—has shown any link between the MMR vaccine and the symptoms of Autism.  That symptoms begin to appear at about the age when children begin their MMR vaccinations (about eighteen months) has been shown to be nothing more than coincidence. 


Again, this book is especially pertinent for those who are unsure, who have doubts, and want to know what is true.  Of course, the rest of us will enjoy it as well!





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