David J. Helfand - A Survival Guide To The Misinformation Age
This survival guide supplies an essential set of apps for the prefrontal cortex while making science both accessible and entertaining. It will dissolve your fear of numbers, demystify graphs, and elucidate the key concepts of probability, all while celebrating the precise use of language and logic. Anyone can do it!
And indeed everyone should do it, as an avalanche of misinformation threatens to overwhelm the discourse we so desperately need to address complex social problems such as climate change, the food and water crises, biodiversity collapse, and emerging threats to public health. .David Helfand, one of our nation’s leading astronomers and science educators, has taught scientific habits of mind to generations in the classroom, where he continues to wage a provocative battle against sloppy thinking and the encroachment of misinformation.
Table of Contents:
Introduction: Information, Misinformation, and Our Planet’s Future
1. A Walk in the Park
2. What Is Science?
3. A Sense of Scale
Interlude 1: Numbers
4. Discoveries on the Back of an Envelope
5. Insights in Lines and Dots
Interlude 2: Language and Logic
6. Expecting the Improbable
7. Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics
8. Correlation, Causation . . . Confusion and Clarity
9. Definitional Features of Science
10. Applying Scientific Habits of Mind to Earth’s Future
11. What Isn’t Science
12. The Triumph of Misinformation; The Peril of Ignorance
13. The Unfinished Cathedral
Appendix: Practicing Scientific Habits of Mind
David J. Helfand is the chair of the Department of Astronomy at Columbia University where he has served on the faculty for four decades. He has also been a visiting scientist at the Danish Space Research Institute, the Sackler Distinguished Visiting Astronomer at Cambridge University, and president of the American Astronomical Society. He was a founding tutor and served as president and vice chancellor at Quest University Canada. He has published commentary in Nature, Physics Today, the Globe and Mail, the Washington Post, and the New York Times, among other publications.
Paperback, 344 pages, published in 2017