UPDATE: The Geek Manifesto is now out!
Want to win yourself a copy of Geek Manifesto? We’ve got three copies to give away – and it’s not even released until 10th May 2012! Just scroll to the end of the review to find out more.
In this, his second book, Henderson shows our world to be a place where quackery and pseudo-science trump fact. Faced with this stark reality, ‘geeks’ are the everyday people prepared to take a stand in the name of reason. Blogs and social media are housing a growing movement of rational thinkers, ‘skeptics’ and scientists who, together, have brought about change; Henderson uses this book to set the agenda, urging citizens to collaborate and make their voices heard.
A science correspondent for The Times newspaper for ten years, Henderson knows a thing or two about politics and the media. The book isn’t short of examples of decision-makers choosing votes over evidence: government funding for placebo medicines, groundless MMR vaccine scares, and Simon Singh’s legal battle against the British Chiropractic Association. Comforting reading, this certainly isn’t.
The much-publicised Simon Singh libel case opens the book and sets the tone of what is to follow. The 2008 legal battle is one of the most prominent demonstrations of ‘geek power’. Singh was sued by the British Chiropractic Association for writing a newspaper article criticising their advertising claims. Despite being wholly correct, Singh faced almost certain bankruptcy or imprisonment – until, as Henderson argues, the geeks stepped in. A community of passionate science-lovers and critical thinkers gave Singh the backing and financial support he needed to defend himself in court. Singh eventually won.
Nine punchy chapters explore how the media, politics, justice and even the green movement are rife with anti-science propaganda. Using facts and real-life examples to good effect, Henderson frightens us with statistics: 86 percent of physics teachers don’t have a physics degree; only one of the UK’s 650 MPs has a science background; and £19 million ($30 million) was spent on useless ‘bomb detection’ dowsing rods in Iraq – at the cost of lives.
Yet despite his depressing outlook, Henderson insists all is not lost. He explains how ‘the scientific method’ is the greatest tool that humanity has at its disposal, and demonstrates how the process of using evidence to prove or disprove an idea is so simple even a ten year old could do it. The scientific method, he argues, is the ultimate weapon in a geek’s arsenal.
The Geek Manifesto is a book written with conviction. Opting for the all-embracing term ‘geek’ over ‘rationalist’, ‘skeptic’ or ‘scientist’, it is squarely aimed at non-academics. The message is compelling and unsettling, the writing fluid, and the arguments consistent. It’s not written as a crowd-pleaser and not everyone will agree with everything Henderson puts forward (particularly green activists, ‘pro-lifers’ and members of the Republican Tea Party). In fact, I would be surprised if there wasn’t something in there to challenge at least one of anyone’s long-held beliefs.
Above all, The Geek Manifesto promotes honesty: if you disagree with abortion on moral grounds that’s fine – but don’t claim to have scientific evidence to support you if you don’t.
Written with a UK audience in mind, it is difficult to read The Geek Manifesto and not be stirred: by chapter five I wanted to swap my PC for a placard. The book concludes with the short ‘manifesto’ alluded to in the title, setting out some practical suggestions for making a difference – without there needing to be a sandwich-board in sight.
The Geek Manifesto is long overdue and represents an impassioned call to action. If you care about science or politics you’d be a fool not to read it.
Author: Mart Henderson
Publisher: Bantam Press/Transworld Digital
Price: Hardback GBP18.99, Kindle Version GBP17.01
Available from Amazon
Issue Six of Guru Magazine (available online from 1st June 2012) will feature an exclusive interview with Mark Henderson, explaining his inspiration behind the book and what it means to be a geek.
Win a copy of The Geek Manifesto!- NOW CLOSED!
Winners will be announced in Issue Six of Guru Magazine – available to download for free from 1st June 2012. Don’t want to miss it? Subscribe to Guru and receive an email when it is released.
We have three new, crisp copies of The Geek Manifesto to give away. To enter, all you need to do is ‘Find the Geek‘! Here’s what they look like…
When you find one, just click on it and you’ll be taken to a secret page where you can enter your contact details. There are several geeks hiding, the more geeks you find, the higher your chances of winning. Watch out though because they move around!
The competition closes on Friday 25th May 2012. Winners will be selected at random and announced in the next issue of Guru (Issue Six – released 1st June 2012!) The competition is only open to residents of the UK.
Get hunting and good luck!
We will never pass your details onto third parties or use them for marketing purposes. Competition terms and conditions.