- Posted by Johanna on February 22, 2013 at 4:25 pm
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: by Darryl Cunningham
- PUBLISHER: Abrams ComicArts; $16.95 US
I previously reviewed this book of illustrated essays by Darryl Cunningham when it was published in the UK and called Science Tales: Lies, Hoaxes, and Scams. For this US release, due in April, the chapter on “Electroconvulsive Therapy” (which tied nicely into Cunningham’s previous book, Psychiatric Tales) has been replaced by one on “Fracking”. Also, “The Facts in the Case of Dr. Andrew Wakefield” has been retitled “The MMR Vaccination Scandal”, a title that will mean more to American readers.
Because I’ve previously talked about a lot of this material, I’ll focus here on the new chapter. I’m not sure why fracking was chosen as the topic, since I don’t know of anyone who thinks it’s a good idea — but then, I’m a sympathetic audience for the book, since I already believe that you should evaluate scientific claims with your brain instead of your heart. For me, this chapter was one of the most depressing. (The color doesn’t help — it’s a moody grey-green throughout.) There’s something vaguely poetic and doomed about someone who, for example, believes visiting the moon was a grand media conspiracy, but someone who thinks fracking isn’t destroying the environment and poisoning people is just stupid or greedy. Assembling all the evidence in one place just rams the danger home again and again.
That’s the biggest problem with this book — I’m not sure those who most need to read it will. Especially since it’s in comic form. The close-minded still think that medium is for the unintelligent or immature; they’re the same types who are denying climate change or trying to avoid teaching kids about evolution, prioritizing belief over facts.
The most informative chapter, to me, was the one about the origins of “Chiropractic” and how anti-medicine some of the practitioners were. I also suspect that an American author wouldn’t have dared create the “Evolution” chapter as it stands. It criticizes some of the body’s physical features, stating, “No creator would invent such a complex and dangerous design.” Few people raised in the US religious stew would risk stating such a thing outright.
As before, the last chapter, “Science Denial”, is the most powerful and direct, tracking our current psychological avoidance of evidence back to the tobacco industry in the 1950s, desperate to deny the link between smoking and cancer. I enjoyed having an excuse to reread the book, and I hope it does well, particularly in libraries and schools.