Published by Plume on March 25, 2008
Genres/Lists: Non-Fiction, Science/Technology/Psychology, True Crime
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)
When I first picked up this book I immediately went to Goodreads to see what other people thought. One of the biggest complaints is that it was too “sciency” or technical, which baffled me because it’s about science going wrong. That’s right – science. Of course it is going to have some scientific jargon! A chapter about hurricanes would be incomplete without a mention of the Coriolis effect, so I didn’t factor these complaints into my decision to read it. But while most of the scientific sections were about things I learned in high school, there were parts of the book that were really heavy on the technical terms. To be fair, they were necessary to understanding how and why things went wrong, but I did find myself skimming over the chapters about engineering and chemistry.
Not that that detracted from the book whatsoever. In the end, morbid curiosity and extremely approachable writing by Simon LeVay propelled me through the book. If you had asked me a week ago whether I thought human experiments were actually happening with catastrophic implications, I would have said no. Between the FDA, the review boards, and the internet, there couldn’t possibly be genetic testing that resulted in an ear bone growing in someone’s brain or blatantly ignoring FDA regulations, right?
Wrong. Dead wrong. In fact, When Science Goes Wrong: Twelve Tales From the Dark Side of Discovery by Simon LeVay (who is interesting all on his own – check out his page) proves that these things are still happening and it kind of freaked me out. I should mention from the get-go that the title can be interpreted in two ways – one is that the science itself went wrong and the other is that science as a field has gone wrong. This book is more about the latter and focuses predominantly on human error or lack of information rather than failed science.
Instead of telling you about the individual stories, I am going to share with you a few lessons that I learned from the book. It’s up to you to read it and put the pieces together!
Top 5 Lessons Learned
- Never let your doctor take you out of the country for a procedure.
- Evidence is arbitrary.
- Don’t get involved with anything medical-related at Penn State.
- Law & Order, as always, is up on current news events.
- Unit conversion is very important