More about Hidden Biases and Fukushima

About six weeks ago, I posted a blog entry called Subtle and not so subtle biases shape assessment of Fukushima. It led to some interesting and intelligent discussion about whether nuclear energy should be part of the future worldwide energy mix.

I wrote that entry as a reaction to critical reviews that described my new book for young readers, Meltdown Front Cover ThumbnailMeltdown: The Nuclear Disaster in Japan and Our Energy Future, as “pro-nuclear” and “not exactly evenhanded.”

Since I agonized over how to make the book neutral with regard to the future of nuclear power, I was disappointed by that assessment; but I was not surprised by it. I realized that people who fear nuclear power, and are therefore against any hint that it might have a role in future energy, would see my approach of leaving the door open as favorable to nuclear power.

So I closed that blog entry with this:

I can’t fault reviewers for subtle biases like that. We all have them. And to the reviewers’ credit, they wrote in such a way that (1) their anti-nuclear views were apparent to me and I think to other readers and (2) they still recommended the book.

Could I have asked for more? Sure–a starred review would be nice. But they would have been less than honest to themselves if they had added that little sweet dollop of praise.

So I am pleased to report a new review in Science Books and Films written by a person who works in physics publishing. That reviewer not only gave Meltdown! two stars (highly recommended) but also described its approach as “bias free.”

Of course I am biased toward my own work (we all are), but I was gratified to see that this reviewer, who is probably particularly adept in recognizing biased writing, noted the care I took to produce an unbiased assessment of future energy technologies.

2 thoughts on “More about Hidden Biases and Fukushima

  1. More good news! Another strong review of Meltdown! from a major publication (VOYA) has appeared. I’m trying to find the alphanumeric rating, which is not included on the B&N website where I found the review, but the words make it clear this has got to be highly rated. Excerpt: “…this thin book is packed with facts necessary to make informed choices…”

    Thank you, Debbie Kirchhoff, for conveying exactly what the publisher and I tried to accomplish in words and through the book’s design. That’s more important in a review than a high rating.

    See http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/meltdown-fred-bortz/1110782839 for the full review.

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