masthead-highres

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Hey Roland, Wanna Buy the Brooklyn Bridge?

National Center executive director David W. Almasi is critical of "The Day After Tomorrow" director's muse:
In an interview with SCI FI Wire, "The Day After Tomorrow" director Roland Emmerich admits he previously pledged never to make another disaster movie, but "when you find something that you can give people [a] message, but still make it an exciting movie... you kind of get very, very, kind of excited about something." What got Emmerich so excited? He read the book The Coming Global Superstorm by Art Bell and Whitley Strieber.

Yes, it's that Art Bell. Bell used to host "Coast to Coast AM" from his trailer located near Area 51 in Nevada, pumping out stories about aliens, monsters and government conspiracies to insomniacs nationwide. And, according to reviews of the book posted on Amazon, the factual basis of his book -- Emmerich's muse -- leaves much to be desired.

Interestingly, many reviews, though written years ago, suggest the book is more movie fodder than textbook.

It certainly doesn't sound like something to which Al Gore should be hitching his political reputation, but he seems to be doing so.

Here's what Amazon's layman critics said:
The Hanged Man from Fairfax: "I bought this expecting some science, some facts, some hard information. Instead, I got 'lost' civilizations, fuzzy facts, and (this was probably Strieber's contribution) a passable bit of science fiction. Pass on the book and stick to Weekly World News."

Charles D. Johnston from Atlanta, Georgia: "This book takes yelling 'Fire!' in a crowd to a new level. Using a combination of vague references to unknown writers, clearly slanted style, and half-science, this book is clearly commercial in intent and seeks to capitalize on the 'sky is falling' mentality that was so evident before Y2K. The authors are more interested in making money than real science..."

Jerald R. Lovell from Clinton Township, Michigan: "It's distressing to know that Barnum was right about one being born each minute... Anyone with the slightest knowledge of weather knows the scenario of ten feet of ice and all that other glop is impossible under the laws of physics... The book has its value, though, in that it does show the Dark Ages, where superstition reigned and truth hid, are never that far away. The authors should go back to tossing burnt sheep bones and reading tea leaves, and not masquarade as scientific seers... What a commentary on our educational system! I weep for the future."

A reader from Denver, Colorado: "...Superstorm is not even good science fiction. It is laughable, speculative, junk science and urban legends all thrown together..."

A reader from Ohio: "Great fun to read... but scientifically it's all hot gas."

A reader from Wooster, Ohio: "Before I read this book I had never heard of Art Bell or Whitley Strieber. Therefore, as a scientist, I read this book with an open mind... In my opinion, Strieber and Bell have hijacked the topic of potential weather-related global cataclysm, and used it as a vehicle to persuade the reader that advanced civilizations once existed on our planet and were lost in a violent climatic upheaval. They present legitimate scientific observations and as-yet unexplained phenomena (much of it unrelated to the topic of global climate) and casually link them to some of the more fantastic claims of pseudoscience. This book is worth reading for entertainment, but the reader should definitely keep in mind the saying 'you shouldn't believe everything you read.' The bottom line is this book is long on pseudoscience and speculations (more than a few of them outrageous) and short on substantial scientific information."

rb_748 from Brooklyn, New York: "This book contains all the hallmarks of the worst pseudoscience: no references or clear citations, misnomers galore..."

Jim Green from Torquay, Devon, United Kingdom: "This book reads like a poorly-edited screenplay for a crummy disaster movie. If it's that kind of entertainment you want, then fine. If, however, you're after a credible treatment of an important issue, then steer clear of these authors. The style is sloppy and repetitive, and it seems sensationalism is valued over serious research. A quote from p. 216 says it all: 'The two of us are amateurs.'"

Joel Foss from Lakewood, California: "If you're like a lot of readers, and you've been watching the news headlines about north pole ice melting, and increasingly harsh weather conditions, then you're looking for a book on global warming and it's possible effects. You're looking for a book that will tell you what scientists are saying; what tests they're doing; what indications they're looking at. You're looking for a book that will educate you a little without putting you to sleep. Well, THIS AIN'T THE BOOK! The author is a radio talk show host, not a science writer, and the book is about as educational as... a radio talk show! There is no attempt to explain; only to scare the reader..."

A reader from Rochester, New York: "Bell once again rehashes kindergarten-level scientific mumbo-jumbo to exploit current topics of interest, in order to capitalize on his fame and make a few extra bucks. Save your money and buy a book with some science content."

A reader from Olympia, Washington: "Baloney does not stick to paper very well. Not since Joseph Goebbels and the 'big lie' has there been such a gaseous expulsion of fairy tales masquerading as science..."

A reader from San Jose, California: "This authors mix wild and implausible speculation with pseudo-science to produce a book that, if anybody read it, would set the environmentalists back ten years. We just have to hope that few fall into the trap of reading it, like I did."

A reader from Troy, New York: "I enjoy a good 'wacko' theory book as much as the next person, but this book is a travesty. Arguments and assertions are made and never followed up. Veiled hints are made but never proven. Planetary cycles are alluded to but never stated succinctly. The writing is slack and there is no intellectual rigor..."

Dan Allison from Sunset Beach, Florida: "These two are QUITE the piece of work. America's most irresponsible broadcaster has teamed up with a guy whose career as a horror novelist was in the dumpster before he grabbed onto the UFO thing. The result is fear-mongering pseudoscience... Listen to their 'Coast to Coast AM' radio broadcast. Strieber is incessantly blaming capitalism for problems that, frankly, do not even exist. His calls for 'government action' are barely-disguised paeans for government control, collectivism, and restrictions on individual freedom. Bell, while slightly more conservative, will put ANY crackpot on the radio -- aliens, time travelers, you name it..."

Gary L. Scott from Aloha, Oregon: "The Coming Global Superstorm is science fiction pap. Light on fact and heavy on speculation extrapolated from junk science mixed with just enough facts to add some credibility to the book. Bell and Strieber have collected mountains of urban legends, folk tales and junk science, mixed it together and created yet another great book for the doomsday crowd."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:36 AM

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