On the books of Michael Crichton

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid

Michael Crichton's State of Fear

By David M. Lawrence

Now we are engaged in a great new theory, that once again has drawn the support of politicians, scientists, and celebrities around the world. Once again, the theory is promoted by major foundations. Once again, the research is carried out by prestigious universities. Once again, legislation is passed and social programs are urged in its name. Once again, critics are few and harshly dealt with.

Once again, the measures being urged have little basis in fact or science.. . .

—Michael Crichton, State of Fear

At least as far back as as The Andromeda Strain, Michael Crichton has revealed in his writings skepticism about the limitation of science and technology as a tool in humanity’s efforts to stave off disaster. Hubris and ignorance have led to the downfall of more than one of Crichton’s protagonists, whether they be eaten by dinosaurs of their own creation or trapped in a lab with a deadly and spreading disease that they have unwittingly released. Often, such skepticism is warranted. Scientists are just as fallible as any other human, making mistakes large and small. Some mistakes lead to great disasters, such as the thalidomide scandal of the 1950s and 1960s, in which an inadequately tested medicine was, because of its efficacy in mitigating the effects of morning sickness, administered to the worst possible pool of patients: pregnant women. The problem, undiscovered until too late, was that thalidomide could cause severe birth defects in their children. Thousands of thalidomide babies, many born with shortened,  …

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