What scientists think

What scientists think 
Jeremy Stangroom (ed) 
Abingdon, UK | Routledge |   2005 | 194pp | ?9.99 |   ISBN 0415334276 
Reviewed by Clare Boothby   

’There is a powerful and revealing means to find out what scientists think,’ says Marek Kohn in the introduction to this book - ’you ask them’. Jeremy Stangroom has done just that.   

What Scientists think contains a series of interviews with 12 scientists on their work, on the public understanding of science, and on the impact of their field on society. Among other things, the 12 were chosen for their efforts to increase the public understanding of science, and all should hopefully be familiar names. Susan Greenfield talks about depression, extremism and drugs; Steve Jones rails against creationism and the uninformed debate on GM foods; Martin Rees muses on life on other planets and on how scientific research and political debate should interact. The style of the interviews is very conversational, mixing clear, non-technical explanations with interesting and sometimes provocative opinions.   

Each interview touches on a wide range of areas. Stangroom has deliberately focused on hot political and scientific topics: animal research, Sars and Aids, climate change, gene patenting, to name just a few. A short reference section gives pointers for further reading.    

The overall result is a very light and easy read full of engaging discussion and food for thought.