Getting Risk Right: Understanding the Science of Elusive Health Risks


Product Details

Columbia University Press
Publish Date
6.1 X 1.0 X 9.1 inches | 1.1 pounds

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About the Author

Geoffrey C. Kabat is a cancer epidemiologist and author of Hyping Health Risks: Environmental Hazards in Daily Life and the Science of Epidemiology (Columbia, 2008). He has published over 150 peer-reviewed scientific papers, as well as articles on health-related issues in Forbes, Slate, and elsewhere.


Geoffrey Kabat's vital, wide-ranging book cannot have arrived at a more fortuitous time. As individuals and societies, we are constantly asked to gauge risks--and we often do so hastily or irrationally, with grave consequences. In Getting Risk Right, Kabat provides a crucial framework to think about risks, biases, and judgment. Everyone should read his analysis--at once clear-eyed, thoughtful, and beautifully written--to understand the nature of risk. I cannot overstate the importance of this book.--Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Emperor of All Maladies
Some risks are real, while others are much feared and speculated about, but of no portent. This important book by Geoffrey Kabat shows how the science of studying risks can lead to major discoveries that can improve the lives of millions by identifying and validating risks that do matter; or can ruin lives by propagating spurious, nonexistent risks in the public mind and in the scientific literature. Getting Risk Right carefully surveys a scientific field that is often the topic of hot debate and offers a balanced presentation. It is a fascinating read.--John Ioannidis, professor of medicine and health research and policy, Stanford University
Zika, Ebola, vaccines, dioxin, radon, black mold, environmental toxins. The media constantly bombards us with stories about unseen agents causing insidious harms. In Getting Risk Right, Geoffrey Kabat uses four case studies--BPA, cell phones, the HPV vaccine, and dietary supplements--to teach us not only whether these products are harmful but also how to grade information. Using Kabat's method, readers will be able to determine whether the next media-infused risk is a real one. Filled with cartoons, case histories, literary references, and fascinating asides, Getting Risk Right is the last book you will ever need to read on this subject.--Paul A. Offit, author of Autism's False Prophets
Geoffrey Kabat's writing, as usual, is phenomenally clear and expressive. His logical cadences are both airtight and a pleasure to read. His insights into the workings and mis-workings of science, the sociology of science, and the interplay of personalities and organizations are penetrating and precise, and above all original.--Steven D. Stellman, professor of clinical epidemiology, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
What matters most? How can we use scientific findings intelligently to set our public priorities? Through engaging anecdotes, and a clear-eyed analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of scientific work, Getting Risk Right helps us answer those questions. Perhaps more importantly, Dr. Kabat enhances our understanding of how science leads to action, and how we can better use science to inform a more rational and productive public agenda.--Sandro Galea, Dean, Boston University School of Public Health
It is not easy feat to take complex issues and make them both understandable, easily readable and interesting, but Kabat does just that in Getting Risk Right. For people who are trying to sort through the deluge of conflicting information that we see every day, this book is a must.--Josh Bloom "American Council on Science and Health "
This book will provide you with defensive armor against alarmist headlines and it will help you judge the credibility of new studies. Highly recommended.--Harriet Hall, MD "Science-Based Medicine "
This is an important book that can help people working in many areas of health.--Rick Mathis "Health Affairs "
An important study that teaches how to decipher science and medical news.--Library Journal
Excellent.... A potent antidote to the toxic misinformation polluting our public health discourse.--Reason
[Getting Risk Right] presents important topics for consideration and four fascinating and well-documented case studies. It is well suited for use in an introductory epidemiology class, where sections or chapters could be assigned as introductory reading by in-depth discussion.--Anne Fairbrother "Issues in Science and Technology "
An invaluable new book...useful for any individual teaching or practicing in the health sciences, as well as individuals in education and public health.--Choice
Highly readable and informative.--Genetic Literacy Project
A valiant attempt to help us distinguish between real advances and unabashed efforts to scare us. If you are interested in penetrating the massive confusion surrounding health risks in the environment, this pithy book provides an indispensable primer.--Science 2.0
[An] excellent and informative book.--Skeptical Inquirer
[Kabat issues] a call to arms, urging his fellow scientists, policy makers, and the media to rescue the science of environmental risks from what he presents as its current sorry state. . . . [An] insider's dissection of the psychology of how environmental studies are funded, reported, and interpreted by their authors and by various audiences.--Washington Post