Science Tales: lies, hoaxes and scams – Darryl Cunningham

 

Science Tales: lies, hoaxes and scams - Darryl Cunningham

Myriad Editions, ISBN 978-0-9567926-8-6

There are people for whom the term, “graphic novel”, seems an over-inflated alternative to “comic book”, and, given the non-fictional nature of this work, we are perhaps better off with the old coinage. A graphic book might be a book about graphics, or a book containing graphic descriptions of something. Such categorical quibbles also extend to the subtitle of Cunningham’s collection. The lies, hoaxes and scams include homeopathy, chiropractic and evolution!

Fortunately, the author is no creationist, but that subtitle sits oddly on a collection of comic strip considerations of contentious issues familiar to skeptics. Something like “sense and nonsense from measles to the moon” might be nearer the mark.

Cunningham’s graphic skills shine throughout, for instance in the case, or face, of Dr Andrew Wakefield and his pathological failures, where increasingly magnified close-ups become a pixellated pink that then morphs back to a measled child. The bright drawings bring dark facts, as in the tale of science denial, where we are reminded of South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki, presiding over the deaths of a third of a million people through his denial of the HIV/AIDS link.

The media-fuelled ding-dong about climate change is ably explored, with the help of a particularly well-informed penguin, and electroconvulsive therapy is calmly contemplated. There is a luminous chapter on the moon hoax, and grimly comic treatments of the “treatments”, homeopathy and chiropractic.

The gift of this handsome book would be an amiable way to help rescue people, especially the young, from muddle and mystification.

Paul Taylor