UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies


STS1book selected: Merchants of Doubt

12 June 2017

Merchants of Doubt

2017-18 STS1book

STS undergraduate programme tutor, Dr Simon Werrett, has selected the STS1book for the 2017-18 session:

  • Erik M. Conway and Naomi Oreskes. 2012. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (London: Bloomsbury). ISBN 1408824833. Order Amazon UK paperback

Critics say, it is "Brilliantly reported and written with brutal clarity" (Huffington Post)

The book has a supporting Website: 

  • MerchantsofDoubt.org (link)

What's the STS1book?

The goals of our STS1book programme are:

1. increase intellectual integration across disparate courses
2. increase common ground for students in different year groups
3. encourage informal learning

Each year, STS asks all staff and students to read one book in common during the summer, then arrive for the new session ready to discuss both its substance and its broader value. Incoming students should read this prescribed book. It will be the subject of activities during induction week and will be used in modules throughout the degree.

STS1book is in its twelfth year

Past books in the series include:

  • Philip Ball's Invisible: The History of the Unseen from Plato to Particle Physics
  • Henry Nicholls' The Galapagos: A Natural History
  • Peter Dear's The Intelligibility of Nature: How Science Makes Sense of the World
  • Ron Number's Galileo Goes to Jail, and other myths about science and religion
  • Mark Henderson's Geek Manifesto
  • Jon Turney's The Rough Guide to The Future
  • Bill Bryson's Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society: 350 Years of the Royal Society and Scientific Endeavour
  • Ben Goldacre's Bad Science
  • Thomas Dixon's Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction
  • Jenny Uglow's The Lunar Men
  • Jared Diamond's Collapse

High praise

STS1book was praised highly by UCL's quality review team in their 2012 regular audit of the department. It was described as innovative and key to creating a shared learning environment.