2014 Mirror Award for Best Profile: “The Operator” in The New Yorker
Michael Specter’s truthful, rigorously researched, and often politically incorrect views are the perfect antidote to the widespread rebellion against scientific thought and the products of scientific inquiry, such as the new wonder drugs, the new vaccines that are being refused by the public, as well as the genetically engineered foods that many are boycotting.
A skillful writer and a great speaker with a masterful stage presence, Michael brings a dose of rationality and knowledge to all the events in which he participates.
Michael is the author of Denialism, a meticulously reported investigation of the growing mistrust among people around the world of science and its byproducts. He argues that irrationality, politically-inspired fear, and misplaced skepticism have undermined public acceptance of the scientific marvels of our age, and the benefits they all provide humankind. The reprint edition is now available.
Michael won the
Stop TB Partnership Annual Award for Excellence in Reporting for his New Yorker article,
A Deadly Misdiagnosis, about the dangers of inaccurate TB tests in India, which has the highest rate of TB in the world. The Stop TB Partnership was established by the World Health Organization and is an international network of public and private organisations, countries, and donors dedicated to eradicating TB.
Michael is the winner of the 2009 Robert P. Balles Annual Prize in Critical Thinking, presented by The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Skeptical Inquirer magazine, for his book Denialism.
Michael argues that by turning our backs on scientific impartiality, we are abandoning rational thought in favor of hearsay, rumors and vague promises, which he sees manifested in the rush to organic foods, as well as vitamins, dietary supplements and "natural" cures that do no good and sometimes cause harm.
Most importantly, he gives voice to the growing fear that denialism, as he calls the phenomenon, will stifle scientific inquiry and progress, prevent us from solving solvable problems such as famine in third world countries, and create new windows of opportunity for devastating diseases to appear in the world.
Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives
"Michael Specter has written a lucid and insightful book about a
very frightening and irrational phenomenon — the fear and
superstition that threaten human science and progress.
A superb and convincing work."
— Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, Outliers, and Blink.
The New Yorker
At The New Yorker, Michael has written about the global AIDS epidemic, avian influenza, malaria, scientific efforts to resurrect extinct viruses, synthetic biology, genetically modified food, efforts to mine the human genome to fight disease; the world’s diminishing freshwater resources, and the Bush Administration’s war on science.
He has also profiled many fascinating well-known personalities, including Lance Armstrong, Richard Branson, the ethicist Peter Singer, Sean (P. Diddy) Combs, Manolo Blahnik, AIDS activist Larry Kramer, and Ingrid Newkirk, the highly controversial founder of PETA.
- The New Yorker staff writer since 1998
- Stop TB Partnership Annual Award for Excellence in Reporting, 2011
- 2009 Robert P. Balles Annual Prize in Critical Thinking Award
- Specter has twice received the Global Health Council's Excellence in Media Award, 2001 and 2004
- Science Journalism Award, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2004
- Correspondent, Moscow Bureau Chief, The New York Times
National science reporter, New York Bureau Chief, Washington Post
A natural history museum:
Michael — Our community is still abuzz after your presentation — provocative but not polarising and thoroughly engaging. You were a great ambassador for science in the global public interest!
An organisation representing science centers and museums worldwide:
He was fantastic — people were tweeting excerpts from his keynote as he was speaking in real time. We had great feedback on his address.
A senior public health official:
Michael — Thank you is inadequate to express my personal and professional appreciation for your trip to [...]; you delivered in spades. The feedback to the meeting, the session with the students and the evening gala is remarkable; 10.5 out of 10. You really need to hit the college campus circuit much more as your message really resonates with this crowd (professors and students.) We need entire courses about denialism and how we must train our current students how to best respond.
A food science and technology company:
Michael — On behalf of everyone here, I want to thank you for a great presentation. As you know, I was collecting all the questions backstage and this was the most questions we've ever received in the last four years — and they were all good questions at that!
An audience member at TED:
This session did a phenom job in forcing us to ask questions and not be complacent about the way we think and act. I particularly thought that Michael's talk was incredibly thought provoking.
A food and beverage trade association:
Our members had such a great experience with Michael. They enjoyed his presentation immensely. We highly recommend him!