The Fly in the Ointment: 70 Fascinating Commentaries on the Science of Everyday Life

Joe Schwarcz has done it again. This host of a science call-in show in Montreal and Toronto has put together another collection of his commentaries on the science of everyday life. All four of his previous books have been "Hal's Picks", and you can find all of them in the Index. As usual, most of the science is chemistry. In this collection, he again devotes a lot of space to issues of health and nutrition, favorite topics of his listeners. He dispels some myths about dangers associated with cooking in Teflon pans, and does an especially good job of discussing the pros and cons of DDT and DDE, including his confession that his opinion of Rachel Carson and "Silent Spring" has undergone drastic reversal in light of evidence. Alzheimer's disease is still largely shrouded in medical mystery, and I appreciated his frank remarks about what is known, and what might be true about this scourge. His description of the advice given freely (and worth every penny) by the clerks in "health food" stores is a cautionary tale. Schwarcz mixes good story-telling, accurate science,some history, and a sympathetic yet skeptical attitude to guide his readers to understanding the scientific world around them.

Publication information
Pick Attribution: 

Joe Schwarcz

Publication Date: 
Thursday, January 1, 2004