State of Fear By Michael Crichton (****)

It feels like it took me forever to read this book. It was not because the book was not interesting but just due to the lack of time to read. I am a big Crichton fan since I read Timeline. State of Fear does not disappoint and keeps the action coming at a great pace. The theme of the book is Global Warming, but the real plot is how fear is used to control us.

Being driven by fear is one of the problems with our society. I believe that while terrorism is a real threat we are at times misguided while our judgment is clouded by fear. The book also brought some excellent points about scientific research and corporate involvement. I have always loved the way Crichton has been able to make very complicated subjects accessible to reader.

The book mixes a lot of fact with fiction, and at the end of the book the author states his view on the climate change issue. While the book is more of a thriller than a political book, it still makes you think about how much of what we see on the news is actually corporate driven.

While this book is not new, it really resonated with me since we have been seeing on the news a lot of the scandals in Washington. The fiction of how politics and environmental law at times had nothing to do with preserving the environment resonates a lot more on the Abramoff era.

The characters on the book were likeable, and even though the love triangle that formed did not take the twists and turns that I predicted it still entertained. The book was not as predictable as I imagined it would be while reading it, but it still had a couple of things that I figured out early. The book would make an excellent movie like some of Crichton’s books have done in the past… I just hope if they do make it, it is more along the lines of Jurassic park and not Congo or Timeline.

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5 comments on “State of Fear By Michael Crichton (****)

  1. Matt loved this book – he could not put it down. I think he finished it in a couple weeks. But only because that is ALL he did in his spare time. Have a great day, John!

  2. I haven’t read the book, though my wife has talked to me a good deal about it. The part about the book and your post that interest me most is about how certain people and organizations use fear to make themselves more important in our lives.

    We live in odd times. By most reasonable measures, the times that we live in are pretty good. There haven’t been any serious terror strikes in the US in a couple of years. The economy is good by any measure except the US in the 90’s. We’ve got a sticky war in foreign lands, but democracies are evolving every day at an encouraging rate. But one would not get the sense of any of this by looking at the paper. Ecology will kill us, terrorists will kill us. The government is choking our last breaths of freedom out of us. Immigrants are going to take whatever jobs aren’t shipped to India. So on and so on. The news gives us something new to fear every day… and yet life goes on. I am concerned for those whose lives revolved around fear and resentment perpetuated by those whose lives depend on fear and resentment.

    L Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology (of which I am not a member and do not by any stretch of the imagination endorse) made some interesting points in some of his books. Police, however well intentioned, thrive not on making you feel safe but by making you feel unsafe. Like Sutler said in V for Vendetta, “we need to remind them that they need us!” He calls these people Merchants of Chaos… those that make a living based on the fear of chaos. As troubling as I find the religion, I find his perspective on the issue interesting.

  3. Hi, I surfed over here from Static Brain’s. Nice site.

    I agree that our society is driven by fear. My husband read this book a while ago and liked it. It was after we watched that horrible movie, “The Day After Tomorrow”. Good review, I will put it on my “to read” list.

  4. I haven’t read the book, but I heard *ALL ABOUT IT* from Candy’s husband (who wouldn’t stop talking about it for like two weeks straight) and my wife who also read it. I actually tore through the graphs and data illustrated in the book and it turns out that it is in fact very misleading.

    James Hansen, the scientists that testified before Congress on global warming was mentioned in Crichton’s book several times and he actually wrote a really great response which can be read here:

    It basically comes down to this: Crichton was very selective in which data he presented in the book. He only included the data that supported the story he was writing–which makes sense (it sells books). So don’t look at the graphs and data in the book and think, “Gee, global warming sure looks sketchy.” There’s a point where there’s like 20 different temperature graphs from various individual locations throughout the world which are completely meaningless in the grand scheme of things. You have to take all measurements–from everywhere–and average them together to see if the global temperature is rising. Just because temperatures in upstate New York might be getting colder doesn’t mean the rest of the world isn’t getting hotter =)

    The only graph that I *really* think people wary of is the one showing a cooling period from 1940-1970 on page 95 (paperback). Firstly, the graph in question only covers the northern hemisphere (not mentioned in the book, but if you look at Nasa’s GIS site it is there). There’s a reason why it’s called *global* warming =). Secondly, taking a 100-year sample of temperatures is one thing, taking a 30-year sample is another. Not only that, but if you look at the whole 1880-2003 graph, it is readily apparent that any major difference between CO2 levels and temperature between 1940-1970 was actually evened off by the fact that the two data sets come closer together as time progresses *after* 1970. It’s a course correction of sorts. The factors in global climate are constantly tugging at each other so it is likely that we’ll have years that cool and years that rise. The problem lies in the fact that over time, we’re rising and that’s not a good thing.

    If you’re curious about the real science behind global warming, I suggest you take a look at

    The “most real” and scary data point–at least to me–has to be the fact that we’re currently at 381 PPM of CO2 in the atmosphere. At no point in the past million years has it ever been that high. CO2 levels greater than that pre-date humanity.

    The only hope that I think we have is that if we caused it, we can fix it. I see no reason why humanity can’t suck out the CO2 in the atmosphere over time and pump it back into the ground (or at least convert it into C and O2). It is just sad that we’ll have to live with the problems associated with global warming for a long time to come. Burning fossil fuels produces CO2 faster and more efficiently than anything that could reverse the process.

    “I have a license to kill -9”

  5. Riskable’s answer reads like the common believer. Lots of great data that should be considered “unquestionable”, but what I find completely questionable is the scientific basis on which his numbers are derived.
    The idea of Global Warming (the political movement) is that WE, the EVIL human infestation have caused the warming. If there was only fewer factories, alas, fewer human’s we could save the Earth.
    Isn’t that what this is all about is eugenics? How long before it is pointed out that humans exhale CO2, thereby, with worldwide peaks in human populations at an all-time high, causing “the highest CO2 levels in a million years”, is rapid depopulation going to be called for as the only way to “save the planet”.
    This whole argument is repugnant and Crichton’s book is spot on! It calls it like it is, a political movement to scare the sheeple of the world into submission to what elites would have us do to fix their problems.
    This whole argument is ludicrous!
    You want links to support my argument. . .
    Let’s see what you really know. . .
    and finally. . .

    To quote a fair-minded news reporter “If the surface of Mars has warmed more than the temperature on Earth would you please explain to me how my SUV is causing this?”

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