Cover image for Technological risk
Technological risk
Lewis, H. W. (Harold Warren)
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton, 1990.
Physical Description:
xiii, 353 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library T174.5 .L48 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Risks seem to abound in our everyday lives, especially the risks flowing from the explosion of our modern technology, with its pesticides, pollution, nuclear power, microwave radiation and chemical trace elements in food of all kinds. Two questions face all of us: how real are these risks and, if real, how do we manage our lives in order to avoid personal damage from them?

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this admirably balanced study, Lewis, who teaches physics at UC-Santa Barbara, considers how we may best take advantage of technological progress while evaluating, preventing or mitigating its attendant risks. Hard-hitting, though no doom-sayer, the author attacks inertia, greed and popular misconceptions in a lively colloquial style, criticizing the efforts of scientists, government, industry and media in accounting for and managing environmental pollution. He also offers informed speculation on nuclear fallout and the greenhouse effect, and strongly advocates increased monitoring of structural and operational safety in public works, buildings, transportation, goods, etc. Better education, Lewis implies, is key to equipping individuals to weigh benefits and risks wisely. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

High technology and ecological crises have brought public attention to the concept of risk; yet we often exaggerate small risks while ignoring significant ones. Lewis, a physicist and expert on risk, clearly describes the principles (and vagaries) of risk perception, measurement, assessment, and management, and then applies them to topics such as transportation safety, global warming, chemical toxicity, nuclear power, and low-level radiation. He also addresses probability and statistics. This sane, reasonable, and unique treatment will appeal to educated nonspecialists and is recommended for large public libraries and undergraduate collections.-- Judith Eannarino, George Washington Univ. Lib., Washington, D.C. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Lewis (Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara) chaired the American Physical Society study of light-water reactor safety (published in 1975). He is supportive of technology, arguing for a balanced evaluation: risks versus benefits, hazards of one technology versus danger of alternative choices. The book is in three parts: a general discussion of risk (perception, assessment, uncertainty), eight specific examples (half of the book), and a brief supplementary primer on probability. The introductory section on risk and the final chapters on statistics are rambling and unfocused; and the entire book is replete with irrelevant aside comments. It is difficult to take seriously a work that informs the reader that "in California it is illegal to tattoo a minor, voluntarily or involuntarily" and "for eighty years, ending in 1926, {{the state of Bhopal}} had female rulers." There is no apparent logic in the selection of case studies (a disparate collection, ranging from chemical carcinogenesis to nuclear winter), and the treatment of issues is trivialized, superficial, and nonscholarly. No bibliography. Even for the casual reader, for whom the book is intended, it will be unhelpful and unconvincing. -D. W. Larson, University of Regina

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