Darryl Cunningham's How to Fake a Moon Landing: Exposing the Myths of Science Denial is a bit different from most of the graphic novels I've reviewed in this space. Most of the earlier books I've reviewed have been biographical or historical in nature with the more expository ones at least having some fictional narrative wrapped around the scientific content. I guess you could say there's quite a bit of sugar to make the medicine go down a bit more smoothly.
This book however is really nothing but exposition with just enough bare-bones narrative to keep the facts rolling. It's a series of eight chapters, most very directly taking on a different area of science where there's a lot of misinformation and misplaced skepticism out there: The Moon Hoax, Homeopathy, Chiropratic, The MMR Vaccination Scandal, Evolution, Fracking, Climate Change and Science Denial. The Fracking chapter is a bit different in that the rest given that it's more specifically about a technology that is poorly understood fairly new technology rather than one where there's a long and storied history of misinformation and willful, misinformed denialism. The final chapter on Science Denial is a nice summary of what's gone before, putting the rest of the book in nice context.
So what is this book for, you ask? I'm really not sure. On the one hand, the run throughs of the various topics are quite nice given the short space. The make the main points and present the relevant facts and directly address specific misunderstandings or fake controversies. On the other hand, they are still fairly short and superficial, just by virtue of the limited space. In that sense, to me it seems unlikely that this would change the mind of any convinced science denier. Of course, changing the minds of the hard core is probably impossible at this point, so maybe the fact that this book won't help you there isn't really that big a deal.
So what's left? I can think of a couple of really nice uses. First of all, the main points are so well laid out that the book serves as a nice refresher and source of talking points for the pro-science crowd. And perhaps most importantly, this would be a great resource to give to the still impressionable youngsters out there, setting the stage for a life of science acceptance among the undecideds. In other words, a great book for kids.
And this is where the book's simple, clean and engaging narrative and illustration will come in handy. The book is lively and accessible, not condescending at all. It's also quite fun and light-hearted at times, finding the right tone for fairly serious material.
I would recommend this book primarily to any public or school library. It is a wonderful resource for children and young adults as well as adults. The cheeky title and colourful and playful cover will assure it of heavy circulation. Academic libraries that collect science graphic novels would also do well to get this book.
Cunningham, Darryl How to Fake a Moon Landing: Exposing the Myths of Science Denial. New York: Abrams ComicArts, 2013. 176pp. ISBN-13: 978-1419706899
Other science graphic novels I have reviewed:
- Primates: The fearless science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks
- Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm
- Feynman by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick
- The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA by Mark Schultz, Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon
- Evolution: The story of life on Earth by Jay Hosler, Kevin Cannon and Zander Cannon
- Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos H. Papadimitriou, Alecos Papdatos and Annie Di Donna