Michael Specter (born 1955) is an American journalist who has been a staff writer, focusing on science and technology, and global public health at The New Yorker since September 1998. He has also written for The Washington Post and The New York Times.
|Spouse||Alessandra Stanley (?–?; 1 daughter)|
Specter initially covered local news at The Washington Post in 1985 but then became a national science reporter for the Post and finally the New York City bureau chief. In 1991, Specter transferred to the Times. There, from 1994 to 1998, he was based in Moscow. In 1995, he was appointed co-chief of the Moscow bureau of the Times. While in Russia, he covered stories such as the war in Chechnya, the 1996 Russian presidential elections, and the declining state of Russian health care. In 1998, he became a roving correspondent based in Rome covering topics as varied as Europe's demographic crisis, Michelangelo's Florentine Pietà, and the spread of AIDS in Africa.
His 2009 book, Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives, explores the ways in which people in the United States and Europe have increasingly rejected scientific truths, backed by impressive data. They instead are embracing what often seem to be more comfortable fictions about issues such as the value of organic food, vaccine safety, and personal genomics. He recently delivered a talk titled "The danger of science denial" at TED 2010.
At The New Yorker, he 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, and the world's diminishing freshwater resources. He has also written profiles of many people, including Dr. Oz, Lance Armstrong, Richard Branson, the ethicist Peter Singer, P. Diddy, Manolo Blahnik, AIDS activist Larry Kramer, and PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk.
In 1996, Specter was awarded the Overseas Press Club Citation for Excellence for his coverage of the War in Chechnya. In 2002, he won the A.A.A.S. Science Journalism Award. He has also twice received the Global Health Council's Annual Excellence in Media Award- for his piece about AIDS in India, "India's Plague" (12/17/01) and for one about AIDS and the population crisis in Russia, "The Devastation".
In 2009, Specter received the Robert P. Balles Annual Prize in Critical Thinking for his book Denialism. The yearly award is given by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry to the author of the published work that best exemplifies healthy skepticism, logical analysis, or empirical science.
- Specter, Michael (2009). Denialism : how irrational thinking hinders scientific progress, harms the planet, and threatens our lives. New York: Penguin Press.
Essays and reportingEdit
- Specter, Michael (December 17, 2001). "India's plague". The New Yorker. 77 (40): 74–86. Archived from the original on December 14, 2006.
- — (February 3, 2003). "The vaccine". The New Yorker. 78 (45): 54–65. Archived from the original on December 12, 2006.
- — (November 15, 2010). "A deadly misdiagnosis". Letter from India. The New Yorker. 86 (36).
- — (February 4, 2013). "The operator : is the most trusted doctor in America doing more harm than good?". Profiles. The New Yorker. 88 (46): 40–49. Profile of Mehmet Oz.
- — (July 1, 2013). "The Lyme wars : the Lyme-disease infection rate is growing. So is the battle over how to treat it". Annals of Medicine. The New Yorker. 89 (19): 24–29.
- — (January 6, 2014). "The gene factory : a Chinese firm's bid to crack hunger, illness, evolution – and the genetics of human intelligence". Letter from Shenzen. The New Yorker. 89 (43): 34–43.
- — (October 20, 2014). "The fear equation". The Talk of the Town. Comment. The New Yorker. 90 (32): 29–30.
- — (January 2, 2017). "Rewriting the code of life : through DNA editing, researchers hope to alter the genetic destiny of species and eliminate diseases". Annals of Science. The New Yorker. 92 (43): 34–43.
- TED talk 2010
- AAAS 2002 Science Journalism Awards recipients Archived 2008-05-12 at the Wayback Machine
- Dinner with Michael Specter, Author of "Denialism"
- "Michael Specter Is Wed To Alessandra Stanley." The New York Times, 24 April 1988.
- Ruff, Veronika (2007). "The Science of Writing: Michael Specter '77". Vassar.