Dr. Helfand's book is based on his experience as an educator, and he is out to educate the country with this book. It makes for an excellent course of study, whether you're just interested in informally tuning up your info sorting or studying gen-ed level science. He covers what science is and what it isn't, and how scientists think and how that's different from patterns of thought elsewhere. He goes over how to represent data graphically and how to know that someone left something important out in their statistics. Then he goes over a few specific issues like global warming and autism and vaccinations. The appendices include some exercises in case you want to test yourself on some basic estimations and info processing (or in case a professor wants to use it in an unusual but useful gen ed class).
I enjoyed Helfand's voice. He is very sure of himself and dismissive of people who aren't careful in their thinking, but somehow still explictly allows for reasonable people to disagree with him on the particulars. He has the voice of a teacher who is used to working with gifted but non-scientific students. He wants us to know that some answers are wrong and some are right, but also wants us to discovers the process of arriving at those right answers, not just the answers themselves. His is a welcome contribution to the effort to help us sort the good from the bad information in a time when both flood us everyday, and often every bit of info looks the same.
I got a free copy of this from Net Galley.