Beacon Press: Natural
Login Cart

Natural

How Faith in Nature’s Goodness Leads to Harmful Fads, Unjust Laws, and Flawed Science

Author: Alan Levinovitz

Illuminates the far-reaching harms of believing that natural means “good,” from misinformation about health choices to justifications for sexism, racism, and flawed economic policies.

People love what’s natural: it’s the best way to eat, the best way to parent, even the best way to act—naturally, just as nature intended. Appeals to the wisdom of nature are among the most powerful arguments in the history of human thought. Yet Nature (with a capital N) and natural goodness are not objective or scientific. In this groundbreaking book, scholar of religion Alan Levinovitz demonstrates that these beliefs are actually religious and highlights the many dangers of substituting simple myths for complicated realities. It may not seem like a problem when it comes to paying a premium for organic food. But what about condemnations of “unnatural” sexual activity? The guilt that attends not having a “natural” birth? Economic deregulation justified by the inherent goodness of “natural” markets?

In Natural, readers embark on an epic journey, from Peruvian rainforests to the backcountry in Yellowstone Park, from a “natural” bodybuilding competition to a “natural” cancer-curing clinic. The result is an essential new perspective that shatters faith in Nature’s goodness and points to a better alternative. We can love nature without worshipping it, and we can work toward a better world with humility and dialogue rather than taboos and zealotry.
Bookmark and Share
“In a fascinating tour across time, cultures, and ideas, Alan Levinovitz shows us how the worship of an abstract idea of nature can lead us astray in everything from our health to the laws we pass and even how we structure our governments and our way of life. This book is required reading for anyone who wants to face the scientific and moral challenges of the twenty-first century with a clear head.”
—Tom Nichols, author of The Death of Expertise

“The idea of ‘natural’ is one of the most potent forces in our culture, shaping everything from cosmetics to public policy—sometimes for the better, more often not. What makes ‘natural’ so powerful is, in part, the fact that it is seldom laid bare and considered carefully. In Natural, Alan Levinovitz does that and more. With elegant prose, engaging stories, and nuanced judgments, he thoughtfully explores an idea that shapes our mental landscape.”
—Dan Gardner, author of Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear

“In Natural, Alan Levinovitz provides a bracing corrective to our often misplaced faith in all things derived from nature. Throughout its exploration of a fascinating range of issues, from vanilla to wolves, the book is both thoughtful and addictively readable.”
—Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize–winning science journalist and author of The Poison Squad: One Chemist’s Single-Minded Crusade for Food Safety at the Turn of the Twentieth Century


Natural

ISBN: 978-080701087-7
Publication Date: 4/7/2020
Size:6 x 9 Inches (US)
Price:  $28.95
Format: Cloth
Not Yet Published
Will Ship On: April 2020
(Backorder policy)
Qty: