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March 8, 1971

The Biocrats

Author Affiliations

University of Missouri Columbia

JAMA. 1971;215(10):1673. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03180230081031

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Local journalists, when attempting to inform the public about modern biology and its implications, often favor a familiar style of melodramatic accusations, exposures, threats, and dire predictions. Mr. Leach, who is British, has concern for interviewing, honest issues, and fair argument, which he brings unevenly to this very broad treatment of medical social issues. As former science editor of Penguin Books, he has experience and writing skill. Two chapters on artificial and transplanted organs are done very well, while others seem a decade out of date, and in some others, tiresome, old oversimplifications and concepts are introduced again.

Mr. Leach never faces the problem of improving political responsibility because he never decides whether the public can know and express rational preferences on specific technical issues. Generally, the book is interesting, but avoids the valuable issues.