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Paperback The Republican War on Science Book

ISBN: 0465046762

ISBN13: 9780465046768

The Republican War on Science

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Book Overview

Science has never been more crucial to deciding the political issues facing the country. Yet science and scientists have less influence with the federal government than at any time since the Eisenhower administration. In the White House and Congress today, findings are reported in a politicized manner; spun or distorted to fit the speaker's agenda; or, when they're too inconvenient, ignored entirely. On a broad array of issues-stem cell research,...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Important and Timely

No doubt many reviewers will attack Mr. Mooney's exceptional and timely work claiming a combination of "this is nothing new," and "every one does it." Such attacks simply demonstrate the strength of Mr. Mooney's thesis -- that at the beginning of the 21st century, at least in America, even science is being turned into a partisan spectator sport. The trend, if it continues, harbingers dangerous days ahead and is well worth careful examination. This work presents an excellent place to start. Mr. Mooney cleverly traces the current situation back to the attacks on "liberal intellectuals" in the middle of the last century. These statements, often a mantra from the Nixon years forward in the GOP, originally began as an attack on the social sciences. Thus, any effort to design government plans to aid the poor were labeled as "liberal." In fairness, this description as least holds some truth as the modern liberal-conservative dichotomy often comes down to government can help solve problems - government is the problem. Recently, however, particularly in the last 20 years, the same attack has frighteningly been pushed into the "hard" sciences. As such, one can often hear GOP faithful from Senators to Limbaugh lambasting anyone who accepts the evidence for human activity induced climate change as a "liberal," with no concern for their political views. The trend springs in no small part from the close alliance between the GOP and big businesses that see science on subjects ranging from water pollution to climate change as threats to their current business model. Mooney successfully explains how the media's hunger for controversy and short attention span plays handily into the hands of those who attack science. Thus, even if 99% of scientists accept a theory, the 1% can combat them if provided with substantial financial support and a powerful PR Campaign. Christian "conservatives" jumped on this bandwagon with so-called "intelligent design." The fact that the method for ID relies not on the scientific method, but on arguments of analogy and negative arguments (both major science no-nos) is of no weight in a media that craves screaming and refuses to pass any thoughtful judgments. The United States built a mighty economy on the basis of strong scientific engineering and science throughout the last century. Now, with science falling into disrepute to serve short term political aims, every American should fear the decline that is sure to follow. Mr. Mooney's book provides a much needed wake up call to the danger ahead.

A Call to Action for People Who Care About Science

[...] "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." That oft-quoted statement from Carl Sagan captures the essence of the scientific approach to knowledge. Before an idea can achieve the revered status of "theory," it must survive round after round of skeptical criticism. Evolution, for example, has withstood nearly 150 years of challenges. With minor modifications to Darwin's seminal ideas, it has become perhaps the most robust theory in all of science. Religious fundamentalists, who oppose that theory as well as abortion and embryonic stem cell research, are major combatants in what journalist Chris Mooney describes in his new book as The Republican War on Science. Allied with them is a force of neo-conservative soldiers who resist the conclusions of environmental research, especially about global climate change. Yet neither religion nor business is fundamentally opposed to science. Probably a majority of American scientists guide their lives by faith in a Creator, but they do not consider their houses of worship as observatories or laboratories in which to test the existence of a deity. And most modern businesses rely on science and technology to make a profit. Thus most readers of this book, including liberal Democrats, will consider Mr. Mooney's brash thesis extraordinary. Though they may view it an interesting model of what is happening in American politics today, they will demand extraordinary research before declaring it a viable theory. Indeed, the evidence supporting the existence of a partisan War on Science will never measure up to the Sagan criterion. The most the author can hope for is that open-minded people will consider his ideas compelling. In that, he has succeeded admirably. By the time readers finish this book they will understand who the opponents of science are and how they have taken control of the Republican Party. The Party's rightist base has adopted positions that are antithetical to science, not because they oppose science per se but because government policies suggested by the scientific consensus threaten their religious beliefs, their economic status, or their societal influence. Readers will also see the very effective political strategy that this alliance has evolved: to redefine science, to undermine science, and to misconstrue science even to the point of dismissing scientific consensus in favor of increasingly discredited fringe ideas. The United States may not be embroiled in a war on science, but that phrase describes a useful model for understanding the dangers of the current administration's antiscientific tactics to our nation's future and its character. For that Republicans and Democrats, scientists and people of faith should be grateful to Chris Mooney. [...]

Can't Recommend This Book Enough

I've been psyched about the release of this book for months now, and it doesn't disappoint. Far from it: this is an unbelievably thorough, balanced, and well-researched study of a phenomenon that ALL Americans need to be concerned about, no matter what their political stripes are. While the title may mislead you into thinking that this is a partisan book, Mooney's dedication here is to the integrity of the scientific research process, and not at all to politics. Indeed, his argument is that the politicization of the scientific research process is bad no matter which party does it, but that the Bush Administration and the current incarnation of the Republican Party is particularly culpable of abusing science for partisan gain. Indeed, Mooney heaps praise on the Nixon administration science policies, which were much better than what we have under the current president. Read this book. It's leaps and bounds better than any other political book out today- Coulter AND Franken included.

If You Care About Science, Read This Book!

This is a must-read for anyone who respects science. It's an eye-opening account of how the Republican political machine will do anything to advance its agenda -- as demonstrated by Bush's recent, despicable suggestion that "Intelligent Design" (AKA "Creationism") be taught in public school science classes. But rather than reading my opinion, how about hearing from some people with a bit more expertise in this area? "THE REPUBLICAN WAR ON SCIENCE is a wake-up call to all Americans who value intellectual honesty and civility in our national affairs. Mooney's exposure of the cynical collusion of special business interests aith the anti-intellectualism of the religious right is a must-read for all who care about this nation's future." -Russell E. Train, EPA administrator under Presidents Nixon and Ford "If left unchallenged, the Bush administration's deliberate misrepresentation and frequent outright disregard of science advisory processes will have serious consequences for the nation's economy, health and security. Chris Mooney has opened a window to reveal the extent of the anti-science bias in government policy making." -Paul Berg, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry

An important and balanced book

Mooney does a good job at meticulously showing the politicization of science by both sides, but as the title shows, he refuses to make the common journalistic mistake of imposing "false balance" where it is not warranted. Just as you wouldn't say, "people differ on roundness of the Earth", Mooney has the courage and the wherewithall to call a spade a spade - and he doesn't ask you to take his word for it. The facts are here for anyone with eyes to see. The "perfect storm" of anti-regulatory conservatives and fundamentalist Christians have combined to wage a unified war against science with a vengeance that the disorganized "frankenfood" liberals can only dream of. Mooney's objective, scientific approach to making his case only makes his partisan conclusions that much more compelling and impossible to deny. In this war of reason vs. ideology, Mooney plants himself firmly on the side of reason, while always being fair. After reading his book, anyone who values science and critical thinking will do the same.
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