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The Republican War on Scienceby Chris Mooney
Synopses & Reviews
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, climate change, missile defense, abstinence education, product safety, environmental regulation, and many others-the Bush administration's positions fly in the face of overwhelming scientific consensus. Federal science agencies, once fiercely independent under both Republican and Democratic presidents, are increasingly staffed by political appointees and fringe theorists who know industry lobbyists and evangelical activists far better than they know the science. This is not unique to the Bush administration, but it is largely a Republican phenomenon, born of a conservative dislike of environmental, health, and safety regulation, and at the extremes, of evolution and legalized abortion. In The Republican War on Science, Chris Mooney ties together the disparate strands of the attack on science into a compelling and frightening account of our government's increasing unwillingness to distinguish between legitimate research and ideologically driven pseudoscience.
"Does the Bush administration ignore or deny mainstream research to please its conservative base? Have business groups and certain religious lobbies helped it do so? Does Bush-era treatment of scientists differ from that of Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Reagan? Has a Republican Congress passed laws designed to disable clean air and water efforts, and has it dismantled safeguards, such as the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, meant to give legislators unbiased advice? Mooney's passionate, thoroughly researched volume answers these questions with an urgent 'yes.' A former American Prospect writer who is making his book debut, Mooney uses interviews and old-fashioned document-digging to explain how, over two decades, right-wing politicians built institutions designed to discredit working scientists; how some energy companies have allied themselves with powerful Republicans (such as Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma) to block or reverse U.S. steps to curb global warming; and how the present administration defies expert consensus on climate change, on mercury pollution, even on how to read statistics. Mooney tracks Bush White House efforts to spread misinformation about stem cells; the work of religious right regulators like Dr. David Hager (formerly on the FDA's Reproductive Health Drugs advisory committee) in restricting access to birth control; and the attempts of the Discovery Institute (and other think tanks linked to the Bush base) to fight the teaching of evolution. In the past five years, Mooney documents, many formerly apolitical physicists, biologists and doctors have come to believe there is a 'pattern' of science abuse under Bush, a push back against the methods of science itself. Conservatives may react with indignation; liberals, moderates and working scientists will find few surprises,but Mooney's very readable, and understandably partisan, volume is the first to put the whole story, thoroughly documented, in one place." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Mooney has put the right-wing handwriting on the wall, and the prospect is scary." Kirkus Reviews
"A book that is as carefully constructed as a laboratory experiment...Grade: A." Rocky Mountain News
"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
"The best thing the Bush administration could do for America is to abandon its current practice of manipulating science for political gain, and to treat it honestly. As Chris Mooney makes clear, science shouldn't be about politics." Eugenie C. Scott, Executive Director, National Center for Science Education
"[A] must-read for those concerned about both protecting America's heritage of free scientific inquiry and maintaining our global competitive advantage." Rush Holt, U.S. Representative from New Jersey
"A careful reading of this well-researched and richly referenced work should remove any doubt that, at the highest levels of government, ideology is being advanced in the name of science, at great disservice to the American people." Neal Lane, Former Science Adviser to President Clinton and former Director, National Science Foundation
"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
"In writing a book about science-policy-making in America today, Mooney has bravely tackled a gigantic and complex topic....The resulting book is ill-formulated, overwrought and surprisingly unconvincing." Washington Post
"Mooney succeeds best in...his arguments over stem cell science, but does not push fundamental scientific arguments in global warming or evolution....It would be good to detail these problems. Indeed, doing so may be the only way to convince a skeptic that they're wrong." San Francisco Chronicle
This stinging indictment of how one party has placed politics over science is a stunning account of the government's unwillingness to distinguish between legitimate research and ideologically driven pseudoscience.
About the Author
Chris C. Mooney is an American journalist who focuses on science in political policy. He is Washington correspondent for Seed, a senior correspondent for The American Prospect and occasional contributor to many other scientific and newsmagazines. He additionally maintains a weblog, "The Intersection," and gives public lectures. He is author of The Republican War on Science.
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