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September 13, 2005


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» The Republican War on Science from Political Animal
THE REPUBLICAN WAR ON SCIENCE....Hurricane Katrina has taken my mind off other things, but Chris Mooney's appearance on the Daily Show last night reminds me that I've been remiss in not recommending his new book, The Republican War on Science.... [Read More]

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Senate Kills Bid for Katrina Commission NYT: President Says He's Responsible in Storm Lapses - New York Times (see above) (reg/req) KR Washington Bureau | 09/13/2005 | Chertoff delayed federal response, memo shows The Left Coaster: The Smoking Gun:... [Read More]

» The Republican War on Science from Ohio 2nd
Chris Mooney is making the rounds plugging his book The Republican War on Science. The Daily Show has video of his appearance. His blog he links to his interview on Fresh Air as well as a rebuttal by Republican congressman turned corporate lobbyist Rob... [Read More]

» Oh yeah? Well, take this... from QandO
A lot of Democrats are touting a new Chris Mooney book, "The Republican War on Science". I'm sympathetic to Mooney's points葉hough I also think some of the problem stems from what [Read More]


Thanks, I'll have to give it a read.

I do agree that the Right has been anti-science in a number of areas, but I also think the left has been far more willing to abuse science for political/legal reasons. That's a subtle difference, but both are just as wrong.

It sounds like an interesting book, but as reviewer Brin notes, Mooney's choice of title is unfortunate.

You do a passable job of defending the assertion that Mooney can be balanced, but I'll have to read his book to see whether he actually "makes a strong argument in the book that conservatives have gone much further in politicizing science than liberals."

I've read through the Mooney links you provided, and it seems he clearly believes the humans-cause-global-warming orthodoxy: "... the most rigorous peer-reviewed assessments — produced roughly every five years by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — have cemented a consensus view that human greenhouse gas emissions are probably (i.e., the conclusion has a fairly high degree of scientific certainty) helping to fuel the greenhouse effect and explain the observed planetary warming of the past fifty years."

Well, except that according to at least some of the scientists who contributed to the IPCC report, there is no such "consensus view," as five minutes with Google demonstrated (Richard Lindzen is the most vocal figure but not the only one). And the statement that humans "probably help[ed] to fuel" the phenomenon is true, but just barely, and only with the help of the full report's carefully hedged conclusions.

The larger point to this is that the left is probably at least as guilty as the right when it comes to using science selectively to advance its own political and ideological goals. You can claim that Mooney "is rightly insistent that the scientific consensus about climate change should not be distorted for political reasons," but it would be good to see Mooney come out with a sequel that takes on the left's abuse of science with the same vigor as he takes on the right's.

So yes, I might find this book interesting, but I'm already preparing a few large grains of salt to keep handy.

The Mooney interview is online at ComedyCentral.com. Chris needed to speak up a bit. I thought Jon poked more fun than usual.

For instance, Mooney grants that one can legitimately oppose efforts to mitigate global warming because of, say, cost-benefit concerns. But he is rightly insistent that the scientific consensus about climate change should not be distorted for political reasons.

Ahhhhh! What is it with this consensus thing? Is science done by popular vote? I must admit though, that it is amusing that in a post on the abuse of science you use this old chestnut.

Mooney's argument isn't against the "right." It details very specific abuses by the segment of the "right" that currently holds power, members of the Republican party.

The old "science isn't a democracy" canard. Somebody's been taking Michael Crichton's fiction too literally. The consensus represents the "the core that most scientists agree on."(1) In this case, the conclsuions of the IPCC TAR.

Citing Lindzen as someone that doesn't agree with the core knowledge of climate is absurd in light of the fact that he has signed onto the very documents that make up the consensus.

(1) http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=86

I'd like to address Bob's comment: "Citing Lindzen as someone that doesn't agree with the core knowledge of climate is absurd in light of the fact that he has signed onto the very documents that make up the consensus."

Lindzen has addressed this: "The NAS never asks that all participants agree to all elements of a report, but rather that the report represent the span of views. This the full report did, making clear that there is no consensus, unanimous or otherwise, about long-term climate trends and what causes them." (http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/?id=95000606)

Sorry, Bob, but the 'consensus' is the canard.

You need to read the NAS report. Lindzen is playing games with the term "consensus." The "full span of views" represented in the NAS is in agreement with the IPCC TAR. If Lindzen had a substantial disagreement with that report he had the option of writing a dissenting opinion or withdrawing from the committee. He did neither. For him to claim otherwise in anewspaper opinon piece doesn't do much for his credibility. You'll notice he doesn't put his credibility on the line by making such claims in the scierntific literature.

"Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Temperatures are, in fact, rising. The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes is also a reflection of natural variability."

NAS report available here:

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