The reason why I am endorsing the book is simple: it addresses a very important part of the problem that we described on Spinsanity and in All the President's Spin. In the public sphere, PR-driven spin is increasingly substituting for reasoned debate, and that is a very bad thing for democracy. Chris was one of the first people to understand the importance of what we were doing at Spinsanity, and I think that perspective informs his take here. TRWOS takes a deeply reported and researched look at how conservatives are using PR to confuse debate over science and science policy on issues ranging from evolution to global warming to embryonic stem cell research.
It is true, of course, that Chris is a liberal, but I want to assure people that he is no hack. He takes science very seriously, and has criticized liberals for abusing science as well. He makes a strong argument in the book that conservatives have gone much further in politicizing science than liberals, and that is reflected in the unprecedented response to this administration from the scientific community. In addition, the book is very careful to differentiate the science from larger policy questions. 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.
The problem Chris addresses is that PR has shown political organizations how to manipulate public debate - by creating confusion over known facts and accepted conclusions, which are amplified by journalists who play by the "he said," "she said" conventions of "objective" journalism. (Mooney has written about this problem in the past.) And because corporations and the religious right have a shared interest in fighting back against the conclusions of scientists on a variety of issues, legions of conservative think tanks and faux-scientists are now waging a well-funded war to muddy the waters and promote their pre-defined conclusions.
TRWOS is a detailed takedown of this massive effort to distort and politicize science. Even if you don't agree with Mooney's politics, you should read this book.
Update 9/13: For those who are curious, Kevin Drum has posted a review that quotes part of Mooney's argument for why Bush is different from Clinton in his treatment of science.
Update 9/15: Mooney is scheduled to appear on NPR's "Fresh Air" today -- see their website for more information.
[Disclosure: I read an early version of the manuscript for the book and gave Chris feedback on it.]