The Republican War on Science

The Republican War on Science

Chris Mooney

Language: English

Pages: 376

ISBN: 0465046762

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

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 Richard Nixon fired his science advisors. 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, evolution, sex 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 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.

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The next year, Reardon founded yet another of the quasi-academic think tanks and advocacy institutes that seem omnipresent when it comes to the Christian Right and science: the Elliot Institute, whose full name is—fittingly enough—the “Elliot Institute for Social Sciences Research.” At the time, Reardon had a background in electronic engineering. Yet he soon began to conduct actual scientific research, publishing his first peer-reviewed study in 1992. In 1995 he acquired a Ph.D. in biomedical

millennium. See, for example, Mann, Bradley, and Hughes, “Northern Hemisphere temperatures during the past millennium: inferences, uncertainties, and limitations,” Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 26, no. 6, March 15, 1999, pp. 759-762. Though multiple studies confirm: In his Senate testimony Mann noted, “More than a dozen independent research groups have now reconstructed the average temperature of the Northern Hemisphere in past centuries.” See also

enough, they reported that after exposing tadpoles to different levels of atrazine in water in the laboratory, “gonadal abnormalities,” such as multiple gonads or hermaphroditism, developed in up to 20 percent of the animals at all but the tiniest concentrations. Male frogs exposed to atrazine also had much smaller larynges (a demasculinizing trait that could interfere with mating calls). These effects probably occur, according to Hayes, because the weed-killing chemical induces the expression of

That included the U.S. government. On January 5, 2004, William R. Steiger, director of the Office of Global Health Affairs at the Bush Department of Health and Human Services (and, as it happens, George H. W. Bush’s godson), sent a missive to WHO director-general Lee Jong-wook in which he invoked “sound science” and included an exhaustive critique of the already finalized technical report from the group of which Kumanyika had been a part. Stating that the United States had a different

about ‘junk science’ after our interim report. And they just have no appreciation of what’s going on.” It is important to remember, says Ruhl, that most ESA decisions will not be scrutinized as exhaustively as the Klamath decision. The review panel had a $685,000 budget and over a year to reanalyze a decision that had to be made quickly. And while the Klamath committee did find that there was “not sufficient scientific evidence to support what the agency did,” Ruhl continues, “we never said

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