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January 02, 2006

Review: The Republican War on Science

I have recently finished reading The Republican War on Science by Chris Mooney.  The book is a review of the actions of congressional and executive-branch Republicans (such as the president) around a host of issues where science conflicts with their ideology.  Topics include the Environmental Protection Agency, the Endangered Species Act, sex education in the classroom, fallacious links between abortion and breast cancer, and global climate change.

Overall, the book was readable, although I would not call the writing "inspired."  Mooney should be given due credit for assembling the various little bits and pieces that seem like isolated incidents into a clear picture of systematic science abuse.  He convincingly shows how the administration and those in Congress work to undermine science through the "back door."

The tactics taken by some of the Republicans in the book range from the blatant (dismantling the Office of Technology Assessment, which previously provided Congress with independent scientific advise) to the subtle (the Data Quality Act, which raises the burden of proof past the point where anyone could possibly reach it).  The work is thoroughly referenced, which speaks volumes to Mooney's fear of being sued.  I'd say that it's definitely worth a read if you're interested in science policy.

I'll close this post with a quote from the New York Times Magazine:

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.

Personal Note: Back from Alberta.  Had a great time.  Thanks to all of you who made it so wonderful!  I'll miss you!


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