three-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
19-Nov-Dec-2005
By: 
Chris Mooney
user_rating: 
0

A-RepublicanWarJournalist Chris Mooney’s first book assaults the alliance between religious fundamentalists and big-business conservatives, which attempts to discredit scientific theories that offend their moral sensibilities or threaten their bottom line. He claims that the Bush administration and its allies in Congress have repeatedly obliged these two influential GOP interest groups by attacking the scientific community’s consensus on a host of issues, from global warming to evolution, contraception, and stem cell research. Their tactics include packing scientific panels with contrarians of dubious credentials and editing scientific reports to please industry groups. Because scientists place a high premium on skepticism, opponents of science exploit these thoughtful doubts to question scientific consensus.
Basic Books. 342 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0465046754

Rocky Mountain News 4 of 5 Stars
"[I]t is not so much Mooney’s case-by-case examples of how Republicans have manipulated science that ultimately defines the real importance of The Republican War on Science. The book forces the reader to reconsider the fundamental role of science and the processes it uses to try to understand the world, and to appreciate the consequences of subsuming science to political expedience." Dan Danbom

Wired 4 of 5 Stars
"The real value of Mooney’s book rests with his behind-the-scenes exposure of the groups, the personalities and the tactics used to craft the assault on science and how this assault has been used as a potent political weapon." Brian Alexander

Dallas Morning News 3 of 5 Stars
"The U.S. may not be embroiled in a war on science, but that phrase describes a useful model for understanding the dangers of anti-scientific tactics to our nation’s future and its character. For that, Republicans and Democrats, scientists and people of faith, should be grateful to Chris Mooney." Fred Bortz

San Diego Union-Tribune 2.5 of 5 Stars
"The ‘war on science’ is better defined along a completely different axis. Future vs. past. . . . Do pick up The Republican War on Science if only because these are crimes being committed against us all, right now, by ideologues with real political power and fierce determination to impose their dogmatic will." David Brin

San Francisco Chronicle 2.5 of 5 Stars
"One of the drawbacks of The Republican War on Science is that it rarely delves into science journalism, which would argue the underlying questions from scientific principles. . . . Mooney succeeds best in this regard in his arguments over stem cell science, but does not push fundamental scientific arguments in global warming or evolution." David Appell

Washington Examiner 2 of 5 Stars
"[S]ome of the criticisms he levels at the Bush administration are justified, on matters such as litmus tests for appointees to science-related positions, distorted information to consumers about health and safety issues and antagonism toward embryonic stem-cell research. But Mooney’s insistent denials that there have been equivalent misdemeanors by the political left are wholly unconvincing." Henry I. Miller

Critical Summary

A book titled The Republican War on Science is bound to court controversy, and whether critics liked the book or not surely reflected their own political views and opinion of the current administration. Nonetheless, most reviewers believed that Mooney makes a convincing case that the GOP has launched a systematic assault against unbiased scientific inquiry and that it allows dogma to drive public policy. But critics viewed with skepticism Mooney’s contention that the political right has a virtual monopoly on such behavior and claimed that he offered too few examples of the left’s scientific malfeasance. Mooney tries to put the GOP on trial, but a few holdouts keep him from scoring a conviction.