Mooney talk reminder

by Henry on April 13, 2005

A reminder to CT readers in the DC area: Chris Mooney is giving a talk today at 5pm (Room 602, the Elliott School for International Affairs, 1957 E St, Washington DC) on “Abuses of Science in Politics and Journalism.” – RSVP at The talk will preview some of the themes of his forthcoming book, The Republican War on Science, which you can pre-order at Amazon. Blurb for the talk below.

When 48 Nobel Laureates denounce the current administration for abusing and distorting scientific information, we can safely say that the once strong relationship between the scientific community and our political leaders has all but disintegrated. What are the causes of the current crisis? In “Abuses of Science in Politics and Journalism,” science writer Chris Mooney takes on both the politicians who have distorted scientific information, and the media gatekeepers who have too often let them get away with it. On issues ranging from global climate change to the new pseudo-debate over the theory of evolution versus “intelligent design,” he will explain who’s undermining science—and why their strategies are succeeding.



MFB 04.13.05 at 9:28 am

OK, being in South Africa, I can’t attend. However, the blurb would worry me if I could, because it sounds suspiciously as if he’s combining a lot of disparate things.

1. Politicians have always had an adversarial relationship with science, because politics is about what people believe, not with what is true.
2. Some scientists have always been able to get politicians to support them, because they have been able to spin their version of science into what politicians want to believe. (cf. Lysenko in the USSR).
3. Generally, scientists are happy to let politicians sound off so long as their own funding isn’t threatened.
4. Journalists will print any bullshit that sells their newspapers and pleases their advertisers, regardless of whether it’s true or not, so science is outside their interests.
5. Within the anti-science movement there are various factions. For instance, some people distrust scientists’ motives (especially as science has become more and more corporately funded with the decline in state funding). This is aggravated by the way that science is used to sell products and policies (often misused, sometimes with the cooperation of the scientists, cf. Edward Teller and Star Wars).
6. However, generally speaking those who reject global climate change are doing so not because they are against science, but because they don’t want to be inconvenienced and have to spend money. Whereas those who reject evolution in favour of “intelligent design” are doing so because they don’t want to have their prejudices challenged. There’s a huge difference, especially at election time, I would think.


Anita Hendersen 04.13.05 at 9:51 am

I read Mooney’s blog regularly. Anyone interested in this topic should look at it. Why isn’t Mooney on the CT blogroll? I guess it’s because he’s not an academic.


dsquared 04.13.05 at 10:00 am

If I was writing this article I would have called it “Mooney Talks And Bullshit Walks”.


Troutsky 04.13.05 at 11:47 am

Just as Capital encourages the instability of “weak states” I believe it also encourages weak citizens and will constantly undermine authoritative sources of knowledge and promote the”submission of more and more facets of human sociability to the deadly solicitations(the lifeless, bright sameness) of the market.”


jet 04.13.05 at 12:52 pm

What if I reject global climate theory because it can not explain what effect cosmic radiation has on solar insulation nor how it changes with irradiance cycles? If the massive increase in atmospheric CO2 is only 10-25% of the cause of global warming, perhaps our efforts should go to something besides curbing CO2 output. That is just one of the incredible flaws in GWT.

And that is the reason most Americans reject Global Warming, so STFU about this “they don’t want to be inconvenienced and have to spend money” thing.


Steve LaBonne 04.13.05 at 1:41 pm

What is jet on? I want to make sure I never accidentally ingest any.

(Off topic- one can, of course, accept the consensus of climate scientists that anthropogenic warming is a real and serious phenomenon without being convinced that schemes like Kyoto are a sensible or meaningful response. That’s what I think myself.)


asg 04.13.05 at 7:52 pm

In order to believe that Americans reject global warming alarmism for financial reasons, you’d first have to show that Americans understand that e.g. Kyoto and other anti-warming measures cost money. Oh, sure, you can say Kyoto will cost X dollars, but I don’t think that resonates with most people (lots of dumb policies cost money and they don’t destroy the economy, so why would Kyoto?).

Contra jet, I also doubt Americans understand radiation, solar insulation, or irradiance cycles (I have no idea what that last is) so I also doubt that they reject global warming alarmism for the reasons jet says they do.

In any case, if there is a consensus of climate scientists that “anthropogenic warming is a real and serious phenomenon,” then that consensus has been lost on the American Association of State Climatologists, whose statement on climate change is at:

Note that while they obviously don’t adopt the hard-core “there’s no warming la la la la” view, they conspicuously omit any acknowledgement of any consensus as strong as global-warming activists pretend exists among climate scientists.

I think most anti-global-warming-alarmism views stem from guilt by association: silly liberal eggheads think the globe is warming, they’re usually wrong, so we should ignore them. This is a good example of a sound but not valid line of reasoning.


jet 04.14.05 at 9:33 am

I couldn’t remember the actual name, so I should have said something like “cycles in amounts of irradiance” or something. Anyways, thinks for that handy link.

But if you don’t think that most Americans disbelieve GWT theory because of the deficit of provable facts, then you’ve never listened or watched conservative radio or tv discuss the matter. They usually just say something like “The science is complex, but it is the sun that is causing the increase in temperature, and there might not even be a real increase in temperature.” And while I think it undermines any real debate to even hold a discussion at that level, I tend to agree with that position. But anyway, people who disagree with GWT->kyoto do so because people they trust have told them that GWT->kyoto proponents are full of shit. And to the extent that those who claim there is no doubt left, they are full of shit…


jet 04.15.05 at 7:19 am

All this talk about elites makes me think of term limits. Imagine a world where there was no DeLay, Kennedy, or any other long time power. There wouldn’t even be a Bush since Bush’s grandfather wouldn’t have been able to stay long enough to make sure politics stayed in the blood. A whole class of people spending their lives abusing power to keep their power. We need term limits.


jet 04.15.05 at 7:21 am

How did my last post get placed here? I wasn’t even on this thread… strange.

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