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The Republican War on Science

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,218 ratings  ·  100 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 376 pages
Published August 29th 2006 by Basic Books (first published August 30th 2005)
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 ·  1,218 ratings  ·  100 reviews

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Jun 02, 2015 rated it really liked it

This book is a brilliant piece of investigative journalism: it is a disturbing account of the active numbing and dumbing of the USA cultural environment perpetrated by the neo-conservatives, and of their wholesale attack on the value of science and of the post-enlightenment secular culture, of which the USA used to be a very important example.

The new Right's anti-science, anti-intellectual attitude, and its disdain for “liberal” higher education can be clearly detected in several pronouncements
Aug 19, 2007 rated it liked it
The material in The Republican War on Science might have been better served had the book been written by two authors; one focusing on politics and the other on science. Mooney's forte appears to be political journalism, which leaves the book's science somewhat lacking in depth, and renders the work as a whole a bit disjointed. (Also, I often found his sentence structure, particularly when quoting from interviews, to be rather awkward. Instead of writing "Dr. John Smith, a professor of physics at ...more
Aug 17, 2007 rated it it was ok
It's mostly focused on how they bend science in favor of corporate interests. Like Gore's "Assault on Reason," it misses the more interesting story--that conservatism is actually a wholesale critique of the enlightenment, and conservative policies reflect that.
Jun 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book. I'm a strong supporter of stem-cell research, women's right to choose, believe humans are responsible for global warming, etc, etc

But this author is just so...uncharismatic. He's condescending, barely touches upon the science of the issues he speaks about and more about the politics (granted, he's a political journalist, but a little more detail on the issues he brings up and less on the completely forgettable names, abbreviations and dates that fill each and e
Jan 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
A disturbing account of the active dumbing of this nation. If reading this does not anger you about the future of our nation and our children, I feel sorry for you.
Jun 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This was so disturbing that I often had to stop reading so that I could catch my breath. Mooney pinpoints exactly what it is about the Christian/Republican Right's habits that infuriate me. They take science - which has managed to give us the best idea we have ever had of where we come from - and pollute the whole process, the whole point, the whole reason why it works. They take a foregone conclusion (abortion is evil, God created the earth in 7 days, etc.) and then cast about for any study/ANY ...more
Jun 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: journalism
In February of 2004, this series featured Judith Levine, the author of “Harmful to Minors,” a powerful book about the perils of “protecting” children from sex. In that book, Levine revealed the methods used, and the damage caused by people who take information, twist it to suit particular ends, and in so doing, do damage in real time, and into the future, for a generation of kids growing up ignorant of a vital, primal part of their lives. In her view, truth was immaterial for those obfuscating t ...more
Feb 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone interested in educating themselves.
Recommended to Summer by: Was looking for an interesting read at the bookstore.
I actually read this book twice! Chris Mooney is a journalist specializing in the meeting place of science and legislation. His focus on politics put my current field of interest into better focus. Mooney examines the decisions of the republican executive branch "from FDR to Nixon." Topics covered are extensive, relevant, and powerful. Among such are creation science, global warming, contraception and stem cell research. You have to read this book. It's more shocking than any drama! I couldn't p ...more
Shannon Hedges
Dec 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This infuriated me. I actually had to pace myself. Of course intelligent design, global warming denial, and the misportrayal of stem cell research were of focus. The ignorant abuse of research to support anti-abortion agendas was extremely shocking to me. I loathe the misrepresentation of research findings.

Uncool, America.

I must mention that Mooney is a gifted communicator and this book is extremely relevant. Definitely read it, but pace yourself...
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
I agree with the premise that there are a group of Republicans who falsely use "science" (instead of science) to justify their beliefs and decisions, rather than simply admitting they're ideological.

They manufacture controversy where there is scientific consensus, such as: human activity is warming the planet, sugar makes people fat, abortion is safer than childbirth, abstinence-only education is ineffective, and so on. It is really difficult to find scientific consensus -- scientists spend the
Oct 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: work-related
Reading this in 2017 is super depressing because things have obviously only gotten worse. But this is a great overview of the issue, where it came from, some of the confusing language that contributes to its ongoing appeal, and a few ways to try to improve things going forward.
Apr 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who like science and politics
I really enjoyed this book. It definitely made me think a lot. I could probably write a paper about it. The basic idea of the book is how conservative politicians will manipulate science or lie about science or create false science to fit in their political goals.

For me the most fascinating parts of it were the reasons why conservatives/republicans would make up fake science. For a lot of the issues, it was "big industry" that would fight a claim. Examples include issues like Climate Change and
Elliott Bignell
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book may ignite a rage to storm the very gates of heaven. (Except that if you like it you probably don't believe in heaven, being a pinko liberal.) I exaggerate, perhaps, but there is sufficient material to disturb anyone who cares about America and the broader English-speaking world's position as leading scientific societies. Mooney documents an outrageous and systematic campaign to discredit, in effect, science itself wherever it delivers politically or religiously inconvenient findings. ...more
Sep 12, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People tired of seeing Science get picked on.
Chris Mooney's "The Republican War on Science" is a fascinating chronicle of the way Republicans (& some conservative Democrats) have manipulated scientific results and statistics to further their own political agendas. Not much can be said about the book that isn't made clear by its title, and it probably is slightly partisan. But the fact is that it would be impossible to write a non-partisan book like this because the record of the Republican Party under George W. Bush is one of complete cont ...more
Feb 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book. Classic investigative journalism. Chris is somewhat obsessed with evidence and that shows in this book. First, he shows how the Republican leadership has actively participated in or tacitly approved a systematic campaign to undermine the credibility and authority of scientific institutions in our society. You can tell that he's offended by this systematic attack on what we believe to be true based on evidence. But secondly, you can see that he takes this attention to evidence to ...more
Mar 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
A great review of the "intelligent design" debacle, the fight against stem cell research, the absurdity of emergency contraception not being approved for over the counter status and a number of other infuriating ways Republicans have undermined science and policy related to it. Highly recommended for anyone who cares about science and politics.
Dennis Littrell
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Highly detailed, incisive and readable

This book is about politicizing science in an effort to gain control for economic and/or religious reasons. As independent journalist Chris Mooney painstakingly documents, what Republicans want is the power to declare what is true and right regardless of what really is true and right, and they don’t care about niceties such as scientific research, the scientific method, peer review or anything other than their spurious agenda. In order to get what they want
Apr 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
I would have preferred a book written by a scientist, but having a journalist write the book would help someone less familiar with the arguments. Good read for someone who's not a wonk.
May 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Used it to teach my class and it was a big hit. Packed with historical context and recent examples.
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is pretty frightening and sad at the same time. You have to wonder about people that Mooney writes about - a lot.
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Bush administration has made no secret of its disdain for science, especially science that pertains to global warming, stem-cell research and endangered animals and plants. The chilling effect this has on science, public health and on the public good is documented in Chris Mooney’s book, The Republican War on Science (Basic Books; 2005), which was recently released in paperback.

As Mooney argues in this well-written book, disregard for scientists and the scientific method has been careful
Bill Sleeman
Feb 15, 2018 rated it liked it
It would be easy to say in 2018 that this work is out-of-date and while that is true for some of the examples the continuing efforts of President Trump, Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke along with a corporate-funded (and mostly spineless) Congress to decimate environmental and scientific protections makes Mooney’s work of continued relevance! This work remains an excellent history and analysis of the anti-expert and corporate bias of Washington and the disastrous affect that has had, and will have, o ...more
Robert Kluson
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I want to reread this book over and over again. The author deftly tells the story of the historical connections and hidden agendas that explain the political agenda of science denial by the current Republican party. I only wish the Republican base would also read it too to realize how bamboozled they are . . .
Katie Klabusich
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book, sadly, has become more relevant than when I first picked it up in response to George W’s anti-science administration. For anyone who struggles to understand how political cognitive dissonance (aka voting against one’s own interest) happens — and how it can be so fervently adhered to, almost no matter what.
Bradley Roth
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting to read this book, which is mostly about the George W. Bush administration, now during the Trump administration and the age of alternative facts.
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well done, but some of the info is dated now, as it was published in 2005. There is so much more to add now!
Mar 06, 2017 added it
A somewhat dated read on efforts by government to bias science in favor of its ideology, and of scientists and corporations often willing for a buck to lend their support. While targeted primarily against Bush II era Republicans, the book acknowledges that both parties are guilty of bending science to serve political purposes.

What else is new? Discerning the truth, if there is truth, is getting harder and harder. Have we always been a two tier society of some willing to seek it, and others will
Daniel Solera
My brother bought me this book for Christmas knowing my proclivities for current events, namely as they relate to politics. Originally published in 2005, Chris Mooney’s book is a sweeping condemnation of the Bush Administration’s unethical handling of scientific matters. The book follows certain conservative individuals as they criticize scientific initiatives on moral or ideological ground, using heavily biased industry science to support their claims. With these examples, Mooney shows how the ...more
Koen Crolla
Oct 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: pol-and-soc
I put off reading this book for years because Mooney lost a lot of intellectual credibility in the accommodationism and "framing" wars that were raging in the atheist movement when The Republican War on Science was at the height of its fashionability, but since those seem to be well and truly over over now—and if Mooney has made an ass of himself regarding the current, apparently much more contentious issue of whether or not women are people, I haven't seen it—I thought it was time to give it a ...more
Steven Peterson
Jan 24, 2010 rated it liked it
Chris Mooney begins by noting that (page 11) "When scientific information becomes merely something to be manipulated to achieve a political end, the quality and integrity of the political process inevitably suffer." In addition (page 11), "If Americans come to believe you can find a scientist willing to say anything, they will grow increasingly disillusioned with science itself."

This book argues that Republicans of late have unduly politicized scientific debates. I think that the work may under
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Chris Mooney is an energy and environment reporter for the Washington Post.

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28 likes · 2 comments
“The history of another country, one Americans don’t much like comparing themselves with, illustrates the grave dangers of yoking political ideology to dubious science. In the 1930s under Joseph Stalin, the quack “scientist” Trofim Lysenko, who promoted himself through party newspapers rather than rigorous experiments, rose to prominence and took control of Soviet biological, medical, and agricultural research for several decades. Lysenko used his power to prosecute an ideologically driven crusade against the theory of genetics, which he denounced as a bourgeois affront to socialism. In short, his political presuppositions led him to embrace bogus scientific claims. In the purges that followed, many of Lysenko’s scientist critics lost their jobs and suffered imprisonment and even execution. By 1948 Lysenko had convinced Stalin to ban the study of genetics. Soviet science suffered immeasurable damage from the machinations of Lysenko and his henchmen, and the term “Lysenkoism” has since come to signify the suppression of, or refusal to acknowledge, science for ideological reasons. In a democracy like our own, Lysenkoism is unlikely to take such a menacing, totalitarian form. Nevertheless, the threat we face from conservative abuse of science—to informed policymaking, to democratic discourse, and to knowledge itself—is palpably real. And as the modern Right and the Bush administration flex their muscles and continue to battle against reliable, mainstream conclusions and sources of information, this threat is growing.” 1 likes
“AMONG TODAY’S CONSERVATIVE “Luntzspeak” practitioners, few have the lingo down better than the honorable James Inhofe, senator from Oklahoma. Recall from the previous chapter Luntz’s advice for tor from Oklahoma. Recall from the previous chapter Luntz’s advice for dealing with the issue of global warming, which includes the following precepts: (1) emphasize your commitment to “sound science”; (2) seize the remaining “window of opportunity” to challenge and dispute the scientific consensus; and (3) find experts “sympathetic to your view” and make them “part of your message.” It’s a cunning strategy, provided that you are not ashamed of following in the footsteps of the tobacco industry, and Inhofe doesn’t appear to have much shame.” 1 likes
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