Republicans hate science and Republicans hate common people … basically, the more things change, the more they stay the same
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; Amazon US / Amazon UK), which was recently released in paperback.
As Mooney argues in this well-written book, disregard for scientists and the scientific method has been carefully nurtured by the modern conservative movement, which is a movement anchored in an overall distrust of big government and educational “elites”. And of course, most science is funded by government, and a lot of scientific investigation occurs in governmental agencies and universities. But from Barry Goldwater’s anti-intellectualism, Ronald Reagan’s acceptance of creationism and Newt Gingrich’s ridiculous support of science “skeptics,” on through the current administration, republicans have demonstrated a strong tendency to believe politically-inspired fringe theories over the rational findings of science and scientists.
Further (and not surprisingly), there is always the administration’s desire to cater to their political constituency. In the case of the current administration, that constituency consists primarily of industry, which is often pitted against science; along with the religious wingnuts, who are rabidly opposed to science any time it conflicts with their narrow world view.
In the past five years, the Bush administration has not only blatantly rejected the scientific consensus on global warming and suppressed an EPA report that supported that consensus; it has also filled numerous advisory committees with industry representatives and members of the religious right; begun deploying a missile defense system without evidence that it can work; banned funding for embryonic stem cell research except on a supposed 60 cell lines they claimed were already in existence — most of which turned out not to exist; forced the National Cancer Institute to state that abortion may cause breast cancer, a claim refuted by many valid studies; ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to remove information about condom use and efficacy from its Web site; and supported George W. Bush’s desire for teaching creationism in our science classrooms.
In this volume, Mooney shows how, in the past five years, many formerly apolitical scientists and doctors have come to accept that there is a pattern of scientific abuse under Bush, and a disregard for the very methods of science itself. Even though conservatives may be angry about this, liberals, moderates and working scientists will find few surprises in this book. However, this book is the first to document the entire story in one place.
After reading this meticulously researched and well-argued book, it is clear that we must ask ourselves whether we can rely on the federal government to use our science to protect us. When science isn’t being used properly to protect us from something as obvious as global warming or other environmental risks, we have to ask whether our decision-makers are incompetent, ignorant or just plain delusional. And that goes to the very core of what a government is all about.