I decided to read The Republican War on Science after Chris Mooney came on The Daily Show. Though young and soft-spoken, Mooney was eloquent and persuasive, and I thought that spoke well of his writing. While War can be a little dry at times (it is essay-like in style), it is compelling, well-researched (involving interviews with both left-leaning politicians/scientists as well as Mooney’s targets on the Right).
The crux of the book is this: the Modern Right (starting especially during the Gingrich Congress in ’94), because it is beholden to both corporate interests and religious fundamentalism, has formed an unspoken policy of manipulating science in order to achieve its ends, either by trumping up uncertainty in relatively certain data or by proffering marginal contrarians as proof that the majority concensus is wrong. Mooney focuses especially on the Bush II administration, which has come under more fire than any other presidency for its alleged abuses (think Union of Concerned Scientists).
For instance, when the World Health Organization authored a report that identified soft drinks (among other items high in free sugars) as one of the worst exacerbators of childhood obesity, the sugar industry (who are big contributors) threw up such a fuss that our government marginalized the report.
It is no secret that our government in general is beholden to corporate interests, but of course Republicans get even more contributions from business than the Democrats do, and are even more likely to subvert or block legislation that would benefit people or the environment at the expense of profits. The wonders of lobbyists, ladies and gentlemen. The Republican “dirty trick” of creating “sound science” policies that demand unreasonable “certainty” (that is, certainty so conclusive that even multibillion-dollar industries can’t make it disappear) of scientific studies used to inform legislation has neutered the regulatory function of government on business, all of which has been discussed at length in other books critical of the administration’s environmental and scientific policies.
It is a book full of information, and so to even begin to discuss it here would be futile, so I will merely say that it is worth your while to read. Mooney’s effort is well-informed and well-written, especially for someone so young. For more information and a preview, visit the accompanying website.