Highly Recommended: The Republican War on Science
Last year one of the most important books I read was Chris Mooney's The Republican War on Science. So I was thrilled to find out that a paperback edition of this book is now available which should make his remarkable reporting available to a much broader audience. As he noted in his new introduction, the hardcover edition came out just as Katrina showed what could happen when science was ignored. Yet, despite the lessons of Katrina, it seems that the problems with irrational thinking directing our future is only getting worse.
With this second (paperback) edition, Chris hopes to create a call to arms where scientists and those who understand what's at stake can effectively fight against the irrationalists who have taken over our government.
I wish I could say that since those days, the situation I denounced in such strong terms (read the original introduction from 2005 here) had at least slightly improved. Yet if anything, I fear it may have grown worse. The attacks on science, and their sponsorship by Republican politicians, continue apace, with the Bush administration leading the way but key members of Congress following close behind. These politicians, in turn, appear driven by a continual need to appease key sectors of the Republican base that have inconvenient slices of scientific information constantly in their sights.
I wanted the paperback edition of my book to reflect these ongoing developments. So I went to work, revising the text in light of recent events and composing special update sections for the book’s seven main body chapters. Then I topped things off with a new preface to the paperback edition, which explores why the "war on science" has triggered such unprecedented outrage during the Bush administration (hint: it has to do with how this subject resonates with Katrina and the Iraq war); and what we, as scientists and defenders of science, can do about it.
I often heard from readers of the hardcover edition of The Republican War on Science that the book made their blood boil but didn’t explain how to constructively channel their outrage. Ever since then, I’ve been thinking about this problem, as my subsequent writings demonstrate (see for example here). And I’ve concluded that it’s long past time that political attacks on science be met by an effective political response—which is going to require that scientists themselves stand up, in a concerted way, to defend the knowledge they have brought into the world.
If the hardcover edition of my book raised alarm, then, the newly revised paperback represents a call to arms. I hope you will read it in that light, and then join both the scientific community and myself in helping to restore scientific integrity to our government and public life.
Regaining our country and our democracy will require a return to factual and rational thinking. This book is an important step on the way. Please read it and let your representatives know you expect them to apply real science, and not fiction, to deciding how to address our problems.