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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Unfortunately Accurate Book, May 30, 2006
This review is from: The Republican War on Science (Hardcover)
Chris Mooney has done us all a great service in writing this book. "The Republican War on Science" is, regrettably, a very necessary expose of a very real tendency- that of politicians playing to the very lowest common denominator to gain and retain power, and points to a current unholy alliance between religious fanatics, empire builders and total cynics, that is undermining the American lead in the sciences and our moral leadership as well. The areas covered by Mooney include environmental, social, evolutionary, medical and nutritional science.

Mooney describes in 14 well-documented chapters the ways in which the "conservative" wing of the Republican Party has sought power over science and even altered scientific reports (paid for by our tax dollars) to favor their friends and supporters. One administration aide said that they "make the reality" and need pay no attention to the evidence. The same aide also implied that the administration held the very unamerican ideas of empire and world domination. Such hubris is so mind-boggling as to leave one almost speechless!

I usually avoid political books as most are polemical and often only smears of the person or persons with whom the author disagrees. However one cannot ignore really egregious misuses of power, and the current administration is, in my opinion, the very worst that I have ever seen in this regard. It was for this reason that I decided to read Mooney's recent volume.

As a former Republican I can only hope that the party eventually reforms and finally lives up to the ideals expressed by Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Eisenhower. As a scientist I am horrified by Mooney's descriptions of how science has been abused by this cadre of reactionary ultra-conservatives. I knew much of it before I read the book, but had never seen it all together like this and I did learn about some abuses that I had not known about. I don't care what such people believe (it is a free country, so far), but I do care when their beliefs interfere with good science and data are reinterpreted for the benefit of a few. Worse, some of their distortions may condemn all of us to serious environmental and health problems in the near future. Scientists are certainly not perfect and have their own problems with ego (witness Eduard Teller's impossible Star Wars project), but we ignore the best science at our peril. Certainly politicians, while they have to make the final decisions, should at least listen to people who know more about the subject than they do before they decide on a particular policy!

This is a very timely book and it points up a serious problem with any political party- when one gets total control of the institutions it rapidly becomes corrupt. My conclusion is that the American people are better served with a mixed government, despite possible gridlock.

I recommend this book very highly and hope that many people read it. We need all the good science we can muster to meet the challenges of the future.
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