Chris Mooney: The Republican War on Science

Chris Mooney, the guy who keeps the politicians honest on science of all sorts (see his blog, which we often trackback to), has a book out. It is entitled, The Republican War on Science, and the webpage just went up: The book is not a general attack on Republicanism, but it argues that the “antiscience right wing” of the party is currently setting the agenda, to the detriment of both the party and the country. As Mooney notes, “Encouraging the electoral success of Republican moderates with good credentials on science could potentially have just as constructive an effect as backing Democrats.” (p. 255)

PT denizens will appreciate two chapters the most. Chapter 4, “‘Creation Science’ and Reagan’s ‘Dream’“, reviews Ronald Reagan’s antievolutionism as governor of California, and as president. Chapter 11, “‘Creation Science’ 2.0”, reviews the origin of the “intelligent design” movement. Chapter 11 kicks off with such a stunning opening act, I just have to quote a teaser here. Guess who these two guys are?

Nearly 40 years ago, in 1966, two talented young political thinkers published an extraordinary book, one that reads, in retrospect, as a profound warning to the Republican Party that went tragically unheeded.

The authors had been roommates at Harvard University, and had participated in the Ripon Society, an upstart group of Republican liberals. They had worked together on Advance, dubbed “the unofficial Republican magazine,” which slammed the party from within for catering to segregationists, John Birchers, and other extremists. Following their graduation, both young men moved into the world of journalism and got the chance to further advance their “progressive” Republican campaign and got a book for the eminent publisher Alfred A. Knopf. In their spirited 1966 polemic The Party That Lost Its Head, they held nothing back. The book devastatingly critiqued Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign – and dismissed the GOP’s embrace of rising star Ronald Reagan as the party’s hope to “usurp reality with the fading world of the class-B movie.”

Chris Mooney (2005). The Republican War on Science, p. 164

To find out who these two noble young liberal Republicans are (guesses are welcome – they are two of our favorite people here at PT) you’ll just have to get Chris Mooney’s book.

PS: See also Mooney’s book discussion board, the flashy flying-elephant advertisement, the book tour, an excerpt, reviews, and other blog commentary.