Saturday, December 17, 2005


Reality: It's One Sided

Chris Mooney's book, The Republican War on Science is reviewed today by John Horgan in the New York Times. Horgan is director of the Center for Science Writings at the Stevens Institute of Technology. His latest book is Rational Mysticism. Horgan starts out by telling an instructive little story of his own:
After several weeks of interviews, I wrote an article that called the service's treatment of Eller "shameful" - and emblematic of the Bush administration's treatment of scientists who interfere with its probusiness agenda.

My editor complained that the piece was too "one-sided"; I needed to show more sympathy to Eller's superiors in the Wildlife Service and to the Bush administration. I knew what the editor meant: the story I had written could be dismissed as just another anti-Bush diatribe; it would be more persuasive if it appeared more balanced. On the other hand, the reality was one-sided, to a startling degree.

Horgan expresses some reservations about Mooney's book being too strident and one-sided, but he concludes the review by writing:
Increasingly, competent scientists will avoid public service, degrading the quality of advice to policy makers and the public still further. Together, these trends threaten "not just our public health and the environment," Mooney warns, "but the very integrity of American democracy, which relies heavily on scientific and technical expertise to function." If this assessment sounds one-sided, so is the reality that it describes.


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