Sunday, September 18, 2005

Books on the Bush Administration's Views on Science

Two recent books that have received positive reviews deal with the Bush Administration's approach to scientific knowledge and its use in governance.

The Republican War on Science
by Chris Mooney
From Publishers Weekly (As quoted on
"Does the Bush administration ignore or deny mainstream research to please its conservative base? Have business groups and certain religious lobbies helped it do so? Does Bush-era treatment of scientists differ from that of Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Reagan? Has a Republican Congress passed laws designed to disable clean air and water efforts, and has it dismantled safeguards, such as the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, meant to give legislators unbiased advice? Mooney's passionate, thoroughly researched volume answers these questions with an urgent "yes." A former American Prospect writer who is making his book debut, Mooney uses interviews and old-fashioned document-digging to explain how, over two decades, right-wing politicians built institutions designed to discredit working scientists; how some energy companies have allied themselves with powerful Republicans (such as Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma) to block or reverse U.S. steps to curb global warming; and how the present administration defies expert consensus on climate change, on mercury pollution, even on how to read statistics. Mooney tracks Bush White House efforts to spread misinformation about stem cells; the work of religious right regulators like Dr. David Hager (formerly on the FDA's Reproductive Health Drugs advisory committee) in restricting access to birth control; and the attempts of the Discovery Institute (and other think tanks linked to the Bush base) to fight the teaching of evolution. In the past five years, Mooney documents, many formerly apolitical physicists, biologists and doctors have come to believe there is a "pattern" of science abuse under Bush, a push back against the methods of science itself. Conservatives may react with indignation; liberals, moderates and working scientists will find few surprises,but Mooney's very readable, and understandably partisan, volume is the first to put the whole story, thoroughly documented, in one place."

With God on Their Side: How Christian Fundamentalists Trampled Science, Policy, and Democracy in George W. Bush's White House
by Esther Kaplan
From Publishers Weekly (as quoted on
"This well-written, fast-paced and engaging book scores points for style, though its decidedly liberal slant will most appeal to readers who already share Kaplan’s view that George W. Bush’s cozy relations with evangelical Christian activists represents a grave threat to the future of America. Kaplan, a journalist and former editor at The Nation, rehearses how Bush’s evangelical Christian faith has dictated his decisions on international issues, such as his determination to invade Iraq, and domestic ones, including his anti-abortion stance, promotion of abstinence, silence on the AIDS epidemic and conservative court appointments. The book is best when Kaplan discusses the "holy war" mentality that she feels is prevalent in the Bush administration, whether in Attorney General John Ashcroft’s stark approach to the war on terror or Karl Rove’s machinations in promoting judicial appointees who would be accepted by both corporate and religious conservatives. Kaplan writes vividly of the people involved and offers memorable human-interest stories, such as a day in the life of two Tennessee abstinence activists. But in many places, she veers away from her focus on the Bush administration to castigate the "Religious Right" more generally. She also fails to appreciate the ideological nuances of American evangelicalism. For example, she dismisses Intelligent Design Theory as "pseudoscience" and incorrectly claims that its proponents believe the earth is only a few thousand years old, thus conflating it with biblical creationism."

1 comment:

JollyRoger007 said...

Both books are destructive - not constructive - looks at policy and science. Am sure Republicans could write books about how bad Democrats were during previous administrations. Browner? Three words - indoor air quality.