Good Review of Unscientific America from APS's "Forum on Education"

By Chris Mooney | December 22, 2009 3:49 pm

Art Hobson, an Emeritus physicist at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, has reviewed our book for the American Physical Society’s educational forum, and it seems he liked it. A quote:

Summarizing its prescription, the book’s final chapter states “We must fundamentally change the way we think and talk about science education,” and this means rethinking the education of scientists as well as the public school and college education of non-scientists. “We don’t simply need a bigger scientific workforce: We need a more cultured one, capable of bridging the divides that have led to science’s declining influence. …We must invest in a sweeping project to make science relevant to the whole of America’s citizenry.” I couldn’t agree more.

You can read Hobson’s full review here.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Unscientific America

Comments (29)

  1. Thomas L

    Very good review, looks like an interesting book.

    Things are not looking very good for education in this country going forward, however: and that’s actually the rosy scenario.

    The continued “republicans are anti science” is a bit old though, I’m not sure I would fault either party as being the more scientifically deficient, there is plenty of that in both parties…

  2. gillt

    Being liberal doesn’t necessarily make you more of a science nerd, but it’s hard to ignore a measly 6% of American scientists identify as Republican according to this Pew study.

    There are alternative answers besides the obvious, so how do you account for it?

  3. V.O.R.

    @ 2: Alternative answers.

    1) Most Republican scientists are too frightened to self-identify.
    2) They’re all working too hard to respond to the study.
    3) They’ve already invented breakthrough techs and have Gone Galt.
    4) Many Republican scientists were brainwashed at English Lit. parties.
    5) Killed, dissolved in lye, and vanished by ACORN death squads.
    6) Killed off by state university (and thus public) insurance death panels.
    7) Just not counted by the commies at Pew.
    8) Dead from VD and/or crack.

    It’s probably some combination of the above.

  4. Thomas L


    Good question – to start with the majority of Americans are “conservative” – and there are many political ideologies other than “Republican” in that group. In fact neither “Republican” nor “Democrat” are a majority, Independents are. The two main parties tend to fluctuate between the ranges of high 20% to mid 30% of the reporting population (it fluctuates over time, but has generally stayed within those bands for the past 4o years or so). The majority affiliation (ranging between high 30% to mid 40%) are in fact self proclaimed “Independents” – hence the constant battle by both parties over the greater “middle”. Thus getting partisan is almost guaranteed to alienate the most populous affiliation (Independents tend to view both parties with equal skepticism).

    There have been some interesting studies as to why those of Democraticleft leanings tend to be the vast majority in education, not just the sciences. Many can be summarized by “self perpetuating” social grouping. I would suggest you read some of the research as that is obviously a great oversimplification.

    Perhaps it has to do with the difference involved in funding between the public and private sectors; there is some research that indicates such may be involved as well. Whatever the reason it is a very interesting question and there are some very interesting viewsideas about it. For anyone interested in such doing some research on it will be quite eye opening and rather interesting.

    Here is one link that has some very interesting break downs and commentary over party affiliation over time and breakdowns between various demographics (from 2004, and this is a constantly changing landscape, but it is well done and easy to digest):

    Back to work for a bit ;)….

  5. JJ

    I find that interesting as well. Most scientists may identify as Democrats because they’re generally non-religious. The right wing is composed of many blue collared Americans as well that favor religion and common sense. I’d say religion is the key deciding factor, as well as lack of interest or knowledge of politics perhaps. By this, I mean most scientists tend to see things as black and white, so most probably see politics as Democrat vs Republican. When asked of their affiliation, they generally identify with the left for their support of stem cell research and strong support of separation of church and state. Minority parties, such as Libertarians, probably never cross their minds.

  6. Busiturtle

    Back in the fifties and sixties a great number of scientists worked in corporate labs, GE and Bell being two of the most prestigious. Many also worked for NASA and quasi-government firms. And there were the pure academics. But no matter the employer scientists were respected for being scientists. Corporate bosses were happy to monetize whatever discoveries they made, the government was happy to send rockets into space and universities were happy to tout the quality of research and teaching at their schools. In this environment politics were a non-factor. There was no advantage or disadvantage to claiming allegiance to either party.

    Then it all changed.

    Corporate bosses wanted their scientists to quantify the value of their work. Scientists who understood how to promote themselves and embellish their work thus fared better than those of similar aptitude who hunkered down in the lab. The conservative value of being judged on the merit of one’s work was squeezed out by the more liberal concern of rewarding those who played better in the social sphere.

    Discretionary government budgets got squeezed. Pure research was replaced by product development. Any rocket scientists at NASA who wanted to thrive had to learn how to play the political lobby game.

    Liberalism swept over the University Campus. Researchers who produced or even pursued politically incorrect results were silenced. Larry Summers we hardly knew you as Harvard President! Any scientist who valued a research career either had to neuter his conservative views or embrace liberalism.

    Perhaps the more important question is who politicized science and who benefits most from it being politicized?

  7. Busiturtle

    Chris Mooney,

    Do you accept the reality of political correctness?

    Do you accept that the education establishment from K-12 through post-graduate University is dominated by liberal dogma?

    If the US education system, that is dominated by left wing indoctrination, is failing to produce scientific understanding on what basis does it make sense to blame religion and conservatism?

    In addition to the case of Larry Summers let me throw one more example at you of how liberalism has destroyed the “love and pursuit of truth”. The Duke Lacrosse case wherein 88 Duke professors signed a petition declaring their bias that the lacrosse players were guilty of the alleged crime. From the New York Times to the Washington Post to college campuses across the nation liberalism declared these 3 young men guilty.

    But they were not guilty. Their accuser had lied as did the prosecutor.

    If liberalism is not concerned with seeking truth, no matter what it is and no matter how uncomfortable it may be than it needs to be removed from the scientific realm. Is that a battle you are willing to fight?

  8. J.J.E.

    @ Busiturtle

    You know absolutely nothing about science policy, science funding history. Basically everything you said was wrong.

    For example, “Discretionary government budgets got squeezed. Pure research was replaced by product development.”

    Ummmm. No. NSF research does not lead to product development. I should know, I’ve gotten funding from NSF twice and have been on 4 different NSF grants/fellowships for projects that never saw commercialization. That is the norm for NSF. In fact, with the exception of a big spike in the mid/late 70s followed by drastic cuts in the late 70s/early 80s, NSF funding has been increasing steadily, even adjusted for inflation.

    NSF Appropriations
    1952: $224M (in 2008 $; $3.5M in 1952 $)
    1959: $980M (in 2008$; $134M in 1959 $)
    1968: $3.1B (in 2008$; $500M in 1968 $)
    1983: ~$2.1B (in 2008$; ~$1B in 1983 $)
    1990: ~$3.3B (in 2008$; ~$2B in 1990 $)
    1998: $4.5B (in 2008$; $3.4B in 1998 $)
    2008: $6.1B

    NIH Appropriations
    I don’t have time to reproduce the same figures above here, but someone has already done it for me. Click on this link to see the pattern up to 2004.

    And for your information, to get the majority of that funding definitely requires politics. Like arguing that the Drosophila genome is worth sequencing, or that untold hours of telescope time is worth funding, or nano-technology is worth investigating. You know, convincing people that your preferred scientific ideas are worthwhile. In other words, testing your ideas out in the intellectual marketplace.

    You’ve obviously never sat on an NSF or NIH funding panel or talked to anyone who has. Or any other science funding panel for that metter. So, basically, you have nothing to contribute.

  9. Busiturtle

    NASA budget as a percentage of federal spending and in real dollars peaked in the 1960s.

    Chris Mooney associates NASA spending with NSF spending so I’ll defer to him to explain why this makes sense, other than to say that anyone who was a scientist in the 1960s will talk about it as the salad days of their career.

    So J.J.E, why the vitriol? You’ve attacked me on just one of several points I’ve made and it appears your claims are at odds with Chris Mooney. Care to consider the others or are you going to run and hide under a rock?

  10. Stefan Jones

    I doubt Basiturtle’s conspiracy theory was designed to convince anyone *in* academia or the sciences.

    Like Ben Stein’s cinematic rant promoting intelligent design, our visiting trolls’ stories are really designed for the like-minded, to perpetuate a feeling of resentment and persecution.

  11. Busiturtle

    There is no conspiracy.

    It is an undeniable fact that the esteem of scientists peaked in the generation following WWII. Einstein was worshiped, the men would made the Atomic Bomb were celebrated as geniuses and science was recognized as being key to America’s global dominance.

    Money poured into scientific research and anyone with a passion for science could find work that (a) paid for a middle class lifestyle and (b) allowed one considerable independence and job flexibility.

    My central point is that science no longer offers the career benefits and job satisfaction it once did.

    First and foremost it is extremely difficult to become a professional scientist today. How many Physics majors graduate from Universities today and end up on the Best Buy Geek Squad? The competition to get into a top research program is intense. It takes significant effort to qualify with no guarantee of success. Likewise competition to get a corporate job is intense and with the nice paycheck will come a laundry list of tasks and an annual performance review.

    At the same time scientific research has been politicized. We know this because Larry Summers himself was blackballed from Harvard! And just as Larry Summers was fired for asking the wrong question every scientist in America today has to be mindful of the political interests of those paying his salary. And by and large those interests lean left, save for the big, bad oil companies

    So a smart guy or girl can make a choice. (a) work extremely hard and kiss up to the right people and hang out in the right crowds and make a decent living and see ones work treated as political fodder or (b) find something more interesting to do which probably does not involve pure science or even pure engineering.

    Society reflects the attitudes of all its members. That science is held in low regard is NOT the fault of Republicans or Christians. Are not Republicans on the endangered species list anyways? Rather it is an educational and political culture that sees science as a means to an end rather than the devotion to integrity that needs to do some soul searching.

  12. Thomas L

    As an example of why the elitist attitudes are really not flying, and are hurting far more than many may realize given the current “at large” attitudes of the American people:

    As I stated in a previous post, the public is getting VERY edgy, generally there is as yet not a clear target for it all other then they don’t like what they are seeing, but when 71% admit to being angry with the political class (which is DemocratRepublican) things are going south fast…

  13. Thomas L

    And the above might go quite a ways towards explaining this – “50% Now Say Global Warming Caused by Long-Term Planetary Trends, Political Class Strongly Disagrees”:
    “Public skepticism about the officially promoted cause of global warming has reached an all-time high among Americans…”

  14. J.J.E.

    @ Busiturtle

    “The Duke Lacrosse case wherein 88 Duke professors signed a petition declaring their bias that the lacrosse players were guilty of the alleged crime.”

    So, you want to prove the following:

    Duke is liberal and politically correct.

    You do this by assuming:
    1) accusing lacrosse players of rape is a liberal/politically correct thing to do;
    2) If Duke professors are liberal, they should accuse lacrosse players of rape.
    3) 88 Duke professors signed a petition accusing lacrosse players of rape, therefore Duke is liberal QED.

    Except there are actually almost 3,400 faculty members at Duke, meaning less than 3% of them actually signed the petition. More people use the men’s room on my floor per day than that.

    In other words, you still have nothing to contribute.

  15. Busiturtle


    Please explain why Larry Summers was dismissed as President of Harvard.

    Please explain why no one from the Duke administration is on the record of defending the Duke lacrosse players.

    Please explain the now public record of Michael Mann using politics to squelch the publication of research he deemed unfavorable to his views.

    Please explain why scientists are welcome to embrace evolution to describe the creation of the life but are not welcome to apply evolution to explain the differences in mental capacity and scientific achievement between races and sexes.

    Please explain why it is incorrect to say that science as practiced at the Ivy league means to pursue truth as long as it does not threaten cherished preconceptions.

    Oh and please explain how it was Democrat President Bill Clinton who signed the Dickey amendment into law which banned harvesting of embryonic stem cells and it was President George Bush who relaxed that ban.

  16. J.J.E.

    @ Busiturtle:

    First some bookkeeping. You have forfeited those earlier points that I rebutted. In other words, the Duke faculty wasn’t particularly antagonistic towards the lacrosse players and science funding has seen unprecedented growth since the 50’s and 60’s, not a decrease. In other words, you can’t refute those and you’re wrong.

    “Please explain why Larry Summers was dismissed as President of Harvard.”

    Why? Summers is a longtime Democrat who is a proponent of the Keynesian economic school of thought, which is ever so maligned by “conservative” economists. If anything, this demonstrates that the academy is willing to punish people even if they are political allies. Recall, Summers is now part of a Democratic administration. The reason Summers was ousted was because he’s a douche who uses bareknuckle tactics to get what he wants. In other words, he offends everyone (even his potential allies) and makes enemies easily. So, he was trying to change everything in Harvard (which was what he was hired to do) and decided to go about doing it in a very politically stupid way by pissing off allies and making excessive enemies and avoiding compromise. In other words, he was a politically inept douche.

    “Please explain the now public record of Michael Mann using politics to squelch the publication of research he deemed unfavorable to his views.”

    Again, why? First of all, there is no such record. The burden is yours to show it. Next, even if there was, this is not uncommon in science. I know of many people who have had their publications rejected by “academic enemies” through political channels (i.e. encouraging rejection in the review process either directly as a reviewer or influencing reviewers in their political network). And guess what? Some these cases were about molecular biology and were irrelevant to partisan governmental politics.

    Scientists are people too, not paragons. They have office politics as much as any corporate office and competition between different research groups is fierce. You tell me, what is surprising about that observation of your EVEN if it were true? What would be remarkable would be if scientists DIDN’T behave like every other profession. I wish everyone were moral and humble. But I also wish for time travel, the end of world hunger, and to be an Olympian/rock star. Spit in one hand and wish in another and see which fills up faster…

    “Please explain why scientists are welcome to embrace evolution to describe the creation of the life but are not welcome to apply evolution to explain the differences in mental capacity and scientific achievement between races and sexes.”

    They are and do.

    Evolutionary forces shape the human RFPL1,2,3 genes toward a role in neocortex development.

    Positive selection on gene expression in the human brain.

    Transcriptional neoteny in the human brain.

    Accelerated evolution of nervous system genes in the origin of Homo sapiens.

    Adaptive evolution of ASPM, a major determinant of cerebral cortical size in humans.

    Reconstructing the evolutionary history of microcephalin, a gene controlling human brain size.

    Ongoing adaptive evolution of ASPM, a brain size determinant in Homo sapiens.

    Microcephalin, a gene regulating brain size, continues to evolve adaptively in humans.

    “Please explain why it is incorrect to say that science as practiced at the Ivy league means to pursue truth as long as it does not threaten cherished preconceptions.”

    Uh, no. You are asking someone to prove a negative. You are the one whose thesis is being promulgated here. The burden of proof is upon you. Why don’t you adduce some positive evidence to this effect. You are using and argumentum ad ignorantiam, which is a logical fallacy.

    “Oh and please explain how it was Democrat President Bill Clinton who signed the Dickey amendment into law which banned harvesting of embryonic stem cells and it was President George Bush who relaxed that ban.”

    You mean the “Dickey-Wicker” amendment, a rider inserted by Republicans Jay Dickey of of Arkansas and Roger Wicker of Mississippi in the House of Representatives in 1995 when the Republicans had the House majority? Do you really want to go down that road? Do you really want to start discussing the fact that policy limiting stem cell research derives from Republicans?

  17. J.J.E.

    “So J.J.E, why the vitriol? You’ve attacked me on just one of several points I’ve made and it appears your claims are at odds with Chris Mooney. Care to consider the others or are you going to run and hide under a rock?”

    Vitriol? You mean a cruel and bitter criticism? Well, it is only cruel and bitter if the truth hurts. As to “several points” you made, what is there to refute? The only concrete statements you made were regarding funding, which took about 3 minutes with Google to refute. Otherwise, you make grand sweeping statements without supporting evidence that rely on assumptions of someone who is consistently wrong on the easy things. So, why should I do the hard work to make your vague conspiracy theories concrete and THEN rebut them.

    First, you make them concrete (including supporting evidence and clear reasoning) and then I’ll evaluate them. I may even agree if your case is good enough. But I won’t waste time addressing vague notions. Oh, and as you’ll see soon when my very long comment above comes out of moderation, I’ve address all of your points made on December 23rd, 2009 at 9:02 am.

  18. bilbo

    If the US education system, that is dominated by left wing indoctrination, is failing to produce scientific understanding on what basis does it make sense to blame religion and conservatism?

    That sentence, distilled down, says “Education=liberal indoctrination=bad.”

    And we wonder why conservatives have a hard time grasping science? Why, just look at the above. They’re afraid of it!

  19. V.O.R.

    I don’t think it’s fear of science. At all. I think it’s just a matter of seeing how many questionable assumptions can be packed into one rhetorical question.

    It’s an art, really.

  20. Thomas L

    Do you all really want to go here? If you do I strongly suggest you do some research – there is quite a bit of it on this topic, here is a very brief sampling…

    “Liberal and Conservative in Social Work Education: Exploring Student Experiences.”

    Fram, M., & Miller-Cribbs, J. (2008). Liberal and Conservative in Social Work Education: Exploring Student Experiences. Social Work Education, 27(8), 883-897. doi:10.1080/02615470701844266.

    “Claims of ‘liberal bias’ in higher education raise unique concerns for social work education in the United States. In a time of increasing conservatism in mainstream America, students who identify as political or social conservatives may find themselves particularly challenged by the perspectives, values and ideas they encounter in the social work classroom. This paper explores student perceptions of a ‘liberal’/’conservative’ conflict in the social and educational environment of their MSW program…”

    “Political Diversity In Higher Education”

    “Political Diversity In Higher Education.” Issues & Controversies On File: n. pag. Issues & Controversies. Facts On File News Services, 12 Dec. 2003.

    “The debate over political diversity in higher education, or the lack thereof, has been intense. It is a dispute that is part of the larger war between conservatives and liberals in the U.S. With the U.S…”

    “Political Correctness in Education”

    “Political Correctness in Education.” Issues & Controversies On File: n. pag. Issues & Controversies. Facts On File News Services, 30 Apr. 2004.

    Hard to summarize this one, still very active area of research and debate…

    “Indoctrination U.? Faculty Ideology and Changes in Student Political Orientation”

    Mariani, M., & Hewitt, G.. (2008, October). Indoctrination U.? Faculty Ideology and Changes in Student Political Orientation. PS, Political Science & Politics, 41(4), 773-783.

    “To summarize, there are four important findings here related to questions about faculty ideology and fears that liberal faculty members are indoctrinating students to adopt a liberal ideology. First, it is very clear that faculty members tend to be liberal and are much more liberal than the general population. second, there is evidence that there is a degree of self-selection going on among students when they choose a college. Students tend to enroll at institutions that have a faculty orientation make up more similar to their own. This area is ripe for further research, for there may be other institutional factors at play, such as campus culture or history. Third, students whose ideology changes while in college tend to change to the left, but that movement is within the normal orientation range of 18-24-year-olds in the general population. Fourth, and most important, there is no evidence that faculty ideology at an institutional level has an impact on student political ideology. Student political orientation does not change for a majority of students while in college, and for those that do change there is evidence that other factors have an effect on that change, such as gender and socioeconomic status. Based on the data presented in this study, college students appear to be more firm in their political beliefs than conventional wisdom suggests. Though students’ political ideology is not set in stone, it does not appear to change as a result of faculty ideology, at least at an institutional level”

    Really, very complicted area, lots of research… study before you speak.

  21. Busiturtle

    In his several ramblings J.J.E. has demonstrated why the esteem Americans hold for science has declined. J.J.E himself admits scientists are regular people who harbor grudges, behave immaturely and allow their work to be influenced by political bias.

    So consider an intelligent student. On the one hand he or she can choose a career in science that will involve dealing with all the headaches J.J.E describes and for what reward? Publish or perish they say but to publish one must hope scientists like Michael Mann are not standing in the way to block one’s work.

    But again, the student is smart and recognizes there is a better road. It is called the marketplace. Rather than toil in a lab hoping one’s work get’s recognized by peers one can start a company and create and market new products. At this point the opinion of one’s peers is immaterial and the measure of success is whether consumers buy your innovation.

    The story of America is the story of self-reliance and personal success. Scientists may be smart but engineers and innovators who actually make something tangible stand on a higher pedestal.

    Perhaps this explains why the most respected jobs in America are business owner and entrepreneur:

    The fact that so many on this blog want to sit in their ivory tower and blame the proletariat for not appreciating their work captures perfectly the disconnect scientists have with the real world. You spend so much effort trying to impress each other you lose sight that no one else cares, except to wish you would shut up with your self-righteous preaching.

    Put another way, Exxon-Mobil has done more to make this world a better place than all the climate scientists ever have and ever will.

  22. Busiturtle

    Oh the irony. Here we have global warming kool-aid drinkers botching a science experiment.

    Indeed when you watch the BBC video, it is clear that there’s no sort of control of any kind, the thermocouples were placed haphazardly at different angles into the bottles, and there’s likely alignment differences between the lights illuminating the bottles. It seems so from my viewing of the video.

    Professor Kilty also viewed the BBC video and writes:

    You can see that the two bottles start at temperatures of 32+ C. Perhaps the house is this warm, we don’t keep ours this warm, but more likely they have run the experiment and know pretty well in advance how it will turn out. I tried to see from the size of the spot on the bottle if one or other is obviously closer to the lamp–I can’t– but what really matters is the thermocouple, of course. The NOAA description in “its a gas, man” looks like the epitome of careful research in comparison.

  23. Busiturtle

    What conclusion should one draw from the CO2 science experiment? How about this inconvenient truth:

    The most important result of this experiment is how it shows students so many issues of experiment design. First, there is the issue of how difficult temperature measurements are to make accurately. Students are quite surprised at this. They are equally surprised that seemingly identical temperature sensors will not measure identically. Second, there is also the difficulty of proving conclusively that A causes B when the experiment includes confounding factors. This is an important lesson about the value of skepticism in climate change research, observations, and publicity. If X, Y, and Z cause B just as readily as does A, then what allows one to claim A causes B?

  24. Thomas L


    I think you are going over their head. What they have all failed to realize is that their disdain for the capitalistic system and market principles has ensured a budgetary crisis the likes of which they have never seen (look up AZ’s emergency meeting 12-24 and ask yourself where they are going to slash over 3 billion in the next two years…) – when those whose taxes pay for their research go broke, eventually there is no more money for them. The campus wide unrest and protests over tuition hikes in California are just a prequel to what is coming, but they don’t understand economics enough to get it yet.

    And please those who want to dispute that, don’t give me “it was capitalism that caused all this” – capitalism in this country has been under attack for a century and became dysfunctional a long time ago – why China and India are where everyone in manufacturing wants to be now, and why we are losing what remains of our middle class. Unfortunately the rest of us – the HALF that remain in the private sector, don’t get to pout and demand increased taxes because, you know, our work is ever so important that it just has to continue being funded…

  25. Thomas L

    As I don’t want anyone thinking I’m just blowing smoke, so here are some links to stuff that came out today – I would be willing to wager that University funding is going to get hammered, and tuitions are going to go up a lot farther than they already have… While the Fed may still be spending without care (and we’ll see how much longer that can continue…), the states don’t have such luxuries…
    “Dec. 24 (Bloomberg) — California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, anticipating a $21 billion state budget deficit, plans to ask President Barack Obama to ease mandates and minimums on social programs to save as much as $8 billion…” (view the video or download the presentation…)
    “Dear Fellow Arizonan,
    We face a state fiscal crisis of unparalleled dimension – one that is going to sweep over every single person in this state as well as every business and every family…”

    Heck of a Christmas eve… Then keep in mind 25 states are in the red on their unemployment benefits, and most are scrambling to figure out how to cover their share of the Health Care bill once it finishes the process of reconciling the House and Senate versions, so I’m expecting a lot more along the lines of the above…

    This will assuredly affect educational funding headed forward, on every level from primary through to the University level. For those in higher education I would strongly advise not antagonizing those whom pay your bills, and instead learn how to persuade such that you are in fact important…

  26. bilbo

    The fact that so many on this blog want to sit in their ivory tower and blame the proletariat for not appreciating their work captures perfectly the disconnect scientists have with the real world. You spend so much effort trying to impress each other you lose sight that no one else cares, except to wish you would shut up with your self-righteous preaching.

    Hmm…I suppose when someone trolls their way into a science blog, tells scientists to “shut up,” and calls education “liberal indoctrination” (as Busiturtle has), the appropriate response from said scientists should not be to get offended but rather to say “Oh my God, Busiturtle! You’re totally correct! I DO make up my research, I DO sneak money under the table from bureaucrats (but never the conservative ones – they’re blameless, y’know), and I DO attempt to brainwash children in each and every one of my classes in an attempt to turn them into future communist overlords.”

    In light of his recent posts on the blog, I hereby nominate Busiturtle’s quote, in italics above, as the Ridiculously Oblivious Quote of the Month.

  27. bilbo

    Busiturtle’s post in #21 is like the poster child for feebly disguised conservative political propaganda. It contains:

    1.) A shameless plug for a specific industry group that distorts reality

    2.) Stresses the importance of entrepreneurship over environmental interests

    3.) Accuses scientists of being willing pawns of liberal politicians

    4.) Suggests that science should “just shut up”

    5.) Cites a Rasmussen poll

    6.) Suggests that “starting a company” is more important than actual innovative research

    7.) Uses patriotic references to place science in an anti-American light

    8.) Suggests that input from one’s peers is worthless

    My God, you use that one post to teach a class on political spin….

  28. Thomas L

    Again, this is an area with lots of research (and even governmental hearings). There is much behind it, and much causing it. The data is all over the place, I again suggest one take the time to do a little research (there is even some that trivializes the fact that liberal professors outnumber conservative professors 9 to 1, but that such shouldn’t be taken as them being unwelcome…)

    Political Bias in Undergraduate Education
    Ehrlich, Thomas. Colby, Anne. Liberal Education; Summer2004, Vol. 90 Issue 3, p36-39, 4p

    “Unfortunately, in most settings, people with strong political opinions talk almost exclusively to those who agree with them. Campuses should be an exception but generally they are not, so neither students nor faculty are accustomed to communicating across ideological divisions.”

    Self-Selection or Political Bias? Zywicki, Todd. American Spectator; Oct2005, Vol. 38 Issue 8, p48-50, 3p

    “I would say that if there is self-selection here, it is of precisely one type – libertarian and conservative students self-select out of pursuing an academic career because they are well aware of the political obstacles that will be placed in their way. It is also likely that conservatives, even if not blocked by discrimination, are disproportionately turned off by the fundamental “unseriousness” of the modern academy: the emptiness and triviality of so much modern scholarship (especially in the humanities), the restraints on free inquiry, the whole edifice of the diversity machine.”

    ANNUAL MEETING EXPLORES FACULTY’S PUBLIC IMAGE. Academe, 01902946, Jul/Aug2006, Vol. 92, Issue 4

    “Panelists discussed the results of an AAUP-commissioned study, “Americans’ Views of Political Bias in the Academy and Academic Freedom,” that was conducted by Gross and Simmons. The study, shows that although Americans continue to express strong confidence in higher education, “some of its Teflon coating may have worn off” when it comes to resisting criticism…”

  29. Busiturtle

    bilbo et al:

    It is Chris Mooney and his fans who talk about America being anti-Science. Who criticize Americans for clinging to their religion and shunning the light science can offer them.

    I find this position to be elitist and counterproductive to the cause of science.

    I hope by now Chris Mooney and his global warming gang understand the downside of politicizing science and of using their position as scientists to promote partisan political solutions.

    If anything was learned by COP-15 it was

    (a) the global warming movement is dominated by charlatans who show up for the celebrity and who have no interest in living the frugal life global warming policies require

    (b) the global warming movement is dominated by leftist, socialist political views that include calls for greater global government and applause for avowed socialist and communist leaders such as Hugo Chavez

    (c) at the end of the day it is all a charade as the US, China and India and most countries have no interest in locking chains on their economic growth.

    And in this environment we have an ever greater number of citizen scientists asking hard questions that the professional scientific guild refuses to treat seriously.

    – Year of continental record high temperatures: Europe 1881, Australia 1889, South America 1905, Oceana 1912, North America 1913, Africa 1922, Asia 1942, Antartica 1974

    – Global temperatures have declined in five of the last seven decades even though CO2 levels increased throughout this same period.

    – Global temperatures mysteriously jumped when nearly 50% of all global weather stations (many in rural areas) stopped recording climate in the early 1990s.

    – During one ice age the atmospheric CO2 was ten times the level of today. Clearly CO2 did not stop this ice age from occurring. Either CO2 doesn’t have much impact on climate or the sun’s reduced energy caused the ice age, or both.


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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


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