Deep Confusion About the Left, the Right, and Science

By Chris Mooney | January 18, 2011 8:10 am

Recently I came across this Ed Driscoll post at Pajamas Media, riffing on this editorial in Investor’s Business Daily. While the arguments advanced in these paired right wing science commentaries aren’t particularly nuanced, the basic theme is clear–it’s the left that abuses science! In particular–and this is something I discussed with Seth Mnookin on the latest Point of Inquiry–the vaccine-autism claim is becoming Exhibit A in a developing “Democrat War on Science” style argument.

What do I say to this, as the person who coined the phrase “Republican War on Science”?

First, I fully admit that a type of “war on science” has occurred with respect to vaccination over the last ten years; and furthermore, I agree that the animus against good science in this case tends to be located, broadly speaking, on the political left. However, I don’t see how the vaccine-autism case study refutes my broader argument, which was about the relationship between the right and science in modern U.S. politics.

The political “left”–in this country or elsewhere–can certainly serve as a haven for science denialism. Soviet Lysenkoism is by far the most famous case, as was discussed in The Republican War on Science; but there are many, many others.

But just because denialism occurs sometimes on the left does not mean that in the U.S. today–and particularly in mainstream U.S. politics–it’s predominantly a left wing phenomenon.

Having left wing science problems crop up occasionally is only to be expected, because people on both sides of the spectrum are wont to develop strong convictions that they can’t easily let go of–this is just human nature. However, the argument about the U.S. right today is a different one. It is this: Modern conservatism wedded itself quite deliberately to the Christian right and corporate America, leading to a very systematic and even predictable set of political science problems. And these are institutionalized now in one of our chief political parties.

Now, you might argue back that left wing science abuses also spring from a coherent set of political impulses or a worldview–and I might even agree with you. But you’d be hard pressed to show me how these tendencies are currently dominant in the Democratic party. Even in the vaccine case, I don’t see many Democratic politicians scoring points by denying the science on this issue; rather, it’s more part and parcel of a “natural”, Whole Foods lifestyle. Ditto for something like irrational left-wing resistance to genetically modified foods.

This is, however, an argument that could use further developing. I’m sure this post will prompt some comments–so that will be the beginning of that process.

Comments (29)

  1. Somite

    Exactly. This issue is also evident in the discussion following the AZ shootings where the left was also accused of violent vitriol using examples of left-leaning individuals. There isn’t an equivalence between the parties. The vitriol on the right comes from de-facto (Rush Limbough) or actual (Sarah Palin) party leaders while the examples of vitriol from the left were individuals or required quite a stretch, using “bringing a gun to a knife fight” or “shaking people up” as examples.

    It is the difference between isolated examples and a systematic, recurrent theme.

    The confusion with vaccination lies entirely with very vocal activists, some of the them celebrities that are given a soapbox at otherwise left-leaning publications like The Huff-po. Anti-vaccination has never been a policy of the democratic party leadership.

    It just seems the media must have its false equivalency at any cost.

  2. TTT

    Anti-vaccination has never been a policy of the democratic party leadership.

    Thank you, that sums up this–and nearly every other science issue–perfectly.

    I would also point out that anti-vaxism and 9/11Trutherism are bipartisan derangements, with neither side more prone to it than the other. Both right-wing pundits and even some liberals (Jon Stewart, Matt Taibbi) seem to think Trutherism is only on the left, but it’s quite popular among Ron Paul fans, teabaggers, and Alex Jones / Prison Planet / Rense militia types and conspiracists.

  3. rjb

    I disagree with the premise that there is a “democratic war on science” that is in any way similar to the “republican war on science.” As you mention,

    “But you’d be hard pressed to show me how these tendencies are currently dominant in the Democratic party. Even in the vaccine case, I don’t see many Democratic politicians scoring points by denying the science on this issue…”

    That is, as Somite says, the key difference. When asked in a presidential debate about how many republican candidates reject evolution, many of the candidates raised their hands. Some (Huckabee and Brownback) made it a part of their platforms! Even McCain hedged on this rather significantly. Likewise, you have republican leaders like Inhofe in the senate who are so strongly wedded to global warming denialism and are in positions of power regarding energy policy!!

    I cannot think of a single democrat in a leadership position (or vying for one seriously) that has an anti-science issue so prominently displayed in their political motivations.

    Denialism does exist on the left in the anti-vax and alt-med circles, but it is not in the same powerful position as it is on the right regarding topics like evolution and global warming. Not even close.

  4. ChH

    A lot of this “deep confusion” comes from the gross oversimplification of people’s views that is called “the political spectrum”.
    Many people are “left” on some issues and “right” on others. Also, on the traditional spectrum, the left and right extremes are virtually indistinguishable from each other in practice (totalitarian communism vs fascism or wahhabism, for example).
    A two-dimensional spectrum is much more informative … and also reveals how poorly the two modern US parties serve their constituents.
    This 10-question quiz gives a quick idea of where you are on the political grid: http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz

  5. Mike

    Although I agree with the thesis of your argument, Chris, I’d be careful about making too-broad statements about democratic politicians. Off the top of my head RFK Jr, John Kerry, and Joe Lieberman all touted skepticism about vaccines for political gains. As far as I know they’ve since repudiated those stances (or at the very least have shut up about it in recent years).

    As I said I don’t think the substance of these examples undermines your point. For one, these guys all spoke well before much of the data was in, and haven’t spoken since the torrent of data has come in (to my knowledge) – certainly none of them “went to war” with a mountain of evidence like republicans routinely do.

    Either way, certainly important to keep these self-critiques in the front of one’s mind.

  6. whoschad

    A left-wing politician may not make “natural” foods part of their running platform, but regardless, the harder left my friends tend to be, the harder time they give me about drinking milk, or eating anything but ‘whole foods’. This strong corroboration may be anecdotal, but can anyone disagree with it?

    I guess my question is: At what point do you say something is intrinsic to the right or left and when something is extrinsic? Wouldn’t you more rather judge the natural inclinations of a group than the politically skewed representatives of that group? What does a politician’s stance have to do with this corollary that everybody is aware of? How come politicians are being used as the metric and not the laypersons who are naturally living it out?

    I’m not saying the right isn’t guilty of this – if the metric used is the laypeople as a whole, then they certainly are – I’m rather saying that the left is too, regardless of how strong or weak their political stance is.

  7. ChrisD

    Somite has it exactly right. There’s no confusion here. Climate “skepticism” is the de facto policy of the Republican Party. That was never the case with antivax and the Democratic Party.

    Let’s not confuse the beliefs of individuals–left or right–with the effectively official position of a political party.

  8. dirk

    Politicians only agree with the science that furthers their causes.

    If, for some reason, the solution for global warming was to tax rich people less, the democrats would deny global warming and republicans would start a crusade to end it. NONE of them actually care if it’s true.

  9. Chris writes:
    “Even in the vaccine case, I don’t see many Democratic politicians scoring points by denying the science on this issue.”

    Let me turn that around: have you seen many Democratic politicians take on the anti-vaccination movement?

    Also, another question for you, which is from my related post (listed in the trackback in #9).

    Which does more harm: the Washington Post for the occasional George Will screed against climate science, or the Huffington Post for the platform it frequently gives to anti-vaxxers, such as Jennie McCarthy?

  10. TTT

    Have you seen many Democratic politicians take on the anti-vaccination movement?

    Why should they? This is a complete non-sequitur. Anti-vaxism is not a policy platform of the Dem party, whereas eco-denialism certainly is for Republicans.

    As for the choice you present:

    Anti-vaxism is a worse belief, because where it takes hold it is an immediate threat to human life, including innocents who don’t even subscribe to it. But anti-vaxism is also well contained and institutionally friendless and powerless. Eco-denialism is the official stance of one of our two political parties, was until recently the official stance of our entire government, and very well could become so again; it is also the official stance of an entire cable news and media conglomerate. And the more it is empowered, the more dangerous it becomes.

    A useful stand-in for anti-vaxism would be fundamentalist church rattlesnake-handlers, who often die because of their (*cough*) beliefs and raise their children to do the same. Sad, but under control. It isn’t like 49% of Congress said rattlesnakes do not bite, or that there are 4 primetime hours set aside every night to “debate” whether or not they do.

  11. @11
    So something like speaking out against Bill Maher’s swine flu nonsense last year would be off limits because it’s not part of the sanctioned Democratic policy platform?

  12. Terry

    The obvious answer here is that both political parties will do what is necessary to retain power. If a significant part of the lefts platform had to be supported by denying science, they would very easily deny science. They already deny reality by claiming to still be the liberal party though they continually leverage the government to take away the rights of individuals. The platform of the Democratic party does not seem likely to fall into open anti-science, but it is just as likely to deny reality when it suits the party, like, say, believing that we can continue to grow government without shrinking the private sector.

    At present, I think that the only science they would consistently deny is economics, which they quickly and consistently label as being pseudoscience despite the fact that it uses both observational data and laboratory experimentation to gain some understanding of the forces involved. It is certainly a squishy, social science, but there is still a scientific basis to the claims of economists. There is also the problem of differentiating between large-scale economic theory and the individual predictions of economic analysts. Those predictions are just as often bunk; think about the difference between weather prediction and climate prediction. The chaotic nature of both systems makes all but large-scale trends hard to predict.

    Also, Anti-vax is anything but under-control. The anti-vax movement isn’t rattlesnake handling because it isn’t just the anti-vaxxers who are dying. It’s everyone else in the environment who are catching diseases but can’t be vaccinated yet (infants or those with vaccine allergies) that would normally be protected by “herd immunity”. BTW, “herd immunity”… what a horrible name. Maybe people would respond better to pro-vax arguments if they weren’t compared to livestock. :)

  13. TTT

    It wouldn’t be “off-limits,” but it would be random and redundant. Democrats are on the record as setting government policies that are in opposition to what Maher said on his TV show. Government policies are much more important than TV shows. So what exactly do they have to prove, and what exactly does Bill Maher have to do with it? Make your point.

  14. Can we stop with the anti-vaxxers have a liberal bias, please? Last year, during the flu outbreak, registered Democrats were far more likely to plan on getting a flu shot than either independents or Republicans.

    Yes, Jenny McCarthy and Arianna Huffington are rich, pseudo-liberal twits. Yet the data suggest that liberals were more likely to want a flu shot.

    I’m not pointing this out to score points; I want everyone who is eligible to receive a flu shot. But I like data-driven, not narrative driven stuff on science blogs.

  15. Steven Sullivan

    Mass media can spark policy change. However, Jenny McCarthy hasn’t got there, nor will she. The ‘anti-vax’ movement’s moment in the sun has already waned. ‘Dr’. Wakefield’s study is thoroughly discredited to all but the true believers, and with that, the house of cards collapses. I doubt we’d see Jenny spouting her nonsense on Oprah again, even if Oprah’s show wasn’t going off the air. All it takes is for helicopter moms to get the message that vaccines are going to actually *protect* their precious snowflakes, not hurt them, and anti-vaxers return to being the objects of ridicule they deserve to be.

    Climate denialism, by contrast still has powerful interests backing it. No one’s threatening to convene government investigations into vaccine science, last time I looked.

  16. Chris Mooney

    “have you seen many Democratic politicians take on the anti-vaccination movement?” No. but there’s a possibility that tactic would backfire. If I were Jenny McCarthy I’d love nothing more than getting rebuked by President Obama.

    Mike: That is interesting data, but I don’t know how to square it with the fact that the clusters of unvaccinated/vaccine resistant tend to be in these leftwing places like Boulder or Ashland, Oregon.

    Overall I want to thank everyone for the constructive discussion–we’re getting somewhere.

  17. Chris Mooney

    So let’s talk about rebuking. Recently Sherwood Boehlert strongly rebuked his fellow Republicans for becoming a party of climate denial:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/18/AR2010111805451.html

    So can anyone imagine a Democratic version of this–a close parallel? Who would say it, and what would he/she say?

  18. Gaythia

    To add to a constructive conversation, I think that we need to look at the way that blogs (including this one) have kept the vaccine discussions focused on a vax/aniti-vax argument and thus, left broader societal issues regarding health care largely undiscussed.

    Dr Isis, in her blog, tried to point out how class and race play into vaccination and other health issues. In the case of whooping cough, it is only recently that health departments have begun focusing on parents, other relatives and caregivers who may have never been vaccinated or whose immunity created by the vaccine may have worn off. Infant deaths in California’s Central Valley seem to have little relationship to elite suburban anti-vaxxers.

    In Fort Collins CO, an outbreak of meningococcal meningitis starting with deaths last June led to much controversy before a vaccination program was initiated this fall. The controversy had nothing at all to do with anti-vaxxers, it seemed to me to have to do with public health officials questioning whether or not vaccination would be worthwhile, lag time in doing so, and providing enough opportunities to meet the demand. (The local newspaper, The Coloradoan, has now buried the relevant links in their archives).

    In Haiti, Partners in Health has been pressing for oral cholera vaccine. Although a vaccine exists, the world is not geared up to manufacture or fund this. Of course, an alternative would be to ensure safe water systems, but there is little effective global response to provide this to Haiti either. This leaves many with no choice but to cut even more trees for firewood and charcoal in order to boil water, or to drink polluted water, which only aggrivates Haiti’s difficulties. http://www.pih.org/news/entry/for-the-media/#mediacall0105

    It is my belief that the biggest tragedy of the Wakefield fraud is the way that it diverted others away from an in depth discussing of the science, politics and mechanics of vaccine development, delivery and other related health care issues.

  19. Chris Winter

    Keith Kloor wrote: “Which does more harm: the Washington Post for the occasional George Will screed against climate science, or the Huffington Post for the platform it frequently gives to anti-vaxxers, such as Jennie McCarthy?”

    There are two aspects to this.

    On the harm aspect, anti-vax is more promptly damaging, as TTT pointed out. However, it is also more easily remedied; seeing the harm their children and others suffer, those refusing to vaccinate can change their minds, or can be forced by law to comply. Once inoculations and treatments begin, any epidemic can be reversed in a matter of years. However, climate change will harm a larger population, and a long period of inaction on climate change has permitted the buildup of greenhouses which will continue to warm the Earth for an indefinite period.

    Regarding relative influence, the Washington Post is a venerable institution, and George Will is a columnist respected by many due to his long career. The Huffington Post is relatively new, hence less influential; and Jenny McCarthy, as an actress, has a credibility gap to overcome on matters of science or policy. That’s not a show-stopper; Ed Begley, Jr. on environment or Angelina Jolie on human rights have substantially earned their bona fides, IMO. I do not think Jenny McCarthy would be there yet, even if she was right.

  20. Jon

    As far as a Democratic version, you have environmentalists fighting greentech on solar for some large projects, some environmentalists condemning biochar as geo-engineering, and then on a different front you have the Kennedy opposition to Cape Wind (which is a case of elite environmentalism, as opposed to anti-corporate). Not sure if this is a “close parallel” (it’s not quite science denialism) but I bet you could find left-leaning opinion columnists opposing these kinds of stances, perhaps some politicians as well.

  21. Set aside party platforms for a sec — for those there is no question which side is more anti-science.

    I’m a New York City liberal artist, and I am surrounded by science denial. I see my fight as being right here, with my “political compatriots.” I see vaccine denial, rampant faith in alternative medicine and distrust of “western” medicine, and more or less constant scoffing at “scientific studies” or anything, shiver, that isn’t based in emotion or spirituality. Everyone I know votes the same way I do. That doesn’t mean we see the world (not to mention, uh, reality) in the same way.

  22. let me offer my voice as a non-democrat and non-liberal (i vote repub. last fall, but i’m not much of a party person). i think a key different is that the modern Right is suspicious of science in a more thorough fashion. some elements of the Left, broadly speaking, are also suspicious of science. but by and large the “science wars” are over, and science has won, on the Left. anti-science sentiment on the Left is more diffuse, ad hoc, and unprincipled, in that the Left accepts the legitimacy of science, even if it disputes science’s findings in many areas. i think the problem is that much of the Right has been captured by a religious right component which is at root suspicious of modern science on principled grounds. that results in a big difference.

    finally, there’s the correlated problem that the culture of academic science is populated by liberals and has a center-to-Left perspective. so you have a positive feedback loop, where the two cultures, the center-to-Left scientists, and the Right which is falling in love with fundamentalist religion, drift further and further apart. i know many scientists who started out as centrists who are conventional partisan democrats precisely because of a strong cultural aversion to what’s happening on the Right.

    as a right-winger i think a great deal of science, especially in human biology and psychology, has been reshaped toward Leftish presuppositions. but my attitude is that there’s no point in rejecting science. it’s the only game, and if you disagree, you need to work within the system, and keep arguing for your position. not walk away and declare the whole enterprise corrupt.

  23. Sean McCorkle

    (site went offline for maintanence when I first tried this – apologies for any duplication)

    @6
    I guess my question is: At what point do you say something is intrinsic to the right or left and when something is extrinsic?

    What fraction of party membership buys into which denialism is something that can be measured by survey. Chris has quote a recent survey that finds a clear correlation between climate change denial and party. Same could be done for anti-vax (I wonder if its been done already.

    following #23

    There’s a real difference, I think, in the underlying motivations of left vs right denial issues.

    People that reject vaccinations are concerned about bodily harm to themselves or their children and/or have a poor understanding of the risks of vaccination vs no vaccination. Similarly, opponents of GMOs are worried about bodily harm (eating weird foods) and also environmental harm and I daresay also have a poor grasp of risks vs. benefits. In both cases, the perceived villains are big profit-motivated companies and there’s a lack of faith in the institutions which establish safety standards for and regulate these companies. There might be some philosophical component, such as rejection of “unnatural” biological methods, but I don’t think its the big motivator here.

    Evolution and climate change denial are very different. There’s no bodily harm issue. Evolution is rejected because it either conflicts with pre-held religious views of the nature of the world, or the belief that humans are not animals, they are something superior to the animal kingdom. I’m still trying to get my head wrapped around climate change denial. As far as I can tell, a big issue is financial – loss of fossil-fuel-related income and jobs and maybe increased taxes. Chris and others have already documented the corporate parties behind a lot of the movement. But in both cases, the perceived villains are the academic elite, telling them how to think. Its very philosophical, and very tribal.

  24. TTT

    I’m still trying to get my head wrapped around climate change denial…. Its very philosophical, and very tribal.

    Environmentalists deserve to be wrong. Environmentalists can never be said to have been right. That’s a big chunk of the philosophy.

    There’s a subgroup within the “skeptic” camp that will, if really hard-pressed, concede that human emissions of CO2 is causing some warming. But they’ll always bury that lede around paragraph 3, after a prolonged intro of ritualized throat-clearing about alarmism, socialism, general scientific conspiracism, Al Gore’s electric bill, and how our air and water are “getting cleaner” despite the alarmist socialist conspiracy. Something might be happening that matches what an environmentalist said, and they may very well admit that to be the case, but an environmentalist can never, ever be right.

  25. Jon

    Modern conservatism wedded itself quite deliberately to the Christian right and corporate America, leading to a very systematic and even predictable set of political science problems. And these are institutionalized now in one of our chief political parties.

    I like Mike Lind’s idea that there are really three parties to consider in the conservative movement machine–a triangular trade as it were. You’ve got the business interests (and there only has to be a few particularly ideological and activist ones to make a difference), the Christian right (to make loud, indignant noises and get out the vote at election time), and you also have the Machiavellian set who knit everything together and help keep the populism going to motivate the base and donor class. Irving Kristol once said:

    There are different kinds of truths for different kinds of people. There are truths appropriate for children; truths that are appropriate for students; truths that are appropriate for educated adults; and truths that are appropriate for highly educated adults, and the notion that there should be one set of truths available to everyone is a modern democratic fallacy. It doesn’t work.

    So you may have people that are educated enough to know that evolution is true, and know enough about science to know that AGW is real. But you have the political imperatives of keeping the base stoked up with populism, which may involve tiptoeing around the blunt truth, perhaps even telling the occasional Noble Lie… That’s the burden of being a modern-era Machiavellian populist in the James Burnham tradition, or a reconstructed aristocrat / philosopher king, etc. in the Straussian sense (or at least in the sense of how Kristol interpreted Strauss).

    But as David Frum has claimed, this creates a trap:

    I often wonder: Has the need to fund our cause by mobilizing fears actually crippled our cause, made it less convincing and less valid than it should have been? Most people cannot sustain cynicism for very long. If your fundraising imperatives require you to SAY that Obama is a Marxist, most of those who repeat the slogan will come to believe it. If your fundraising requires you to pretend that Obama caused the economic crisis he actually inherited, over time you will genuinely forget how the crisis started and why it has lasted so long.

    …An enraged base will entrap the party. If Obama really is demoniacally determined to impose socialism on the United States, there’s no working with him. We can only fight him until we defeat and destroy him or he defeats and destroys us. So what happens when Congress and president must work together? To balance the budget after the recession ends for example? The party will have positioned itself so that any Republican who tries to do anything constructive will stand accused of selling out. As far as our voters are concerned, nothing can happen unless we control everything – and no deal is possible unless we get entirely our own way. That is not in fact the way the leadership of the GOP thinks. The GOP is better than its material, and its leaders are reasonable people with feasible goals. But a mood is growing in the Republican base that despises the higgling and haggling of real politics – preferring freedom from responsibility and the grim satisfactions of radical alienation.

    He’s not talking about science here, but he is talking about realistic policy. And the point is that the right wing populism pioneered by people like Irving Kristol begins to infect the party, so that even the elites forget how to think with clear heads. People who started their careers being inspired by populism, by the kinds of not-quite-truths that Irving Kristol is advocating, maybe those people begin to forget how to actually govern using the truth. And since the political incentives for doing that don’t seem very high (the base doesn’t want to hear you confirm what purported “liberals” think in any way) maybe they don’t learn…

  26. Zerodash

    This non-sequitur reaction is unbecoming. The Left is full of it’s own brand of science denialism, and Mr. Mooney reacts to this by deviating the discussion into a “yes but Conservatives do it more” argument. In this case, the actions of the Right are irrelevant because the discussion is about Left-Wing misdeeds and faulty logic.

    Guess what? Ideological Dogmatists on both the Left and Right commit crimes against science, reason, and logic. Both need to be called out when this happens. And when this happens, the focus should be on the antiscientific misstep at hand. Just because Conservatives are wrong on big issues like Climate Change and Evolution, it does not magically make Liberal antiscience somehow OK.

    The anti-vaccine crowd exudes the common thread found in most Liberal antiscience: a mixture of anti-business, anti-capitalism, and anti-Americanism that is more neatly summarized as Anti-Establishment. This thread weaves itself into all kinds of Left-Wing logical fallacies and outright lies about the facts/science of many issues.

    Organic agriculture, anti-genetically modified crops, power bracelets, new-age healing, power crystals, and the like all share the common rallying cry that the “evil business establishment” and science are conspiring to lie to us about the truth. “They don’t want you to know”. I doubt the majority of the hippies at health food stores and natural healing seminars are Right-Wing folk.

    Speaking of Left-Wing nuts, let’s not also forget about the 9-11 Truthers and their bending of scientific plausibility to fit their “facts”. And you can dig even deeper into far-Left alternative science when it comes to gender (the claim that men and women’s brain chemistry is 100% identical), race (the claim that personality is a function of race), AIDS (genetically engineered artificial virus), or any myriad New Age claims.

    Criticism of Liberalism does not automatically mean praise or agreement with Conservatism- and the binary way people look at the world be it political or scientific is absurd. As far as I’m concerned, both sides are full of rubbish and comprised of impractical ideas pushed by unmoving ideological dogmatists that are as bad as any religious zealot. I can’t see how anybody genuinely interested in ethics and reason would ascribe to either “side”.

    Nobody, especially self-affirmed Liberals or Conservatives, is above scrutiny. While it is certainly debatable that one side may be wrong more often than the other, that does not by any means allow for either one to be let off the hook. The anti-Vaccine movement was fueled primarily by Liberal-flavored anti-science. Deal with it.

  27. TTT

    Anyone who says anti-vaxism and 9/11Trutherism exist solely, or even MOSTLY, on the Left either has not been paying attention, or has an axe to grind, or is just trying to appear “balanced” for its own sake, the evidence be damned.

    Check out some right-wing evangelical / creationist websites like Rapture Ready and see how much the faith healers and laying-on-of-hands practitioners support modern medical science. 9/11Trutherism is so abundant within some conservative circles that it even came up repeatedly during the televised debates of the GOP ’08 primaries.

    That is not in the least bit to say that the Left does not have typical denialisms. It does. Just those aren’t them. You would have a much stronger case in talking about the ideological opponents of animal medical research and GMOs, who in my experience are nearly universally leftists.

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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 Salon.com 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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