New Sci Comm Book; Playboy Article Online; and More

By Chris Mooney | March 23, 2011 5:48 pm

I’ve just gotten back from a trip to Brazil, so much as accumulated and this post is essentially a link dump:

1. Playboy article online. My piece on the spirituality of scientists has been put online. Warning: clicking this link may yield a bit in the way of Playboy-type…visuals.

2. Successful Science Communication. Cambridge University Press is preparing a new volume on science communication, and I’m one of the contributors with a chapter on “Dealing with the U.S. Media.” (Tough, I know.) The book won’t be out til September, but you can get a sense of the contents here. Andrew Revkin is also a contributor.

3. Why Johnny Can’t Do Science. There was a spectacular two part series on the problems of U.S. science education in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by Mark Roth. I strongly encourage you to read both pieces, here and here.

That’s all for now….


Comments (10)

  1. Ian

    Why the link to Playboy? Surely you cannot be that desperate to have your articles published?

  2. Actually “Playboy” has always been a venue for respected writers to contribute occasional pieces. Past contributors have included Issac Asimov and Richard Rhodes, so Chris joins an elite group.

  3. Chris Mooney

    Yes, I’m honored, not ashamed, to write for Playboy.

    Carl Zimmer did it too…about the Singularity!

  4. Ian

    Oh yes, I forgot the old ‘Playboy publishes some really interesting articles’ motive. I take it Hooters makes great steaks too. Please think about what you’re saying here – if you’re honoured to write for them, then why the warning about the images. Would you, a family member, or your co-writer be willing to appear in these images? Afterall you’re still getting published.

  5. Sean McCorkle

    On this web site here, just now, I’ve seen two ads in the upper right for Conoco Phillips and Toyota. Promoting the excessive waste of fossil fuels—and I mean excessive—is a far greater sin. In fact, its two sins, sloth (sitting and being propelled in a wasteful, overly massive conveyance from door to door, rather than walking or biking at a tiny fraction of the energy cost), and glutony (of a valuable resource). And autos kill 40,000 people in the US every year, and injure millions more. And I almost forgot, the US is now involved in three wars at this moment, two of which are in nations which are sources of oil, and the third it can be argued is ultimately due to US involvements in the oil rich middle east.

    Yet that is tolerable!? Thats acceptable?! No moral outrage over that?

  6. Ian

    @Sean, my point is that in this instance pornography is morally wrong and it corrupts the viewer and the undermines the dignity of the person in the images. There is no great good achieved through publishing a scientific article in Playboy. It cannot be justified under any circumstance.

    Driving a car is not morally wrong if the journey is not wasteful and achieves a greater good. If I were to object to this I might as well object to using this computer which is using electricity, burning fuel, etc.

  7. -Please think about what you’re saying here – if you’re honoured to write for them, then why the warning about the images.

    I am pretty sure the warning was of the NSFW kind, issued only because some people might be clicking on the link at work.

  8. Sean McCorkle


    Driving a car is not morally wrong if the journey is not wasteful…

    The energy density of gasoline works out to about 125 MJ/gallon so a 15 gallon tank holds about 1900 MJ. The energy density of TNT is 4.61 MJ/kg, so a ton of TNT has 4182 MJ. A person filling up every week goes uses the equivalent of roughly one half ton of TNT just to move their lazy selves around. A HALF A TON OF TNT!

    So, yes, that is wasteful—horribly so. Its not just morally wrong, its obscene! Worse still, we have raised several generations of Americans to think that this obsession is somehow normal! That its perfectly acceptable to mindlessly squander a precious resource, to put oneself and others at high risk, to use a multi-ton contraption to go to the store or work or someplace instead of walk, bike or use public transport.

    Furthermore, for most of my life, automobiles have been sold on the basis of sex appeal. Now that’s corruption of our youth, the only difference from Playboy being that most of the characters in automobile ads have their clothes on.

    If you hedge on the morality of this, it undercuts any moral high ground you think you might have when passing judgement on Chris’ decision about where to publish. Every time you turn that ignition key, every time you fill up at the gas station, you are supporting—financially supporting—an industry which has repeatedly led the US into war in the Middle East, led to massive environmental destruction by encouraging population flight from cities to ever-expanding suburbs and exburbs, polluting air and water unnecessarily, and that makes you a sinner along with the rest of us (myself included)

    The real difference between the depravity of this issue and the publication question is that the former, a mindless gas-guzzling, car-obsessed lifestyle, is socially acceptable currently, whereas the the latter is less so.

    If I were to object to this I might as well object to using this computer which is using electricity, burning fuel, etc.

    There’s no reason why that computer, and other appliances, should not be powered by a renewable source.

  9. Sean McCorkle

    (sorry that should have been @6)

  10. Excellent article, Chris. It helped crystallize my thoughts about the tension between rational thought and spirituality. I blogged about it:

    Many thanks.


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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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