Unscientific America

Book note: I have received my copy of Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future by Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum of The Intersection, and am now reading it for review. I am probably going to finish it this weekend, so you can expect something on Monday or Tuesday.


  1. #1 Jason Thibeault
    July 9, 2009

    I don’t suppose you’d be willing to post your copy around for some more reviews around the blogosphere, would you? Dan J is slavering at the bit, you see… and I might be willing to pay the shipping fees just to see what he writes.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    July 9, 2009

    Jason: Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening as I expect to be referring to this text in minute detail again and again as the Giant Rift in the Internet seismically shifts back and forth.

  3. #3 Mike Haubrich
    July 9, 2009

    I look forward to your take. From reading other reviews I think it starts with a faulty premise, but not having read the book I can’t say authoratively.

  4. #4 NewEnglandBob
    July 9, 2009

    Greg: The Giant Rift is not in the entire Internet. The porn parts (those ARE the largest) and the video and audio parts are doing just fine.

    I await your review with baited breath. I know you will be fair and impartial, yet zeroing in on the heart of the issue.

  5. #5 Stephanie Z
    July 9, 2009

    Heh. You’re going to be diplomatic, aren’t you?

  6. #6 Jason Thibeault
    July 9, 2009

    Stephanie: I assume he’s going to review it with all due civility.

    Bob: worm on your tongue? πŸ™‚

  7. #7 NewEnglandBob
    July 9, 2009

    Jason @6:

    I did go to the dentist t have a tooth pulled this week, but he doesn’t use worms – it was tied flies.

    There seems little guidance in contemporary texts. Search in Google and you’ll find about the same number of hits for ‘baited breath’ as ‘bated breath’ – around 100,000 each.

    but what is bated? From Merriam-Webster:

    Middle English, short for abaten to abate
    Date: 14th century

    transitive verb
    1: to reduce the force or intensity of : restrain
    2: to take away : deduct
    3archaic: to lower especially in amount or estimation
    4archaic: blunt

    intransitive verb
    obsolete : diminish, decrease

  8. #8 Dan J
    July 9, 2009

    Yes, it’s true: I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this book in order to provide a review. The comments on a couple threads about it are already priceless!

    I do promise to be fair and honest in my appraisal of the book. I do not promise that my language will meet with anyone’s approval except DuWayne’s.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    July 9, 2009

    Don’t hold your breath… πŸ™‚ I am currently rewriting my Appeasement vs. New Atheist post for tomorrow. Then I will go fishing again. Then I’ll read the second third of the book and write up part one of my Ghost Story post. Then I’ll go fishing again. And so on.

    This is going to take a few days.

    I am actually still reeling (realing) from having spent a weekend with the Skepchicks.

  10. #10 Dan J
    July 9, 2009

    Yes, the bated/baited error crops up quite often, as the term “bated” isn’t in general use by itself. In this usage it basically means that you’re holding your breath.

  11. #11 Stephanie Z
    July 9, 2009

    Ooh, I like “realing.” I may have to adopt that.

  12. #12 Jason Thibeault
    July 9, 2009

    The Appeasement vs New Atheists thing is something I intend to write on very shortly myself — because this “rift” (and the first “civility” post by Mooney specifically) actually served to crystallize my opinion that a) “new atheists” is a semantics game to give a new name to people who think the same as all other atheists only aren’t content to sit down and shut up about them, and b) that the religious aren’t about to sit down and shut up about their side of the argument so appeasement is tantamount to ceding any ground science has won since the Dark Ages.

  13. #13 Kammy
    July 9, 2009

    Say a girl was interested in observing this epic debate, where would said girl start looking? Anyone want to give me link for place to start?

  14. #14 Dan J
    July 9, 2009

    I think the “accommodation” tag on my blog is going to get worn out. I have so much I want to say about it, and so many bad words to use!

  15. #15 Dan J
    July 9, 2009

    Kammy: For a good start, check Jerry Coyne’s blog entry “The Big Accommodationism Debate: all relevant posts. Of course it doesn’t necessarily include all relevant posts. I link to one of my own in the comments section there, as do others.

  16. #16 Stephanie Z
    July 9, 2009

    Kammy, ERV has a hilarious summary of this round. The accommodation tag at Dan’s blog has some good summary and commentary and a bunch of links to the more general discussion that’s been going on lately.

    Oh, and PZ has a brand new post at Pharyngula on the topic.

  17. #17 Jason Thibeault
    July 9, 2009

    Kammy — this is the post by Mooney that really kicked this whole thing off. Keep in mind that this is basically a pre-book trial balloon for Mooney’s assault on those atheists that dare to suggest that religion is actually incompatible with science. His book, while arguing that science needs to be at the forefront, holds as one of its tenets that we should be doing what we can to mollycoddle the religious so as not to alienate them. Only, not phrased the way I just did.

    I’m presently working my way through PZ’s book review and Mooney’s “reply” comment which he links halfway down in the comments (not going to link it too, as then I’ll get caught in the ScienceBlogs spam filter).

    There’s lots of stuff on the blogosphere related to this civility meme, but my favorite stuff comes from DanJ and DuWayne Brayton.

  18. #18 Dan J
    July 9, 2009

    Oh my! I hadn’t seen ERV’s post. Thanks for that one Stephanie, I think it just made my day!

  19. #19 Jason Thibeault
    July 9, 2009

    Bah! Spamfilter’d!

    Oh well, Dan and Stephanie beat me to it.

  20. #20 Kammy
    July 9, 2009

    I just came back from reading PZ’s post and damn if I don’t feel like running out in the street, pumping my fists and shouting Fuck YEAH!!! And now I shall decorously take my leave for some span of time as I dive into the links so kindly provided by you fine folks. But first I shall mix up a pomegranate martini with vanilla vodka. I’m happy to share… πŸ™‚

  21. #21 Greg Laden
    July 9, 2009

    The links cited above are great. However, I want to point out that this debate, and the use of the term “accomodationist” or “Appeaser” goes back two years earlier on the internet and was very much part of the framing debate (check my archive page and look for “framing science” and look on gregladen.com for “framing” as well)

    Well, the debate is probably older than that even but I don’t think much of what has been said since February is new, just restated (and often better stated).

    I’ve decided to put my post up now. It will be up in a few minutes.

  22. #22 Greg Laden
    July 9, 2009

    Oh, and you’ll also want to read my other post on “Someone has been wrong on The Internet all year” (which was just posted).

  23. #23 Agencja Reklamowa
    July 10, 2009

    I really want to read review and the book itself. I think I can spend all my money for it. Best whishes to all blogers.