The Intersection

…for causing so very many people so very much depression and angst. Reading this reaction to my book recently on a blog, I thought to myself, wow, it sounds like countless other reactions I’ve gotten from folks:

Reading these two books back to back [mine and Esther Kaplan’s] is a tough thing to do, since Mooney’s point of view (that yes, the Democrats/liberals/intellectuals have on occasion abused science, but that the GOP has made a full-time vocation of it) is both unabashedly direct and brutally nailed down. On finishing Kaplan, you think “things are awful, but we can get through this.” On finishing Mooney, you think “HOLY SHIT, I THOUGHT WE WERE AT LEAST KINDA SORTA HOLDING OUR OWN IN ONE OR TWO THINGS!”

I apologize, in part, for causing such despair, because my book in its hardback version didn’t do enough to tell people how they could fight back against the war on science–and therefore, it left them with little sense of hope. That’s the chief flaw that the paperback edition tries to remedy. We can all fight back by:

1. Becoming better, more strategic science communicators (especially if we’re scientists).

2. Opposing anti-science members of Congress through direct political action.

3. Supporting the Union of Concerned Scientists, the National Center for Science Education, and numerous other groups that have made restoring scientific integrity a core priority; or, supporting groups trying to improve the political communication skills of scientists; or, supporting groups trying to, er, “unelect” anti-science members of Congress or other anti-science politicians.

And that’s just a start…I will have more to say about all of this in coming weeks. If you’re feeling an urgent need to fight back more immediately than that, my fellow science bloggers have been trying to mobilize support for an anti-creationist state board of education candidate in Ohio. Getting involved in that fight, by supporting Tom Sawyer, would be a very good start.


  1. #1 Matt
    August 31, 2006

    Your book didn’t cause me any despair – on the contrary, it was great to see a well-written, reasoned, and comprehensive analysis of this administration’s attitude toward science.

    As far as fighting back (or, as the captain of Serenity might put it, “misbehaving”), I think your book will give more of the educated lay public a good reason to take issues like local school board elections more seriously.

  2. #2 matthew
    August 31, 2006

    Thank you for writing this book Chris, as a young (and often struggling) scientist, I understand your passion, and I admire it greatly.

    I long for the day when good science is given the respect it’s due by the public.

  3. #3 Dark Tent
    August 31, 2006

    People need to wake up and smell the manure, which has been piling up in the barnyard for far too long.

    If your book helps yank people back to reality, I’d say you have done your job.

  4. #4 StealthBadger
    September 2, 2006

    No worries at all, and thank you indeed for writing it. I was emotionally prepared for it by my experiences with working at the Smithsonian under Secretary Small (now THAT’S something I can rant about for days…), but you and Kaplan together paint a very, very dark (and let me emphasize, accurate) picture of what’s going on. Despair is not the word at all. Bloody-minded malevolance (to steal a phrase from Pratchett) is closer, but too far in the other direction.

    Let’s just say that the reminder of what’s going on is good. The difficulty presented to most of us who are active in fighting the metaphorical hydra of the pro-bidness + pro-rhetorically-generated-endorphin-rush crowd is that generally, you have to pick a cause and focus most of your time on it, or you get spread too thin… and it’s discomforting to realize that the people who have your back are getting stepped all over, just like you.

    Ah well. There are worse ways to face a nascent mid-life crisis than doing some morally-required tail-kicking. At least I’m not trying to pick up co-eds and opening up a surf shop. 😀

    Seriously, again, thank you.

  5. #5 Joanna Bryson
    September 2, 2006

    You didn’t ask for suggestions on this one, but I’ve personally been trying to do constructive things with my spare time, like editing Wikipedia instead of just ordinary surfing or watching TV. A surprising number of newspapers now let you comment on articles; sometimes I try to call people on things & clarify confusions there too, though only on things I ordinarily read anyway. I don’t know how much that helps, but it’s better than watching TV. It may be that journalists read the comments themselves, so that could be quite useful if you are persuasive and clear.

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