the republican brain

Fri, 2012-04-06 11:07Chris Mooney
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S.E. Cupp Attacks Climate Science and Climate Scientists on MSNBC

Yesterday, I appeared on MSNBC’s Now with Alex Wagner to talk about The Republican Brain. It was largely an interview about what’s going on with conservatives and science right now—why they distrust it so much–but S.E. Cupp, the conservative on the panel, called my argument “infuriating.”

Then, she proceeded to attack climate science and the researchers who produce it—doing a very good job of proving my point about conservatives and science! Brad Johnson has provided a transcript at Think Progress (video below it):

CUPP: There have been, to quote Rick Santorum, phony studies on climate change. East Anglia University I should mention!
WAGNER: And that study –
CUPP: Every time science has been corrupted by politics, everyone in the scientific community should be worried!

Mon, 2012-04-02 10:17Chris Mooney
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Judith Curry Was For Me Before She Was Against Me

I first got to know Judith Curry—the Georgia Tech researcher who blogs at “Climate, Etc.,” and has been drawn into controversy for, in her words, “challenging many aspects of the IPCC consensus”–when I was working on my second book, Storm World. I spent a fair amount of time with Curry, and with the other scientists profiled in the book—interviewing them in person, getting to understand their research. This is what science writers do.

At the time, Curry and her colleagues were just coming off a media feeding frenzy after having published papers linking hurricanes to global warming right in the middle of the devastating 2005 hurricane season.

When Storm World came out, it is no exaggeration to say that Curry gave it a rave review. I want to quote in full from her Five Star endorsement at Amazon.com, which is entitled “Science writing at its very best.” Bear with me, this will all become very relevant; and I've italicized a few important parts:

To provide a frame of reference for this review, I and my colleagues Peter Webster and Greg Holland are among the scientists that are featured prominently in Storm World. Our involvement in the issue of hurricanes and global warming began when we published an article in Science shortly before the landfall of Hurricane Rita, where we reported a doubling of the number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes globally since 1970. When Chris Mooney first approached me with his idea for writing a book on this topic, I was somewhat skeptical. I couldn't see how this could be accomplished given the rapid changes in the science (I was worried the book would be outdated before it was published), the complexities of the technical aspects of the subject, a concern about how the individual scientists would be treated and portrayed, and a concern that the political aspects of the issue would be handled in a partisan way. Over the course of the past year and a half, it became apparent that Mooney was researching this issue extremely thoroughly and was developing a good grasp of both the history and technical aspects of the subject. Upon finally reading the book, I can only say Storm World has far exceeded any hope or expectation that I could have had for a book on this subject.

Wed, 2012-02-01 09:36Chris Mooney
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Fox News Versus The Muppets: Do Conservatives Have Different Senses of Humor Than Liberals?

You’ve probably already heard: In a video “press conference” that has already been seen by almost two million people, Kermit and Miss Piggy take on, and take down, Fox News.

The provocation? A comment by a conservative media watcher, Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center, on the Fox Business Channel—accusing the new Muppets movie of being  “liberal” since the bad guy in the film turns out to be an oil tycoon. It was just part of Fox Business host Eric Bolling going on about whether liberals, through the flick, are “trying to brainwash your kids against capitalism.”

In the press conference, Kermit responds to the charge by noting that in the movie, the Muppets are actually riding in a “gas guzzling Rolls Royce.”

Miss Piggy then goes one better, calling the accusation “almost as laughable as accusing Fox News as being, you know, news.”

Now even Bill O’Reilly has weighed in, telling the Muppets to “watch it.” I think he may have been joking. I think.

I wouldn’t make so much of this, were it not for the fact that this kind of thing happens all the time. I mean, it was just last year that Fox picked a fight with SpongeBob Squarepants—because SpongeBob dared to be accurate about global warming.

And liberals laughed, and snickered.

Thu, 2012-01-19 09:24Chris Mooney
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Who’s Afraid of Kerry Emanuel? Why Republicans Are Attacking a Republican Climate Scientist

Last week, MIT climate scientist and hurricane specialist Kerry Emanuel received email threats for his view on climate change. These were quickly and appropriately condemned by the progressive and environmental blogosphere—as they are condemned by me–but I want to go a bit further and contemplate why Emanuel’s views in particular appear so menacing to some elements of the conservative base today.

The answer may seem deceptively simple on the surface: Unlike most climate researchers, Kerry Emanuel describes himself as a long time Republican. And he’s been speaking out lately. The precise catalyst leading to the emails was a video posted by Climate Desk, capturing Emanuel at an event in New Hampshire organized by maverick Republicans who actually accept global warming and don’t like the way their party is headed. They want to turn it around (hey, good luck with that).

So Emanuel is presumably seen as a turncoat by some Republicans and conservatives—and you might just leave it at that. But I think it is deeper. It is the kind of Republicanism that Emanuel represents—merged with his identity as a scientist, and a premiere one at that—that really presents the biggest challenge.

You see, Emanuel is what you might call an “Enlightenment Republican.”

Mon, 2011-12-12 07:49Chris Mooney
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A Democrat Undermines Science

In my debate a few months back with Kenneth Green about the left, the right, and science, my colleague really could have used some more strong examples of left wing science abuse.

Now, he has one.

There is no other way to spin it: The Obama administration’s decision to ignore the FDA, and refuse to make Plan B emergency contraception (the “morning after” pill) available over the counter, is a clear and unequivocal case of politics interfering with science. And it is a particularly galling one because, as former FDA official Susan Wood points out, this is one of the key issues on which the last administration, that of George W. Bush, misused science. So there is every reason for the Obama administration to have known better, and to have done differently.

In fact, the bogus argument that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius used, to justify overruling her own expert agency, is the same bogus argument that was attempted during the Bush years.

Thu, 2011-11-10 05:23Chris Mooney
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Conservatives Attack and Misunderstand A Book They Haven’t Read…A Book About Flawed Conservative Reasoning

This would be sad, if it weren’t also so telling.

On Monday I announced my new book The Republican Brain, which will be due out next spring. And I provided a brief description, as well as layering on plenty of nuance, like a good liberal, to make sure it wouldn’t be misinterpreted.

So much for that!

Beginning with Roger Pielke, Jr. (not technically a conservative, but, well…), and then spreading to climate “skeptic” blogs like Watts Up With That and Marc Morano’s Climate Depot, conservatives are claiming that the book is a form of “new eugenics” and that it describes them as “genetically/mentally/psychologically inferior,” and so on.

All of this is completely without foundation, and in fact, contradicted by my own book announcement, which discusses the many strengths (as well as weaknesses) of the conservative psychology, and describes the left-right difference as a kind of necessary yin and yang. 

And none of the people saying these things (including over 100 commenters at Watts’ site) have read the book because it isn’t out yet, and won’t be for 6 months. In fact, it is still being edited.

Chalk up yet another example of conservative factual wrongness! Perhaps I can even fit it into the text.

Mon, 2011-11-07 07:04Chris Mooney
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The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Don’t Believe in Science (or Many Other Inconvenient Truths)

Over the last year here at DeSmogBlog, my writings have converged around a set of common themes. On the one hand, I’ve shown just how factually incorrect today’s political conservatives are, documenting the disproportionate amount of misinformation believed by Fox News watchers and the disproportionate wrongness of the right when it comes to science.

At the same time, I’ve advanced a variety of psychological explanations for why we might be seeing so much political and scientific misinformation today on the right wing. For instance, I’ve unpacked the theory of motivated reasoning; and I’ve also talked about why conservative white males in particular seem to be such strong deniers of climate science.

All of this, I’m now prepared to say, is just the iceberg tip. You see, for the last year, I’ve been working on a book on the same topic, which explains why conservatives are so factually incorrect—drawing on the latest research in social psychology, political science, cognitive neuroscience, and other fields.

The book is now finished in draft form—due out next year with Wiley—and it is long past time to formally announce its existence. You are now seeing the draft cover image (the current subtitle is likely to change, as this phenomenon goes far, far beyond science, as does the book).  I can also share the text that will soon go up to Amazon and elsewhere. Eat your heart out, Ann Coulter:

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