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The Sciences

The "Democrat War on Science" Meme

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyMarch 6, 2009 11:53 PM

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A lot of people right now are striving desperately to establish this notion. Neil Munro's big story in the latest National Journal (here, subscription) is the latest example. In essence, it postulates a bunch of new rifts that are going to open between scientists and Democrats now that the latter are in power. I'm quoted in there with this comment:

"There is not going to be enough money to go around, so there will be a lot of scientific priorities that will be hard to meet," Mooney said. But, "I don't think it's going to be the same adversarial situation [seen in the Bush years]. Very few or no Democrats take stances that are anathema to the scientific community, like denying global warming or denying evolution."

The quotation is accurate enough, though I would have liked to add a few more qualifiers and caveats--whether I did or not in conversation with Munro, I don't remember. In any case, I stand by the general sentiment, and no one has yet even begun to convince me otherwise. The Bush administration vs. the scientific community was a pretty unique, fraught, and nasty situation that I don't see much chance of being replicated under Obama--for the following reason. The defining characteristic of the Bush "war on science" was that the administration itself was attacking and denying core scientific conclusions, and thus trashing any notion that we ought respect the scientific community's expertise. I don't think the Obama administration is going to do that. Ergo, I don't think we're going to have anything like the same sorts of problems.

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