The Republican War on Science Returns

The Intersection
By Chris Mooney
Aug 23, 2011 1:30 AMNov 19, 2019 8:49 PM


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My latest post at DeSmogBlog is about how, unfortunately, my six year old first book remains as relevant as ever. Just look at Jon Huntsman's recent and dramatic stand against the anti-science tilt of his own party. However, there are at least three important updates, or considerations to add to the argument of the original The Republican War on Science. Here are two of them:

2. It’s Not Just About Science, It’s About Reality. Whatever you may have thought of Bush, I don't think he approached the full construction of an alternate reality that we see in the Tea Party (although Bush went quite a way towards constructing an alternate reality around the Iraq war). And this leads to the second really important thing that is different now: Even as everybody revives the “war on science” meme, we now realize that the war isn’t really on science at all, but on reality. People who can say that the government banned incandescent light bulbs when it didn’t, who can claim that the U.S. can fail to raise the debt ceiling and it won’t be any problem, or who assert that the 2009 health care bill created government “death panels” are in denial about a lot more than science. 3. We Need Psychology To Explain This. The major new development, to my mind, has been the application of psychological and neuroscientific approaches to try to understand how people can actually behave and think like this. In particular, more and more attention focuses on motivated reasoning, a subconscious and often automatic emotional process in which people rationalize pre-existing views that are important to their identities, including in the face of direct factual refutation. So we are beginning to be able to understand the Republican denial of science as part of a motivated process in which certain scientific claims are seen as so threatening to self-identity and group affiliations that they must be rejected in order to preserve a sense of self.

You can read the full piece here.

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