The know-nothings

Salon is running an article by Andrew O’Hehir called The know-nothings. This is a lengthy and expanded review of Chris Mooney’s book “The Republican War on Science,” although it goes into topics not covered in great detail by Mooney. The article is a good read and has made me anticipate the UPS truck bringing my copy of Mooney’s book. Here’s an excerpt:

Perhaps most effectively of all, the right’s war on science has exploited the mainstream media’s fetish for journalistic “balance,” regardless of its relevance to reality. Despite the overwhelming consensus of mainstream science on global warming, newspaper articles and TV reports still dutifully call upon the shrinking universe of contrarians like Michaels. (Like most climate change skeptics, Michaels has slowly retreated, along with the polar icecaps. He used to claim that global warming either wasn’t happening or wasn’t caused by human activity; now he admits to both, but argues that it can’t be stopped and that its potential effects have been exaggerated.)

[tags]Science, books[/tags]

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2 Responses to The know-nothings

  1. I have a few facts to throw your way to complicate the situation.

    I’m in the medical marijuana movement, which is where the politicization of science has a very horrible and heartrending effect on the daily lives of seriously and chronically ill people.

    Back in the mid nineties during the Clinton administration, Dr. Donald Abrams of UCSF was trying to get approval to research the anecdotal claims that marijuana helped people with AIDS.

    He was refused by NIDA, which has a legal monopoly on the manufacture and distribution of marijuana for scientific research purposes. The head of NIDA, Dr. Donald Leshner, told the press:

    We don’t need to research the medical uses of marijuana, because federal law already tells us that it’s medically useless.

    Guess what this man is doing now?

    He’s the frigging CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    The man who said refused to allow scientific research that could prove the federal government was wrong about medical marijuana is now in charge of the organization that is supposed to stand up for science and for scientists.

    This is a sick, shameful, shocking situation.

    This is why I resigned from the AAAS myself.

    How can we protect science from politicization when a major perpetrator of that practice is head of the AAAS?

    No wonder things have sunk this low.

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  2. Oops BTW I meant Dr. Alan Leshner, not Donald, sorry.

    Leshner was not at all interested in the possibility that scientific research might reveal the Schedule I status of marijuana to be a factual error.

    A Schedule I narcotic is medically useless. Leshner took the position that since marijuana is a Schedule I narcotic, it is by definition medically useless, and therefore there is no reason to allow research into its possible medical benefits.

    The man’s attitude was not scientific at all. How can a man who sees the world like that possibly be head of AAAS?

    He’s what we’re supposed to be against, and instead he’s been hired as some kind of leader. It’s not right, and it has to end.

    How can we complain about Republicans, when a man who believes federal law determines reality is running the AAAS?

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