Friday, November 18

republican war on science

I just finished journalist Chris Mooney's new book, The Republican War on Science, and it was disturbing and mostly quite convincing. One of the worst cases of a bad decision, apparently politically or religiously motivated (or worse: possibly both) that immediately affects people is the Plan B pill.

The FDA decided not to make this "morning after" birth control pill available over-the-counter, despite an overwhelming majority of its scientific advisory committee recommending the agency do so. So why didn't they? Apparently because of ideological opposition to contraception itself, according to former FDA head Susan Wood, in this interview on Alternet. (She quit in August in protest over the Plan B decision.)

As a critic of the Bush administration and a science geek who follows the news, I would have thought I would have heard of most of the stuff in this book, but I hadn't. So read it, be shocked and dismayed but informed. It shows how Republicans have pushed to set the bar very high for scientific proof necessary to change laws or policies. This might sound good—in fact, they use an Orwellian term for it, "sound science"—but really it's to prevent action to curb global warming, protect endangered species, and so on. Indicative of their agenda is the fact that they want to make it easy to remove species from the endangered list, but hard to add them to it. There's no scientific justification for this double standard.

You can read more in this vein on Mooney's blog.


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