Chris Mooney

Chris Mooney is a Prospect senior correspondent and, most recently, author of Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatened Our Future (with Sheril Kirshenbaum).

Recent Articles

Attack of the Clones meets the Lord of the Luddites.

I n his recent American Prospect Online article, " Attack of the Metaphors ," Matthew Nisbet lucidly explains why even though it shouldn't, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones will inevitably come to shape this nation's ongoing political debate about cloning. George Lucas's take on this technology, Nisbet argues, resonates with themes from Brave New World , Mary Shelley's Frankenstein , and other influential texts concerned with misuses of science, from The Island of Dr. Moreau to Jurassic Park . Besides Star Wars itself, perhaps the most recent work in this genre is Spider Man , yet another tale of hubris, science run amok, and unwise manipulations of nature -- specifically, the genetic engineering of spiders -- by human beings. There are any number of reasons, plot not the least of them, that modern science fiction and fantasy take up these motifs with such frequency. But here -- as the U.S. Senate's cloning debate fortuitously coincides with another Senate cloning debate...

Idea Log:

I t always happens around this time of year, when early May thunderstorms ring in the so-called National Day of Prayer. Numerous falsehoods, and even more numerous half-truths, start getting aired concerning the role of religion -- the implication is almost always Christianity -- in the founding of the United States. One example, revealed by the Prospect Online 's very own "Tapped," is a recent e-mail from Commerce Secretary Don Evans to his department claiming that "the first Thursday of May has always been designated as the National Day of Prayer." Actually, this event has only been with us since 1952, and only in 1988 did Ronald Reagan single out the first Thursday in May as its date. Probably some of the Founding Fathers -- particularly Thomas Jefferson, who once advised his nephew, "question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear" -- wouldn't have been particularly comfortable...

Why everyone has a right to criticize the Catholic Church.

I dea Log tends to enjoy Peter Beinart's columns in The New Republic , but his latest item on the Catholic Church scandal is rather puzzling. On the magazine's Web site the piece is framed as an article on "What not to say about the pedophilia scandal." But a far more accurate title would have been, "Don't say anything about the pedophilia scandal -- unless you're Catholic." Beinart rightly observes that pundits and commentators have been befuddled by how to deal with the Church's plight. But he almost celebrates this incoherence and timidity by asserting that questions about such topics as the role of abstinence in Catholic practice are fundamentally theological and therefore beyond the public sphere. Consider the calls for Bernard Cardinal Law's resignation. As Beinart puts it: You can't declare someone unfit for their post without having an opinion about the requirements of the post. And you can't have an opinion about the requirements of the post without having an opinion about...

Editor's Desk:

D ear readers, As I'm sure you've noticed, since the beginning of April The American Prospect Online has been running a new daily feature called "Tapped." Compiled by staff, this is a link-intensive collection of musings, ramblings, opinions, and other assorted posting on the news and policy developments of the day -- from political gossip about whether David Brock lied on Crossfire to the latest skinny on the energy bill. And over the last two weeks, we've also started to update "Tapped" daily, in real time. "Tapped" is, of course, modeled after a Web log, or "blog," like Instapundit or Kausfiles . But there are some differences. For one thing, it's compiled by a number of different staffers here and actually gets centrally edited, sort of like Spinsanity . For another, although we certainly cover the latest in political gossip and spin, we also try to keep "Tapped" full of policy details and the latest that's happening on Capitol Hill. So, you might say that it's a blog on steroids...

Rush don't know Dittoheads.

O n a recent show, Rush Limbaugh once again swatted at The American Prospect . As he put it on his Web site , TAP had succumbed to something he termed "The Raspberry Effect" (links added): For those of you who don't recall, the great columnist for the Washington Post , William Raspberry, wrote a 1993 column extremely critical of my program. He then heard from polite Dittohead readers disagreeing, and suggested he listen to my show, which he hadn't done. Once Raspberry did spend some time listening, he wrote another column apologizing. So whenever a journalist writes something critical, then listens to the program and realizes the first effort was wrong, it's described as "the Raspberry Effect." It has now happened again with our friends over at the American Prospect , the people who first accused me of being deeply involved in a conspiracy to destroy Tom Daschle . Last week, Harold Meyerson ran a piece on the Bush White House political strategery. I don't know that I praised it. I...

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