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

Anecdotal Evidence Watch

Anecdotal Evidence Watch . Who's the laziest columnist of them all? David Limbaugh certainly appears to be striving for that distinction with this opening to a column on Christian-bashing (titled "Yet more assaults on Christianity"): Based on stories I continue to encounter, the war against Christianity is escalating and becoming increasingly hysterical. Could it be that those attacking are motivated more by an antipathy toward Christianity than an affinity for religious freedom? Limbaugh then proceeds to complain about the latest peregrinations of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU) . The ACLU, for instance, has recently brought suit over a sign posted outside a Louisiana town saying "Jesus is Lord over Franklinton." (The sign appeared on a state road and was built by a parish road crew, according to Limbaugh.) Meanwhile, Americans United is peeved about the use of "the Capitol Rotunda for [congressional] prayer...

Getting Lay:

S ometime in mid-January, the worm turned for Enron executives. You could see it in the way George W. Bush raced to distance himself from his friend Kenneth L. Lay, like Prince Hal denouncing Falstaff: "I know thee not, old man. Fall to thy prayers." And it's beginning to look as if Lay, the recently resigned chairman and CEO of the energy trading corporation, may have need of prayer. Calls for criminal prosecution of Enron heads have begun to sound—and remarkably, free-market conservatives, including one formerly on the Enron payroll, have been the first to raise their voices. "Jail 'em. All the Enron and Arthur Andersen principals and then some," wrote National Review economics columnist Larry Kudlow. "Why? To save our system of corporate governance, which used to be the best in the world." The fact that Kudlow himself was in the process of disclosing some $50,000 in consultant's fees from Enron made the denunciation all the more striking. The case against Lay and other Enron...

When Left Becomes Right:

In her book, The Future and Its Enemies , Virginia Postrel observes that political lines often blur dramatically on science, technology, and bioethical issues. Many on the right, for example, will oppose various forms of reproductive technology out of religiously grounded moral principles; many on the left, meanwhile, will wind up in the same place because of their reflexive distrust of "corporate" science. As a result, those in the relative center can find themselves besieged from both sides. Postrel's theory certainly seems to help explain a recent move by the environmental group Friends of the Earth (FoE) to call for a moratorium on the cloning of human embryos for medical research purposes (therapeutic cloning). Usually, it's the anti-abortion set that's worried about the laboratory use of embryonic stem cells (or a bunch of human clones running around). Now, it's a left wing earth-friendly group whose president, Brent Blackwelder, recently argued before a Senate subcommittee that...

Trent Lott's Pillar of Salt

Okay. Let's suppose you're a liberal. Furthermore, let's suppose you want to draw an intellectually defensible distinction between partisanship as practiced by Democrats and partisanship as practiced by Republicans -- and argue that the GOP version is more extreme. Sure, you could just get angry at Republicans and bleat on in a partisan way yourself. But you want to unlock the objective truth of the matter. Well, Trent Lott's behavior Sunday on CBS's Face the Nation serves as a pretty good starting point. On the show, host Bob Schieffer asked Lott to comment on Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's claim that the Bush administration was guilty of "Enronizing" the economy. Now, a fair-minded liberal like yourself will readily concede that this piece of Democratic spin , which compares the president's economic plans to the potentially criminal activities of a deceitful corporation, was unjust. Ergo, Daschle was being partisan. But then, Lott went and did Daschle one better: When Senator...

Two Kinds of Spin, Partisan and Literary

The New Dishonesty . Watching Mark Racicot and Terry McAuliffe -- the Republican and Democratic National Committee heads -- square off for the first time on Meet the Press last Sunday morning was a disheartening spectacle. There's an aspect of artifice to the latest spurt of hard-core partisanship, as incarnated in these two men, that's more than a little offensive. It's almost as though both sides have decided, simultaneously, that 9/11 has grown sufficiently distant that it's okay to throw the switch and become nasty again. And along with partisanship comes blaring dishonesty. Exhibit A is a recent New York Times dispatch by Richard L. Berke , which manages to capture both McAuliffe and Racicot in precisely the same preposterous spin move -- trying to talk around an embarrassing 2001 electoral defeat by claiming the other party's victor as their own. Here's McAuliffe on Michael Bloomberg's Republican victory in the New York mayoral race (one that was greatly aided by a racialized...

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