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

Smart -- and Stupid -- Profiling

Post-September 11, you'd think the political right would be able to make a pretty strong case for some form of racial profiling. After all, we were attacked by young, male Arabs, and we know there are more young, male Arabs among us plotting more such attacks. As Slate editor Michael Kinsley put it in a recent Washington Post column : Today we're at war with a terror network that just killed 6,000 innocents and has anonymous agents in our country planning more slaughter. Are we really supposed to ignore the one identifiable fact we know about them? That may be asking too much. Kinsley -- a liberal -- advances a sane, responsible, and qualified case for some form of racial profiling. That's precisely the same thing The Wall Street Journal 's Peggy Noonan attempts to do in a recent Opinion Journal commentary , titled "Profiles Encouraged" -- but she fails miserably. The reason? Because Noonan's column embodies the same sort of insensitivity to the Arab American ethnic group that has...

Tolkien on Homeland Defense

In a 1954 effusion about his friend J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings , C.S. Lewis had this to say: Almost the central theme of the book is the contrast between the Hobbits (or "the Shire") and the appalling destiny to which some of them are called, the terrifying discovery that the humdrum happiness of the Shire, which they had taken for granted as something normal, is in reality a sort of local and temporary accident, that its existence depends on being protected by powers which Hobbits forget, against powers which Hobbits dare not imagine, that any Hobbit may find himself forced out of the Shire and caught up into that high conflict. Hmm, sounds familiar. What is 9/11 and the current conflict in Afghanistan if not a deep reminder that the pampered and protected civilization we enjoy in the U.S., "depends on being protected by powers which [we] forget against powers which [we] dare not imagine?"? Just to get you prepared for the December 19th film debut of The Fellowship of the...

Surviving Pop Culture:

After the finale of CBS's hit reality TV series Survivor drew some 51 million viewers last week, a number of conservative commentators felt compelled to wade into the treacherous waters of American popular culture to critique the show. Most drowned. Almost across the board, conservatives treated the show as an excuse to play journalistic softball, not bothering to do the hard work of actually watching the show. And they frequently adopted a tone of condescension towards those Americans -- roughly one fifth of the population -- who so erroneously chose watching Survivor over reading The Book of Virtues last Wednesday night. Conservatives are united in their hatred of Survivor -- if not in their reasons for loathing. "Mind you, I never watched the show, because the premise struck me as excruciatingly idiotic," wrote the Baltimore Sun's right wing columnist Gregory Kane , in one particularly nuanced evaluation of the most popular show on television. Kane's spin on...

RATS: The Subliminable Debacable:

September 13, 2000 TO: The Austin Powers and the GOPundit Squad FROM: George W. Bush RE: Talking Points on RATS Hey y'all! In the past few days, pretty much every one of us here has had to deal with this subliminable message debacable. To tell you the truth, I'm tired of those DemocRATS scurrying around nipping at us over one gol-darn frame in our new ad. At first, when this just came out, nobody knew what to say to the reporters, and so a lot of us ended up sounding like major league assholes. But by now, we've managed to work out some strategies and talking points that might work if we get ratted out again. Here's some examples: Quote Shakespeare . When it comes to this issue of subliminafying, you could sound really smart by saying the whole thing is "much ado about nothing." (I've never read that play, but I skimmed the Cliff Notes.) And it works in this stipulation. My...

Bush in the Balance:

Following George W. Bush's first official policy speech to Congress, most conservatives were exultant. They remarked on Bush's conspicuous lack of verbal blunders (apparently the only mistake he made, quickly corrected, was calling education "not my top priority"). They marveled at his shrewdness in pitching his tax cut as a moderate position, rather than an extremist scheme originally crafted to counter tax-flattener Steve Forbes in the primaries. The syndicated columnist Cal Thomas happily concluded that Bush had exceeded expectations -- that he had begun to seem, well, presidential. But as the coos and gurgles subsided, there was also a rumble of conservative discontent about aspects of Bush's routine. Some doctrinaire righties griped about Bush's triangulating admission that government spending has some role in solving some problems, labeling it Clintonesque . (Did Bush just hint that the era of small government is over?) And a few began to flog Bush for even considering one line...

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