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

Alternative Reality

Time was when we just couldn't hear enough about the wonders of "adult" and umbilical-cord stem-cell research. Whenever the Christian right and its political allies wanted to argue against expanded funding for embryonic stem-cell work, they would quickly cite study of these other types of regenerative cells as an alternative. As recently as the May stem-cell debate in the House of Representatives, one heard this refrain constantly, often framed in terms that directly contradict prominent statements about the relative merits of "adult" and embryonic stem cells by our very own National Institutes of Health. Trouble was, scientists working in the stem-cell field do not see "adult" or umbilical-cord stem cells as a "rival" to embryonic stem cells. At best, they view research on these cells as one biomedical pathway among many, worth pursuing but certainly not to the detriment of any other avenue of inquiry. Scientists, in general, don't like the idea of prematurely shutting down...

Gleneagles Grounded

Following the G8 summit last week in Gleneagles, Scotland, some have tried to spin a clear failure on the issue of climate change into a partial triumph because President George W. Bush was at least forced to acknowledge that the phenomenon is actually happening. The sad truth, unfortunately, is that not even this slim level of optimism is justified. Bush has already acknowledged as much about global warming in the past as he did at the G8--but such admissions have hardly moved him any closer to endorsing the kind of mandatory steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions that have been embraced by other nations. In fact, at this point, there's little reason to expect such action on global warming before 2008, when a new president is elected in the United States. If you don't believe me, just take a look at the 32-page " Gleneagles Communiqué ," then compare it to Bush's major policy address on global warming: a Rose Garden speech from June 11, 2001. In many ways, the two documents turn out...

Mann Hunt

The Bush administration has been repeatedly criticized for its disdainful approach to scientific information. But Bush's Republican allies in Congress are at least as empirically challenged as the administration, if not more so. Not only does Congress turn a blind eye when the White House interferes with the activities of scientists in the federal bureaucracy; even worse, Republican members of Congress themselves are doing their part to harass and intimidate members of the nation's scientific community. Exhibit A: Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas, recently selected as chairman of the House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee. For those unfamiliar with Barton, his campaign-finance profile provides a good introduction. During the 2004 election cycle , Barton received more than $ 200,000 in campaign donations from the oil/gas industry as well as from the electric utility industry, his two top sources of funding. But Barton isn't just your typical industry-friendly GOP...

Debunking the Debunkers

Given the renewed attention being paid to global warming, it was probably inevitable that, sooner or later, some prominent conservative outlet would arch back its head and emit a barbaric yawp of climate-science skepticism. Forget the fact that virtually every week, new scientific work strengthens the conclusion that humans beings are heating the planet. Basic denial of the global-warming problem remains a core right-wing instinct, waiting to be unleashed. So it wasn't long before The Wall Street Journa l's editorial page, long dismissive of environmental problems like mercury pollution, was seized with the skeptical spirit. In its June 21 editorial (subscription only), the paper went much further into head-in-the-sand territory than even the Bush administration has done. The Journal 's near-thousand-word take was so wrongheaded, so extreme, so downright clueless, that we at The American Prospect have decided to dissect it for your reading pleasure, complete with links to scientific...

Lowball Warming

There are few who understand the ins and outs of the U.S. government's climate-change research program better than Rick Piltz. A political scientist by training, Piltz moved to Washington, D.C., from Texas during the scorching summer of 1988, when NASA climatologist James Hansen put global warming on the map with his famous congressional testimony warning that the greenhouse effect had been triggered by humans. Piltz eventually wound up working for a decade as a senior official in the climate research program, launched in 1989 and now a $ 2 billion dollar a year enterprise. An insider who coordinated the editing of many program documents, Piltz resigned in March, charging that White House politics has undermined the credibility and integrity of the program. Now he has some very revealing stories to tell. On Wednesday, June 8, The New York Times told some of those stories to the American public. Based on documents provided by Piltz and the Government Accountability Project, the paper...

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