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

The New York Times Magazine: Cloned!

In terms of shock value, February 4th's The New York Times Magazine feature, "A Desire to Duplicate" by Margaret Talbot -- or, as it was titled on the comic book style front page, " Lab of the Human Clones !" -- will almost certainly live up to expectations. The story's gist was neatly summarized by the cover's campy exclamations: "Parents Seek to Duplicate Dead Child!"; "Is This . . . Madness?"; "Rich U.F.O. Sect Behind Scheme!"; "Scientists Say, 'It Can Be Done!'" Believe it or not, none of this is hyperbole: The article describes a plot by a wacko sect of alien-obsessed futurists, called the Raëlians, to clone a human child. How seriously one should take the Raëlians is highly debatable; Talbot herself expresses misgivings. But considering the well-orchestrated spook factor in its presentation, Talbot's article could help spark a new public debate over human cloning (technically, "somatic cell nuclear transfer"). This could include a reexamination of the current, highly...

Libertarians are Right!

You may have heard the liberal aphorism, "Libertarians are always half right." Their sometimes obsessive free marketism aside, libertarians can be particularly good at pointing out the flaws and excesses of leftist thinking -- like those that the libertarian Reason Magazine noted are on full display at the oxymoronic website www.primitivism.com . "Our site is an exploration into primitivism and related viewpoints from anthropology, Luddism, anarchy and the ongoing critique of civilization," reads the site's heading, just above the image of a Chewbacca-like noble savage. Along with explorations of hairy topics like "Hellhounds, Werewolves and the Germanic Underground," Primitivism.com posts essays on Noam Chomsky, attacks on the Monsanto and Fox corporations, and links to the radical environmental group Earthfirst!, whose magazine publishes a column, titled "Dear Ned Ludd" , filled with charming advice on sabotaging genetically engineered crops. Despite an alarming fondness for Ted...

The Clone Wars

The Clone Wars The next skirmish in the battle over human cloning has begun, and the intellectual and moral arguments from the anti-cloning camp are as poor as ever. Perhaps we should all simply wait for the next Star Wars movie -- Attack of the Clones -- and let George Lucas tell us what we ought to think. Here, with annotation, are some of the highly edifying things being said about the biotech firm Advanced Cell Technology 's announcement that it has cloned the first human embryo: "Human reproduction is now in the hands of men, when it rightfully belongs in the hands of God." -- Raymond Flynn , President, National Catholic Alliance But didn't God give men hands? & c & c "The use of embryos to clone is wrong. We should not as a society grow life to destroy it. And that's exactly what's taking place." -- President George W. Bush Note the characteristic scientific flub: Bush suggests an embryo was somehow used to clone an embryo; in reality genetic material from human skin...

Holy War

When "Ibn Warraq," the pseudonymous Muslim apostate, visited the United States after September 11, one of his first stops was the White House. There, he enjoyed an hour-and-a-half lunch with President Bush's chief economic speechwriter, David Frum. Though Warraq confirms the meeting and has told supporters about it, Frum refuses to discuss it "in any way," perhaps because it suggests that some in the administration just don't buy the president's claim that Islam is a "peaceful" religion. Warraq has made a name for himself (and lost the one he was born with) by becoming Islam's most outspoken critic. His controversial 1995 book Why I Am Not a Muslim makes Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses look like bush-league blasphemy. A dense treatise modeled after Bertrand Russell's famous 1927 essay "Why I Am Not a Christian," the work presents a strident historical, moral, and philosophical indictment of Islam and advocates not just a firm separation of mosque and state but outright atheism. It...

You Gotta Have Faith

"President Bush has selected John J. DiIulio Jr., a political science professor, to head a first-ever federal office for integrating religious institutions more fully into federally financed social services, several Bush advisers said." -- The New York Times January 29, 2001 Dear President Bush, Thank you so much for offering me a position as director of the White House's newly founded Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. I would love to serve in the new administration, and humbly accept the job. As you're well aware, a lot of people are going to criticize us for trying to bring federal subsidies to faith-based social organizations. Church-state separationists, in particular, say it's just a tacit way of spreading religion under the auspices of government. But don't worry: I'm not afraid of criticism. After all, back in Egypt, many heaped scorn upon the Israelites. And we all know what happened to them. Actually, though, I must admit I don't anticipate many real...

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