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

Treasure Island

What would happen in a political system where there are no votes, but only money to influence decision making? In such a dystopia, one might expect the well-heeled to have power and the poor to be disenfranchised. But now suppose further that even those with money find themselves bitterly divided on the central political issue of the day. Lacking the vote, the rich might wind up battling each other in a never-ending balance of powerlessness. It may sound farfetched. Yet there is such a place: the island of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens. They are subject to federal laws and the draft, but they lack representation in Congress, do not pay federal taxes, and cannot vote for president. What they can do--those who can afford it--is give money to U.S. campaigns. During the current electoral cycle, Puerto Ricans have already given $1.5 million to candidates they can't vote for, including more than $750,000 in donations to Al Gore, Bill Bradley, and George W...

Libertarian Rhapsody

I t's so hard to teach New Yorkers," says columnist John Tierney of The New York Times, lowering his binoculars and shaking his head. "I try twice a week, and it never works." It's morning in Manhattan's Riverside Park, and Tierney and I are standing near 89th Street, spying on dog walkers on the promenade below us and counting how many leash their pets upon leaving the enclosed dog run, as city law requires. We're in the data-collection stage of a mock scientific experiment conducted for Tierney's twice-weekly column "The Big City." Here is the protocol: Step 1: Tierney and I spend 15 minutes tabulating the ratio of unleashed to leashed dogs (3:1). Step 2: Tierney hands out $20 bills to law-abiding dog walkers and, as they gape, provides flyers that read: Big City Civility Award You are hereby awarded the sum of Twenty Dollars ($ 20.00) for engaging in civil behavior in a public place. Thank you for keeping your dog leashed. Tierney's objective is to test the libertarian hypothesis...

Senatorial Crockery

Anthrax and the war in Afghanistan notwithstanding, Senate Republicans have elected to play domestic hardball. Recently, they delayed a foreign-aid bill to protest what The Wall Street Journal editorial page called "unprecedented stonewalling" on the president's judicial appointments by the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont. Yet what may be truly without precedent is the numeric sleight of hand used to condemn Leahy. The Wall Street Journal complains that "10 months into this Administration Mr. Leahy has confirmed a mere eight of the 60 judicial nominations Mr. Bush has made." Leahy, however, has only been Judiciary Committee chairman since June 6, when Democrats took full control of the Senate. Extending its calendrical games further, the Journal notes that Bush made 44 of his 60 nominations "by the August recess," suggesting that Leahy has had plenty of time to consider them. But as of October 18, the day the Journal editorialized, Leahy had had...

Bush Interfaces With Brain

Just when you thought Slate 's book, George W. Bushisms , couldn't possibly sell any more copies, the President has done it again. According to the Washington Post , a vacationing Bush was surprised on Tuesday when asked by reporters about the plans of Panos Zavos, a Kentucky scientist, and Severino Antinori, an Italian fertility doctor, to clone a human being. Bush decided to answer on the topic of stem cells instead. Then, he offered this promise: "I'll be making a statement about my views on how life and science should interface when I'm ready." It's fascinating to imagine the hand gestures that might have accompanied this declaration. Personally, I like to picture Bush trying in vain to fit together two invisible, poorly matched Legos. And in the same session, Bush also managed this more minor flub on the Middle East, observing: "Our administration is in contact with the Israelis and the Palestinians on a regular basis. We will continue to do so." As Bush continues to tackle these...

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