Saturday, April 28, 2012

Another Reason to Be Skeptical

There are a number of reasons why someone might be skeptical of claims that we're on the brink of eco-catastrophe if we don't do something soon to reverse the warming of the planet, and I think I've just come across another one. A science writer named Chris Mooney is a firm believer in man-caused global warming which is ipso facto sufficient reason to be skeptical of it.

I say that because Mooney has such bizarre views on other topics that simple induction leads me to be suspicious of anything he opines upon. Mooney has, for example, written a book in which he claims, presumably while sober, that Republicans are genetically inferior to Democrats.

Alex Berezow and Hank Campbell, a couple of scientists, slap him upside the head in a review of Mooney's argument, such as it is:
Are Republicans genetically inferior to Democrats? That might sound like a preposterous question, but essentially that is the thesis of Chris Mooney's latest book The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science -- and Reality.

In a recent article, Mooney summarizes his case. "[I]t often seems there are so many factually wrong claims on the political right that those who make them live in a different reality." He continues, "So here's an idea: Maybe they actually do. And maybe we can look to science help understand why it is that they view the world so differently."

Translation: Republicans are stupid and there has to be a biological explanation for it.

If Mooney's argument sounds familiar to you, it should. It's called "eugenics," and it was based on the belief that some humans are genetically inferior. Taken to an extreme, it encouraged people to selectively breed in order to improve the gene pool and eliminate those who the elites determined were unfit. It was rightfully dismissed decades ago, but this does not stop a modern-day science writer from resuscitating it and applying it to political adversaries.
Berezow and Campbell offer more at the link, but, really, their effort is probably unnecessary. No one except people on the lunatic fringe is likely to take someone like Mooney seriously enough to read his book anyway.