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Feel-Good Fallacies and the Rise of the Anti-Scientific Left

by Alex B. BerezowHank Campbell

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-61039-164-1
Publisher: PublicAffairs

RealClearScience editor Berezow and Science 2.0 founder and editor Campbell take potshots at the modern-day progressive movement, which they claim has been given a free pass to attack science and technology.

The authors believe that “highly influential progressive activists…misinterpret, misrepresent and abuse science to advance their ideological and political agendas.” They address a number of controversial issues—e.g., the merits of organic foods, genetically engineered seeds, animal rights and vaccinations—attacking beliefs that they imply are held by the majority of progressives who vote Democratic. Along the way, Berezow and Campbell conflate seminal environmentalists such as Rachel Carson with extremists who reject childhood vaccination, and they hold President Obama responsible for pandering to them because of the 2009 shortages of anti-virus shots to prevent a feared H1N1 epidemic. They also attack “proponents of caveman-style running,” who prefer running barefoot, and progressives who “desire to return us to a Stone Age culture just because it is more ‘natural.’ ” The authors move on to question critics of genetically engineered seeds and those who are alarmed at the practice of injecting growth hormones in milk cows (although it is banned by the European Union). Perhaps to show that they genuinely are nonpartisan, they take up the cudgels for Democratic economic advisor Larry Summers, who was forced to resign as Harvard president after he proposed a genetic explanation for the fact that fewer women become scientists than men.

A sophisticatedly vitriolic, somewhat tongue-in-cheek addition to the current election debate—unfortunate since many of the issues they address merit serious scientific discussion rather than political invective.