The Republican brain … on science

The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science — and Reality by Chris Mooney
Publisher Wiley; available on Kindle

During the darkest days of the Bush era, science writer Chris Mooney made a big splash in the publishing world with his first book detailing the Republican war on science. This month his newest effort, what could be nicknamed the Republican brain on science, hit the shelves. In it you will find Mooney is a stickler for detail, always important in any book on science, especially one with a bold title. But this is no clinical read, the book is a blast right off the bat, framing the main subject marvelously in the juiciest claims and tastier bits of conservative pseudoscientific lore readers here have come to lovingly know and ridicule. [Read more...]

The science of anti-science

On almost every post where conservative denial of science rears its unwelcome head, a fascinating question breaks out in comments: do they really believe it or are they just being cynical assholes? The traditional response is “I can’t read people’s minds …but”. Now, thanks to the rapidly growing field of neurophysiology, we’re starting to get insight into the cerebral activities that rise and fall when someone is confronted by strong counter arguments to their beliefs. Defacto mind reading?  It’s a complicated subject, way out of my league as a writer. But luckily, I happen to have in my hot little hands a review copy for a new book due out in April by noted science writer Chris Mooney called The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Don’t Believe in Science. [Read more...]

This week in science!

This week rumors swirled that … something … was found in the LHC data. There’s plenty of inside baseball players saying it’s likely to be tentative evidence that the search for the Higgs Boson is nearing a phase transition. So, what is the Higgs Boson you ask? The LHC rap above with intro by MC Hawking does a decent job of reviewing the basics; I wish could explain the Higgs in one graf. Because it’s only the most important particle in science right now, and — depending on its properties or its very existence — could even help illuminate the elusive bridge between two great fields of physics that explain our universe from quark to quasar, but don’t play well together at all: General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. But that’s a post for another day. For now, Cosmic Variance does an admirable job of summing up the science of detection, and this link explains the Higgs by gentle analogy for the non atom-smashing pro.

  • Anti-science marches on! This week Jon Huntsman ran with the banner, making a play for the critical for the know-nothing vote by backpeddling away on human induced climate change with a subtle dog-whistle shout-out to the climate conspiracy clowns. Meanwhile, climate talks are at a virtual standstill without strong US leadership and cooperation from India and China.
  • If somehow you missed it, Kepler bags a low mass, possibly earth-like planet circling in the habitable zone of a twin sun-like star. The Bad Astronomer has some great science insights on Kepler’s first big find, and this planet could the first of many with terrestrial potential we discover over the next several years.
  • The Mars Science Lab is on its way to Mars, where the Opportunity rover has found lead-pipe cinch evidence for flowing water. There’s a sense the decade of the naughts could see the universe give up some long-held secrets, near and far, at every level.
  • The lunar eclipse has begun: beautiful images abound, and for those of you in Eastern and Central Standard Time, where the moon is being drowned out by a rising sun, Cosmic Log and Wired Mag both offer great online viewing.