The Republican Brain vs. Science Left Behind
One day recently, I came into my office to find that two newly published books I had ordered arrived on the same day. This was interesting timing, since each book purports, whether implicitly or explicitly, to refute the thesis of the other.
The first book argues (in its essence) that people who disagree with you on scientific questions are at best intellectually inflexible, and at worst unintelligent, irrational, or neurotic. Especially when it comes to processing scientific information, they are intellectually inferior and/or mentally deficient.
The second book holds that people who disagree with you on scientific issues may in fact be perfectly rational, normal, and otherwise intelligent. However, this book observes that those same opponents often use the tactics of power politics -- including ridicule, bullying, intimidation, and labeling -- rather than scientific argument in order to settle scientific debates.
The first book is Chris Mooney's latest tome, The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science -- and Reality, and the second book is Alex B. Berezow and Hank Campbell's new book Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fallacies and the Rise of the Anti-Scientific Left. Though neither book deals much with the scientific debate over Darwinian evolution and intelligent design, both offer commentary on current scientific controversies -- controversies that have many of the same rhetorical and political dynamics as the debate over biological origins. As a result, both books are relevant to understanding the origins debate.
I'll assess these books further in some subsequent articles. For now, please understand that I don't consider the debate over Darwinian evolution to be a "Right vs. Left" issue, and that I consider myself a mix of conservative, liberal, and libertarian on many different issues.