A Thank You to Rep. Raul Grijalva, Narrative Killer

facts vs ignorance(h/t Climate Depot) With this post I’d like to express a sincere Thanks to representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ). As most readers here will know, Rep. Grijalva is “investigating” me based on his belief that I do research and public service as a consequence of shadow payments from fossil fuel companies. Ridiculous, I know.

I’m thanking Rep. Grijalva not for the media exposure (e.g., NPR, NYT) or for the bump in sales of my books (e.g., THB, TCF, D&CC), and not even for the many bits of fan mail via email and Twitter from the fringes of the climate debate. Rather, I am thanking Rep. Grijalva for doing more than his part in helping to kill a narrative.

For more than a decade, leading elements of the science and media communities have advanced a narrative which said that conservatives were stupid and/or evil and were singularly responsible for pathologically politicizing science. Reality, as the saying goes, has a liberal bias. It turns out that concerns over the “politicization of science” were themselves subject to politicization.

I wrote about this in 2003:

Politicization of science is a problem irrespective of the ideology of those doing the politicizing. Our scientific enterprise is too important to allow putative concerns about the politicization of science to become just another weapon in partisan battle.

And in 2005:

It is clear that there is an ample supply of people willing to use concern over the politicization of science as a political bludgeon to score points on the Bush Administration. It is also clear that there are plenty of others aligned with the Bush Administration willing to do exactly the opposite. The question I have is, where are the analysts (including reporters) who care about the politicization of science irrespective of possible advantages that are lent to today’s partisan political battles?

A decade ago the face of the “Republican War on Science” narrative was a journalist named Chris Mooney, then a fresh-faced 20-something who had capture the zeitgeist in a book by the same title. I offered a detailed critique of of the “War on Science” framing in 2005. I think that critique stands up pretty well.

For his part, Mooney followed up his “War on Science” book with a bizarre book on eugenics, claiming that US conservatives were somehow genetically inferior. Mooney turned his prominent role in Republican-bashing into a spot on the board of directors of the American Geophysical Union (I kid you not), as an “expert” in science communication hired by the National Science Foundation to tour the country, training young scientists (still not kidding), and ultimately as a reporter for The Washington Post. Not a bad resume for an English major who has dabbled in eugenics.

This critique is less about Mooney, who I met once and seemed a nice fellow, and more about the power of a narrative. One that has been so fully accepted and reinforced by significant parts of the science and media communities. Mooney captured that narrative and went along for the ride. One day, hopefully, we’ll look back at this era and ask “What the hell were we thinking?”

Writing in The New Republic last week Erik Nisbet and Kelly Garrett offered a welcome tonic to the “war on science” meme and a good indication that perhaps, just perhaps, that narrative has reached its sell-by date:

[P]olitical journalism too often treats science like a political issue to be debated by non-experts in televised partisan theater. This type of media coverage about scientific issues often obscures the actual scientific evidence and consensus and unfortunately only deepens polarization by providing partisan cues for both conservatives and liberals.

Our study’s findings suggest that such intensive, polarizing media attention depresses the public‘s confidence in the scientific community for liberals and conservatives alike.

The second lesson is that that science communicators who target conservatives specifically as somehow uniquely deficient when it comes to understanding science turn the focus to a clash of ideologies and away from promoting communication that bridges ideological gaps about science issues—and yes we think such gaps can be bridged!

Demonizing a third of the population in science policy debates by claiming they have an insurmountable psychological deficit does nothing to promote a solution to the challenges of effective science communication—and unfortunately represents our human biases at work.

Nisbet and Garrett are reporting on research which provides a solid empirical basis for rejecting the politicization of the politicization of science as a way of doing business in science or in journalism. It is neither accurate nor effective. Other scholars doing excellent work in this area include Dominique Brossard, Brendan Nyhan, Dan Kahan. Dietram Scheufele, Matt Nisbet, among others. But despite all this good empirical, historical and political research, the “war on science” narrative still has deep roots and fervent adherents.

Which brings me all the way back to Rep. Grijalva. In his “investigation” of me — someone who probably shares many of his policy preferences, including on climate — Rep. Grijalva has admitted to not liking my peer reviewed research (and logically the assessments of the IPCC). It is hard to maintain a uniquely Republican “war on science” meme with this type of high profile nonsense going on. Of course, in his Washington Post column, Mooney hasn’t acknowledged Rep. Grijalva’s “witch hunt.” Probably just something deficient in his partisan brain.

As I have often written, there is no “war on science” being conducted by Republicans or by Democrats. There is however plenty of politics. Politics can be conducted in ways that contribute to common interests, or in ways that are pathological. The science community has tried the latter for a decade. It is time to move beyond the toxic partisanship of the most recent science wars. Oddly enough, Rep. Grijalva’s overreach helps us to move in that direction.

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Comments (15)

  • Avatar

    Amber

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    Rep .Grijalva was just following orders . Part of the punishment squad encouraged by the high priest of the scary global warming cult .

    Who bankrolled Grijalva is another question .

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Gator

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    [quote]For his part, Mooney followed up his “War on Science” book with a bizarre book on eugenics, claiming that US conservatives were somehow genetically inferior.[/quote]

    How Hitleresque! Once again the Greens show their true colors. Red field, with a black gammadion cross in a white circle.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    prestigio

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    if m. grijalva weren’t
    mentally defective

    would he be
    a democrat

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Cogdissonancedagain

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      [quote name=”prestigio”]if m. grijalva weren’t
      mentally defective

      would he be
      a democrat[/quote]

      Of course he’d be a democrat, who else would take him

      Reply

  • Avatar

    GR82DRV

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    I think that if you could travel back in time thirty or so years ago and show many rank-in-file liberals what they were endorsing in 2015 they would be [b]shocked[/b]. The deep slide into fascism has been so gradual that it has gone mostly unnoticed by many who [i]once[/i] campaigned against it in other forms.

    In college during the 70’s I was a liberal. Nevertheless, I took an excellent history course on Nazi Germany and I contended with my professor that the influences that led Germans into Hitler’s arms were not partisan (as Americans relate), and that societies were at risk of similar behavioral slides influenced from [i]both[/i] sides of the political spectrum.

    Unfortunately I believe that many on the left have convinced themselves that they are immune from such influences and can’t possibly have anything in common with Himmler’s propaganda or Muller’s Gestapo.

    A good look in the mirror is in order for today’s Climate Left.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Gator

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      I was raised in a Christian, conservative, Republican household. I was even leader of my church youth group and sang in both the youth and adult choirs, as well as solos during services. Then I went to a major university that filled my head with crap, but it was good sounding crap, and I became “liberal”. Then I graduated and got my first real job, and that taught me that “liberal” ideology was unsound, and loaded with lies.

      I then registered as a Republican and started voting the party line. But the more I studied history and politics, I soon realized that what I really was, and was becoming more with each consideration, is a Libertarian.

      I also realized that the vast majority of those who call themselves “Liberal”, are not, they are “Progressives”, and I am much more liberal than they are.

      Thomas Jefferson is a hero of mine, and possibly one of the top political thinkers and writers in history. He has two quotes by which I live.

      [i]The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. [b]It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg[/b]. … Reason and free enquiry are the only effectual agents against error.[/i]
      -Thomas Jefferson

      [i]”Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. [b]Question with boldness[/b] even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.”[/i]
      -Thomas Jefferson

      If only everyone was so wise.

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Pete West

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    …again, this “climate change” is all part of the one world Government, Agenda 21 from the UN, where the environment is put before people…that is after getting rid of 95% of the population, probably by WW3..oh joy, don’t you just love our elected people. By-the-by, how come John Kerry, elected memebr of the Government is part of ‘Skull and Bones’, a society so secret they dare not even acknowledge it’s name…that’s democracy?

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Amber

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    You got it Pete .
    What is so amazing is how they have gotten this far and it confirms how fast history repeats itself .
    Infiltrate government and get the media on board .
    Didn’t Hitler buy every radios .

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Pete West

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      Sadly the only way to stop this is if people stand up and be counted. As the Bible says, “For evil to thrive good men need do nothing”. I have many supernatural dreams, the one the other day showed a scroll about 2 feet long with 7 seals near the top. The voice said, “the 6th Seal’…time is very short

      Reply

    • Avatar

      JayPee

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      Hitler bought everybody radios because that was his medium of communication-propaganda-dogma. And the medium itself was the message.

      History is repeating itself with ” never again ” becoming ” as soon as possible ” . And all in befalling cowardice in the face of the pigs of islam.

      Just as Chamberlain cowardly surrendered to Hitler, nearly the entire world is ready to surrender to the pigs of islam. And for no reason other than their cowardice.

      O’bama’s medium is the internet. I’m astonished he hasn’t established gov’t internet for everybody. Or has he.

      Your operating system continually demands you ” update ” and even does so without your consent. If you don’t know that your OS creators are spying on you, you’re as dumb as they take you for. f you think that info isn’t being sold, ibid.

      How does anyone think that facebook became so wealthy by ” giving ” contactability away ? They weren’t selling the info freely provided ?

      Reply

  • Avatar

    GR82DRV

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    A key to Nazi success was understanding and then manipulating the vulnerabilities of the people around them. Eventually ordinary people were tolerating if not participating in behaviors that they would have abhorred just a few years earlier.

    For many people the edicts of global warming alarmists are viewed only for the stated goal of “saving the planet” (while the underlying goals are clearly to establish a one-world Marxist regime). Vulnerable do-good environmentalists are told that they intellectually superior, more compassionate, and entitled to power over the unwashed masses.

    We are now seeing the beginning of the first purge; the book burning of competing climate data, and the persecutions and public denunciations of professors who dare stand in the way.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Gator

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      [i]”Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may
      be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than
      under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes
      sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for
      our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of
      their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same
      time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with
      intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which
      we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet
      reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants,
      imbeciles, and domestic animals.”[/i]
      – CS Lewis

      Reply

      • Avatar

        Pete West

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        Nice quote, and scarily accurate. Once upon a time the gap between China and the USA in terms of democracy would have been huge. Today that gap has almost disappeared. Even here in NZ beaurocracy is used to stop people getting what is rightfully theirs. The ‘Nanny State” is saying we know best…I wish they did.

        Reply

  • Avatar

    GR82DRV

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    CS Lewis was a giant. Great quote!

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Gator

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      He has been a favorite of mine since childhood, and thankfully wrote much that still interests me as an adult. Great man who inspired Tolkien, in many ways

      Reply

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