Chris Mooney on “The Republican Brain”

June 11, 2012

I’ve been sitting on this interview with Chris Mooney since meeting him in December at the American Geophysical Union Conference.

I had hoped by now to pull this into a larger piece on Republican science denial, which I still expect to do, but I think the interview is worth watching now rather than waiting.  I started reading “The Republican Brain” a few days ago, (my first iPad book buy..) and it is clear and eye opening.

It’s also, sadly, all the more timely in light of the continued absurdity of GOP lawmakers simply unable to even speak the words “sea level rise” –


Virginia’s legislature commissioned a $50,000 study to determine the impacts of climate change on the state’s shores. To greenlight the project, they omitted words like “climate change” and “sea level rise” from the study’s description itself. According to the House of Delegates sponsor of the study, these are “liberal code words,” even though they are noncontroversial in the climate science community.

Instead of using climate change, sea level rise, and global warming, the study uses terms like “coastal resiliency” and “recurrent flooding.” Republican State Delegate Chris Stolle, who steered the legislation, cut “sea level rise” from the draft. Stolle has also said the “jury’s still out” on humans’ impact on global warming:

State Del. Chris Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, who insisted on changing the “sea level rise” study in the General Assembly to one on “recurrent flooding,” said he wants to get political speech out of the mix altogether.

He said “sea level rise” is a “left-wing term” that conjures up animosities on the right. So why bring it into the equation?

“What people care about is the floodwater coming through their door,” Stolle said. “Let’s focus on that. Let’s study that. So that’s what I wanted us to call it.”

Somehow, this seems an appropriate bookend:


15 Responses to “Chris Mooney on “The Republican Brain””

  1. Peter Mizla Says:

    In the fantasy world of most republicans, ‘denial’ of everything seems to be the buzzword they follow like a twisted kind of religiosity- in runs the gamut from climate change to admitting or should I say denying their kids are gay. This kind of denial is rooted in their minds that change is evil- and if we deny long enough, all these unpleasant things will by the ‘grace of God’- disappear.

    Republicans I have had the chance to interact with and observe have a huge problem with hypocrisy. They tend to judge others harshly – and are quick to believe and stand by stubbornly positions that are easily proven wrong They also seem to me very uniformed on most issues-

    When the proverbial shit hits the fan with climate change- where will these people hide? Obviously the conservative movement of the last 45 years will be over- as well could be the republican party (at least what it has become today) Someone will get the blame for the coming hell we are all going to pay for- and republicans look like the primary candidates.

    • sailrick Says:

      I’m not sure who to give credit for this quote , but here it is.

      “A conservative is someone who thinks nothing should ever happen for the first time.”

  2. Peter I’m pleased to see you address this topic. I am looking forward to a more in-depth video on the subject (hint hint). I also think you should show the brain in action in state legislatures such as North Carolina’s new law to ban sea level rise of more than 8 inches by the end of the century, Tennessee monkey Bill, and other GOP states that wish to deny climate change.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      would be interesting if we could get a portable pet-scan into the North Carolina legislative chambers….
      that said, I’ve got bones to pick with liberals, too — that’s why, like Groucho, I would never
      join any club that would have me as a member.

  3. omnologos Says:

    Has anybody read the Conclusions of Mooney’s book yet? You’ll be in for a surprise.

    • havinasnus Says:

      Yes. Of course we’re all free to pick out own surprises. Mine is the surprise, given his research, that ‘reoublicsns’ have do hopelessly failed to show solid leadership in combating AGW,,,

  4. dana1981 Says:

    Very interesting points regarding authoritarianism from Mooney. Makes a lot of sense.

  5. Nick Carter Says:

    “Those are NOT American tanks behind me!”—-Moh’d Saeed al-Sahhaf, aka Baghdad Bob.

  6. Martin Lack Says:

    I must admit Chris Mooney is very convincing. However, I think he is a bit OTT because he almost appears to exclude the possibility that Conservatives can be pro-science. It is probably this kind of OTT propaganda that prompted the REP movement to change its name. Personally, I think they should not have done so: REP was a very easy-to-understand concept that effectively re-affirmed the link between conservation and conservatism.

    Being willing to change your mind is important but, that does not mean that we must all embrace the moral relativism with which our post-modern/post-Christian world appears to be afflicted. It is this moral relativism (and/or subjectivism) that has led to the widespread rejection of authority; and the fallacy of the marketplace of ideas, which allows all manner of ignorant people (including journalists) to insist that all manner of erroneous beliefs be given equal air time.

    Finally, whilst I accept that Mooney – and this website – will always wish to draw attention to the synchronicity of climate change denial and the denial of evolutionary science; I do not think that it is legitimate to muddy the waters by putting the question of gay marriage on the table as well. That is not a scientific matter.

    • Alteredstory Says:

      Of course gay marriage is a scientific matter. Opposition to it is based solely in religious ideology, in denial of science. Homophobes bring in phony studies, and lie about sexuality in humanity and nature, justify suppressive violence, and actively work to oppress homosexuals because of a belief system that is in direct opposition to reality.

      • Martin Lack Says:

        Nope, sorry. Nice try but, for me to respond, would require me to go so far off-topic as to make jdouglashuahin’s contributions seem entirely on-message.

  7. […] Galileo of climate science’ Chris Mooney (the Jesse Ventura of ‘science’ writers) recently claimed, on DeSmogBlog and […]

  8. […] Galileo of climate science’ Chris Mooney (the Jesse Ventura of ‘science’ writers) recently claimed, on DeSmogBlog and […]

  9. Shane Burgel Says:

    Enjoy listening to him on the Inquiring Minds podcast now.

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