Science Wars: The Battle of Five Armies
Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science has joined forces with Alan Sokal, scourge of leftwing relativism and pseudoscience, in an LA Times op-ed piece on the current state of the Science Wars.
As Mooney and Sokal note, the decline of antiscience views on the left
frees up defenders of science to combat the enemy on our other flank: an unholy (and uneasy) alliance of economically driven attacks on science (on issues such as global climate change, mercury pollution and what constitutes a good diet) and theologically impelled ones (in areas such as evolution, reproductive health and embryonic stem cell research).
Following up on the Mooney-Sokal piece, Tim Lambert notes that Norman Levitt (author of with Paul Gross of Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science.) is taking a similar line, saying
we weren’t all that worried about the fate of science; rather, we were concerned that the antics of the postmodernists would eventually drag down the “humanities” as a whole, the good along with the bad.
“Right-wing” abuse of science, on the other hand, as it has evolved under Bush, is an altogether different and far more dangerous phenomenon–dangerous in the bluntest and most alarming sense.
So, the realignment of forces sees the previously discordant defenders of science united against the much more powerful armies of the religious right and the business wing of the Republican party, along with the the dwindling remnant of leftwing relativists (represented in the Dover ID trial by Steve Fuller).
Of course, whereas the relativist left never exercised any real power outside a few university departments, the rightwing enemies of science control the Bush Administration and are well represented in the commentariat, here as well as in the US. Nevertheless the collapse of global warming denialism, and the exposure of the Big Tobacco-ExxonMobil machine suggests that even such powerful forces are not unbeatable.