Chris Mooney Joins Science Progress

JR:  Chris Mooney, science journalist and author, is moving his blog The Intersection over to join our colleagues at Science Progress.  Chris was one of my inspirations for becoming a blogger, so I’m delighted he’s joined the American Progress team.  Climate Progress will be cross-posting the SP pieces that bear on climate change and science communications.

by Chris Mooney

Hi to all. I’m thrilled to be here at Science Progress—the next stage in what is nearly a decade long run for my science and politics blog, “The Intersection.”

Many of you may know me already. If you don’t, here are the specs.

I’m a science and political journalist and author, as well as a blogger, podcaster, and professional trainer of scientists in the art of communication.

I’m the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science, Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. And I’ve just completed the draft of a new book, which remains unannounced–but I tipped my hand a tad (but only a tad) with this recent article in Mother Jones.

I work regularly with the National Science Foundation to train scientists to be better communicators of their research, and travel monthly to different states to do so. (For more information on the “Science: Becoming the Messenger” program, see here.) I also blog twice a week for about climate change, and am a host of the Point of Inquiry podcast, with a new show airing every other Monday.

So what can you expect of this blog, “The Intersection,” at its new home at Science Progress?

I cover the policy and the politics of science, as well as the communication of science and a new area, the science of politics. I often invite guest bloggers with similar interests, like Jon Winsor and Jamie Vernon, to contribute as well.

So what does this mean?

Plenty of tracking of misuses of science, on the left and the right alike. I don’t believe the two sides are at all equal when it comes to doing this, but I do believe in at least trying to keep my side honest.

Plenty of analysis of why these kinds of abuses occur—i.e., what drives and motivates them.

Lots of discussion of the place of science in U.S. culture, and how to communicate it better–e.g., here. That includes an increasing focus on understanding what social scientists are telling us about how people’s minds work and why they resist inconvenient information—and how to better get it through, not just on science but on any contested factual issue.

Posts on science policy and scientific integrity issues.

Some dabbling in the history of science, when necessary–e.g., a politician, uh, invokes Galileo.

A dabbling in the science of politics itself—see e.g., here. This is a growing area of interest for me.

It’s really a very important time to be tracking the politics of science, its communication, and the scientific grounding for both of these. On the one hand, we have a situation in which, increasingly, the two political persuasions in the U.S. have diverging conceptions of reality itself. This leads to all manner of fact torturing and abuse.

At the same time, the social sciences—communications, political science, social psychology, even evolutionary psychology and neuroscience—are coming on strong with new insights about why these kinds of reality gaps occur, and how to possibly solve them.

And that’s what my next post is going to be about. Stand by.

by Chris Mooney

8 Responses to Chris Mooney Joins Science Progress

  1. John McCormick says:

    Joe, this is great news. CP and CAP will give Chris a larger audience and we can benefit from his insights on improving our communicating.

    And, Chris, maybe you could weigh in on the “cliamte weirding” vs other phrases to capture public attention…climate chaos…climate destruction…climate doom.

    John McCormick

  2. Chris Mooney says:

    Thanks so much, Joe. It is great to be part of the team and you’ve been an inspiration to me as well. Here’s to many, many posts…and to reality.

  3. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Chris – welcome to Climate Progress. It’s good to have a specialist in the communication of science on board.

    I put a comment on a post a few days ago “If you could ask a scientist one question” that I’ll copy below, as it would be very good to read your response to it.

    Bt Fwd:

    September 11, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    It is widely agreed that the purpose of science is to serve human wellbeing by informing society of threats and opportunities. I cannot find any text proposing that the purpose is merely to inform society’s ‘representatives’, and yet this is precisely what climatologists and other scientists have tolerated under the IPCC system of governmental censorship of its Assessment Reports and, with regard to the feedbacks, constraint of the scope of its assessments.

    The existential nature of the climate threat demands that scientists assert the independence of aggregate scientific communication with the public in order to fulfil their duty of informing society directly. There are three outstanding issues urgently needing proper description in the public domain.

    1/. The assembly and provision of “The Scientists’ Cut” of the IPCC’s AR4, including an additional updated “Summary for the Public”. The “Copenhagen Prognosis” may form a useful basis for that summary.

    2/. The assembly and provision of a report of the 5 major feedbacks’ numerical progress to date, with analysis of the extent of their interaction, and prognoses for their ongoing acceleration. (Note: numerical projections of their advance are prevented by their interactive response to unpredictable individual events – such as the 2010 heatwaves over Canada and Russia).

    3/. The assembly and provision of a report
    – a/. describing thermal inertia and the ‘pipeline warming’, in which it is made clear that the present extent of warming and consequent climate destabilization is time-lagged from the GHG pollution of the 1970s (when we’d raised airborne CO2 ppmv by 55 from 280 to around 335, since when we’ve raised it a further 60 to around 395ppmv, and have yet to peak annual outputs) with its implications for intensifying warming until at least 2060; and
    – b/. describing the cooling effect of the sulphate parasol and its loss with the ending of fossil fuel usage, with the implications of a roughly doubled warming thereafter.

    The provision of these three reports (both on paper and on the web) would greatly help society to put the climate issue in context, and to apply proper pressure to its national goverments to put aside ruinous nationalist power-plays and agree commensurate action.

    The question is, when is the scientific community going to fulfil its duty to inform society by doing so ?



  4. ZJ 77 says:

    This is very welcome news – Chris Mooney is a treasure in the climate reality movement. Along with Stephen Lacey, another great hire Joe!

  5. Joan Savage says:

    I’m so delighted to see that you are prepared to bring in other branches of science to the conversation on climate change.

  6. Chris Mooney says:

    Thanks again, everyone. Lewis, let me think about how to respond to you further…but the problem is that the IPCC, whatever it does well, is not set up, staffed, or funded to communicate. They do seem to be working on this, though. See

  7. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Chris –
    thanks for your response, and I look forward to maybe a post that bears on the right, duty and need of scientists informing society directly of the scope of the climate threat.

    With regard to the IPCC, its mandate from Reagan, Thatcher and Gorbachev precludes anything but the ARs as public information – and that mandate seems unlikely to be relaxed significantly.

    Thus the provision of the Scientists’ Cut of the ARs would have to be by a collective of scientists as an independent project. I understand that there are a number of those who share in the Nobel who’d welcome that initiative.



  8. Joan Savage says:

    How come Science Progress doesn’t have a link on the top banner of Think Progress? For that matter, Progress Reports doesn’t either.
    The main page of Think Progress has several pieces with categories that don’t have public “front door” links.