The Republican Brain on Science: Understanding Conservatives' Denial of Research Based Reality

Thursday, January 26, 2012
7:00 PM
Loma Pelona Conference Center
Chris Mooney

Lawrence Badash Memorial Lecture Series

Science reporter and author Chris Mooney discusses the psychological factors contributing to today's polarized political environment. Many experts today say that liberals and conservatives live in separate and often incompatible realities. One significant area of disagreement is their respective views on major scientific issues such as evolution and climate change. This lecture draws from Chris Mooney's examination of the “science of why we don't believe science.” He will review cutting–edge research suggesting liberals and conservatives are, in aggregate, fundamentally different people — differing in personalities, psychological needs, even brain structures. He will consider the effects these differences have on processing information, especially information about science that has political implications. Mooney's talk will go beyond standard explanations of ignorance to discover reasons why many Republicans often reject widely accepted findings of mainstream science and explain why understanding cognitive differences between liberals and conservatives is essential to building a civil society with policies grounded in reality and reason.


Chris Mooney is senior correspondent for The American Prospect magazine and author of two books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science—dubbed “a landmark in contemporary political reporting” by and a “well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing’s assault on science and scientists” by Scientific American —and Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming —dubbed “riveting” by the Boston Globe and selected as a 2007 best book of the year in the science category by Publisher’s Weekly. He also writes “The Intersection” blog with Sheril Kirshenbaum.

Among other accolades, in 2005 Chris was named one of Wired magazine’s ten “sexiest geeks.” In addition, The Republican War on Science was named a finalist for the 2005 Los Angeles Times book prize in the category of “Science and Technology,” and Chris’s 2005 Mother Jones feature story about ExxonMobil, conservative think tanks, and climate change was nominated for a National Magazine Award in the “public interest” category (as part of a cover package on global warming).

Chris’s 2005 article for Seed magazine on the Dover evolution trial was included in the volume Best American Science and Nature Writing 2006. In 2006, Chris also won the "Preserving Core Values in Science” award from the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals.