Tom Bethell

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Liberals have hijacked science for long enough. Now it’s our turn.
—Original cover of the science PIG[1]

Tom Bethell is a senior editor at American Spectator, "media fellow" at the Hoover Institution, and purveyor of just about every brand of wingnut pseudoscience you can name.

His ultimate anti-science manifesto is the Politically Incorrect Guide to Science (PIGS), a book-length exudation promoting intelligent design, AIDS denial, stem cell myths, anti-environmentalism (mostly concentrating on global warming denial, the classic DDT and Rachel Carson canards, the crank version of radiation hormesis, and claiming that endangered species aren't really endangered), and cancer quackery. The book is exceptional in that one could easily use the thing as a whole as well as each individual chapter to play some form of crank bingo or a skeptical drinking game (if you really hate your liver). Many classic rhetorical gambits make an appearance: Science was wrong before, the Galileo gambit, the Evil Liberal Science Conspiracy, "suppression" of crankery "innovative" and "politically incorrect" ideas, science as a secular religion, the Gish Gallop, etc. The unifying theme is Bethell's conspiratorial perspective in which the scientific establishment is constantly sidelining "politically incorrect" dissent in order for scientists to prop up liberal ideology and make off with mountains of grant money.

Each topic covered also includes all the relevant greatest hits. On evolution, for example, all the old chestnuts are there: No transitional fossils, irreducible complexity, microevolution not macroevolution, Karl Popper's declaration of the theory as unfalsifiable, etc. If ye shall know them by their citations, it's predictable fare; Bethell's "qualified experts" include the usual suspects at the Discovery Institute (Dembski, Behe, and Wells), Peter Duesberg, S. Fred Singer, Steve McIntyre, Michael Crichton, Roy Spencer, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Petr Beckmann. *catches breath*

While relativity denial doesn't appear in the science PIG, it is the topic of Bethell's later book Questioning Einstein: Is Relativity Necessary? in which he recycles Beckmann's arguments.[2]

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References[edit]

  1. Book cover capture.
  2. Can We Do Without Relativity?, Bethell in American Spectator