For decades, the Christian Right’s high-profile clashes with science have made national headlines. From attempts to insert intelligent design creationism into public schools to climate change denial, efforts to “cure” gay people through conversion therapy, and opposition to stem cell research, the Christian Right has battled against science. How did this hostility begin and, more importantly, why has it endured?
Antony Alumkal provides a comprehensive background on the war on science—how it developed and why it will continue to endure. Drawing upon Richard Hofstadter’s influential 1965 essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” Antony Alumkal argues that the Christian Right adopts a similar paranoid style in their approach to science. Alumkal demonstrates that Christian Right leaders see conspiracies within the scientific establishment, with scientists not only peddling fraudulent information, but actively concealing their true motives from the American public and threatening to destroy the moral foundation of society. By rejecting science, Christian Right leaders create their own alternative reality, one that does not challenge their literal reading of the Bible.
While Alumkal recognizes the many evangelicals who oppose the Christian Right’s agenda, he also highlights the consequences of the war on reality—both for the evangelical community and the broader American public. A compelling glimpse into the heart of the Christian Right’s anti-science agenda, Paranoid Science is a must-read for those who hope to understand the Christian Right’s battle against science, and for the scientists and educators who wish to stop it.
"Through extensive research, Alumkal provides a rich, nuanced, and detailed view of mid-20th-century American evangelicalism’s right-wing political expression and its often dangerous impact on science in the service of the common good. His conclusions indicate that when such a powerful paranoia cannot be deescalated, it must be contained. Education and persuasion are the tools for change, and Alumkal’s book succeeds in both respects."
"Alumkal shows that hostility toward science -- including a kind of fearful contempt toward scientists -- is fairly palpable."
—Inside Higher Ed
"Particularly in today's America, where science, religion, and politics seem so inflammatory, Alumkal's calm voice of reason has much to offer."
—Catholic Library World
"Troubling and eye-opening.”
—Church & State
- "A small but highly organized network of conservative Christians maintains a successful pseudo-scientific campaign to challenge established scientific topics including evolution, sexual orientation, bioethics, and climatology that they find threatening to their worldview. Alumkal’s unflinching critical analysis of their popular writings and educational media provides an excellent window into the political culture and theological motivations, mindsets and machinations within this movement. Fit for the times, Paranoid Science is engaging reading that elucidates the extent to which religious motivations can distort scientific inquiry for political ends."
—Jerry Z. Park, Associate Professor of Sociology, Baylor University
"Paranoid Science is a reliable and insightful guide to the fever swamps of evangelical science denial. A gripping, disturbing, and important contribution."
—Glenn Branch, Deputy Director, National Center for Science Education
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