Chris Mooney

Remember in 2006, when Pluto was robbed of its planethood by the International Astronomical Union? People were aghast at the news, saddened about a planet they hadn’t thought twice about since elementary school. Maybe that’s because the media reported the story wrong, says Chris Mooney, co-author of Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future (Basic Books, $24). Perhaps the distant ball of ice was never really a planet to begin with, but it was overhyped by the press and thus misunderstood by the credulous public. Previously the author of The Republican War on Science, Mooney again blames the “anti-science” George W. Bush, politics, movies (e.g., Dante’s Peak versus Volcano), and a growing animosity between scientists and fundamentalists. Then there’s the broader failure of education. Among the many amusing and downright embarrassing stats in this book is this: Half of the U.S. adult population isn’t aware the Earth orbits the sun once a year. CHANTAL ANDERSON

Thu., Aug. 6, 7 p.m., 2009

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