Science and Political Controversy

A Reference Handbook

by David E. Newton


Politicians have used scientific findings to their advantage for millennia.

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April 2014


Pages 332
Volumes 1
Size 6x9
Topics Current Events and Issues/Politics and Government

A shrewd and compelling examination of how political figures throughout history have used scientific findings to achieve their objectives—just as scientists have often put political forces to work to achieve their own goals.

The U.S. government has historically been the engine of American scientific achievement, from the birth of nuclear technology to the "space race." However, at times, our government has also misrepresented scientific evidence to advance a political agenda. Science and Political Controversy: A Reference Handbook examines how the government has facilitated research for the public good and the ways in which politicians have manipulated data to serve political ends around a broad array of controversies, from stem cell research to energy development, chemical health risks, and climate change.

Written specifically for high school students and general readers without specialized background knowledge on the subject, the work presents perspective essays authored by representatives from governmental agencies, politicians, political scientists, experts in the physical and life sciences, and other stakeholders concerned with the intersection of politics and science. The first section of the book provides background information on the topic that overviews the current problems and issues related to the interaction of science and politics. The second section supplies resources that readers can use for their own research, such as an annotated bibliography, profiles of important individuals and organizations, a chronology of important events, and a glossary of key terms.


  • Supplies a detailed review of the past decade during which politicians have misused and misrepresented scientific knowledge
  • Describes events going back to ancient Greece during which use or misuse of scientific or political power occurred, underscoring how these behaviors are well-established "means to an end"
  • Includes biographical sketches of individuals who have been involved in such activities
Series Description

Contemporary World Issues

This award-winning series offers comprehensive, one-volume reference handbooks on important topics related to health, education, the environment, and social and ethical issues.

24-hour cable news. Millions of Internet sites. Information overload. How can we sort through the information? Assess the analyses? Trust the sources?

A world of questions demands a library of answers. Contemporary World Issues covers the controversial topics that students, readers, and citizens want to read about, write about, and know more about.


  • Subject coverage spans six main categories:
  • Criminal Justice
  • Environment
  • Gender and Ethnicity
  • Politics, Law, and Government
  • Science, Technology, and Medicine
  • Society
  • Each volume offers a rich array of resources:
  • A background and history essay that provides essential context and grounding for further study
  • A balanced summary of ongoing controversies and proposed solutions that show numerous paths for further research on pressing, contemporary questions
  • A forum of authoritative perspective essays by experts, offering a broad spectrum of arguments on the issues
  • Carefully selected annotated documents, tables, and graphs that supports statistical literacy and investigation of primary sources
  • A chronology of events, legislation, and movements that place events in sequence and draw connections between them
  • Annotated lists of print, Web, and multimedia resources that power the next steps for in-depth research
  • Profiles of key players and organizations
  • A glossary of key terms
Author Info

David E. Newton has been a freelance writer of non-fiction books and ancillary materials for young adults for nearly 55 years. He has published more than 400 textbooks, encyclopedias, and encyclopedia articles as well as lab manuals, problems books, and other publications. Newton was formerly a teacher of high school science and mathematics in Grand Rapids, MI; professor of chemistry and physics at Salem State College; and adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco.



"This addition to ABC-CLIO's Contemporary World Issues series tackles one of the thorniest issues in global politics. Newton goes to great lengths—whether exploring climate change or the debate over the legalization of marijuana—to explain just how it is that science has become so politicized. . . . As a timely resource on controversial topics, this title will most benefit high school and public libraries."Booklist

"While the Contemporary World Issues series is targeted at high school students and would serve quite well at that level, Science and Political Controversy is also an ideal source for argumentative papers, speeches, or debates in introductory English and communications courses at the post-secondary level. This work is recommended for high school, public, and undergraduate college libraries."ARBA

"Though his base premise—that science and politics exist in 'virtually constant conflict in the modern world'—is arguable, Newton assembles a useful . . . overview of areas, past and present, in which the two have clashed. . . . Science gets more positive play here than politics—faith-based or otherwise—but readers looking for historical and current points of friction between the two will find it a serviceable guide."School Library Journal

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