When there is no news of The Controversy between evolution and creationism, we have to turn to other subjects. But in doing so we stay somewhat on topic by dealing with our larger concern — preserving the values of the Enlightenment, upon which our civilization depends.
Therefore, dear reader, we beg your indulgence as we post yet another Curmudgeonly rant about politics. Go ahead, skip it if you like and wait for something more on topic. We’ll understand. It’s not easy for your Curmudgeon, being virtually the only Republican on the sane side of the evolution-creationism debate. Anyway, you’ve been warned, so here it comes.
Which of the two American political parties is more anti-science? If one is a professional scientist working in academia, that may seem like an easy question, but let’s keep in mind that such a sampling is a tiny portion of the electorate. It’s easy to develop a distorted view of things based solely on the opinions of one’s professional acquaintances.
We’ve discussed this issue before, in Creationism or Socialism: Which is Dumber? (a post which upset most of you), and there we quoted something we said in an earlier post:
[W]e shouldn’t bog down over the fake issue of whether one party is smart and the other is stupid. They’re both stupid. Also, they’re both anti-science, but in different ways. We’ve previously pointed out that the Dems are just plain weird about their environmentalism — no oil drilling, and no nuclear plants either. We don’t know the principle involved (if there is one), but they also seem to oppose all weapons research. Further, they’re shutting down the space program, except, perhaps, for Muslim outreach. So the Dems aren’t very scientific at all.
We just discovered an article from a few months ago on this subject, which is in Reason Magazine . It’s titled Are Republicans or Democrats More Anti-Science?, and although it rambles a bit it makes many of the same points that we do. Both parties have pro- and anti-science positions, but each party opposes the science that challenges its sacred ideology.
We expect you to read the whole article, so a few excerpts will suffice here. These were chosen to illustrate left-wing anti-science views, because we already know about the Republican problem with evolution and climate science. The bold font was added by us:
With regard to nuclear power, the Pew survey found 70 percent of scientists in favor of building more nuclear power plants. For their part, 62 percent of Republicans favored more nuclear power plants, compared to 45 percent of Democrats.
As law professor Dan Kahan and his colleagues at the Yale Cultural Cognition Project have shown, the strong urge to avoid scientific and technological risk is far more characteristic of people who have egalitarian and communitarian values, that is to say, left-leaning folks. As I reported earlier, according to research by Kahan and his colleagues individualists tend to dismiss claims of environmental risks because they fear such claims will be used to fetter markets and other arenas of individual achievement.
So where are we? Our conclusion is that both parties, like the population as a whole, are mostly ignorant of science, but they tend to have confidence in science where it doesn’t conflict with their other opinions — like religion, environmentalism, “social justice,” etc. In other words, the parties are driven by ideology, not science.
When such ideologies are involved — and those are deeply partisan issues — then science takes a back seat — or it may be tossed out altogether. And that’s true of both parties. Don’t take our word for it, and don’t confine yourself to those in the biological sciences. Ask someone in the energy industry, or who works at NASA.
So don’t be so smug that your political affiliation is the smart one, the one that’s on the side of science. The sad truth is that in politics, science has no friends. All we have are temporarily convenient alliances, and depending on one’s science, we don’t have the same allies.
Having said all that, a question remains: Which party should science support? Neither is a perfect choice, but we’d suggest you pick the one that — despite its foolishness — will be most likely to keep us prosperous and free. Without that, there won’t be any science.
See also: WorldNetDaily: What War on Science?
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