This topic upsets a lot of you, but that’s why it’s necessary for us to write about it from time to time. The last time we did so was Which Political Party Is Anti-Science?
Most of you think you know the answer to that question, and if you’re typical of those who follow the evolution-creationism controversy, it’s understandable if you imagine that Republicans are scientific idiots, while the other party (yours, presumably) is nobly enlightened. However, as we said in our last post:
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.
Today we found another article that supports our view of things. It’s Both political parties selectively use science. It appears at the website LancasterOnline, which seems to service several papers located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, including the Intelligencer Journal. It’s written by April Kelly-Woessner, “professor and chairwoman of the political science department at Elizabethtown College.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
A large number of pundits, journalists, and academics have made … claims that Republicans are opposed to science. They cite the belief that Republicans are less likely than Democrats to believe in evolution and more likely to challenge claims about man-made global warming.
Yes, we see that all the time. Let’s read on:
Understanding these issues requires a bit more analysis. A Pew Research Center survey taken in the spring of 2013 shows that white evangelical Protestants are most likely to reject Darwin’s theory of evolution. Black Protestants, however, are close behind, with only 44 percent believing that “humans have evolved over time.” Supporters of evolution often fail to mention this second group of deniers, who overwhelmingly identify with the Democratic Party. It seems that religious affiliation is a stronger predictor of support for evolution than party affiliation.
Good point, at least for the evolution issue. The article continues:
Does this mean they [Republicans] are ignorant of scientific findings? The evidence suggests otherwise. Using the National Science Foundation’s test of “science comprehension,” Yale University researcher Dan Kahan finds that Republicans and Democrats have surprisingly similar scores. The highest scores actually belong to members of the tea party.
We wrote about that before — see Is the Tea Party Movement Pro Science? Here’s more:
Similarly, Northwestern University’s James Lindgren finds that 66 percent of Republicans reject the notion that “astrology is scientific,” compared to 49 percent of Democrats. Likewise, 62 percent of Republicans can correctly answer that the earth revolves around the sun in one year, compared to 49 percent of Democrats. Clearly, education levels play a role in these differences, but this again does not support the claim that Republicans are scientifically ignorant compared to Democrats. In fact, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to fear science and believe that “modern science does more harm than good.”
Does this make you uncomfortable, dear reader? That’s good. Part of a Curmudgeon’s role is to discomfort everyone. Moving along, we come to some material that supports what we’ve been saying all along:
If one looks at issues showing the scientific community is at odds with liberal values, the tables turn and Democrats appear to be at “war with science.” Alex Berezow and Hank Campbell argue in “Science Left Behind” that Democrats are the real opponents to scientific progress. Indeed, Democrats are more likely to embrace alternative medicines, despite the scientific evidence against them. Democrats are twice as likely to believe in reincarnation, a notion rejected by most scientists. Most notably, Democrats reject scientific findings when they conflict with environmentalism, in the same way Republicans reject findings that conflict with religion.
The same is true of nuclear energy and fracking. The consensus among scientists who study these technologies is that they are safe. Yet, on these issues, Democrats are more skeptical of scientific research reports and government studies.
There’s much more in the article, and you’ll probably want to read it all. We’ll skip to the end:
Both sides cite scientific findings selectively, picking and choosing findings that advance their ideological causes. Politics trumps science.
Science has no political friends — only temporary allies who use science when it suits their convenience, and then abandon it when their temporary needs are satisfied. You may imagine that your party understands you and will always support you, but you’re deceiving yourself. The relationship is a callously exploitive one. Both parties are run by ideological whoremongers.
Instead of expecting a political party to support you, why not wise up, open your eyes, and pick the one that is worthy of your support? As we said before:
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.
So there you are. If you’re annoyed, then we have done our Curmudgeonly duty.
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