This is a subject we’ve written about before — the last time was Is Your Political Party Really Pro-Science?, in which we said:
[I]t’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 [Which Political Party Is Anti-Science?]:
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.
With that introduction — which will upset most of our readers — we bring you the latest on this subject. It’s from the blog of Reason Magazine, which has no traditional political bias because they’re mostly Libertarian. Their article, from a couple of weeks ago, is Are Republicans or Democrats More Anti-Science? Here are some excerpts, omitting links to the polls they reference, and with bold font added by us:
It’s popular to portray the GOP as the anti-science party and Democrats as the sane, “party of science” alternative. And only 6 percent of scientists identified as Republicans, according to a 2009 Pew Research poll, which seems to be the most recent one on the topic. But the truth is that when science and politics meet, the result often isn’t pretty, regardless of partisan affiliation.
Then we’ve given some examples of what they’re talking about. Let’s read on:
Reason TV asked locals in Venice, California about their thoughts on various scientific policy questions and compared their answers to public opinion poll data. We found that many people favored mandatory labeling of food that contains DNA, the stuff of life contained in just about every morsel of fruit, vegetable, grain, or meat humans consume. Yet a recent survey out of the University of Florida found that 80 percent of respondents favor mandatory DNA labeling, only slightly below the 85 percent that favor labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). While Republicans are divided evenly on the GMO question, Democrats rate them unsafe by a 26-point margin, despite almost 2,000 studies spanning a decade saying otherwise.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Almost everyone wants mandatory DNA labeling. We continue:
Republicans are more skeptical of the theory of evolution, though by a surprisingly slim margin with 39 percent of them rejecting it as compared to 30 percent of Democrats.
Interesting. We thought the gap was far wider than that. Here’s more:
When it comes to other scientific matters, the waters are even muddier. For instance, Democrats and Republicans believe in the false link between vaccines and autism at roughly equal levels.
We didn’t know that either. Moving along:
The big science policy issue of the day, though, seems to be global warming. Sixty-four percent of Democrats believe in man-made global warming, while only 22 percent of Republicans do. But when it comes to realistic solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Democrats still aren’t always science-minded.
That’s a point we’ve discussed before. They give some specifics about attitudes toward solutions:
Only 45 percent of Democrats support expanding the use of nuclear energy, as compared to 62 percent of Republicans, despite the fact that except for Chernobyl, not a single person, including nuclear workers, has ever died due to a commercial nuclear reactor accident.
They also discuss the benefits and low risks of fracking, to which there is a lot of opposition, but we’re not given any partisan opinions about that. The article concludes with this:
So maybe it’s not that Republicans are dumber than Democrats when it comes to science, or the other way around, but that both sides have blind spots when data-based evidence contradicts their political preferences.
So there you are, dear reader. If you’re feeling a bit less self-righteous about your party affiliation, then your Curmudgeon is pleased.
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