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    Left, Right? Science Shouldn't Be Worried Either Way
    By Hank Campbell | October 11th 2012 10:36 AM | 35 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0® and co-author of "Science Left Behind".

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone...

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    The biggest feel-good fallacy perpetuated by some in science media today is that "the right", whoever they are, is anti-science, while "the left", whoever they are, is pro-science. 

    It's exactly the opposite.  The right historically has been more pro-science than anyone since World War II, they just recently adopted more positions labeled anti-science as science academia skewed left. 40 years ago conservatives were the most pro-science of any group and 40 years ago there was also political parity in science academia; science was a politically agnostic endeavor for the common good, only the humanities had been hijacked by partisans.

    Today, science academia has 16% conservative people and it's even less in the social fields and the humanities. As that skew increased, it became easier to demonize The Other and then the echo chamber magnified it.  Journalism, which is ordinarily a defensive mechanism because journalists love to examine and debunk popular arguments, instead became the first segment of  science to give up and become cheerleaders for progressive causes positioned with science framing, so it was no help.

    Virtually all you hear during an election year is that same argument; the right must be anti-science because 49% of them don't accept evolution, while only 41% of the left do.  Why is the anti-science divide between 41% and 49%, when those both are quite high? Because that line was manufactured by science media to label the right "anti-science", it has nothing to do with reason or reality.  Climate change is also framed in an odd way. 14% of Democrats deny climate change while 40% of Republicans do.  There is just one problem with those statistics; Democrats had the same level of acceptance for any term you used to say the environment is bad and man is killing it. It made no difference whether it was a correct science term or not, they agreed it was a crisis, be it 'climate change' or 'global warming' or 'dihydrogen monoxide'(1).  Republicans, meanwhile, dropped in acceptance when the scientifically incorrect term 'global warming' was used and agreement went up when the more accurate term 'climate change' was stated. Republicans were far more skeptical and scientifically literate, which is what we say everyone should be.


    Credit: shutterstock.com

    Today, some in science media are desperately scrambling to make the climate an issue in the upcoming American election, so they can still trumpet how anti-science the right is.  There are two reasons climate is getting little respect and won't in this election: First, America is already getting cleaner, without any more draconian laws. Overall CO2 emissions are down near early 1990s levels and coal emissions have been punted back to early 1980s levels. Second, no one believes climate is really part of the Democratic party platform either. During the first few days of the Democratic National Convention, over 80 speeches, climate change got mentioned once, even though it is officially in their party platform. Meanwhile, Jerusalem was wiped off the map as the capital of Israel and God was removed entirely and yet both of those got mentioned dozens of times during the convention.

    Basically, no one believes that the Democratic platform is the platform, since the president said it was not and claimed he had to intervene personally to change it to what it should be. Even Democrats don't believe it, so why should we believe the Republican platform is their platform?  Yet all we hear from activists in science media is that the Republican platform is against the science of global warming. In reality, they mentioned it as many times as Democrats, and those same people will say that putting in God is just a wink-wink thing for the base, elites in power don't believe it.

    But elites among Democrats are anti-science too. 53 out of 55 anti-science "Frankenfood" politicians lobbying the FDA for warning labels on a national level are Democrats,(2) despite 15 years of studies and real-world use showing no harm. 

    And among the masses, the problem is even worse.  The right is far more scientifically literate at the consumer level. More Republicans than Democrats know (3):

    The benefits of science exceed the harms
    Not all radioactivity is man-made and hurts us
    Not all chemicals harm us
    Not all pesticides cause cancer
    Fathers determine the gender of a baby

    Meanwhile, more Democrats than Republicans believe:

    Astrology is scientific
    Lasers are made from sound waves
    Genetically modified foods are harmful
    Vaccines are harmful
    Organic food is more nutritional than conventional

    Yet efforts to spin the right as being more anti-science go on. Prof. Steven Salzberg, writing at Forbes, thinks the problem is that science questions are not framed enough against Republicans.  He takes to task the recent Science Debate questions, believing they were not designed to properly show the differences between Romney and Obama. He makes specific note of leaving out questions on evolution, the same knock on them I had in 2008.

    As I criticized then, despite it being such an important topic it formed one of the pillars of the 'Republicans are anti-science' monument erected by corporate-run science blogging, there was no question on evolution asked of the Senators running for president, instead they got a question on fish hatcheries, of all things.  Why?  The answer is obvious; when running for president, Senator Obama was not going to criticize religion and obviously Science Debate did not want to put him in a position where it hurt his appeal among the 40% of Democrats who flat out deny evolution.  They also didn't ask about vaccines and autism either.  Why?  Because Obama was 'unsure' despite the science being settled since 2001 and highlighting that would annoy all his voters in science. Science Debate was smarter about his Democratic super-majority in science than Obama was; he found that out when he originally settled on anti-vaccine zealot Robert Kennedy, Jr., a rabid anti-vaccine hysteric, to run the EPA and the outcry forced him to look elsewhere.

    Romney's stance on evolution is that it is science and that intelligent design is for religious courses, no way to spin that as anti-science, so Salzberg takes another tack; he thinks Romney should have to deny Republican Paul Broun's 'catering to his audience' assertion that the Big Bang and Evolution were created in Hell.  Yet nowhere does Salzberg say that Obama should deny Nancy Pelosi's goofy claim that she channels Susan B. Anthony or Barbara Boxer's wacky notion that GMO corn is going to give us all cancer. Why is that?  Well, we get a rationalization again.  Psychics and astrology are not official parts of the DNC platform, yet I don't see Big Bang denial in the RNC platform either. The reality is that the platforms are meaningless and only invoked when scientists or science writers are trying to shore up their confirmation bias. 

    The good news for scientists is that no matter who wins, there is no need to worry. If President Obama is reelected, at least his politics are in tune with their beliefs and so his anti-science actions (interfering with government scientists, editing reports to suit his agenda, filtering science through his beliefs) will be more acceptable, when they were not while President George W. Bush was in office. If Governor Romney wins, Republicans have historically funded science more heavily than Democrats, a pattern that continued under Bush, and so scientists can look forward to fewer feel-good programs, like $72 billion to subsidize 'green energy' businesses, and more basic research to actually help solve the problems of the future.

    NOTES:

    (1) Dihydrogen monoxide is water but when you use any scary-sounding chemical name, the left is against it. Science Left Behind p.121
    (2) 

    Anti-GMO Republicans in the House:

    Richard Hanna (NY-24)
    George Miller (CA-7)

    Anti-GMO Democrats in the House:

    Peter DeFazio (OR-4)
    Dennis Kucinich (OH-10)
    Louise Slaughter (NY-28)
    Keith Ellison (MN-5)
    Raul Grijalva (AZ-7)
    Peter Welch (VT-At Large)
    Hansen Clarke (MI-13)
    Earl Blumenauer (OR-3)
    Lloyd Doggett (TX-25)
    Anna Eshoo (CA-14)
    Sam Farr (CA-17)
    Maurice Hinchey (NY-22)
    Rush Holt (NJ-12)
    Chellie Pingree (ME-1)
    Jim McDermott (WA-7)
    Madeleine Bordallo (GU-At Large)
    James Moran (VA-8)
    John Olver (MA-1)
    Jared Polis (CO-2)
    Charles Rangel (NY-15)
    Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1)
    Pete Stark (CA-13)
    Howard L. Berman (CA-28)
    Robert Brady (PA-1)
    David Cicilline (RI-1)
    Yvette D. Clarke (NY-11)
    Steve Cohen (TN-9)
    Dianne DeGette (CO-1)
    Bob Filner (CA-5)
    Barney Frank (MA-4)
    Luis Gutierrez (IL-4)
    Janice Hahn (CA-36)
    Michael Honda (CA-15)
    Barbara Lee (CA-9)
    Zoe Lofgren (CA-16)
    James McGovern (MA-3)
    Jan Schakowsky (IL-9)
    Jackie Speier (CA-12)
    John Tierney (MA-6)
    Melvin L. Watt (NC-12)
    Lynn Woolsey (CA-6)
    Maxine Waters (CA-35)
    Grace Napolitano (CA-38)

    Anti-GMO Democrats in the Senate:

    Barbara Boxer (CA)
    Patrick Leahy (VT)
    Bernie Sanders (VT)
    Daniel Akaka (HI)
    Dianne Feinstein (CA)
    Ron Wyden (OR)
    Mark Begich (AK)
    Jon Tester (MT)
    Richard Blumenthal (CT)
    Jeff Merkley (OR)

    Sanders is "Independent" but caucuses with Democrats. As an Independent Democrat-Socialist, he is even more Democrat than Democrats. 

    (2) Science Left Behind, p. 213

    Comments

    Gerhard Adam
    More Republicans than Democrats know (2):

    The benefits of science exceed the harms
    Not all radioactivity is man-made and hurts us
    Not all chemicals harm us
    Not all pesticides cause cancer
    Fathers determine the gender of a baby

    Meanwhile, more Democrats than Republicans believe:

    Astrology is scientific
    Lasers are made from sound waves
    Genetically modified foods are harmful
    Vaccines are harmful
    Organic food is more nutritional than conventional
    Sorry, but that is definitely a biased choice you're representing here.  You conflate "believe" with "know" and then choose specific science elements for Republicans and then pick the fringe element beliefs for the Democrats. 

    I'm not quite sure why you keep insisting on sorting out the varying flavors of nitwit that exist on the political spectrum.  Instead of worrying about which "side" has the more absurd belief, shouldn't we be focusing on getting the best and most accurate information to people, in general?

    Part of the perception problem also occurs because of the volume of noise generated by Fox, which isn't anti-science as much as it is anti-reality.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    I'm not quite sure why you keep insisting on sorting out the varying flavors of nitwit that exist on the political spectrum.  
    Because you are not the only person who reads or writes about science.  What you should be protesting, if getting the most accurate information to people is paramount, is the 99% of science media that is doing exactly what I criticize.
    Gerhard Adam
    ... and that is what we attempt to do here, although obviously there's far more of "them", than there is of "us".

    Nevertheless, I don't see why it matters one bit what manner of silliness one side or the other believes.  As you've pointed out many times, it doesn't take much effort to make one side or the other look silly.  So why argue that one brand of goofy beliefs is somehow better than another?

    I've argued with anti-vaccine people just as readily as creationists, and I don't see what difference their particular political orientation makes.

    Moreover making assumptions that someone that gets their kids vaccinated is more "scientific" makes no sense.  It could simply be a matter of them being more inclined to follow the advice of authority figures.  Who knows?  The point is that it doesn't change anything by adding such labels to the discussion.

    In addition, the problem of anti-vaccine beliefs is a decidedly scientific position, and not anti-science at all.  The difficulty is that they are listening to bad science, but it certainly isn't a belief held because they didn't 'do their own research.  These people will provide you as many links supporting their side as you can provide in refuting it.  So, these aren't simply some backwoods individuals that just discovered civilization.

    The overall problem is that people are expecting to see more evidence before they give up their beliefs, or before they contradict evidence that they've already examined [even if it simply supports their confirmation bias].  Some will clearly never change, but the objective should be to promote the science and critical thinking necessary to evaluate the data, and not simply revert to a "trust me" kind of argument and thus turning science into another kind of marketing. 

    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    I've argued with anti-vaccine people just as readily as creationists, and I don't see what difference their particular political orientation makes.
    You know a Republican creationist anti-vaccine person?  I have yet to find one.  Before Science 2.0, I would have assumed that anti-vaccine people were religious but it's not even close.  Tennessee and Mississippi have far higher vaccine rates than Oregon and Washington.  Now, you may want to call that something besides being anti-science.  If so, there is no point in calling anything anti-science.  However, if you call being against climate change or evolution anti-science and not being against vaccines or GMOs anti-science, then you have placed yourself as part of the problem and not part of the solution.
    Gerhard Adam
    You know a Republican creationist anti-vaccine person?
    What does that have to do with anything?  My point was that I will as readily argue with an individual about those points regardless of their political orientation, and they don't get a pass based on their politics.
    Tennessee and Mississippi have far higher vaccine rates than Oregon and Washington.  Now, you may want to call that something besides being anti-science.
    Unless you can demonstrate that the basis for their getting vaccinated is because of scientific evidence then your claim is specious. 

    In many cases, there is no point in calling something "anti-science" unless you can demonstrate that they are using either pseudoscientific methods, or rejecting the scientific method.  Merely because someone draws a different conclusion, even if it is based on bad science, isn't "anti-science". 

    That's my point.  If people are researching and finding scientific papers [i.e. like Seralini] to support their positions, then it isn't because they are against science.  It's because science hasn't done a very good job of policing it's own outliers.  However, an anti-science individual wouldn't be looking up those papers.  Instead, if people are looking at bad research, then it strongly suggests that they are amenable to better data.  They are capable of assessing the information, and if they still persist in their bias, then they are simply wrong.  They aren't anti-science. 

    There is a reason why creationism is considered anti-science, and that's because it specifically rejects the science.  It doesn't look at any papers, or review any data or studies.  It simply rejects all of it, out of hand.  There's no confirmation bias there, there is simply the rejection of anything that isn't religious.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    You know a Republican creationist anti-vaccine person?
    Turns out I didn't have to look any farther than the Texas Republican Party Platform.
    We believe theories such as life origins and environmental change should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced. Teachers and students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly and without fear of retribution or discrimination of any kind.

    All adult citizens should have the legal right to conscientiously choose which vaccines are administered to themselves or their minor children without penalty for refusing a vaccine. We oppose any effort by any authority to mandate such vaccines or any medical database that would contain personal records of citizens without their consent.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Thor Russell
    Michele Bachmann is creationist and anti-vaccine?
    Thor Russell
    Hank
    If 'creationist' is 'religious' to you, then so are 40% of Democrats, who are overwhelmingly more anti-vaccine than Republicans.  
    Thor Russell
    ? you specifically said "You know a Republican creationist anti-vaccine person?" and I just attempted to answer the question. why is religious being brought up.
    Thor Russell
    Hank
    Her comment on vaccines was misguided - she had a vaccine and her husband did and all 5 of her children did so she clearly is not anti-vaccine.  What she was doing, as stupidly as she did many other things when she talked, was coming down on the side of parental choice about a new vaccine. She objected to her competitor Rick Perry's mandate of the HPV vaccine and was trying to make him look bad.  

    Anyway, you do not know Michele Bachmann nor does Gerhard.  Finding one idiot in America is easy, if we get to count people we only read about.  I am sure I can find one in New Zealand.
    Gerhard Adam
    The Texas Republican Party Platform, I'm pretty sure, consists of more than one person.
    Finding one idiot in America is easy, if we get to count people we only read about.
    I find this comment baffling, since you seem to be suggesting that we substitute personal anecdotes about individuals we know personally over those than can be objectively verified for their position.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    If 'creationist' is 'religious' to you...
    What???

    Of course, creationism is religious, however not all religions are creationist [in the Young Earth sense].  If you want to be more specific, then you can certainly argue about the particular point the creation event is considered to have occurred.  In that case, the conventional use of creationist is to present a religious argument against evolution/natural selection.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    If you are going to spend 1,000 words arguing that all religious people believe the planet is 6,000 years old, I am deleting the thread.  There is discussion, then there is sophistry, and finally there is just a waste of time for readers.
    Gerhard Adam
    That claim was never made, and I specifically qualified it by indicating that all religions did NOT include Young Earth Creationism.  However, if you insist, then perhaps you can indicate an example of where creationism is NOT religious?
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    Part of the perception problem also occurs because of the volume of noise generated by Fox, which isn't anti-science as much as it is anti-reality.
    Really? And CNN, and MSNBC occupy the real world? Seems to me you're doing exactly the same thing you accuse Hank of doing, you've just picked the opposite side.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    No, since I didn't mention CNN nor MSNBC in any capacity nor as a basis for comparison.  I simply indicated Fox News as part of the perception problem regarding the "right".

    If the point were simply to highlight silly Democrat beliefs, then there would be no problem.  However to present Republicans as believing all these items that are true, while portraying democrats as believing the silly stuff, a clear bias was introduced.

    If we're going to compare silly beliefs, then let's do so.  If we're going to compare correct views, then let's do so, but don't conflate the two.
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    I simply indicated Fox News as part of the perception problem regarding the "right".
    But that was the problem, either you don't watch it, cherry pick the stupid stuff that does get said(as could be done to any of the news networks), or are so far left that nothing they say is acceptable.

    It's funny, when Jesse Watters does on the street interviews, and people walk by and yells "Fox Lies", he goes and asks them for an example, and either they edit the answers out, or they can't come up with an example. But I have seen it happen half dozen times, and then they have a microphone to list the lies, they got nothing.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    Well, here's a website you can explore.  I haven't vetted it, so you can review it for your own entertainment.

    However, the point remains.  Why would I mention CNN or MSNBC in pointing out anything about the right?  Their own bias would negate any value towards that assessment.

    Just watch the clip where Alex Berezow is interviewed.  Simply the tone is enough to set one off, when the first words of introduction claim that Alex will "prove" that liberals/Democrats are hypocrites regarding science.  Then they demonstrate their objectivity by referring to the global warming "scam" and how scientists got involved in an "agenda" that derailed the whole "movement". 

    I particularly liked the caption which read:
    "Casting aside science; How the left abandoned reason for fallacy"

    I also liked the host's comments to birds [in light of the number killed each year by cats] when he said,"  Guys, you can fly, cats can't".  How appropriate.  What was the point?  Perhaps it was to suggest that birds are also liberal and think they're entitled to be left alone by cats?

    "Left argues fish are inconvenienced by hydropower"
    Really?

    They're a bullshit machine, and I don't particularly care what other news agencies you wish to toss on that pile, because none of them are worthy of the privilege granted them by the first amendment. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    Consider that in this poll only 71% of American adults knew the earth traveled around the sun.  Does their political orientation even matter?

    Moreover, what do you do when the pollsters get the answer wrong to a question.
    The universe began with a huge explosion     (True)  40.0% 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Really interesting post, Hank. Thanks for it. I'm fairly certain we sit on different sides of an ideological spectrum, but I think it would be foolish not to acknowledge the leaps in logic my liberal brethren (and, umm... sistren) make. I've done a lot of pro-vax outreach and in my experience the most resistance I've gotten has come from people who are more liberal than conservative. I've seen a lot of nonsense about GMO's and "chemicals" on the left. It's incredibly frustrating, and ultimately I think it's harmful, and I think those of us on the left have an obligation to call out our friends and colleagues on it, and I think we have an obligation to those of you on the right who respect science as well to work constructively together.

    I can also say, however, in my experience as a former Democratic Senate staffer, it was the left pushing the right for more funding for agencies such as NIH, NIST, and NSF. The authorization and appropriations process for our government is a constant process, and at least while I was there, it was people like Edward Kennedy pushing people like George W Bush for more science and health research funding.

    Further- it's ironic to say the least that you attribute actions like "interfering with government scientists, editing reports to suit his agenda..." etc to the Obama Administration without at least acknowledging the frequency to which it occurred in the previous Administration.

    I think we need to be careful about "moral equivalence" here as well. Senator Boxer says goofy stuff. (she doesn't actually believe she's channelling the ghost of Susan B. Anthony, and I think you know that.) Speaker Pelosi says goofy stuff. So do Congressmen Brown, Akin, and Rohrbacher, and Senator Inhofe, and so on. It's not great, but if saying goofy stuff disqualifies one for office, our Congressional chambers would be empty.

    I think if you juxtapose the silliest utterings of congresscritters with, say, the intimidation tactics of people like Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli against climate change researchers, I think you'll agree there are differences here.

    Right now, the really angry crazy science deniers - the ones who can really hurt us - happen to be on the right. They just are. It doesn't mean all crazy people are on the right. But if you claim there's a "feel good fallacy" pushed by "some in the science media," I think you're obligated to give some specific examples. Otherwise you're just knocking down a straw man.

    Hank
    Further- it's ironic to say the least that you attribute actions like "interfering with government scientists, editing reports to suit his agenda..." etc to the Obama Administration without at least acknowledging the frequency to which it occurred in the previous Administration.
    That is exactly the point. Who in science media notes that Obama has done all of the same things Bush did?  No one I can find. It's kind of like how the war protests died once Obama got elected, except for Cindy Sheehan who, bless her heart, was the only legitimate one of the bunch and not just drumming up votes for Democrats.

    I appreciate your perceptual anecdote that you saw more Democrats pushing for funding, but the numbers don't bear it out.  Bush had a Republican Congress and the NIH doubled and NASA went up 15%.  Giving Ted Kennedy credit for that seems a little odd to me. Historically, Republicans have funded science more when they were president. The numbers could be outliers in Congress (Republicans funded more there too) because we had almost 50 years of Democratic control in the House then.

    The Pelosi example was in contrast to Broun, who was clearly playing to his base.  As was she.  If you listened to her speech and thought she was making a metaphor, you are more generous than me.  But you must also accept that the Big Bang Theory was not literally written by Satan, in the mind of that MD on the right.  I agree with your notion that both sides have goofy stuff issuing from their politicians but I ask again, after 11 years of politician-bashing of Republicans as anti-science, who else is noting that Obama and Democrats do the exact same thing Bush did and Republicans do? I regard vaccines and food science denial as far more dangerous than a few school districts trying to teach evolution or the effort to not cap car emissions. Because they are more dangerous and will hurt people right now. Yet if you read most science media, the only two anti-science positions in the country are evolution and global warming denial.

    It doesn't make sense, other than that science journalists forgot how to be journalists.
    I agree that kneejerk partisanship has no role in science.

    But what is this article if not just that?

    Hank
    You're engaging in false equivalence to say that.  If 99% of science media claims are that the right is anti-science and scientists will all be unemployed while American becomes a fundamentalist backwater if Obama is not reelected (and they do say that) and I write that it isn't true, the right has funded science more than the left and the attempts to censor scientists are no different now than they were before, you call it kneejerk partisanship rather than showing data. 

    Claiming that corporate media should continue to act as unregistered PACs and independent people should say nothing is in defiance of what independent means.
    Gerhard Adam
    Well, part of the false equivalence is not separating individuals into "anti-science", "bad science", "pseudoscience" and "science". 

    In other words, anti-evolution [and I recognize that both parties are in this group] is "anti-science" since it simply denies any scientific evidence.  Anti-vaccine would be in the "bad science" category since this is simply where people have done research but attached themselves to bad or questionable research.  "Pseudoscience" belongs to those groups that embrace astrology, and of course the "scientific" are those that try to keep up with current knowledge/research.

    As I've said before, I'm not sure what difference it makes regarding partisanship, because I don't see the benefit in defending one group over another if they all engage in these practices.  If the objective is to improve the state of knowledge of individuals, then that's one approach.  If it's merely to indicate that liberals are as bad as progressives are as bad as conservatives, then it's not exactly a newsflash.

    It appears to be partisan because there doesn't seem to be an attempt to improve the state of knowledge, but merely to defend conservatives against left-wing allegations. 

    Personally I suspect anyone, that can honestly endorse either candidate, as being "anti-science" because I haven't heard sense originating from either camp.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    The title of the article is "Left, Right? Science Shouldn't Be Worried Either Way" and the reason is because politicians are going to be no more or no less pro- or anti-science than they have been for decades and even longer. They're also not going to fire government union employees and replace them with cronies, despite what conspiratorial cranks like to contend if their party is not in power. And, except for some fluctuation, they aren't even going to fund science substantially more or less than any other president.

    As Stephen Colbert recently said"There is a difference. I don't know what the difference is, though."

    What is unfortunate and, as I have said many times, the reason science is not a respected constituency, is that corporate science media and most government-funded scientists insist there is a difference - the guy with the D in front of his name is awesome.  If that thinking were to stop both parties would have to actually listen to scientists, the way they have to listen to unions and every other demographic that puts votes up for grabs.
    Gerhard Adam
    Yes, but that isn't what you actually say in the post.  Practically every paragraph begins with an accusation about the right being anti-science.  Then the last paragraph you basically charge that if Obama is re-elected then the abuses of science will continue [which is OK based on their beliefs]
    "his anti-science actions (interfering with government scientists, ...) will be more acceptable ..."
    or if Republicans get elected then they will get more funding to do "real" science. 
    "...more basic research to actually help solve the problems of the future."
    Next you'll be saying that this is "fair and balanced".
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    You can spare me your un-ending Fox News comparisons. I don't know what you have against them and don't much care, they are no more or less unbalanced and unfair than any other news organization in America. I've never once seen you object to a characterization that the right is anti-science on this site so continuing to hover around sniping my contention that the left can be anti-science too is far more partisan than anything in this article.
    Firstly, you say:

    "Claiming that corporate media should continue to act as unregistered PACs and independent people should say nothing is in defiance of what independent means."

    Who claimed that? I didn't claim anything. What am I to make of that?

    Secondly,

    "You're engaging in false equivalence..."

    I don't think so. How so? I didn't even use enough words to do that.

    Third:
    Show data? You hardly did either, except in the same way you can find on HufPo Science page. (A couple of percentages, used rhetorically.) You listed 5 reasonable beliefs, and 5 dubious beliefs, then falsely lumped them into the camp that best suited your partisan bias. DId you think to prove that conservatives were therefore more scientifically literate? I'm sure I could cherry pick another ten; 5 "smart" things that lefties believe (evolution), and 5 "dumb" things that righties believe (religious miracles). it might be good for a laugh, but it would be slightly dishonest. I would have preferred if you'd shown that both groups were confused, often on purpose, and argued for the de-politicization, or really the de-partisanization (it's legitimately political,) of science.

    Anyway, the beliefs of the voters (in matters of science and damn near everything else) have little to do with the policies of the politicians. Attacking the quantum-crystal-powered hemp addled hippie stereotype liberal dumbass is the exact equivalent of attacking the beer sodden jesus loving wife beating redneck stereotype conservative dumbass. (I'm on board of you want to attack dumbassery, but let's be honest about which side it's found on, which is to say it's everywhere.) So that list had nothing to do with your (possibly valid) argument about who funds what and how much. It scored points for your "side;" but wasn't your headline Left, Right? Science Shouldn't Be Worried Either Way ??? So isn't it just kneejerk partisan rhetoric?

    I agree entirely with your headline. I wish you did!

    On 2nd reading, I now see what you meant by "Science Shouldn't Be Worried Either Way." That takes some of the wind out of my (rhetorical) sails.

    But the illustration you give for why science shouldn't worry is exactly why I accuse you of partisanship. (Do you deny being very strongly partisan?)

    Isn't my 1st, mistaken understanding - that science shouldn't be subject to partisanship - more important?

    Hank
    I deny it and the audience denies it too.  You don't know me, you don't know anything about me, it took you two readings to even understand the title of this piece and now you are making a kneejerk assumption about me to add on to your mistakes.   If your prism is left, people in the middle look like they are on the right.   Likewise for people on the right. So the bias is in you, not me.

    If 99 people in a field say X is bad, and I say Y is bad also, you accuse me of being partisan.  That only tells us you are Y.
    Yet you apparently know all about me!

    Now now, let's not get mean. Neither of us knows the other. But I've read umpteen of your articles, and, as you say, I know how you vote. More or less. That's not so bad. It shouldn't preclude decorum.

    You might give me a break on the misunderstanding of the title. As a standalone, my initial reading was the most likely meaning.

    OK, everyone wants to deny they're partisan. But you say the audience denies it too?

    Poll your audience and see.

    Make sure the available poll responses don't skew the results, and we'll see.

    If you deny being biased to the right, then are you a liberal? Or do you claim to have no bias whatsoever?

    Sure, blame my prism - I've read a lot of your writing, and I strongly believe are strongly biased to the right. Probably you call it libertarianism or something. I know you say you're an independent. Guess what! So do I. I'm a registered independent, and a life-long non-conformist, and a contrarian, etc. But I have biases. So do you. And they show. That's just normal. I'm struggling to think of anyone who ever opened their mouth about politics who didn't have a bias. And probably, like me, like most sensible people, you find yourself defending the party you dislike against the party you hate. That's American politics - who can stomach any of them, really? (What America needs is a 2nd party!)

    I've voted in every election but one since 1984, and I have only voted for ONE democrat (Obama) for President, and that was really a symbolic vote against the outgoing Bush. I didn't vote for Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, Gore or Kerry (I lived in very blue states). In down-ticket races, I sometimes vote against republicans, if it's close, but I wouldn't say "for" democrats. I usually vote for whatever 3rd party candidates look least ridiculous. I criticize the dems day in and out, scathingly, but I save the choicest four letter words for republicans. I try very hard to be a non-partisan, "radical centrist," and stay above the Coke vs Pepsi horse races. I'm not proud, but I slip into partisanship anyway, when opposing what I see as the worse of two evils.

    I say all that about myself not because i think I'm so interesting, or I think you're so interested - but because, as you say, we don;t know anything about each other. Yet perhaps you and I not so different in trying to be independent in a polarized world; trying to be practical in a world of spin. We might come from opposite sides, but we're probably both closer to the middle than most - or at least we'd like to be, and that's something. (The real middle, not the mediocre. Not just the average between both party's errors.)

    I know I'm biased, but what I tell myself, and try to live up to, is: I'm both. And it's largely true. It's foolish, as you probably would agree, to choose to be liberal or conservative before you even know what the topic is. I say I'm liberal with hot sauce, and conservative when crossing busy roads. I don't insist on turning only right or left when I'm driving - it depends on where I want to go. There is undeniably a place for either, and usually both, on any issue. Yes, let's help poor kids; no, let's not waste money failing at it. They're both right. Choosing one or the other on principle is childish. I assume you agree. Nevertheless, though we may hope to get the balance right, we're both have inclinations one way or the other.

    I'm well aware of the prism thing. I try to correct for the bias. I'm better at it than most people, but it's still there. I trust my perceptions, and my impression is your bias is very strong.

    If you sincerely claim you're not biased (I know I am), and that your bias doesn't lead you to partisanship (I know mine does)... Well, I invite you to read your own columns and see for yourself! Not knowing your bias is a bad place for an aspiring rational independent to be.

    Thor Russell
    Well said.
    Thor Russell
    On 3rd reading...

    I'm not equipped to judge whether one side or the other has been "better for science." But I'm certain that your argument is mired in partisan biases. I'm reasonably reasonable, and you may be absolutely right, and maybe you could convince me - except you sound like a partisan cheerleader. It's an obstacle even to comprehension. It would be a better article without the inflammatories.

    Just fyi im a conservative libertarian (mostly republican but not always) with a geology bachelors (JMU 1989) who firmly believes in evolution and thinks intelligent design is relabeled creationism masquerading as science. I dont however believe in catastrophic manmade global warming. I think it is over-hyped and over-blown and that we are still leaving a recent glaciation period and that the earths seas and climate are still undergoing change as a result and that most of the research on it is driven by the need to justify next years budget needs for the scientists involved and is grossly overstated to appease the political needs and desire of the left to control the worlds energy usage. Ive yet to see a satisfactory summary of the science that doesnt have enormous holes in it I could drive a train through (as an example see how temperature recording bias can occur - www.surfacestations.org etc). I also live in florida near the coast and sea level seems to be the same as it was twenty years ago when i first came down here.. I dont question vaccines like the ones for polio etc but i do have concerns about some of the additives used in them in the past containing mercury and other chemicals and their potential effects on the nervous system (adhd/autism etc) so i do read up on that issue. With regard to manmade global warming as a geologist I cant see it as being proven yet - at best its a possible eventual consequence of extreme overpopulation but i dont hear people screaming for zero population growth as thats politically untenable.