Tom Chivers, Telegraph's assistant comment editor, may think he is being all edgy and cool by claiming Republicans - 50% of America - are anti-science. In reality, he is like an Emo-haircut wearing kid dressed in black insisting he is an outsider while he dresses like all the rest of them.
So Rick Santorum doesn't buy Evolution. So what? What Chivers actually knows about adaptive radiation can dance with an angel on the head of a pin. He doesn't "accept" science, like progressives constantly try to frame it in smug tones, he simply believes it. And he should. Evolution is the foundation of biology but it doesn't make him intellectually superior because he believes some aspect of science blindly. A whole lot more Democrats 'accept' astrology than Republicans, does that make all Democrats anti-science?
Pres. Obama did not accept the science that vaccines didn't cause Autism, yet he still got elected in 2008. Was he 'turning his back on the Enlightenment' the way Republicans supposedly are? Of course not, he is a progressive and so the fix is in.
When progressives deny the value of animal research in science, they are bequeathed false equivalence positions like it is simply 'moral' but if a Republican 10 years ago limited federal funds for human embryonic stem cell research to existing lines it was not a 'moral' position, it was 'anti-science'. The fact is that almost all scientists state animal research is necessary for science progress and 62% of Republicans agree but only 48% of Democrats 'accept' that science. And no one in media seems to mention it.
The reason? Bloggers and journalists who parrot that stuff are siding with the party they are voting for anyway and rationalizing a science-y reason they are correct but in reality there is no rationale.
I don't want to pick on Chivers but this is real schlock; "Fifty-two per cent of Republican voters reject the theory of evolution, saying mankind was created in present form within the last 10,000 years", which he basically seems to have made up. The actual number is 39% of Republicans and what he leaves out is that 30% of Democrats also deny evolution. Luckily, it seems The Telegraph has no editors much less fact checkers. "Religious conservatives have difficulties with science, notably evolution and a lot of medical research" - umm, like what? No Republican objected to stem cell research for 40 years - can he cite some Republican campaign against bone marrow research? - and it isn't Republicans who object to therapeutic cloning, nuclear transfer of a patient's own genes, the Obama administration bans it even though the majority of Americans and the majority of scientists are in favor of it. Why isn't Obama or Democrats anti-science for that one? There are a whole raft of anti-science positions that 'atheist progressives' - I guess that must be the counterpart to whatever a 'religious conservative' is, since Chivers does not define it but he thinks that is what all Republicans are - have adopted, including a lot of medical research. Percentage wise, there are far more Democrats in the anti-vaccine movement than there are Republicans in the anti-evolution one.
He quotes Chris Mooney extensively and if you are a young guy trying to get noticed in the progressive writing world, that is a pretty good strategy - except Mooney is no expert on Republicans or neuroscience, unless it is in the same way Rush Limbaugh is considered an expert on Democrats, so citing him as a source for claims like that Nixon "actually changed conservative psychology", whatever that means, seems a little silly. No one who knows anything about Republicans or conservatives ever claimed Nixon was one. He was not even close but young people who do no research may think the terms are interchangeable. Tom, if you love Mooney's work and want him to notice you, that's cool, but writing a whole article quoting his favorite insults about Republicans is a little too much fawning.
And this is just weirdly nonsensical; "America is becoming an intellectual two-speed nation, with a technocratic, informed elite and a scientifically illiterate rump who are falling behind economically in their increasingly knowledge-based economy. The GOP is increasingly the party of the uneducated".
My gosh, he is just a poster child for everything that is wrong with the cult fringe of modern leftists; if you are one of them, you are 'elite' but if you are not, you are literally an ass. They truly believe this stuff. Luckily, science academia, outside the kooky fringes, is immune to this silliness. Science works because most researchers care more about science excellence than being part of a transparent political agenda. If you hear a scientist complaining about Republicans being anti-science, just accept that you got one of the kooks and be on your way. Trust me, most scientists are not buying it, even though they vote Democrat.
Mooney can get away with this kind of thing and I will read it and give it a fair shake because he has earned his stripes. I may not agree but he makes cogent points and that forces me to reconsider what I may have thought or it sharpens my arguments against his claims if I continue to disagree. I am not middle-of-the-road on everything, I have positions on one side or another and sometimes they change. I completely get that Republicans are goofy on some issues, putting their politics ahead of science - what is missing is similar widespread recognition in science media that Democrats are doing the same thing. Instead there is flat out denial and The Top Cliché Of 2011 - "false equivalence." A larger problem is that there just aren't many Republicans in academia any more. As I have written many times, it is easy to demonize people you do not see in the hallway and the recurrent sneers and jokes about Republicans is as damaging to the spirit of science as it is to fairness in old media.
He does invoke one famous bit of Mooney head-fakery that I especially like and it's good I do, because Mooney claims it once a week; that academics became overwhelmingly Democrats because all smart people do - older scientists who are still Republicans will be surprised to learn that young journalists believe they got stupid when they voted for the wrong party. Chris is writing a whole book to try and neuroscience-y up that claim so we'll see how he does later this year. Here is the puzzle, though; if there are only 48% women in math classes, there is insistence we need to do outreach to change the 'hostile' climate in academia, but when Republicans are only 6% of science academia,(1) it is apparently wholesome and tolerant - just super smart for not letting any Republicans get tenure. How can both be true?
Republicans turn their back on the Enlightenment By Tom Chivers The Telegraph
(1) You have to count social sciences as science academia, obviously. While biology allows a relatively enlightened 10% of Republicans in its higher ranks, the same as the humanities overall, sociology really drags down the average. Although that number is conservative - a lot of academics claim to be 'independent' but think and vote as Democrats in America.
Maybe Assistant Comment Editors Shouldn't Write About Science
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- Are You More Scientifically Literate Than A Tea Party Republican?
- Michael Shermer, Chris Mooney and Mark Lynas Discuss Science Left Behind
- The Call To Make Science Less Partisan Gets New Members