When I mentioned to him that plenty of left-wing people are anti-science, both in politics and in the populace, he almost shot his beer through his nose. He demanded an example and I pointed out that the anti-GMO community who believe only certain processed food is 'organic' was composed of primarily leftwing people and environmental activists have plenty of anti-science positions, ethanol and CFL bulbs being expensive boondoggle favorites of theirs.
Greg Miller at Science interviews journalist Seth Mnookin about his new book, The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear which covers the scare over vaccines and autism, and my leftwing blogging friend won't like what Mnookin has to say about progressives and science.
Miller gets right to the heart of it, asking why progressive parents cling to anti-science beliefs about vaccines the same way conservatives do about human embryonic stem-cell research, and the obvious answer is that people tend to feel validated when science agrees with them and dismiss science when it doesn't.
Mnookin says, overall, it comes down to two essential aspects; the first is entitlement. Well-heeled progressives are okay risking someone's else children as long as theirs still get the herd immunity. And the other is that they feel like they care more - yes, some progressives rationalize that if there is an unknown putting their kids at risk, they want to avoid it. How positively conservative.
A funny quote:
I talked to a public health official and asked him what's the best way to anticipate where there might be higher than normal rates of vaccine noncompliance, and he said take a map and put a pin wherever there's a Whole Foods. I sort of laughed, and he said, "No, really, I'm not joking." It's those communities with the Prius driving, composting, organic food-eating people.Are they completely wrong for having some skepticism? Well, no, every time a drug company loses an expensive lawsuit they seem to roll out some new vaccine they claim is absolutely essential. The HPV and Shingles vaccines, for example, are pretty darn narrow in both benefit and target market to be foisted off on everyone, but if you note that, you are anti-science, according to pharmaceutical marketing departments and their apologists.
Obviously there are segments of religious people on one side, and hyper-enviromentalists on the other, who are never going to accept science. If they want to believe an organically-processed food is 'better' for them or that the world was created 6,000 years ago, there isn't much to be done. But at least journalists are finally calling out both sides, an area where science blogging has been lacking.
I can never buy a Corvette because I don't have a mustache and now apparently I can't buy a Prius because I accept science. Though anyone who believed acid rain from batteries was better than global warming didn't know much science to begin with.
"Why the 'Prius Driving, Composting' Set Fears Vaccines" by Greg Miller at Science
Hat tip to RealClearScience, which is basically the Drudge Report for really smart people.