So begins famed skeptic Michael Shermer's review of "Science Left Behind" in his Scientific American column this month. Now, in the book, I make it pretty clear that liberals are not the problem, progressives are, but a baffling number of people on the left seek to use the terms interchangeably. Why, I don't know, there was never a need for two words if they are the same thing, but it explains why at San Francisco protests you can see people claiming to be Trotsky-ites palling around with people claiming to be Lenin-ites with people claiming to be Mao-ists selling Che Guevara t-shirts; they don't know what words mean.
The right, at least, understands nuance, so there are always distinctions between Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, etc.
I argue in the book that a lot of liberals in science are actually a positive; science is a liberal endeavor, it is about breaking rules and the laws of nature and that means it requires liber in the literal freedom sense. It's peer review that is conservative and that is why the system works, so as academia has gotten more skewed left, it isn't just a problem for diversity and tolerance - no one ever has to feel guilty disparaging people they never have to work with - it is a problem for getting the best science when right wing scientists can't get a job in academia and go work in the corporate world instead. And progressives are on the front lines trying to frame research through a prism of social justice issues and blasting anyone who comes up with inconvenient results. It's an icy chill effect now that they have power over hiring researchers, not just for conservatives but for liberals as well.
Whereas conservatives obsess over the purity and sanctity of sex, the left's sacred values seem fixated on the environment, leading to an almost religious fervor over the purity and sanctity of air, water and especially food. Try having a conversation with a liberal progressive about GMOs—genetically modified organisms—in which the words “Monsanto” and “profit” are not dropped like syllogistic bombs.Exactly true, yet progressives, especially in science media, have gone out of their way to rationalize anti-science irrationality as being 'anti-corporation' and 'ethical'. Well, over 50% of Republicans supported human embryonic stem cell research but President Bush limited federal funding to existing lines - why why his position not ethical rather than anti-science? The left has a lot more PR people in science media, that's why.
Yet the tables are turning. A lot of young researchers are coming of age at a time when a Democratic president is anti-vaccine, anti-energy, is blocking biology research and having science reports edited to read how he wants - and because they are liberals and not progressives they regard that as no different than when a Republican does it.
That is a very good thing for us all.
The Liberals' War on Science by Michael Shermer, Scientific American