It's easy to rationalize that. If Republicans are anti-science then naturally the biggest defenders and cheerleaders of science, journalists and bloggers, would be Democrats.
Except it was never that simple. The claim that Republicans were somehow more anti-science than Democrats was instead invented to rationalize pre-existing political belief. Evolution acceptance was magnified to being critical for human life and the fact that Republicans denied evolution only 9 percent more than Democrats was ignored. Human embryonic stem cells would have cured Parkinson's disease in 2014 if not for Republicans banning them, at least if you read science media in 2004. The fact that they were never banned, and President Bush simply limited federal funding to existing lines to obey a law signed by President Clinton, was lost in the din of anti-science rhetoric. (1)
Biologists and college students skew heavily left so it is no surprise that they, and the audience that reads them, would engage in confirmation bias, but it was alarming that so much of science media didn't engage in the kind of fact-checking they would do if it were not about the political party they dislike.
What would have been noticed if journalists were doing journalism is that in all the claims about Republicans and creationism and global warming, the really pressing short term issues we face, like medicine and food and energy, are overwhelmingly denied by Democrats. 53 out of 55 politicians who tried to force the FDA to put warning labels on GMOs were Democrats. It isn't just elites in the Democratic party that are anti-science. Though Republican creationist Mississippi has basically no voluntary exemptions from vaccines among its population, Democratic stronghold California has over 15,000 kids whose parents say that science is wrong about immunology and the counties that lead the state are 80% Democrat. What does science media say about that? They are not anti-science or even anti-vaccine, they are anti-corporation. And somehow Republicans are worse.
Now, Libertarians and some conservatives have always been a little wacky - so far to the right they become the left, like on fluoridation. On vaccines it is not that bad, they say vaccines should be a a personal choice - they know history better than social authoritarian progressives, who don't recall that government-mandated social authoritarianism is how progressive Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, a legend among the left, rationalized 60,000 forced sterilizations he made possible (1) - nonetheless, in its modern political reframing, the New York Times said that the measles outbreak was "posing a challenge for Republicans who find themselves in the familiar but uncomfortable position of reconciling modern science with the skepticism of their core conservative voters" - though the outbreak was caused by Democrats.
Or are Marin, San Francisco, Berkeley and Humboldt, with their 80 percent Democratic control, somehow Republican hotbeds now? No editor bothered to ask an awkward question about whether that wholly invented claim was even remotely true. I know the Wall Street Journal has fact checkers, because I have written for the Wall Street Journal, but perhaps only right-wing newspapers want to print facts.
Yes, Republicans have some anti-vaccine people, just like they have some anti-GMO people and Democrats have evolution deniers and the global warming kind too. Yet despite the strange framing of corporate science blogging and media, two Republicans lobbying for GMO warning labels out of 55 do not really make it "bipartisan". It was a Democratic Senator who took a rifle and shot a hole in global warming legislation, so why isn't global warming denial bipartisan?
That leads to the problem AAAS has in officially placing a prominent Democrat in charge. They were always siding with Democrats covertly, they have yet to issue a policy statement criticizing President Obama's policies the way they did Bush, even though he has behaved in exactly the same way, but how can science claim to have special status as trusted guides for the public on complex issues when the top qualification to run one of the more prominent science bodies in the United States is being a well-connected Democratic politician?
That was the best candidate?
Of course not. Being a Democrat has always been the criteria among the more overt Democratic fronts, like Union of Concerned Scientists (3) but they are not an organization of scientists the way AAAS is. AAAS publishes Science magazine and get $100 a year for it. They are so proud of their science audience an ad will cost you $10,000.
Outside academia, scientists represent America, politically and culturally. Inside academia, scientists are so unrepresentative in faculty jobs that people have wondered if there is a secret agenda against minorities, handicapped people and conservatives. It may be that AAAS is interested in representing the interests of just academics now, so looking overtly partisan won't be a problem.
(1) Six years after President Obama 'lifted' the ban by slightly modifying the policy in order to still obey Clinton's law, human embryonic stem cells haven't even made it out of the starting gate, the breakthroughs have been in adult stem cell technology, like induced pluripotent stem cells, just like they have since the 1960s. In 2006, not only were hESCS touted as The Ultimate Science being banned by Republicans, science bloggers denied that adult stem cells had accomplished anything at all. To claim that they had achieved success was to be "a flunky for Sam Brownback and shill for the religious right."
(2) Holmes compared forced sterilization to vaccines: "It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Three generations of imbeciles are enough."
(3) Senator Obama was happy to promote falsehoods about his predecessor, writing for the partisan ScienceDebate2008 organization that "As president, I will lift the current administration’s ban on federal funding of research on embryonic stem cell lines" - surely he must know that President Bush was the first president to fund hESCs at all. The technology had been invented without federal funding because Democrat Bill Clinton had made it illegal.
He was happy to invent claims about hESCs, and vaccines too - though he was going to give biology a free pass based on science, he was not going to do the same for vaccines. He said he was worried they cause autism.
(4) Kevin Knobloch was rewarded for his years of service to the Democratic party by being appointed chief of staff to Department of Energy Secretary Dr. Ernie Moniz, which partially explains why the administrations "all of the above" energy strategy does not include nuclear - along with biologists about GMOs, UCS consistently said physicists did not know what they were talking about when it came to energy.
- Are Republicans Against Stem Cell Research?
- What Do Climate Scientists And Republicans Agree On? Nuclear Power
- Anti-Science Republicans Versus Anti-Science Democrats: The Comparison
- The Left Is More Anti-Science Than The Right Unless The Right Is More Anti-Science Than The Left
- Professors Offer $10K For Story That HPV Vaccine Caused Retardation