But outside that (well, never completely outside - to the hundreds and thousands who have written and commented here for no other reason than wanting to share science with the public, thanks once again) a group of fairly militant progressive bloggers who lament, for example, that women are not 51% of all science disciplines, seem to have no problem at all rationalizing reasons why there are so few Republicans in science.
Martin Robbins at The Guardian (a publication no stranger to claims of left-wing favoritism) whose column covers "science, pseudoscience and evidence-based politics" (whatever that last one is) tackles that startling lack of diversity in today's piece.
He quotes Professor Jon Haidt at the conference of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in Texas, who said on this issue last week
This is a statistically impossible lack of diversity. [...] Anywhere in the world that social psychologists see women or minorities underrepresented by a factor of two or three, our minds jump to discrimination as the explanation. But when we find out that conservatives are underrepresented among us by a factor of more than 100, suddenly everyone finds it quite easy to generate alternate explanations.Isn't that the nature of humans? Conservatives certainly are not surprised, either by the numbers or the rationalization behind them. Literally the only people ever surprised about claims of overwhelming progressive politics in science academia are the people who are progressives in science academia and think they are wholesome and inclusive and generally awesome in their tolerance.
Despite overwhelming evidence that it is true, some women in science objected to my assertion that gender discrimination was gone, yet would they accept that conservatives in science have worse ostracization than gay people pretty much anywhere outside the mid-East? That their publishing and job prospects are hurt if their politics become known? If the logic follows that not seeing 'like' people in classes hurts self-esteem and performance for women then it certainly should follow that virtually every dollar of outreach now be devoted to recruiting conservatives, since the numbers are shockingly low.
Aside from the fairness and diversity issue, there's a practical reason to have more Republicans in science and science writing and I touched on it a lot in the run-up to the 2008 U.S presidential election - namely that if one political party thinks you are 'in the bag' the party who owns you will not cater to you, they will focus on undecided people, and the party who knows they do not have your vote will not bother to try. President Obama gave lip service to science, as did Republican candidate John McCain, but the difference between their positions was non-existent yet how many scientists made that their deciding factor? Plenty claimed science mattered. And despite Republicans being supposedly overrun by 'Christian conservatives' no one in science asked Pres. Obama what he thought about religion, much less religion in schools or science classes, because they did not want to know his answer (1). The worthy effort ScienceDebate 2008 did even not broach the topic of evolution - fish hatcheries apparently being more important than science education in public schools - in its questions for the candidates, likely because they would not have liked Obama's answer. His position on vaccines and autism was the same as McCain - politically deft but clearly in defiance of the evidence and his supposed friendliness toward human embryonic stem cell research is actually about the same as Pres. Bush and no different than McCain's. Will it cost him any votes in 2012, though Bush was vilified by science blogging for it? Absolutely not.
Back to Robbins, he notes some outstanding examples of people reaching across political divides to do good work - an easy way to defuse Al Gore's detractors regarding global warming, for example, is to note that current energy policy is making Middle East dictators and loons like that guy in Venezuela rich, so if we can cure pollution and give dictatorships less money to fund terrorism, that should be a good thing all around. We need more of that and fewer shrill activists circling the wagons and insisting all people on the other side adopt every pet political and cultural positions before they can find common ground on any of them. In that regard, science blogging could do with more diversity and creativity than we get now. The science audience is through the roof over a decade ago, but the science blogging audience has been stagnant for years. More bloggers who are not parroting each other's politics couched as science would be good for everyone because then both Democrats and Republicans (and religious people and atheists) would be reading.
I've written previously about women in science blogging, and the likes of Alom Shaha have tackled ethnic diversity in atheism; but the left-wing bias in our community is perhaps even greater still. And maybe that ought to give us pause for thought in an age where science is increasingly at the center of political controversies, from climate change to drug harm.I am, Martin. It may be the first time I actually finished one of your articles!
Are science writers online too hostile to conservatives? Can we do more to reach out to right-wing or religious groups? And if we don't have a diverse range of voices, can we still reach a range of people across the political spectrum? Does it really matter? Am I a hypocrite for writing this given my history of Daily Mail bashing? Is anyone still reading?
(1) And progressives are so willing to not believe their own eyes and ears, they put their heads in the collective sand about Obama, a break they would never give a Republican. Here is Bill Maher insisting Obama is lying about being a Christian but is instead a 'secular humanist':