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Mon Nov 5, 2012, 03:03 PM

Why Conservatives/Republicans Turned Against Science

A prediction: When all the votes have been counted and the reams of polling data have been crunched, analyzed, and spun, this will be clear: Few scientists will have voted for Republican candidates, particularly for national office. Survey data taken from 1974 through 2010 and analyzed by Gordon Gauchat in the American Sociological Review confirm that most American scientists are not conservatives. A 2009 study by the Pew Research Center found that only 9 percent of scientists self-identified as conservative, while 52 percent called themselves liberals. Only 6 percent of American scientists self-identified as Republicans. This state of affairs is bad for the nation, and bad for science.

It was not always this way. In the 1968 election, Richard Nixon won the votes of 31 percent of physicists, 42 percent of biologists, 52 percent of geologists, and 62 percent of agricultural scientists (compared with 43.4 percent of the popular vote). While these data do not include party affiliation, they suggest that the scientific community of the late 1960s was much more evenly divided between the two major parties than it is now, and, with the exception of physicists, slightly more conservative than the American voting public at large.

Why have scientists fled the Republican Party? The obvious answer is that the Republican Party has spurned science. Consider Mitt Romney's shifting position on climate change. As governor of Massachusetts in 2004, he laid out a plan for protecting the state's climate. As presidential candidate, he has said that climate change is real, but has questioned whether humans are causing it. His stance is consistent with the Republican Party platform, which unambiguously calls for expanding the production and use of the fossil fuels that drive climate change. In 2009, Paul Ryan accused climate scientists of "clear efforts to use statistical tricks to distort their findings and intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change," echoing false accusations leveled against climatologists at the University of East Anglia. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan exemplify the conservative turn against science, but what explains it?

It seems hard to believe today, but environmental protection used to be a bipartisan affair. In the early half of the 20th century, Republican and Democratic administrations pursued conservation, setting aside land as national forests and parks but leaving pollution control to local and state governments. By the 1950s, however, pollution became a national issue. Above-ground nuclear-weapons testing spread radioactive fallout globally, along with a fear of the consequences. Rachel Carson's 1962 book, Silent Spring, documented the adverse effects of pesticides, especially DDT. Less well remembered but equally important was the work of Clair Patterson, a geochemist at the California Institute of Technology, who showed that lead pollution from cars had reached Antarctica. By 1970 it was no longer plausible to argue that pollution was a local problem—a "neighborhood effect," as the economist Milton Friedman called it in 1962...........SNIP..........SNIP.


Much more at the chronicle of higher education:


http://chronicle.com/article/The-Conservative-Turn-Against/135488/

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Arrow 17 replies Author Time Post
Reply Why Conservatives/Republicans Turned Against Science (Original post)
Ichingcarpenter Nov 2012 OP
codjh9 Nov 2012 #1
Xipe Totec Nov 2012 #7
GodlessBiker Nov 2012 #2
no_hypocrisy Nov 2012 #3
byeya Nov 2012 #4
randome Nov 2012 #5
hollysmom Nov 2012 #6
justiceischeap Nov 2012 #8
RoccoR5955 Nov 2012 #11
hifiguy Nov 2012 #13
Care Acutely Nov 2012 #15
justiceischeap Nov 2012 #16
meow2u3 Nov 2012 #9
codjh9 Nov 2012 #10
hifiguy Nov 2012 #12
Jim Lane Nov 2012 #17
Zoeisright Nov 2012 #14

Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Mon Nov 5, 2012, 03:06 PM

1. Yes, the environment wasn't really treated as a partisan issue until Reagan n/t

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Response to codjh9 (Reply #1)

Mon Nov 5, 2012, 03:15 PM

7. That's when trees started polluting the air. SO they started it.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Mon Nov 5, 2012, 03:08 PM

2. For the same reason the bishops spurned Galileo's telescope ...

The experimental evidence conflicted with what they "knew" to be true, so better not expose their own senses with data which would challenge the prevailing order.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Mon Nov 5, 2012, 03:08 PM

3. Because science isn't determined by faith that is dictated by a religious leader.

It's based on hypothesis, testing, critical thinking, empirical evidence, evaluation, logical reason, and ruling out wrong results. You know, proof. The results can't be controlled, corrupted or dictated. In Science, you can't say that it's fact that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west because it just does or it's in the Bible or it's always been that way. There's theory, testing, evidence, and process to prove it's true as opposed to "We'll do the thinking for you." And that last part is the reason why republicans don't like Science. It creates individuals who will argue against fallacy, assumption, and mind control.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Mon Nov 5, 2012, 03:10 PM

4. Science got into the bank accounts of the land-rapers and they made a conscious and prolonged

 

effort to attack science in the universities; government agencies; corporations; and elsewhere while paying entities like Cato to fabricate reports purporting to attack scientific findings.

The moneymen want scientists like Milton Friedman was an economist. In other words, put the money in one slot and a report you can wave around will duly be spewed out.

Hoover Institution at Stanford University anyone?

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Mon Nov 5, 2012, 03:12 PM

5. Science has gotten much closer to explaining why there is something instead of nothing.

 

That's too hard for them to follow so they turn away and find something else to complain about.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Mon Nov 5, 2012, 03:13 PM

6. fine, now explain why Repub's turn against logic and reason and common sense.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Mon Nov 5, 2012, 03:16 PM

8. Because there's a groundswell of people who think this graphic is historically accurate



And the Republic party, with urging from the Tealiban has pushed this meme so they could continue to rape the earth of her natural resources for profit.

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Response to justiceischeap (Reply #8)

Mon Nov 5, 2012, 03:56 PM

11. The only reason for that

 

is because he rode the dinosaur's back, not hold it in his hand.

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Response to justiceischeap (Reply #8)

Mon Nov 5, 2012, 04:16 PM

13. That's a mighty white lookin' Jeebus.

 

IIRC he was a Jewish middle-easterner, not a guitarist in a Scandinavian metal band, which is what that guy looks like.

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Response to hifiguy (Reply #13)

Mon Nov 5, 2012, 04:27 PM

15. "guitarist in a Scandinavian metal band"

Yeah. I'm stealing that one.

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Response to hifiguy (Reply #13)

Mon Nov 5, 2012, 04:27 PM

16. But look at how tenderly he cuddles the baby dinosaur.

It's always struck me funny, when I got older, that Jesus was portrayed as a blue-eyed white guy. It's also always made me scratch my head when racists use the Bible to support their claims, since if Jesus is from the ME and G-d made man in his image, then Middle Eastern people are the "true image" of G-d.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Mon Nov 5, 2012, 03:23 PM

9. Conservatives are superstitious

Fundamentalist religous beliefs are by nature superstitious and hostile to science, so it's no suprise they hate science so much.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Mon Nov 5, 2012, 03:34 PM

10. They only like science when it suits them ... like a new 'cool' invention, a medical breakthrough,

or a probe to Mars. They're in awe of THOSE kinds of scientists. But if someone says they maybe shouldn't be using so much gas because it's contributing to global warming, which is already getting us into deep shit, then they say 'whadda THEY know?' about scientists.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Mon Nov 5, 2012, 04:14 PM

12. The killer point of the article was that

 

environmental science of the 1970s proved the existence of vast market failures in laissez-faire capitalism. In other words, science proved their economic religion was wrong. Which is when the 1%ers turned against science, and the misinformation they belch forth befogged the easily-led sheeple and religulous nuts into following them.

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Response to hifiguy (Reply #12)

Tue Nov 6, 2012, 02:27 AM

17. In that respect it's unfair to Friedman, who recognized the point early on.

 

When Milton Friedman used the term "neighborhood effect", he didn't mean an effect that was limited to one local neighborhood, an area that was only a fraction of one city or town. He meant that the effect would be felt by people other than the participant(s) in an action or transaction. Those affected could well be many miles away.

It goes back to the "invisible hand" that's the basis for free-market economics. When a decision is to be made, the person involved will weigh the costs against the benefits, and choose only those actions that show a net benefit. Individuals will thus be guided, as if by an invisible hand, to acting in ways that benefit society.

This market mechanism doesn't work if the individual's action imposes costs on other people, though, because the decision-maker won't take those costs into account. Friedman called this a "neighborhood effect" but today the more common term is "externality". Friedman was a devout believer in the free market, who too often downplayed or ignored instances of market failure. To his credit, though, he recognized this one. Pollution is a classic example of a problem that the market can't handle. Even Friedman agreed that government regulation was required to limit actions that impose costs on other people (negative externalities), like pollution, and to encourage actions that confer benefits on other people (positive externalities), like education. (Friedman wrote something like, "The education of your child benefits me."

The linked article is dismayingly sloppy in its misinterpretation of the term "neighborhood" as used by Friedman.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Mon Nov 5, 2012, 04:18 PM

14. They turned against science for two reasons.

First of all, they're too goddamned stupid to understand it. Second, the church has historically been against science because it undermines their sky fairy. This world would be so much better off if the religious right had been driven off the planet centuries ago.

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