Republicans and science

I’d like to beat this Republicans in science thing into the ground. First off, I’ll admit there is some real hostility to science from the fundies. But I don’t think that conservative opposition to stem cell research is rooted in hostility to science, it’s rooted in the (admittedly non-scientific belief) that Jeebus loves 5-celled blastocysts as much or more than he loves post-birth human beings. It’s the same with their dislike of the phrase “big bang”. I don’t think they’re very against science except when it comes into conflict with the Bible or the invisible hand of the free market or some other principle that trumps science. They’re not great about funding science when they’re in power, it’s true, but again, that’s more because they don’t like to fund anything except corporate welfare and the military; it’s not specifically an anti-science thing.

If you read one of the more would-be intellectual conservatives, say Bobo or Jim Manzi, it’s clear they think abstract Burkean principles (I’m never sure what they mean by this, but I think they do have some clear idea in their head) are more fundamentally true than findings arising from the scientific method. There’s plenty of science that doesn’t conflict with these principles, whatever they are, and all that science is fine.

But even at its most intellectually honest (and it rarely is anything approaching intellectually honest), conservatism puts principles ahead of empirical findings. The mission of would-be intellectual conservatives is to search out or create empirical findings that are in line with their own abstract principles.

A bunch of people said that engineers are more likely to be Republicans than research scientists. My guess, though, is that if the engineers are involved with research and experimentation, they are unlikely to be Republicans.

I don’t mean this to sound too judgmental or condescending. And I know that some liberals also put abstract principles before all else. But with these constant establishment media wanks about “liberals drive a car like this beep beep, conservatives drive a car like this BEEP BEEP BEEP”, I just wish there was some attempt to be honest about what the differences are.

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114 replies
  1. 1
    WereBear says:

    Oh, they scoop up the fruits of science all right. And if they get a myocardial infarction they are the first to squeal about letting a scientist treat them.

    Hypocritical jerks that they are.

    At base, they want the world to confirm what they think. Instead of thinking about how the world actually is.

  2. 2
    BR says:

    I don’t think they’re very against science except when it comes into conflict with the Bible or the invisible hand of the free market or some other principle that trumps science.

    Nah, this isn’t it. They’ve pretty much hit a point of anti-intellectualism that anything that could be made to sound funny to a 5th grader is not worth funding. That’s why they just scan grant titles for things like bear DNA.

  3. 3
    xian says:

    engineers are more likely to be pseudo-rationale glibertarians and Heinleiners.

  4. 4
    Cycloptichorn says:

    It’s inherently difficult to have a Conservative mindset and be on the forefront of scientific development. Almost antithetical, really.

    It lies in the very definition of ‘Conservative:’

    Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change.
    2. Traditional or restrained in style.
    3. Moderate; cautious.

    That’s almost the exact opposite of the mindset you need to be a successful scientist. Science is all about challenging boundaries and finding new ways to do things.

  5. 5
    Poopyman says:

    I don’t think they’re very against science except when it comes into conflict with the Bible

    Huh??!?

    There may be places where conservatism does not conflict with science, but there are very few places where science does not conflict with conservative thought.

  6. 6
    matt says:

    A. Engineers are more likely to be Republicans.
    B. Engineers are likely to be Republicans.

    These statements are not the same. (The first is true.)

  7. 7
    Poopyman says:

    A bunch of people said that engineers are more likely to be Republicans than research scientists. My guess, though, is that if the engineers are involved with research and experimentation, they are unlikely to be Republicans.

    As someone who started out at NASA and is now working in what we’ll call “National defense”, I find this to be dead on.

    Just a sample of one. Carry on.

  8. 8
    BR says:

    Here’s a classic post on the subject, from way back in 2004 – and yes, it’s gotten worse: I miss Republicans:

    No, seriously. Remember Republicans? Sober men in suits, pipes, who’d nod thoughtfully over their latest tract on market-driven fiscal conservatism while grinding out the numbers on rocket science. Remember those serious-looking 1950’s-1960’s science guys in the movies — Republican to a one…
    __
    We needed those guys. They were a dull but crucial part of the national dialogue. (And they knew their scotches. ) Now … a void. Simply put, if you are voting for these guys who call themselves Republicans, then you are voting for crazy air-rifle guy. You just walked up, nodded, and said: “Wow, I gotta get me a ladder.”

  9. 9
    Hal says:

    Oh, they scoop up the fruits of science all right. And if they get a myocardial infarction they are the first to squeal about letting a scientist treat them.
    Hypocritical jerks that they are.

    This point came up over and over during the stem cell research debate. If the research found a cure for diabetes or Alzheimer’s, you just know the conservatives would be lining up for days for the treatment, all the while screaming about those poor baby embryos.

  10. 10
    mikefromArlington says:

    Only heretics spread propaganda that goes against what the Bible teaches.

    It was like that when Aristotle released his findings.

    It’s the same now.

  11. 11
    Morbo says:

    So who wants to put $5 down that we’ll see an ED Kain response about how libertarians, in contrast to conservatives, are not anti-science within 24 hours of this post’s timestamp?

  12. 12
    beltane says:

    Ultimately, conservatism serves as a refuge from realty. Conservatives prefer to create their own reality rather than engage with the one that actually exists. While it is obvious that this style of thought is incompatible with science, one also wonders why conservatives are underrepresented in the arts. Perhaps imagination is as threatening to them as empiricism.

  13. 13
    Chris says:

    I don’t think they’re very against science except when it comes into conflict with the Bible or the invisible hand of the free market or some other principle that trumps science.

    Well dude, seems to me nobody’s anti-science for the sake of being anti-science – they’re against it either when it conflicts with their ideology (religious right) or interests (big business). But the bottom line is that they are, indeed, anti-science.

    It’s the same with their dislike of the phrase “big bang”.

    Heh. Know the real irony about that? The Big Bang theory originally was proposed by a Catholic monk from Switzerland, and the secularists in the scientific community were suspicious of it for a time because the concept seemed too much like an attempt to legitimize Genesis (a universe created out of nothing).

    But the Big Bang theory held up and stood the test of criticism, so the scientific community ended up accepting it. Fundies who criticize it as a secular liberal conspiracy are cutting off their nose to spite their face, and giving the scientists even less reason to take them seriously.

  14. 14
    TooManyJens says:

    I don’t think you’re exactly wrong about any of this, but I think you’re missing something. There’s a strong strain of anti-intellectualism running through today’s movement conservatism. There has to be, because so many of their beliefs are flatly contradicted by empirical evidence. They have to actively discredit the people who come up with evidence that shows that evolution happens or that global warming is a real threat or that trickle-down doesn’t work. That’s why in this country the hated “elitists” aren’t the wealthy who use their power to further enrich themselves at our expense; oh no, the “elitists” are the pointy-headed academics. You can’t trust those fuckers, they think they’re better than you: so goes our cultural narrative.

  15. 15
    fasteddie says:

    It’s Lizard Brain stuff. They don’t think or reason – they just “feel”. If they actaully stopped to think – they’d realize what greedy assholes they are. So they don’t.

    And now I have to spend Christmas with them. Bah, Humbug indeed.

  16. 16
    lllphd says:

    sully linked to the sarewitz post where he notes that 6% of scientists are Republicans while 55% are Democrats,” and then a quote from steinglass offering 3 hypotheses:
    http://andrewsullivan.theatlan.....tives.html

    i could not resist sending this along to andrew:

    The [Steinglass] challenge is, well, a no-brainer. The fact that his three hypotheses so completely miss the point, and the most interesting hypothesis, exposes him for the conservative thinker – and non-scientist – that he clearly is.

    Doing good science compels the practitioner to actually think very openly, without preconceived notions of outcome or explanation. Conservatives, on the other hand and by definition, tack to the status quo. Their analyses of observations tend to move toward justifications of that status quo. When, in Kuhnian terms, the anomalies come too fast and furious for these justifications to make any sense within status quo terms, conservatives too often persist in their contradictions, executing increasingly remarkable intellectual gymnastics to achieve their goal. This reaches sometimes pathological extremes, but all you need to do is review the history surrounding the pursuit of paradigm shifts by Darwin, Freud, Einstein, not to mention those who were never able to witness their own vindication in their lifetimes (Mendel, Copernicus, and of course Galileo come to mind). It is not a stretch to see this same pattern in some of our more radical rightwing conservatives, particularly those within the grasp of the most conservative mind-ender of all, fundamentalist religion.

    I’d add to this the fact that most scientists are dedicated enough to their life’s vocation, or their pursuit of recognition for their efforts is so strong, that accruing money gets shoved way down on the priority list. They live modestly by comparison to most intellectual conservatives who tend to go into the financial industry; through that experience of living modestly for goals beyond money, they cannot understand any group of people who make it their life’s goal to hoard resources and dollars, not to mention all the destructive fallout that accrues as a consequence of such greed.

    There was also a recent finding that most youth who study economics in college, being fed the standard “conservative” interpretation of theories such as tax cuts increase jobs (demonstrably untrue) and deregulation violates smith’s capitalist theory (also demonstrably untrue), are far more likely to vote Republican than other students, and tend to remain with that party for life.

    Finally, this is such a silly question, like all those who wonder why there are so few conservative artists or actors or journalists or especially comedians. Again, a no-brainer. Comedians, like artists and scientists and journalists, are in the business of truth; if a comedian tries to make something funny out of something that is just not even true, it falls flat. Just as art and acting and journalism do.

    To liberally (ahem) play with Colbert’s wisdom, Truth – not truthiness – has a liberal bias.

  17. 17
    Evan says:

    If you only support science until it comes into conflict with religion, then you don’t support science.

  18. 18
    Tractarian says:

    “liberals drive a car like this beep beep, conservatives drive a car like this BEEP BEEP BEEP”

    For some reason, I cannot stop laughing at this. I mean, this is basically a distillation of every David Brooks column, right?

  19. 19
    sven says:

    It’s the same with their dislike of the phrase “big bang”.

    But there are so very many big bang-like conflicts that specific opposition has become general. When you speak to many of the rank and file they are convinced that ‘Big Science’ is out to get them. Part of this is simply anti intellectualism but part is also the result of an endless series of disagreements.

    It is also the case that many conservatives only encounter some sciences when there is conflict. Few fundamentalists spend their time thinking about geology until a ‘controversial’ new discovery hits the front page.

  20. 20
    Jack says:

    Ummm… The party of Sarah Palin is NOT anti-science? The modern GOP is not only anti-science, they are actively anti-intelligence (not anti-intellectual, which is a different thing). Stupidity, ignorance, and blunderbuss shouting down of anything that is not in perfect alignment with the preconceptions are all worshiped in the GOP as it is currently constituted.

    Just read this collection of links at the Discovery Magazine Bad Astronomy blog.

    Even Dan Quayle, no mental giant, had more on the ball that the current crop of GOP “opinion-makers”.

  21. 21
    MattF says:

    I have a suspicion that the statistic is wrong. Lots of conservative scientists and engineers work for the gummint and/or industry. But they work in jobs that don’t encourage you to go public.

  22. 22
    J.W. Hamner says:

    I’m telling ya… there are basically two reasons to be a Republican: an obsession with money or Jesus, and science is broadly incompatible with both.

  23. 23
    Anon says:

    What is (falsely) labeled “conservative” these days is more accurately authoritarianism.

    What is (falsely) labeled “liberal” these days is more accurately conflict avoidance.

    Both labels are absurd and we lose our ability to effectively communicate when we use definitions that are nonsensical or disingenuous. That is intimately related to the present difficulties with our democracy.

    The very idea of “government by, of, and for the people” truly does demand that the people be educated, honest, engaged, concerned and knowledgeable. We can’t use crazy word definitions and keep control of our whatever remains of our democracy.

    Authoritarianism is inherently anti-knowledge.

  24. 24
    MikeJ says:

    Funny you mention the big bang. It’s what I always bring up when people claim there’s no such thing as a fundamentalist atheist.

    The name “big bang” was coined by Fred Hoyle. He refused to believe in it because he thought exactly what the fundamentalist xtians do, that it disproved his religious belief. He thought it proved that there was a god, and the xtians think it proves there isn’t one. Those are both idiotic beliefs.

    Rejecting reality because it doesn’t fit your pre-existing beliefs is far more common with conservatives and the religious, but not unique to them.

    We all know what happens when you believe in things that you don’t understand.

  25. 25
    DougJ says:

    @Tractarian:

    Yeah, it’s an old Simpsons gag, having a comic do a stale white people/black people routine, but I always thought that it was more applicable to hack faux high-brow “cultural divide” musings.

  26. 26
    matoko_chan says:

    Do you not understand The Real Meaning of Conservatism, DougJ.
    It means never having to say you’re sorry, or wrong, or stupid, or evil.
    Because the conservative elites are going to do your thinking for you.

    Look at this particular assclown, razib khan/david hume of the Secular Racists blog.
    He says the reason he is a conservative is because of human nature.

    Visiting HotAir Commenter: Telling people they are stupid won’t change their minds —especially if they are stupid.
    David Hume: this is a very good, and depressing point.

    Wow…..yah think? The GOP has selected for people-too-stupid-to-understand-ToE for years, and it’s a Big Surprise to these guys that the base is homogeneously IQ-challenged?
    But they are not surprised. They believe their base is too stupid to learn.
    That is why conservatards never try to educate their base, prefering instead to tell them they have A RIGHT to believe in wrong, bad stupid shit like racism, anti-intellectualism, creationism, fetal personhood, homophobia and climatology denial.
    And what is more…..to IMPOSE their wrong, stupid beliefs on the rest of us, because right now there are more of them.

  27. 27
    john b says:

    as another research engineer in what was called the “defense industry” above, i think it’s funny some of the hardcore conservative civilian employee. i’m not saying this is the norm or anything, i just think it’s funny. and to be clear, many of these people are more the authoritarian bent of conservatism than much of anything economic.

  28. 28
    J.W. Hamner says:

    @Morbo:

    Yeah, but only science that gets them closer to having sex with robots on another planet. This is also the one place they think government intervention and central planning is not only effective, but of paramount importance.

  29. 29
    Dave says:

    I think it is simply a matter that Republicans have devolved into a group where the mindset is that what I think is RIGHT. And any test, or evidence, or what have you that says different is wrong. Because I know I am right.

    It’s the triumph of ideology over everything else. Everything they believe hinges on them always being right. The Scientific Method puts that in jeopardy.

  30. 30
    Citizen_X says:

    So, let me see if I have this straight, Doug: Conservatives oppose the methodology (and thus, underlying principles) of science, they oppose many of the results of science, and they target numerous scientific studies and individual scientists for ridicule, defunding, or investigation.

    But they are not actually anti-science. OK.

  31. 31
    sven says:

    @xian: I’ve had the same thought. There is some connection about designing out ‘messiness’ that connects engineers and libertarians. The phrase “This would work perfectly if only…” somehow connects with both.

  32. 32
    matoko_chan says:

    @lllphd: Sully wont talk about Salam-Douthat stratification on cognitive ability or about Murrays upcoming book though.
    Murrays book shows in his three classes of elites (intellectual elite, cultural elite, and business class elite) that the intellectual elite and the cultural elite have left the conservative building.
    What the PEW survey actually shows is that 6% of scientists are republican……and 94% of scientists are NOT-republican.

  33. 33
    jl says:

    I agree with commenters above about self interest and the attitudes of GOP politicians and Tea People towards science. They like it just fine if it benefits them, or the politicians’ contributers. That is the real principle. It either has to benefit them financially or in terms of political support from religious extremists (the kind of nut who will vote on the basis of what a politician thinks about evolution).

    The Bible appears to say that pi is equal to 3, so why no fuss about that? Our precious youth are put in danger of being sent to hell every day by being taught that pi is not equal to 3, yet no one says anything at all about it. Imagine that!

    As for DougJ’s statement that GOPers are not so hostile to ‘hard’ science in a previous post, I don’t agree with that either. How do you separate global warming research from physics, chemistry and biology? How do you, these days, separate evolution from genetics and population biology? You cannot. You cannot even separate the humble field of systematics and taxonomy from evolution. So ‘what kind of cactus izzat?’ involves evolution.

    Actually there are three issues here:
    1) Validity of the scientific method,
    2) What are the set of facts that we believe scientific method has settled and currently accept as true (or in some approaches, what is the probability that some statement of facts is true),
    3) The use of those facts in social decision making.

    The GOPers and religious extremists have no method and no principle. Their focus is on 2) and 3) and determined by what is to their short term political and financial advantage. As the political and financial calculus change, their positions on science will change. That is how the causality runs, and I think that is the best way to think about it.

    And a lot of what we think of scientific discourse in politics today is really an attempt at social engineering of popular opinion and prejudice. For example, many of these GOPer politicians routinely say that people like me, liberals, progressives (whatever you call it) ‘want’ global warming to be true so I can impose my will on humankind. That has nothing to do with science and everything to do with political smears for political gain.

    I neither want nor not want global warming to be true, I neither want nor not want any global warming to be caused by modern industrial society.

    What I want is to use scientific method to help find out the truth. The GOP and Tea People do neither understand nor give a moldy fig about that, and will oppose that effort or support depending on how useful the conclusions are to them in the short run.

  34. 34
    Dave says:

    @Citizen_X: I think what he is saying is that, for Republicans, science like stem-cell research is bad. But science like “let’s build a rail-gun and slap it on a destroyer” is good.

  35. 35
    Chris says:

    @TooManyJens:

    There’s a strong strain of anti-intellectualism running through today’s movement conservatism.

    I agree, with the caveat that it’s broader than anti-intellectualism. It’s anti-professionalism, is the best way I can describe it; namely, the hostility to people who value Doing Their Job more than they value Doing What Conservative Ideology Requires. That covers nearly everyone.

    You see it in science and academia because of the reasons we’ve discussed, but you see it elsewhere too. The hostility to military folk who didn’t go along with the Iraq war craze (and in general to gay, Muslim, liberal and all other soldiers who don’t fit their recruitment poster image of an All-American Badass). The hostility to those in the intelligence community who wouldn’t support the Iraq war conclusions (to the degree that there’s a mini-meme I’ve seen from commenters on conservative websites who believe the CIA was conspiring to undermine Bush). You can find an equivalent in nearly every professional field that connects with politics.

    You say anti-intellectualism, I say the politicization of everything, and the development of parrallel “expert” communities that only say and do things that are politically acceptable. It’s a staple of totalitarian regimes, by the way.

  36. 36
    MikeTheZ says:

    The engineers that I know that are Republican were raised Republican or vote with their wallet (or both).

  37. 37
    themann1086 says:

    @Citizen_X: Nailed it.

    The GOP is actively hostile to science as a methodology. They like some of its results, and hate others, but they reject the entire method by which it works. How is this not anti-science? It’s like saying old-earth creationists aren’t anti-science because they accept the fact that the earth is old. Well bully for them, but it doesn’t mean they support science as a process.

    ETA: To clarify, “Science” isn’t a collection of facts, it’s a way to examine reality and determine how it works. Conservatives might be ok with some of the results of science, but they reject the process entirely.

  38. 38
    Jewish Steel says:

    The consistent “would-be” before “conservative intellectuals” shows you’ve been making some empirical observations of your own.

  39. 39
    jl says:

    @Dave: Maybe he can try to explain it again for us.

    I think that the do not care about the science of ‘let’s build a rail gun and slap it on a destroyer’. They care about whether such a project will get them money and help them gain power. The role of science is that it just another tool in their kit of rhetoric to support what they want to support.

    I doubt that they are willing to respect scientific consensus with respect to weaponry. Look at arms control and missile defense.

    Maybe I’m in a bad cynical depressed mood (since I emulate Cole in all things, he is my Great Orange Satan, and he is grumpy this morning). But I think the GOP and the current reactionaries’ use of science is cynical through and through.

  40. 40
    Lee says:

    Good for you on sticking with your own personal “peak wingnut”.

    I live in Texas and up and down the state you can count on Republicans being against science in any form.

    The only time they are not against science is when the research grants are getting handed out by the federal government. Then they are not so much pro-science but pro-federal money.

  41. 41

    OT: I read this headline:

    States Get Their Way and Lose Rail Money

    I haven’t stop laughing since I read the article:

    Gov.-elect Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Gov.-elect John Kasich in Ohio campaigned on pledges to stop passenger-rail projects in their states. On Thursday, they got their wish.

    Move over Rick Perry, you’ve got some competition!

    ETA: If that doesn’t cheer Cole up then Tunch may have to take more drastic measure.

  42. 42
    Tonal Crow says:

    @themann1086: Yep. And they hate science as a methodology because it tends to undermine their core beliefs, such as creationism, free-market fundamentalism, climate-change denialism, and the like.

  43. 43
    Dave says:

    @jl: I guess what I am saying is that the science behind something like stem-cell research is objectionable to Republicans because it can prove or disprove things that make their ideology look foolish. So that makes it “bad”.

    The science behind hurling a piece of metal at bad guys is “good” because it doesn’t disprove their ideology and has the added bonus of blowing shit up.

    They aren’t anti-science in its totality. They are all for science that is ideology-neutral and can blow shit up. Nuclear power, rail-guns, lasers. But that’s it.

    And scientific consensus is fer loosers because egghedz don’t know nuthin’…

  44. 44
    Dave says:

    @The Grand Panjandrum: And Rick Scott in Florida may be killing the Tampa-Orlando route. Which would be another $2B.

  45. 45
    Jamie says:

    @themann1086:

    well modern conservatives are not just anti-science.

  46. 46
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @The Grand Panjandrum: The negotiating techinque the governors used here seems to be the same one pioneered by Clevon Little in Blazing Saddles.

  47. 47
    Mnemosyne says:

    @TooManyJens:

    They have to actively discredit the people who come up with evidence that shows that evolution happens or that global warming is a real threat or that trickle-down doesn’t work.

    Good point. It’s not that conservatism per se is automatically antithetical to science. It’s that the current form of American conservatism has to be antithetical to science because otherwise every policy that they want to implement would be shot down by facts and logic.

  48. 48
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Dave:

    And Rick Scott in Florida may be killing the Tampa-Orlando route. Which would be another $2B.

    Someone else was saying that if Scott does that, he will incur the wrath of The Walt Disney Company, which really wants that train, and that may be something Scott is unwilling to do.

    High-speed rail in Florida could be saved not because it’s a good idea or because it will benefit the people of Florida, but by corporatism. Sad but true.

  49. 49
    James K. Polk, Esq says:

    For many conservatives, the answer is what matters. The ends always justify the means. It’s why torture is fine, and tax cuts are always good.

    The essence of science doesn’t care about the answer. It cares about making accurate observations. The answer is a derivative of the questions.

    Conservatives are fine with observations, provided they confirm their answers.

  50. 50
    wengler says:

    Republicans don’t believe evidence has any place in making public policy decisions. That is the epitome of being anti-science.

    Continental drift and Jesus riding a dinosaur. Same thing because evidence doesn’t matter. The rejection of evidence means that they can believe in anything at anytime. This helps when your main job is to be a corporate whore.

  51. 51
    Citizen_X says:

    @Dave: But you know, one can make moral/ethical/political arguments against stem-cell (or rail-gun) research that respect the science.* But that was not the issue when, for example, Bush cut off stem-cell research: it was that he had to bullshit about the viability of existing stem-cell lines and the usefulness of adult stem-cells. It didn’t matter to the Right; the intent was to uphold the predetermined policy, underlying facts be damned.

    *I was going to try to give an example, but I got off into the weeds on questions of beginning of life, consciousness, etc, etc. Feh. Not my job.

  52. 52
    PaminBB says:

    Another problem conservatives have with science: science is messy, it’s a work in progress, and thus prone to the unexpected. If you want to run you life in accordance with the stories in an old book, this is just plain scary.

  53. 53
    Maude says:

    @The Grand Panjandrum:
    And our dear Christie who lost money on education and a huge tunnel project.
    When they come out with a new picture dictionary, Christie’s picture will be the example of stupid.
    But, he is the darling of the Republicans.

  54. 54
    Roger Moore says:

    @WereBear:

    At base, they want the world to confirm be what they think it is.

    Fixt.

  55. 55
    Jamie says:

    It comes down to the fact that modern GOP is pre-enlightenment, philosophically

  56. 56
    kindness says:

    You are being too kind Doug. What really is the difference between republican/troglodites who believe in biblical infallibility and Scientologists who believe that we are inhabited by evil aliens who were released upon mankind out of an exploding volcano? Both are articles of faith. Both may have comforting value and both are absurd if viewed as infallible.

    Honestly, conservatives don’t like science because they like to feel humans are god’s only children. That mankind is god’s pinnicle of achievement in the Universe. Sorry but if that is the case that is one slacker god they got there.

    For my purposes, I can only hope that extraterrestrials visit us soon so the fundies shut the damn fuck up.

  57. 57
    The Moar You Know says:

    @matoko_chan: Being too stupid to know that you’re stupid.

    It has a name and has been studied by science. And yes, most conservatives fall into this category of person.

  58. 58
    p.a. says:

    In the recent past (say pre-Moral Majority etc.) I believe the political split among the ‘hard sciences’ (and to reflect my personal bias I do not include economics) was much closer to even; probably 40/30.

  59. 59
    jl says:

    @Mnemosyne: That is a good point.

    And I will back track from my accusation that they are 100% cynical. Maybe I will backtrack to 1/3 cynical, 1/3 ignorant, and 1/3 the reaction normal humans have who hold absurd abnormal ideas and are dealing with severe cognitive dissonance.

    You do see the reactionaries (they are not really conservatives in the traditional sense of the word) trying to justify their worldview. I believe that sometimes they are genuinely, in a shallow and ignorant way, trying to justify thie absurd beliefs to themselves.

    An example is at a recent Senate hearing when Inhofe tried to put Chu on the spot on how the oil ‘got’ to Alaska. After all, Alaska is cold, how could tropical rainf forests have ever been there to make oil, and under the sea!?

    Chu tried to explain, but I don’t think Inhofe understood a word. Does Inhofe know or believe in continental drift, that climate change has occured ever, or that coal tends to come from the old rain forests that grew on land, and oil tends to come from plankton in the sea?

    No matter. Chu could not give an answer as glib as Inhofe’s question, so the GOP and the Tea Peoples’ deemed that encounter a victory for them.

    So, it is not all cynicism, but the cognitive dissonance and the cynicism and the ignorance are not independent. And I think cynicism is the root cause of the complex.

    But their defense mechanisms are complex. Inhofes glib question and glib satisfaction at the conclusion is, to them, the scientific method.

  60. 60
    Hal says:

    @kindness

    What really is the difference between republican/troglodites who believe in biblical infallibility and Scientologists who believe that we are inhabited by evil aliens who were released upon mankind out of an exploding volcano?

    2,000 years.

  61. 61
    Martin says:

    My guess, though, is that if the engineers are involved with research and experimentation, they are unlikely to be Republicans.

    Nope. Engineering is man’s control over nature. Scientists discover, engineers manipulate. The only reason why engineering isn’t completely overrun by wingnuts is that Americans are too fucking lazy to actually earn engineering PhDs before being lured off by the sweet temptation of a decent living, so Americans are in the minority among R&D elite. No nation really dominates – it’s as diverse a population as you’ll find anywhere.

  62. 62
    DMcK says:

    Based on my own anecdotal observations, I think the brand of conservatism you’ll most likely among scientists and engineers (and what the hell, science fiction writers too) would be of the libertarian/Objectivist variety rather than the sort of populist Palin-era stuff that currently defines the Republican party. In other words, most likely to be registered and self-identified as Independents or Libertarians, but equally as likely to vote for a largely Republican ticket. I’d go as far as to bet a number of my hypothetical conservative science people actually voted for Obama, but are now HORRIFIED at things such as HCR.

  63. 63
    geg6 says:

    Doug, when the psychopath in skirts, the fucking Pope, is running around creating new church dogmas that call for all scientists and physicians to treat zygotes as fully functional and independent human beings and half the country is screaming back “Hell yeah!”, all hope for science is lost.

    We are entering a new Dark Ages. They’ll be burning us in giant autos de fe by 2012.

  64. 64
    Don SinFalta says:

    They live modestly by comparison to most intellectual conservatives who tend to go into the financial industry; through that experience of living modestly for goals beyond money, they cannot understand any group of people who make it their life’s goal to hoard resources and dollars, not to mention all the destructive fallout that accrues as a consequence of such greed.

    This works the other way too. People naturally tend to think other people are just like themselves. Economic conservatives don’t understand any motivation besides greed, so when they see scientists supporting a point of view that is a consequence of existing research, they assume there must be some kind of economic agenda driving them rather than just evidence about how the world works. I think they genuinely believe in a conspiracy of scientists who are promoting global warming for personal benefit, presumably to get more grant funding or something. So to them the issue is a conflict of interest groups, with both sides having equally valid arguments, and it’s all just a fight over “who gets the money?”

  65. 65
    john b says:

    @The Grand Panjandrum:

    as someone who lives in OH, it doesn’t make me smile. also, my SO could really use some of the work opporutnities that might have come out of the proposed rail line here.

  66. 66
    DBrown says:

    Just look at corn based fuel – a series of engineer’s were paid by companies to design the process (and all these engineers knew that the process would barely break even for cost of energy in versus energy obtained but hell, they were paid to apply know chemical principles, not look at the total picture.)

    A scientist would first calculate the yields and overall efficiency of the process and realize it is a worthless way to create fuel and end it right there.

    Either person applies science but one looks at the total picture and the other looks at an application – just as one of them tends to vote re-thug and one votes fact (liberal.)

  67. 67
    ken says:

    @Mnemosyne: That’s actally funny. In Fast Food Nation, the author writes that the meat companies made a concerted effort to eliminate e-coli from the meat, not because it would make people sick, but because McDonald’s threatened to take their business elsewhere if they ever sent bad meat again.

    When corporate America needs science to produce an outcome, money will talk.

  68. 68
    martha says:

    @The Grand Panjandrum: So, are you trying to put me into the same tailspin as Cole? Cripes, I’m trying to avoid the damn news here (WI) but I’m just demoralized and dejected. Walker is a complete effing idiot and a republican. Separate items.

  69. 69
    Onkel Bob says:

    A few things from the institute…
    First, one of the smartest, most accomplished scientists I know, is a die hard republican. The man is probably one of the foremost authorities on Hox genes, turned down chairs at a prestigious universities, (he just wants to do science, not politics) and has forgotten more science than the board collective ever learned. And yet he thought GWB was it. So the original supposition that we learn our politics at a young age and reluctantly abandon those beliefs is more true than not. To my knowledge he remains in the 28%.
    There are two types of scientists, those who are funded, and those who are not. In the former category, they are not always funded because their ideas are strong, or their science golden. There’s far more corruption, cronyism, and outright fraud in the field than most will admit. I know a woman (a dept chair) who sank a program project grant because she brought her dimwit husband into the project without informing other the participants. Out of a 1000 grant proposals, the grant was scored as the 4th best, (NIH only funded 3) and all the critiques were focused on the hubby’s work. The other members of this project were livid as they lost a great deal of resources. She couldn’t care less because was able to use that proposal to get a supplement to her personal grant. The unfunded ones probably lean democratic because they want an increase in funding, while the funded ones are fuck you, I got mine.
    Today a grad student was failed on a oral exam not because she answered the questions wrong – she got every one of them right – but because two members of the committee (one a member of the NAS, the other her lackey) are intimidated by the students intellect. To quote that bitch, “she needs to learn a lesson, what it’s like to fail.” Spitefulness, vindictiveness, and downright despicable behavior is the norm in science, not the exception. More science is inhibited (and sometimes furthered) because someone is jealous of another’s accomplishments.
    If anything, I’m surprised that more scientists aren’t Republican. The honorable are few and far between.
    Bitter? Disaffected? No, the truth is I just know them, work with them, and deal with them on a daily and hourly basis. Familiarity breeds contempt.

  70. 70
    pattonbt says:

    Nah, the answer is simple. Science means facts. Facts support liberal policies, liberal policies must be fought whether they are good or not. Therefore, we must fight science.

    You can shove all kinds of medical and hard science facts in conservatives faces which directly refute everything they want out of society. So they have to wrap their beliefs in religion as a tool they can point to that makes them and their BS argument “superior”.

    So they don’t believe in religion itself, they believe in it as a superior argument to facts. I mean if God says so, then how can we argue with that.

  71. 71
    BR says:

    @jl:

    An example is at a recent Senate hearing when Inhofe tried to put Chu on the spot on how the oil ‘got’ to Alaska. After all, Alaska is cold, how could tropical rainf forests have ever been there to make oil, and under the sea!?

    Barton, not Inhofe.

  72. 72
    Tsulagi says:

    My guess, though, is that if the engineers are involved with research and experimentation, they are unlikely to be Republicans.

    Seems in my little area of, as @Poopyman: put in quotation marks “National defense”, the D/R ratio is a bit different.

    Our engineers frequently have to come up with creative solutions to problems in our programs. Don’t know them all, but I’d put the ratio of our engineers at likely 75/25 R to D, including Is leaning in those two directions. And I’m being generous as simply suspect some of being closet Democrats.

    Have to say, while some are certainly sharper than others, can’t think of one dumbfuck in our engineering dept. who is a Republican. Not in their professional work, anyway. All are well-educated; many more have doctorates than those with a single BS degree. And yet even though they can do the math, they vote R given Bush earlier and the now current exaltation of loon in their party . Sometimes that’s puzzling. Provides for some fun conversations too.

    But then my little slice of working heaven might not be representative. The principals in my company definitely let you know they’re Republican, and the product we produce and its development no way questions/challenges when life begins in a womb, when it began in space, or whether the birth of the baby Jesus was the greatest thing ever.

  73. 73
    Uplift says:

    There’s plenty of science that doesn’t conflict with these principles, whatever they are, and all that science is fine.

    There’s a meaningful distinction to be made between Science (e.g., the process of the Scientific Method, and a generalized respect for facts and evidence) and “science” as it is used here, which means approximately “findings from scientific studies”.

    The latter is irrelevant: everyone loves SOME findings from SOME studies; and there is effectively no one who rejects outright ALL findings from ALL studies. So talking about findings is beside the point. What matters is Science: an acceptance of a basic worldview that respects evidence and is open to being changed by evidence.

    Republicans have proven again and again over the last 10 years especially that they are not interested in facts, or in changing their minds, or in acknowledging reality. That’s a position completely at odds with the scientific method. Period. The exceptions (like the one described @69) are those who are bad at applying their scientific skepticism and respect for evidence to the rest of their lives.

    @69, “The unfunded ones probably lean democratic because they want an increase in funding, while the funded ones are fuck you, I got mine.”

    I am a funded scientist, and work with dozens of funded and unfunded scientists, and know hundreds of funded scientists: and I don’t know a single funded scientist who doesn’t want the NIH and NSF budgets increased, much less enough to constitute some kind of general trend. Moreover, you’re writing as if once you’re funded, you’re always funded – which is not the case, anywhere. I conclude you have no idea what you are talking about on this point.

  74. 74
    Catsy says:

    I think you’re headed in the right direction, but off the mark. A handful of people in this thread have gotten closer:

    Cycloptichorn:

    It’s inherently difficult to have a Conservative mindset and be on the forefront of scientific development. Almost antithetical, really. It lies in the very definition of ‘Conservative’ […] That’s almost the exact opposite of the mindset you need to be a successful scientist. Science is all about challenging boundaries and finding new ways to do things.

    TooManyJens:

    There’s a strong strain of anti-intellectualism running through today’s movement conservatism. There has to be, because so many of their beliefs are flatly contradicted by empirical evidence. They have to actively discredit the people who come up with evidence that shows that evolution happens or that global warming is a real threat or that trickle-down doesn’t work.

    Dave:

    I think it is simply a matter that Republicans have devolved into a group where the mindset is that what I think is RIGHT. And any test, or evidence, or what have you that says different is wrong. Because I know I am right.
    —-
    It’s the triumph of ideology over everything else. Everything they believe hinges on them always being right. The Scientific Method puts that in jeopardy.

    Modern Republican Conservatism is defined by a list of ideologies and issue positions that either stand at odds with demonstrable, falsifiable facts, or amount to unfalsifiable articles of faith. Pick almost any given issue or power group within the Republican Party and this is true: stem cell research, global warming, pollution, food safety, the Iraq War, tax cuts and economic policy–you name it, and the Republican position is either at odds with scientific facts or is so religious in nature that it is incapable of being proven or falsified.

    Put simply: science is a threat to Republican policies because Republican policies are almost always wrong on the facts. Of course they have to reject science–accepting it as valid would involve admitting that they were wrong about nearly everything.

    The upshot of this is that in order to remain viable, Republican politics have become rooted in anti-intellectualism, nihilism, and institutional dishonesty. They have to deny reality. They have to deny science. They have to deny facts and invent their own alternate reality in order to avoid cognitive dissonance. And in order to do this, they have to lie–to both themselves and everyone they represent–day in and day out, on almost every issue. It’s to the point of mental disorder.

    I don’t know how you fix this, short of the total destruction of the Republican Party. It is self-perpetuating: the more at odds with science and reality they become, the more they have to lie and invent their own alternate reality in order to avoid cognitive dissonance and sell their agenda. And the more they lie and burrow into their alternate reality, the harder it becomes to recant or acknowledge being wrong about anything.

    The right likes to joke about re-education camps, but the vast majority of them are in need of nothing so much as a long time spent in an inpatient cult deprogramming program.

  75. 75

    But I don’t think that conservative opposition to stem cell research is rooted in hostility to science, it’s rooted in the (admittedly non-scientific belief) that Jeebus loves 5-celled blastocysts as much or more than he loves post-birth human beings.

    Um.

    It’s rooted in the idea that liberals will fight it, and conservatives can hold to a conservative trope (abortion is *evil*) and therefore defend it.

    And then it’s spread. And some people, sincerely, truly, honestly, believe that an undifferentiated mass of cells (or barely differentiated – apologies if I’m misremembering) is a REAL HUMAN BEING JUST LIKE YOU OR ME. Not because they’d necessarily have believed that if it hadn’t been pushed on them, but because people they respect say that it’s true. And once enough people say something, it doesn’t matter if it makes sense or not.

    Heck, it might even have started with sincerity – it’s cynicism that provides the push to make it big. I bet that the hate-on for Muslims building a community center started with sincerity – but it became a big deal only when it was a useful distraction.

  76. 76
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Onkel Bob:

    Today a grad student was failed on a oral exam not because she answered the questions wrong – she got every one of them right – but because two members of the committee (one a member of the NAS, the other her lackey) are intimidated by the students intellect. To quote that bitch, “she needs to learn a lesson, what it’s like to fail.” Spitefulness, vindictiveness, and downright despicable behavior is the norm in science, not the exception.

    Spitefulness and vindictiveness are the norm in pretty much every workplace.

    That student did probably learn a valuable lesson: some people are assholes who hate you for no good reason. It’s not the one that professor thought she was teaching, but it’s still valuable to know in life.

  77. 77
    Softail says:

    Read the Economist. Sane conservatives, i.e., not American are good with science.

  78. 78
    Jado says:

    @matt:

    I guess I can understand on a basic level about engineers being more likely to be Republicans – by definition, we are cautious and conservative, and we like things that don’t change. But at it’s core, engineering is about doing things better than they used to be done. We take the new stuff that the scientists find/develop, and we figure out how to make things better/cheaper/easier/faster/etc. So, while intellectually I can imagine that the generic conservative label may be attractive to engineers, I can’t imagine anyone dedicated to making things better subscribing to the poisonous, anti-new, anti-better philosophy that is the modern Republican Party. They’re nuts. They want to go BACKWARDS.

    Engineers don’t go backwards. Backwards is for when you absolutely have nothing else to use. Backwards is log cabins, oil lamps, and abacuses. Give me heat pumps and insulation, LEDs and CFLs, and supercomputers that can fit in my pocket.

    And as for the “white supremacy” thing they got going, that’s hubris. White supremacy means no more minority innovations or inventions – “Ah don’ trust them furriners”. White people need all the help we can get. So look here, check your pace maker, and tell me we can get by with just white people. Morons. (Or maybe I should say ‘Morans”)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C.....ationality

  79. 79
    Meg says:

    conservatism puts principles ahead of empirical findings.

    That is just anti-science itself.

  80. 80
    lllphd says:

    @matoko_chan:

    quite true on those numbers. though independents can be a squirrely bunch.

    can’t say i agree with murray’s thesis that the left is dead; it’s only sleeping. i fear the wake up call may be another depression, tho; thanks to the greedy bastards.

    we all know who they are.

  81. 81
    RSA says:

    Some personal observations:

    The few conservative or Republican scientists I’ve known held their political views because they were able to keep those views completely separate from their work. Not too hard in some of the computational sciences.

    The more numerous conservative or Republican engineers I’ve known were the same way, but there was one additional thing: They liked things that worked correctly in an understandable way. A lot of Republican political ideas (not to mention libertarian political ideas) have a strong surface plausibility. If you assume that everyone’s a rational actor, if you assume a perfect market economy, etc. then this should work… These engineers tended not to factor in human limitations.

    Sometimes I’ll hear non-scientists and a few engineers talk about science as if it’s the pursuit of truth-with-a-capital-T. I think this idea is attractive to conservatives and Republicans. That old chestnut, “99% of everything we’ve ever learned in science has turned out to be wrong,” is a reason for them to reject a more sophisticated view, rather than to realize it’s a good thing we’re constantly testing and re-evaluating our ideas.

  82. 82
    bcinaz says:

    Whatever brain architecture makes a person a ‘conservative’ also contributes to their un-science mindset. Where a scientist will go where the evidence, testing, facts, conclusions lead, liberals also tend to base their decisions on evidence, facts, conclusions. Conservatives, OTH, are able believe nonsense simply because it reinforces their worldview.

    I do not know for a fact that the majority of conservatives are climate deniers or creationists based on science or something else. I do know that some highly educated people believe that tax cuts pay for themselves, that Saddam Hussein attacked the US on 911, and that President Obama was born in Kenya.

    Conservativse believe outright lies when the lies reinforce what they already believe.

  83. 83
    THE says:

    Ok so you’re all going to love this story then. (Warning may cause temporary brain lock-up)

  84. 84
    steve says:

    A bunch of people said that engineers are more likely to be Republicans than research scientists. My guess, though, is that if the engineers are involved with research and experimentation, they are unlikely to be Republicans.

    Engineers are also over-represented in the Intelligent Design Creationist movement. It’s the Dunning-Krueger effect: they’re too ignorant about other subjects, to know how ignorant they are.*

    *There are many great engineers, of course, but there’s a subset of them who are very arrogant and ignorant.

  85. 85
    ChrisS says:

    And a special Fuck You to Obama’s EPA for now deciding that they won’t strengthen any of Bush’s weakened environmental regulations.

    What a fucking joke.

  86. 86
    steve says:

    But I don’t think that conservative opposition to stem cell research is rooted in hostility to science

    Right. They just happen to disbelieve in pollution, evolutionary biology, stem cell research, cosmology, global warming, science funding…

  87. 87
    steve says:

    Whatever brain architecture makes a person a ‘conservative’ also contributes to their un-science mindset.

    Agreed.

    (Since I’m not a drooling idiot, I couldn’t just say “This.”)

  88. 88
    jl says:

    @BR: thanks. You are right. It was Barton, not Inhofe.

  89. 89
    Lauren says:

    It’s the same with their dislike of the phrase “big bang”.

    Fundie Xian apologist William Lane Craig embraces the big bang – almost co-opts it – as proof that the universe was created ex nihilo, and therefore, somehow it had to have been created by Xian God, squaring perfectly with the Genesis account.

    As you say, they love science when they can twist it to support their pre-existing worldview.

  90. 90
    sublime33 says:

    One thing I have found is that those who work in data analysis for a living are probably the least likely to be neo-conservatives of any of the white collar jobs where I have worked over the last 30 years. My theory is that to be any good at data analysis, you cannot have pre-conceived notions about what the data is telling you. If the data is telling you something contrary to your core belief, you have to change that core belief. Nate Silver is Exhibit A.

    Conservatives by definition are resistant to changing core beliefs and often ignore or dismiss data that may indicate otherwise. FOX News is Exhibit B. And my experience is that sales people are the most likely to be the most conservative in a company.

  91. 91
    HW says:

    I find that the anti-science outlook is more about the Ur-Fascist streak in the Republican party than about cars or brains or jobs.
    Umberto Eco essay sums it up well:
    http://www.themodernword.com/e.....shirt.html

  92. 92
    liberal says:

    One could also say

    But even at its most intellectually honest (and it rarely is anything approaching intellectually honest), neoclassical economics puts principles ahead of empirical findings.

  93. 93
    liberal says:

    I just wish there was some attempt to be honest about what the differences are.

    I thought there are empirical findings that liberals are more intelligent than conservatives, on average.

    (Oh oh…I might have just summoned the evil spirit of Matako Chan or whatever her handle is…)

    There was an amusing thing in the MSM recently that there’s a difference in the shows they watch. Libs apparently like Dexter and Madmen, whereas one of the top conservative shows was “The Amazing Race”. LOL.

  94. 94
  95. 95
    Mnemosyne says:

    @THE:

    The Skirball museum must be pretty annoyed right about now. Here they built a multi-cultural, multi-religion permanent exhibit around the myth of Noah’s Ark, and now people are going to assume that their version is a stupid fundie trick, too.

  96. 96
    Sly says:

    Anti-intellectualism in American politic has, to a large extent and over the broad sweep of the country’s existence, been subservient to brands of political ideology that are anti-elitist. When scientific inquiry was seen as undermining the left’s drive for more equality and dismantling socioeconomic elitism, the left hated it. When it undermined the right’s mission of preserving existing institutions that provided society with “structure,” the right hated it. Those pointy-headed liberals from “Europe” (read: Jews) think they’re so smart, but they’re only going to fuck everything up.

    In other words, there’s a conspiratorial aspect to American anti-intellectualism that seldom gets mentioned.

    William Jennings Bryan, for instance, may have been a fire-breathing man of the gospel, but he was also a central figure in the progressive movement. The foundations of his opposition to Darwinism (despite what you may have read in Inherent the Wind) were in the Social Gospel and anti-eugenicism, crystallizing after his run-ins with mostly German eugenicists while he served as Wilson’s Secretary of State. All these believers in “science” were shitting on his religious and ideological belief that God created humans in His own image and we were all, as a result, equal.

    Likewise, there is a fairly strong anti-intellectual bent among the modern left when it comes to health issues. Specifically when it comes to the promotion of “alternative medicine” and a rejection of pharmacological research. Not because they disagree with the methodologies of modern medicine (I doubt most even know what they are), but because its wrapped up in anti-corporate ideology. We have to reject things like peer review and double-blind testing because modern medicine is, to a very large extent, big business. But in the end that’s just throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    This isn’t supposed to be a “everyone is equally bad” comment. Modern anti-intellectualism is overwhelmingly found more on the right than the left. They just have common roots in paranoid, reactionary politics.

  97. 97
    Howlin Wolfe says:

    @Hal:

    If the research found a cure for diabetes or Alzheimer’s, you just know the conservatives would be lining up for days for the treatment, all the while screaming about those poor baby embryos.

    Like Homer Simpson simultaneously mourning the death of and relishing the taste of his pet lobster: “boohoowaahh, Pinchy! Mmmmmm, Pinchy . . . “

  98. 98
    Howlin Wolfe says:

    @TooManyJens: This.

  99. 99
    brantl says:

    The people that are prone to being conservative authoritarians are people who aren’t inquisitive, you refused to be puzzled for more than a moment and want quick answers to questions and prefer them quick to correct.

    This is all antithetical to science. So they are, too.

  100. 100
    ChrisS says:

    I was in North Dakota on a research trip and stopped at a roadside fossil museum on the border with SD. The family had owned the property since the homestead act and had apparently stumbled onto some significant fossils over the last century – including a gorgeous Triceratops skull. They had a ton of fossil evidence at the place, including a scale model of Noah’s Ark with mini animals on it and dinosaurs left on the land as floodwaters approached. They stacks of creationist literature, mini copies of the Bill of Rights, and flags for sale in the bookstore. A loop of a creationist paleontologist explaining how dinosaur fossils were created in only 3-6,000 years played on a TV.

    It was quite a treat.

  101. 101
    Sly says:

    @brantl:

    The people that are prone to being conservative authoritarians are people who aren’t inquisitive, you refused to be puzzled for more than a moment and want quick answers to questions and prefer them quick to correct.

    Napoleon, probably one of the most reactionary authoritarians in recent centuries, was extremely inquisitive when it came to science and showed great mathematical skill at an early age. And he was, after all, someone who wanted to know with a great deal of precision where his cannonballs would land.

  102. 102
    Howlin Wolfe says:

    @Tractarian: A Brooks column is more, “WANK, WANK, WANK!!!!!11!”

  103. 103
    matoko_chan says:

    @lllphd: well….the only elites left on the right are business class, and basically….they farm the base.

    The oligarchs republicans aren’t an outside factor; they are like a closed subroutine that has gotten out of hand. A cancer if you want to switch analogies. They are programmed to feed off the rest of the body no matter what the cost to the system in general, and to kill off anything that competes.

  104. 104
    matoko_chan says:

    @lllphd: But relly, it is far more simple.
    One must be smart to become a scientist.
    Smart people are becoming more and more rare on the right.
    One reason is Salam-Douthat stratification on cognitive ability.
    but there are lots of reasons.
    My hypothesis is that there is an emergent body of work suggesting a significant measureable between group difference in IQ between liberals and conservatives…for the following reasons.
    1. evolutionary pschology– cognitive psychology and the savannah principle and the biological basis of political affiliation
    2. game theory–
    In gaming, people choose the game they do well at, and clever designers offer skillups, or skill levelling. Conservativism offers a kind of skill levelling for IQ and g.
    Intellectuals, “elites” and fancy educations are scorned by conservatives in favor of religiosity and “commonsense”.
    Being branded an “elite” or an “intellectual” in conservatism results in negative social capital.
    So religiosity and commonsense are skillups for conservatives. This is called rubberband theory.
    Conservatives self-select based on social levelling/skill levelling for IQ and g.
    3. memetic selection–
    Consider the last 50 years of memetic selection in the conservative base.
    Selection for voters who can be manipulated into voting against their economic self-interest, who are sufficiently undereducated to not understand ToE and basic meiosis, who are highly xenophobic, who despise science, intellectuals and acadame and whose religiosity index is extremely high.
    Its like side-effect biomemetic engineering that has produced a malleable population extremely permeable to fearmongering and demagoguery…indeed that only responds to slogans and race-baiting and IQ-baiting.
    4. Biological basis-
    there is a U Mich paper revealing that backfire effect is ONLY observed in conservatives. im not the only one noticing.

    Jay Rosen–The article is mainly about the so-called “backfire” effect, wherein contrary information not only doesn’t inform but actually strengthens the existing (and incorrect) belief, thus backfiring. Seems irrational, right? Here’s what the article says about this irrationality applying across the board:
    Nyhan inserted a clear, direct correction after each piece of misinformation, and then measured the study participants to see if the correction took.
    For the most part, it didn’t. The participants who self-identified as conservative believed the misinformation on WMD and taxes even more strongly after being given the correction. With those two issues, the more strongly the participant cared about the topic — a factor known as salience — the stronger the backfire. The effect was slightly different on self-identified liberals: When they read corrected stories about stem cells, the corrections didn’t backfire, but the readers did still ignore the inconvenient fact that the Bush administration’s restrictions weren’t total.
    In other words, the backfire effect did not occur “across the board.” It was observed among conservatives and not among liberals, at least in this portion of the study. However, blocking out facts that were inconvenient did occur among liberals, as well. This shows that liberals are not immune to these irrational tendencies, but it does not show that the irrationality discussed in the Globe article is evenly distributed across the political spectrum. I think that’s an important qualifier.
    I also think that there’s a danger of PC thinking taking over here. In being careful not to encourage fantasies among liberals of being immune from these tendencies, which is an entirely valid thing to do, some writers, I have noticed, are too quick to suggest that a kind of symmetry reigns over political behavior. I don’t think we should be doing that.

    we arent the same anymore. Conservatism has become memetic selection for stupid.

  105. 105
    Albatrossity says:

    In order to be a scientist, you have to be ready, willing, and able to say that you are wrong, and start over with the next hypothesis that might be just as wrong. You have to toss pre-conceived notions out, every day, when the evidence argues against them. You have to be able to say “I don’t know”, and be comfortable with that answer even if others aren’t.

    No conservative can do even one of those things, in my experience.

    And yes, I’m a research scientist.

  106. 106
    S. cerevisiae says:

    Late to the party, but I highly recommend the book Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway. This shit has been going on for fifty fucking years and the same cast of characters is at the heart of all the anti-science bullshit. The free market fundamentalists have decreed that ideology trumps science.

    Read it and weep.

  107. 107
    mclaren says:

    And now even The New Yorker is getting into the act, with a preposterous article titled “The Truth Wears Off — is there something wrong with the scientific method?”

    Right, because 2 + 2 stops being 4 after a certain point. It’s so hard to prove anything, after all.

    Just shoot me now.

  108. 108
    mclaren says:

    @Onkel Bob:

    Today a grad student was failed on a oral exam not because she answered the questions wrong – she got every one of them right – but because two members of the committee (one a member of the NAS, the other her lackey) are intimidated by the students intellect. To quote that bitch, “she needs to learn a lesson, what it’s like to fail.”

    Do you have any hard evidence to back up this unverified claim?

  109. 109
    Ija says:

    @Morbo:

    ED is probably sulking somewhere. He hasn’t posted in a while.

  110. 110
    SectarianSofa says:

    @MikeTheZ:
    Engineers have to have a good data set to come to good conclusions, and many of the ones I know are not curious about the world beyond their niche. Which I think supports your observation.

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    SectarianSofa says:

    @Tractarian:
    Ha! I’m laughing too, now that you pointed that out.

  112. 112
    SectarianSofa says:

    @TooManyJens:
    Hmm — good analysis, I think.

  113. 113
    SectarianSofa says:

    @mclaren:
    I started reading that, hoping it wasn’t as bad as it sounded. But it was.
    Actually, I suspect it is just muddily presented. Hmm. Jonah Lehrer. Fuck, he’s fucking everywhere. He’s the Steven King of pop science writing these days.
    Maybe the article is great — can’t read past the pay wall — I’d love to hear a decent take on his take on whatever it is he is taking and selling back to the New Yorker.

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    celiadexter says:

    The engineers I know care if things work and work properly. Seems to me that’s part of old-fashioned conservatism but not current Republican ideology. While many engineers may have been Republicans in the Eisenhower years (and Eisenhower would be rolling in his grave if he knew how anti-science his party had become), I can’t see how they would support a party that’s as loaded with nonsense and destructiveness as the modern Republicans.

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