These are all wrong

I’m not sure why this annoys me so much but it does:

DANIEL SAREWITZ devotes an entire column in Slate to the fact that only 6% of scientists self-identify as Republicans (55% self-identify as Democrats) without offering even a hypothetical explanation of how this situation might have come about.

[…..]

I can think of three testable hypotheses they might look into. The first is that scientists are hostile towards Republicans, which scares young Republicans away from careers in science. The second is that Republicans are hostile towards science, and don’t want to go into careers in science. The third is that young people who go into the sciences tend to end up becoming Democrats, due to factors inherent in the practice of science or to peer-group identification with other scientists. In the absence of data, I leave it to you to decide which you find most plausible. But by all means, social scientists should look into this.

Republicans show some hostility to science but certainly not not much towards the hard sciences. Maybe they’re a little less likely to fund, but I’d have a hard time calling it outright hostility. And I suppose that if you interpret the phrase “due to factors inherent in the practice of sciences” broadly enough, then maybe it’s getting at the right answer.

But anyone who’s thought about this for more than a few minutes knows a very specific answer to the question of why there are no Republican scientists: it’s because contemporary science is an empirical, reality-based intellectual enterprise and all such enterprises are inherently non-conservative, unless they involve making a lot of money (there are probably some forms of business that fit the above description and I would not be surprised if some of the people who do them are conservative). If contemporary science was based on reasoning from principles (like the sort of “science” Aristotle liked to do), it might be of interest to conservatives. But it’s not.

This is of course the same reason why there are no good conservative journalists.

118 replies
  1. 1
    Xenos says:

    Are there any good liberal journalists who are as ideological and dogmatic as the typical conservative journalist? The problem is the dogmatism, not the conservatism.

  2. 2
    dmsilev says:

    Republicans show some hostility to science but certainly not not much towards the hard sciences.

    Except when they think there’s a modicum of political gain to be made by attacking individual research projects. E.g. Sarah Palin mocking the idea of studying the genetics of fruit flies.

    dms

  3. 3

    Meet the incoming chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee:

    In May 2010, Hall pulled off an interesting parliamentary trick to delay a Democratic bill to increase funding for scientific research and math and science education. He introduced a motion to recommit it to its committee, with instructions to include language blocking the payment of federal employees who had been disciplined for viewing pornography at work. Thus, Democrats who voted against the motion to recommit could be accused of voting in favor of federal employees looking at porn on the taxpayer’s dime.

    Global warming? It snowed in the Adirondacks last night!

    ETA: And I do realize you are probably just baiting us into giving dozens of links to prove the GOP in fact is anti-science and is bad for funding of research.

  4. 4
    NonyNony says:

    In my experience, Republicans who are interested in science and math go into Engineering rather than the sciences themselves. Quicker and more obvious path towards making money than going into grad school and scrumming for research jobs. Republicans who are interested in math but not science go into Business school and study Econ or Accounting – again a quicker and more obvious path towards making money than a Math degree.

    I’m sure there are some social scientists out there who could put together some decent research on if this is just anecdotal or actually has some grounding. But it wouldn’t be counter-intuitive at all to believe that the Republican ideology of glorifying money as the be-all end-all of existence runs counter to someone putting off earnings for a decade or so while they accumulate degrees and hope to get a job that pays well, but not as well as if they’d just grabbed a job right out of undergraduate and worked their way up the management ladder.

  5. 5
    Paul in KY says:

    I’d say the scientists that ID as Republicans probably do so for the same reason many NBA players ID as Republican:

    ‘Most of the brothers don’t make the kind of change I do’ (paraphrase of classic comment Cedric Maxwell made to his mother when she asked him why he was a Republican).

  6. 6
    jeffreyw says:

    I know a way to test this. Let’s drop all Republicans from a height proportional to their professed conservative beliefs. We can then measure the splatter and see if there is a correlation between splatter size and time spent listening to Faux news.
    This would prove something profound. I hear Soros was planning to fund such a study, but he is afraid Wikileaks had some of his emails so he will deny all.

  7. 7
    funluvn says:

    This is also one of the reasons conservative judges tend to suck so badly as well. They are of one mind, sure that they are right and are not interested in new facts.

  8. 8
    Citizen_X says:

    Sorry, but I must fix this so that it more properly reflects the scientific method:

    In the absence of data, I leave it to you to decide which you find most plausible SHUT THE FUCK UP.

  9. 9
    mistermix says:

    @NonyNony: This. There are a lot of Republican engineers, and you can still be a wacko creationist and keep your engineering day job with a minimum of cognitive dissonance.

  10. 10
    Poopyman says:

    @dmsilev:

    Republicans show some hostility to science but certainly not not much towards the hard sciences.

    Well, since you pulled this quote out, I’ll argue that it is just plain wrong. Hard sciences have defined a universe totally at odds from the conservative, Bible-based one, so that one must be belittled and defeated. The plan to infiltrate school boards with creationists is as good an example of this as any, though there are others. That’s a direct attack on astronomy, physics, geology, paleontology, and biology, and probably others.

  11. 11
    The Moar You Know says:

    In my experience, Republicans who are interested in science and math go into Engineering rather than the sciences themselves.

    @NonyNony: You nailed this. And they’re usually pretty decent at it; the intellectual rigidity that makes a conservative tends to make for a good, disciplined process-oriented engineer.

    That is, until their careers get overtaken by explosive developments in their own or related fields. There’s still a bunch of guys kicking around in government software development who got trained in Ada and then couldn’t learn the new paradigm of doing things when internet apps came on the scene and everyone started using Java. They’re either retired, “retired in place”, or doing maintenance work on legacy systems and waiting for their 65th birthday to hit so they can get the fuck out. And they are Republican to the core, and remarkably ill-informed if not actually stupid outside of their limited field of expertise.

  12. 12
    JohnR says:

    certainly not not much towards the hard sciences

    I’m not sure what you’re basing this assertion on, or what your definition of “hard science” is, but I think on the face of it, you’re wildly wrong. There was a time when Republicans weren’t viciously hostile to science in general and ‘hard sciences’ in particular, but those days are long gone. The best you can now say is that for modern Republicans, science has its place as long as it’s carefully controlled and used to generate money for its masters. The worst is that science must be purified so it no longer conflicts with the approved belief system.

  13. 13
    terraformer says:

    I’ll just have to trot out the Bertrand Russell quote that I used in E.D. Kain’s post a few weeks’ back about liberalism/conservatism and journalism (sorry in advance, Martin):

    “The essence of the Liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how they are held: instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment.”

    This applies to scientific inquiry generally, I think, as the empirical process involves understandings that are often adjusted as more is learned. And as suggested I also think this general worldview is why conservatives dislike democracy and reality as well, since both are ever-changing and not static; instead, they prefer to simply make shit up and say “Shut up! That’s why” usually to an end result of having the most toys and winning, etc.

  14. 14
    Rommie says:

    @NonyNony: That’s been my experience too – plenty of conservative engineers around. Especially those with the military on the resume. I’d be curious about a study into this too.

  15. 15
    gene108 says:

    Republicans show some hostility to science but certainly not not much towards the hard sciences.

    Scientists need grant money to do research. Whenever Republicans get in charge of a budget, science funding is usually one of the first things to get cut and / or frozen, which limits the amount of research a scientist can do and the number of graduate and PhD students the scientist can take on, thus reducing the number of people becoming scientists, and reduces the number of positions available for scientists.

    At the state level, education budgets are usually one of the first things to get chopped by Republicans, so universities have to cut back on hiring. The number of openings for scientists drops.

    Republicans are very hostile towards science, in terms of their policy decisions.

  16. 16
    Noonan says:

    But by all means, social scientists should look into this.

    And if social scientists released a report you can be sure Republicans would object to the science behind it.

  17. 17
    scarshapedstar says:

    Republicans show some hostility to science but certainly not not much towards the hard sciences.

    In order to deny evolution you have to deny pure math (Hardy-Weinberg), engineering (Shannon index), chemistry (genes can be seen to reproduce and change in a test tube), and physics (divine intervention would certainly violate conservation of energy).

    And that’s just to deny ongoing evolution. To deny historical evolution you have to rewrite paleontology, geology, astronomy, nuclear physics…

    I can’t think of a scientific discipline that Republicans haven’t tossed out yet.

  18. 18
    c u n d gulag says:

    DougJ,
    One of your “Four Humors” must be off. You should seek out a Greek Originalist Doctor to discover which.

  19. 19
    Marty says:

    This is a variation on the recurring complaint that there are too many libruls in academia. Funny that no one ever complains that there are too many conservatives running car dealerships! Personally I fail to see how it should be a problem that different kinds of work attract different kinds of people.

    But in any case – Republicans in Congress have generally been good to science funding, while simultaneously hostile to some important scientific findings about climate change, evolution, etc. They are accusing thousands of scientists of perpetrating a hoax or fraud. A lot of scientists are grateful for the financial support but they find that intellectually the positions of the Republicans in Congress just don’t add up. And scientists (usually) value intellectual honesty rather highly.

  20. 20
    New Yorker says:

    Bingo, DougJ. Also, that article is terrible because it suggests that policy differences may be behind the GOP hostility towards science while talking about climate change. Nowhere is evolution addressed. Evolution is as much of an established scientific fact as gravity and accepting it does not require any major political shifts…..and yet the GOP still wholly rejects it and Sarah Palin makes an idiot of herself attacking fruit fly research.

    The GOP is a party of proud ignorance, and thus science is something to be attacked.

  21. 21
    Poopyman says:

    @Poopyman: I think I should add that Doug says pretty much the same thing when he says

    … it’s because contemporary science is an empirical, reality-based intellectual enterprise and all such enterprises are inherently non-conservative,

    although that doesn’t go into the political ramifications and the threat to their worldview.

  22. 22
    Kryptik says:

    Salon was on this too. “Daniel Sarewitz demands scientists somehow make Republicans want to be scientists”

    The basic gist of the original story: Most scientists identify as Dems, very few as Republicans. This must mean science is a partisan enterprise and must actively outreach to Republicans to show good faith bipartisanship.

    In other words, he wants to apply to science the same bullshit ‘bipartisanship’ standard Dems in Washington are held to. And he rightly gets excoriated for it in the comments section of his own piece.

  23. 23
    NonyNony says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Yes exactly. I know a number of Republican engineers – electrical engineers mostly. They’re good at what they do and their politics never interferes with their work. They’re not necessarily religious Republicans, they’re more money-oriented Republicans.

    But they never would have thought of pursuing a research or academic career. And the conversations I have with them are always very money focused. As in questioning why I’d go the academic route and getting my PhD when I could be making more money doing software development at a company and I could even be a manager by now – the idea of doing something with money as only one point on the decision-making process equal with others is almost entirely foreign to them.

  24. 24
    LGRooney says:

    This is of course the same reason why there are no good conservative journalists any journalist worth reading cannot be called a conservative.

  25. 25
    calling all toasters says:

    Republicans show some hostility to science but certainly not not much towards the hard sciences.

    That’s because it hasn’t hurt their fee-fees since Galileo.

  26. 26
    suzanne says:

    FWIW, this trend is also very much in effect in the design, urbanism and art fields. And I have seen data (though I don’t currently have a link because I’m in a hurry) that correlates education in any field with the increasing likelihood of voting liberal/Democratic.

  27. 27
    Poopyman says:

    @Rommie: You have just defined 80% of my office.

    God, I need to GTFO of this place.

  28. 28
    GailVortex says:

    I read the Slate piece when it appeared on Wednesday, and have been waiting since then for the blogosphere to find it, ridicule it, and kill it with snark.

    In related news: few artists identify as Republicans! Hoocodanode?

  29. 29
    stogoe says:

    Republicans show some hostility to science but certainly not not much towards the hard sciences.

    Yeah, this is just wildly inaccurate. It’s like if a blatant lie and Glen Beck’s looniest ranting had rabid monkey sex and then gave birth to ten thousand offspring, and the most fractally wrong ones survived to pass their fractal wrongness onto their offspring, and so on, and so on, down through the aeons.

  30. 30
    cleek says:

    liberals as a group typically achieve higher levels of education than conservatives.

    the job of “scientist” typically requires a higher level of education.

    so, the pool of people who could become scientists is going to be more liberal than not.

    scientist is also a bit of a selfless job. it doesn’t pay well (compared to engineering) and the ostensible goal is to increase mankind’s knowledge. you’re dedicating your life to improving humanity, while sacrificing your own financial prospects. it’s also not a very glamorous job.

    it just doesn’t fit the conservative mindset.

  31. 31
    gene108 says:

    @mistermix:

    There are a lot of Republican engineers

    Hardest people to argue science with are Republican engineers and / or doctors. See a guy like Tom Coburn in Congress, who is one of the biggest anti-science nuts around.

    They have a good bit of knowledge in their field and the ability to understand other scientific disciplines to some extent, but this seems to give them the sense of entitlement that their reasoning cannot be disputed or if you dispute it, they will find something else to keep going on about their beliefs.

    They don’t acknowledge there’s some stuff they don’t understand or know about that well. They frame debates in terms of what they understand, which can be fairly substantial amount of knowledge in their field, so trying to tell them their framework is wrong is very hard.

    They really don’t have a “damn it Jim, I’m a doctor, not a paleoclimatologist, I can’t know everything about carbon concentrations in the Mesozoic atmosphere.”

  32. 32
    AdamK says:

    The post conflates and confuses “conservatives” with “Republicans.” The statistics quoted are about Dems vs. Reps, not about liberals versus conservatives. There are no conservatives in the Republican party, of course–the party of christian knownothing nutjobs. All the liberals AND actual conservatives are in the Democratic party.

    So knownothing nutjobs are underrepresented in the sciences. I already knew that. And I should certainly hope so.

  33. 33
    gene108 says:

    @Marty:

    They are accusing thousands of scientists of perpetrating a hoax or fraud.

    Actually they accuse scientists of getting or trying to get, if the GOP wasn’t blocking their efforts, filthy rich from advocating for climate change legislation. The hoax and fraud part is just a way for scientists to make billions off the climate change hysteria they are fueling.

  34. 34
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @gene108: I sense an underpants gnome-esque logic behind this thinking.

  35. 35
    Kryptik says:

    @gene108:

    Which is a grand irony considering the energy companies fueling the Anti-Climate Change campaigns regularly make billions in profits a year individually.

  36. 36
    Marty says:

    @gene108:

    I’m sorry. I’m not getting it. Please clarify for me how an ornithologist at a small regional university gets “filthy rich” by pointing out that a certain bird population is declining due to global warming.

  37. 37

    I’m guessing their screen for “scientists” is PhD in the hard sciences, because it would seem the GOP percentage should be higher if the included MD’s who do research.

    The disparity is, I think, as simple as the fact that getting a PhD is a pretty poor path to riches… it’s a wonderful path to a secure upper middle class living, but there aren’t too many who spin off a company and make millions.

    If a primary interest is making lots of money… which for every single Republican I met in college it certainly was… then a Bachelor’s is enough with maybe a MBA added on while your working… losing 4-5 years on a stipend to get a PhD doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. If you’re going to do that you might as well go to medical school… as while the debt is vastly larger you have a much higher income ceiling… and, as I mentioned, you can still do research if you want.

  38. 38
    Balconesfault says:

    Conservative Economists, anyone?

    I’ve always been amused that the rich guys who pour money into right wing think tanks to produce economic analysis for media consumption would be as likely to base their investment decisions on that analysis as they’d be to base it on the advice of one of Tom Friedman’s cab drivers.

  39. 39
    DanF says:

    I wonder what a poll of Big Pharma scientists would reveal? This not a purely snark driven question. They have real monetary pressures to deliver specific types of drugs at a profit. Not really the same pressures that an astronomer or physicist labors under. Lots of gray area surrounding efficacy and peer review…

  40. 40

    @gene108:

    I talked with a friend about the difficulty of managing engineers this past weekend (we are both engineers, though I am in research and he is in industry) and agreed that it basically comes down to this:

    Engineers don’t believe anybody in the world knows what they are doing. They think everybody is an idiot.

    If you tell them how to do something they often won’t believe you, and end up spending a week figuring out what you said was actually true… so you’re better off not telling them the answer and just guiding them to come up with the correct conclusion because it saves you some time.

  41. 41
    khead says:

    I read the article at Slate last night. Loved this part:

    Attracted to fringe scientists like the small and vocal group of climate skeptics, Republicans appear to be alienated from a mainstream scientific community that by and large doesn’t share their political beliefs.

    No, dumbass. They are alienated from the scientific community because of their attraction to fringe scientists.

  42. 42
    Balconesfault says:

    @gene108:

    Hardest people to argue science with are Republican engineers and / or doctors. See a guy like Tom Coburn in Congress, who is one of the biggest anti-science nuts around.

    Got that right. I had a discussion with a senior engineer for a major pipeline company a couple years back where he was insisting on why creationism should be considered a science.

  43. 43
    Balconesfault says:

    @J.W. Hamner:

    Engineers don’t believe anybody in the world knows what they are doing. They think everybody is an idiot.

    Our two engineer Presidents?

    Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter.

    Is Bush our only MBA President?

  44. 44
    Dennis SGMM says:

    I’d add comedy to the list of professions with a dearth of conservatives – intentional comedy, that is.

  45. 45
    ErikaF says:

    @AdamK:
    I think you nailed it. Those folks that will proudly proclaim themselves Republicans are no longer the liberal conservatives or moderates that were part of the party even 8 years ago. The modern-day Republicans have decided what their dogma/religion/philosophy is, and heaven forbid if they even think past that dogma.

    The article did say that there were a large number of undeclared/undecided – I’m figuring that’s where the old-style conservatives place themselves.

    Of course, the idea of separating the world (social, economic, financial, industrial, scientific, religious) into Democrat and Republican nauseates me utterly. The world is a great mixture of many elements – it is not, and cannot, be segregated into minute parts. That isn’t bipartisanship – that is division into inanity.

  46. 46
    ChrisS says:

    Well, how many people readily ID themselves as republicans anyway?

    Most of the borderline nutjobs I talk to think the republican party is just as corrupt as the democrats, cater to much to creationists and corporations, spout libertarian gibberish, and pine for the day that a third party will ride into the breach and save the good ol’ US of A from the minorities and elitists by magically give them everything that they think is the one-true way.

    And then go out and actively support and vote for Republicans with a minor dalliance in Tea Party fantasies.

  47. 47
    Egypt Steve says:

    Education, education, education. The bottom line is that the more education anybody has, regardless of their field, the more likely they are to be politically liberal. This has been demonstrated numerous times. Scientists are highly educated; therefore they are mostly liberal and politically Democratic.

    The real question is, are they more or less likely to self-identify as liberal/Democratic than, say, English professors? Answer that, and then we could see if there’s a specific “science” effect at work.

  48. 48
    Poopyman says:

    Also, this.

    (From Tengrain)

  49. 49
    scav says:

    ummm, are we really to ignore the missing 39%? What are they, chopped liver?

    Only 3 hypotheses? Chump Change. Especially as the whole thing is based on self-identification at a particular moment in time. And we haven’t even gotten into other definitional issues. Only person I know was a Repub in grad school was a biogeographer which, if not hard, is at least stiffish, — and she was gay.

  50. 50
    Lee says:

    …but certainly not not much towards the hard sciences.

    I was going to point out the wrongness of this sentence, but others have pointed it out multiple times.

    We’ll just store this one away with “peak wingnut”.

  51. 51
    celticdragonchick says:

    Republicans show some hostility to science but certainly not not much towards the hard sciences. Maybe they’re a little less likely to fund, but I’d have a hard time calling it outright hostility.

    I could not disagree more.

    Charles at LGF has been documenting the GOP assault on science education, including the attempts to completely destroy evolutionary biology education.

    Don’t get me started on Bobby Jindal and “volcano monitoring”…

  52. 52
    Chris says:

    Question; I think I remember reading somewhere that the same was true of doctors and nurses, that the medical community tended towards liberalism as well. Anyone know 1) if it’s true and 2) what the numbers are there?

  53. 53
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Balconesfault:

    Got that right. I had a discussion with a senior engineer for a major pipeline company a couple years back where he was insisting on why creationism should be considered a science.

    You have got to be fucking kidding…

    Did he work for an oil company? Please say he didn’t.

  54. 54
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @celticdragonchick:

    Charles at LGF has been documenting the GOP assault on science education, including the attempts to completely destroy evolutionary biology education.

    It is still weird to see him and LGF on the side of common sense about anything.

  55. 55
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Charles lost his patience with th GOP about the same time that I did.

    I just swung a bit farther to the left on some things than he did, but he has been a terrific ally on GLBT rights along with exposing the Breitbart idiocy and the astroturf teabaggers.

  56. 56
    ChrisZ says:

    I think science (not scientists) is hostile to Republicans. Particularly, I think science is hostile to authority. It requires that you question everything, that you constantly try to prove wrong those scientists who came before you. To the extent that republicans are more deferent to authority, or prefer to have a great authority to follow, I think science both beats it out of them and discourages young republicans from an interest in science.

  57. 57
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    Living in Silicon Valley, you run into software engineers seemingly everywhere, and a lot of them haven’t quite gotten it into their minds that there’s engineering disciplines that don’t the words “software,” “computer,” or maybe “electrical” in the title. Not all engineers geek out with acid trips and, well, stereotypical Silicon Valley tech life.

    I used to work for a civil engineering firm, and wow, and it was about 180 degrees different as you’re gonna get from what you find here.

    Which is why, when I suggest to people that intelligent design is creationism for people with advanced engineering degrees (alas, that may include cs and math) they just don’t get it. Lack of cultural knowledge.

  58. 58
    Chris says:

    @gene108:

    They have a good bit of knowledge in their field and the ability to understand other scientific disciplines to some extent, but this seems to give them the sense of entitlement that their reasoning cannot be disputed or if you dispute it, they will find something else to keep going on about their beliefs.

    They learn enough to be able to make arguments defending what they already wanted to believe, in other words.

    They never learn enough to actually weigh their beliefs against the other theories that are out there, or (in the cases of evolution and global warming) against the facts that blatantly contradict them. And they certainly don’t seem to learn the scientific method, e.g. that you’re supposed to twist theories to suit facts rather than facts to suit theories (thank you Arthur Conan Doyle).

  59. 59
    celticdragonchick says:

    @JohnR:

    The best you can now say is that for modern Republicans, science has its place as long as it’s carefully controlled and used to generate money for its masters.

    Basically, that means the only funding that scientists will get from a GOP government will come from working at the White Sands NM. Test Labs, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon or General Dynamics.

  60. 60
    ericblair says:

    @J.W. Hamner:

    The disparity is, I think, as simple as the fact that getting a PhD is a pretty poor path to riches… it’s a wonderful path to a secure upper middle class living, but there aren’t too many who spin off a company and make millions.

    Um. Depends what field you’re in, but take a) university budget cuts; b) global talent pool; and c) large number of older tenured faculty not going anywhere anytime soon, and having a PhD isn’t a slam-dunk to the upper middle class. Lots of good smart people taking dead-end adjunct positions and endless postdocs and living out of a suitcase. You may love what you’re doing, but take a long hard look at the economics because, baby, love don’t pay the rent.

    I’m an engineer with a PhD in the private sector. I’d say you’ll get a lot more liberal engineers with higher degrees. Also, there are two ways of looking at engineering: as an applied scientist, and as a super-technician. The applied scientist is probably going to see things the way most scientists do, and the super-technician can decide to safely ignore things not in their swimlanes which allows a fair bit of conflict between what the engineering implies and what the engineer believes. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being a super-technician, like a master craftsman, but it’s a different outlook.

    And engineers doing military work? That’s where the money is and you can’t outsource it because of citizenship and clearance requirements. I know several who’d prefer to do other work, but got sucked into the biz. That’s where our industrial policy is.

  61. 61
    Mnemosyne says:

    @gene108:

    Actually they accuse scientists of getting or trying to get, if the GOP wasn’t blocking their efforts, filthy rich from advocating for climate change legislation. The hoax and fraud part is just a way for scientists to make billions off the climate change hysteria they are fueling.

    That makes sense given what people have been saying here. If they really think that making money is the be-all and end-all of working, they’re not going to be able to comprehend why someone would spend their time studying climate change unless there’s a profit in it somewhere. If the profit isn’t obvious, that just means that the scientists are concealing it, not that it isn’t there, because otherwise why would all of these people be involved with it?

    IOW, almost every puzzling question about conservatives can be answered by “projection.”

  62. 62
    celticdragonchick says:

    @DanF:

    I wonder what a poll of Big Pharma scientists would reveal? This not a purely snark driven question. They have real monetary pressures to deliver specific types of drugs at a profit. Not really the same pressures that an astronomer or physicist labors under. Lots of gray area surrounding efficacy and peer review…

    I read somewhere that the pharma companies are getting concerned about attempts to sneak creationism into high school science, as well as the lack of biology training in American schools as a whole. Microbiology research for medical purposes is built on an evolutionary model, and creationists are quite vocal about replacing that model in both the academic and business worlds. One pharma exec said something about possibly having to rely on more non-American biology grads because we are not turning out enough quality scientists…something that will become critical around 2025.

  63. 63
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    IOW, almost every puzzling question about conservatives can be answered by “projection.”

    This. Also. Too.

  64. 64
    Marmot says:

    @Chris: That’s a good question. Judging by the nurses’ association, whose name escapes me, they’re typically liberal.

    Doctors are a different matter — there’s a die-hard, older conservative faction among them that rivals the wingnuttiest members of any profession. I don’t know if it’s 20% or 40%, but they’re loud and powerful within medical associations.

    The younger doctors are typically liberal. My rationalization for this is that back in the day, you could get an MD and make a ton of money, but now that degree comes with a mountain of debt and a lot more headaches. It’s now a field that truly altruistic people are more likely to go into.

  65. 65

    Over 58 million Republicans voted for a Republican Vice Presidential Candidate that reportedly claimed that humans and dinosaurs were contemporaries on a “young earth”.

    The majority of Republicans doubt that evolution explains life.

    Dougj’s got the right idea

    Conservatism is allergic to “empirical, reality-based intellectual enterprise[s]”.

    Conservatism is inherently dogmatic, it refuses to change, it wants to maintain the status quo and even often even wants to return to a mythical perfect past.

    Evidence that contradicts a conservatives worldview is far too often met with mocking, disdain, skepticism, non-science based alternatives, and even outright hostility.

    The question is:

    How do you get evidence and even facts to melt the frozen conservative mind?

  66. 66
    C. Sykes says:

    @dmsilev:

    Here’s one you didn’t consider. Young Republicans want to become rich. Few scientists end up rich.

  67. 67
    Chris says:

    @celticdragonchick:

    Charles lost his patience with th GOP about the same time that I did.

    Supposedly, one the reasons he jumped ship was that he was disillusioned with his “anti-jihadist” community happily associating itself with neo-Nazis and antisemites like the BNP, FN or BZO.

    I could’ve told him that years ago; the goose-steppers in Europe cornered the market on so-called “anti-jihadist” sentiment right off the bat, and Republican icons have never (go back to Buckley and the National Review in the fifties) been shy about cheering for them. But it’s nice to see a conservative grow a conscience, even if it did come bloody late.

  68. 68
    Poopyman says:

    @ChrisZ:

    Particularly, I think science is hostile to authority.

    OK, I’ll go with that.

    It requires that you question everything,

    OK, pretty much.

    that you constantly try to prove wrong those scientists who came before you.

    Not at all. You scrupulously approach your research with as neutral a mind as possible. Your peers who will be judging your work are human too, and really good at sniffing out an agenda.

  69. 69
    Marmot says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    Living in Silicon Valley, you run into software engineers seemingly everywhere, and a lot of them haven’t quite gotten it into their minds that there’s engineering disciplines that don’t the words “software,” “computer,” or maybe “electrical” in the title.

    OT, but what is it with that? I have a friend who refers to himself as “an engineer,” but ask him about building stresses or physics, and he changes the subject. Back when I worked at a biotech company, I once had a software engineer call and ask why we were included in a list of “high-tech” companies. Yeah, I know what he was really asking me — the rest were computer-related — but he couldn’t come up with “computer-related,” just repeatedly asking why we were listed as “high-tech.”

  70. 70
    terraformer says:

    @Egypt Steve:

    This.

    An uneducated populace is the surest path to cheap labor, which is what it’s all about.

  71. 71

    “The Moar You Know” makes
    two really good observations:

    “… the intellectual rigidity that makes a conservative tends to make for a good, disciplined process-oriented engineer.

    That is, until their careers get overtaken by explosive developments in their own or related fields.”

  72. 72

    @ericblair:

    Um. Depends what field you’re in, but take a) university budget cuts; b) global talent pool; and c) large number of older tenured faculty not going anywhere anytime soon, and having a PhD isn’t a slam-dunk to the upper middle class.

    That’s a good point… I was assuming someone who has their lab up and running which isn’t a very fair assumption at all. Thinking about it more, I know around half a dozen people with PhD’s in neuroscience who stopped doing science after their post docs crashed and burned and they realized they hated the grind. Which just reinforces the idea that it’s not a great choice for people who dream of summer houses in Hamptons.

  73. 73

    Conservatives are “remarkably ill-informed if not actually stupid outside of their limited field of expertise. “

    See: Dunning-Krueger effect

    I’m distrustful of Wikipedia, but this is well written:

    “The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled people make poor decisions and reach erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive ability to realize their mistakes.[1] The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average, much higher than it actually is, while the highly skilled underrate their abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority. This leads to the situation in which less competent people rate their own ability higher than more competent people. It also explains why actual competence may weaken self-confidence. Competent individuals falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. “Thus, the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others.”[2]”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D.....ger_effect

    (WARNING: wikipedia is only as good as the last editor, which in this case may be someone suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect…)

  74. 74
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @Marmot:

    I think, and this is just me speaking out of my ass, that Silicon Valley is a bubble that thinks its the centre of the universe. There’s simply not a lot of cultural contact with the outside, and “outside” in this case includes civil engineers, chemical, mech, etc.

    Also, the educational and career paths are radically different-plenty of people who have the title of software engineer probably have little or no formal schooling, (especially at the dot com height, when people where hiring like crazy) whereas you don’t get anywhere without a 4 year degree in a traditional engineering discipline.

  75. 75
    Nylund says:

    Republicans show some hostility to science but certainly not not much towards the hard sciences.

    Is this a joke? From volcano monitoring to evolution. For FSM’s sake, there is an entire page on Conservapedia about how relativity is a liberal hoax! Throw in climategate and the recent attacts on NSF grants and I don’t see how you can say there has not been much hostility towards the hard sciences.

    I’d say they are less hostile to social scientists. I could name plenty of economists and political scientists that self-identify (and are respected by) the conservative movement.

  76. 76
    Chris says:

    Conservatives are “remarkably ill-informed if not actually stupid outside of their limited field of expertise. “

    Actually, what I’m constantly surprised by is the amount of willful ignorance and stupidity coming from Republicans who really are educated enough to know better.

    E.G. one of my acquaintances graduated with a degree in national security studies, actually getting some bloody good grades along the way. But even after her studies were done, she was unaware (until I told her) that we hadn’t found WMDs in Iraq and that the U.S. government in the Bush era had itself announced that. Rather than reassessing her opinion of things, she immediately came up with the bubble-gum wrapper theory that “well he must have moved them to Syria.”

    Education does help people, in a lot of cases, but quite a few people get the best education and still don’t know how to do anything but goose-step to the tune of their ideology.

  77. 77
    ericblair says:

    @J.W. Hamner:

    I know around half a dozen people with PhD’s in neuroscience who stopped doing science after their post docs crashed and burned and they realized they hated the grind. Which just reinforces the idea that it’s not a great choice for people who dream of summer houses in Hamptons.

    Yeah, the whole thing is sad. Look at the talent and energy that went into screwing with the stock, bond, and housing markets; that’s probably the biggest misallocation of capital in human history. Now imagine if one percent of this had been directed to academic pursuits and putting a lot of fine minds to what they’re best at instead of mixing mochaccinos. Unbelievable.

  78. 78
    Nutella says:

    @gene108:

    A lot of people who don’t know anything about science think that people in fields like medicine are doing science.

    Medicine is a craft, not a science. Like pottery-making which relies on fundamental knowledge of the physics and chemistry of its materials, medicine relies on fundamental knowledge of biology but both pottery-making and patient care are crafts that can only be done well by people who can also handle the non-scientific aspects of those professions.

  79. 79
    Cricket says:

    It should be noted that there are anti-science people on the left as well as the right. A lot of the anti-vaccination movement is driven by liberals, for example. Many alternative therapies that have no scientific proof of their efficacy are championed by liberals too.

    I think the biggest difference is that the anti-science people on the right are empowered by the GOP and actually have an impact on policy. It certainly shapes the image of the party, and probably has an impact on how many scientists would identify as Republican.

  80. 80
    Poopyman says:

    @News Reference: I was struck by this from the Wikipedia article:

    Studies on the Dunning–Kruger effect tend to focus on American test subjects. Similar studies on European subjects show marked muting of the effect; studies on some East Asian subjects suggest that something like the opposite of the Dunning–Kruger effect operates on self-assessment and motivation to improve:

    Huh. Food for thought there!

  81. 81
    DougJ says:

    @Xenos:

    No, because if they were that ideological, they would not be good journalists.

  82. 82
    Jamie says:

    @Cricket

    Also, most scientists realize the need for significant government support, and have the philosophical bent that good information makes people make better decisions

  83. 83
    DougJ says:

    @scav:

    What are they? Probably Nader supporters or some such.

  84. 84
    cleek says:

    @Chris:

    Education does help people, in a lot of cases, but quite a few people get the best education and still don’t know how to do anything but goose-step to the tune of their ideology.

    this isn’t limited to any particular political outlook, of course. most people know very little about things that they don’t actively pay attention to. that’s just the way our brains work.

  85. 85
    Jamie says:

    Yay, the trade deficit fell to 37.8 billion last month.

  86. 86

    To lance some of the, uhm, sanctimony, I’m going to point out that
    Obama suffers from a cripplingly conservative worldview.

    Obama’s dogmatic adherence to right-wing economic ideology was clearly illustrated with his failure to insist on a larger stimulus and emphasized by his subsequent unwillingness to admit that his right-wing economic ideology is wrong.

    Obama’s disturbing compliance with predatory Corporate insurers still leaves Americans prey to known Corporate malefactors even while Obama snubbed superior solutions such as Single-Payer and mocked Public-Option advocates.

    Obama’s absurd claim that oil drilling was safe was followed by a censoring of how bad the subsequent oil disaster was.

    Obama still fails to understand how UNstimulating tax cuts for the über-wealthy are.

    The growing empirical evidence clearly indicates a pattern that suggests an obvious hypothesis:

    All of Obama’s factual errors serve financial interests.
    (even while those factual errors screw the vast majority of Americans.)

    The larger question, can Obama’s supporters look at the empirical evidence and recognize the clear pattern?

  87. 87

    @stogoe: Where would you like your internets delivered?

    Yeah, conservatives hate the “hard” sciences, too, especially biology. Physics doesn’t get as much hate, but that’s just because relativity and QM and QED aren’t taught in high schools. If they were, there would be more shitfits about it.

  88. 88
    Jamie says:

    @News Reference:

    Marxist Islamofascists are conservative?

  89. 89
    Cris says:

    By the way, speaking of conservative scientists, my favorite self-identified conservative scientist is Steven Dutch. Note in particular that he treats climate change as a solid, scientific fact, and spends a lot of time debunking the deniers. His pages are great reading, especially worthwhile for those of us who forget that people we disagree with politically can still be on our side regarding pseudoscience.

  90. 90
    Jamie says:

    @themann1086:

    they don’t hate physic because they can’t do the math.

  91. 91
    Comrade Sock Puppet of the Great Satan says:

    “Which is why, when I suggest to people that intelligent design is creationism for people with advanced engineering degrees (alas, that may include cs and math) they just don’t get it. Lack of cultural knowledge.”

    See also Hertog and Gamboa’s ‘Engineers of Jihad’ paper:

    http://www.nuff.ox.ac.uk/users.....0jihad.pdf

    Summary: There are a *fuckload* of engineers in violent jihadi movements.

    I put it down to that the only way to not wash out of an engineering degree is to do engineering problems well. The key thing in an engineering problem is to figure out the assumptions you have to make, what questions you’re going to ignore, to get the problem tractable and boil it down to a math problem: you then turn the handle on the math and out plops the answer.

    Engineering is a powerful, but hyper-reductionist way to approach the world where you can’t make it work unless you mentally create a bunch of lacunae where you decide the shit you don’t know either doesn’t matter, or it’s OK use a fudge factor or correlation to obscure the fact you don’t really know the limits of your model.

    So it’s not that surprising that the fields of climage change denial, evolution denial, etc. are dominated by engineers. Not the best engineers, usually not the Ph.D. level engineers, but a lot of engineers nevertheless. Plop in some abuse of Philosophy of Science (misusing Popper and falsification) and you’re halfway there already.

  92. 92

    @terraformer: I’ll see your Russell, and raise you a J. S. Mill:

    I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.

  93. 93
    scav says:

    @DougJ: possibly, and Greens, but an assumption nonetheless. Independents and Libertarians come in all stripes and unexpected flavors. Need some longitudinal data too.

  94. 94

    RepubliKans are not interested in facts and verifiable evidence based on observation and experimentation.

    They’d simply rather pull something raw and wiggly out of their ass and call it “fact.”

  95. 95
    SRW1 says:

    @DanF:

    I wonder what a poll of Big Pharma scientists would reveal?

    In my experience (2 years big pharma, 4 years medium pharma, more then 10 years biotech), scientists in pharma tend to be fairly conservative. The sh*t talk about the Clinton reform attempt when I was in big pharma was pretty amazing.

    And for an individual scientist the pressure gets higher the smaller the organization. For the simple reason of how many cooks are in the kitchen. In addition, and that seems to be an issue in most big organizations, pretending to be productive it’s much easier in big pharma.

    Just propose some initiatives in reasonable intervals and make sure that your boss takes a mental note of your intellectual effort. Follow through and success/failure aren’t that important, because a) that tends to be way down the road and b) in case of a failure your boss will also be interested in a quiet burial. After all, it was him/her who dedicated the resources.

  96. 96
    Chris says:

    @cleek:

    this isn’t limited to any particular political outlook, of course. most people know very little about things that they don’t actively pay attention to. that’s just the way our brains work.

    You’re right, of course, and I’m sure you and I do it all the time too.

    But the point is that in this case, this happened with something she was actively paying attention to, namely her freaking major and chosen career path in life.

    It’s one thing if I, a lowly records clerk, don’t know much about the physics of outer space because I’ve too much Star Wars and not enough NASA channel. It’s quite another if NASA employees are as ill-informed as I am.

  97. 97
    JohnR says:

    @Poopyman (@Chris):

    (and also some comments in general):

    1. I’m not sure I’d say science is inherently hostile to authority. Respectfully skeptical, maybe. The knowledge that everything in science is provisional (there is no “certainty”; there is only “extremely high probability”) precludes slavish aderence to authority, but we still give the guys with the impressive track records more credit than we give the latest loud-mouth. Later, when the latest loud-mouth has become a guy with an impressive track record, he’ll get the deference as well. Provisionally, anyway.
    2. I disagree that ‘conservative’ and scientist are naturally opposed. Conservative scientists serve a valuable function, in that they rein in over-enthusiastic arm-waving and Just-So stories and force us to really support our alcohol-fuelled hypothesizing. Sometimes they get a bit out of hand (see BADD; opponents) but in general, I think they’re a good thing. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a self-described conservative who happens to dabble in the sciences. “Conservative” isn’t the same as “reactionary authoritarian” – now that’s anti-science.
    3. In science, you’re not trying to constantly disprove those who came before; you’re trying to add to knowledge. If new knowledge conflicts with old knowledge, and is shown to be more accurate, there it is, but you don’t go looking to tear down the old guys; that would be a stupid waste of time.
    4. Don’t go knocking MDs as “not _real_ scientists”. You might be surprised at how many MDs have rigorous minds and have driven or made important scientific advances. Demeaning your opponents based on some imagined stereotype? How very Republican…
    I’d toss in a couple more, but I’m already over the allotted space, and I don’t feel like trimming it…

  98. 98
    matoko_chan says:

    @DougJ the Bioluddite.
    They know why 94% of scientists are NOT-republican. its just that the real reason scares the piss out of them and they are pantswetting terrified to actually discuss it because it is probably non-reversible.
    it is Salam-Douthat stratification on cognitive ability.
    you have to be smart to be a scientist.
    :)

  99. 99
    matoko_chan says:

    @JohnR: science is inherently hostile to orthodoxy. science is the act creative destruction where heresy becomes the new orthodoxy.
    consrevatism is the essence of orthodoxy– the maintenance of the status quo.

  100. 100

    There’s a false idea that ideology is equivalent to dogmatism.

    They can overlap but are NOT the same.

    Consider Bertrand Russell’s ideological liberalism:

    “The essence of the Liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how they are held: instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment.”

    Ideologically, liberalism is the opposite of dogmatism.

    What’s perverse is the dogmatically false assertion that ideology is inflexible.

    Liberalism, ideologically, is essentially anti-dogmatic and flexible.

    Conservatism, ideologically, is essentially dogmatic and inflexible.

  101. 101
    Seanly says:

    @NonyNony:

    I am a civil engineer (structural to be exact). To a man and woman, I’d say 90% of the civil engineers with whom I have worked or know are Republicans. Most are union-hating fiscal Republicans though there are some religious conservatives. I’d say half are also social conservatives.

    At one job, a younger guy called me communist because I opposed Steve Forbes flat tax. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought it a stupid idea, but I was the only one to voice an opinion against his.

    One of our ex-owners came through with Nikki Haley one day. I was gracious enough to shake her hand.

    My wife is an administrator for a forensic engineering firm. It’s mostly mechanic engineers with a handful of other disciplines. Very conservative group mostly since they are older. However, since their bread & butter is working as experts & investigators for personal or industrial injury lawsuits, they are big on opposing conservative tort reform.

  102. 102

    Obama has regularly been guilty of conflating ideology with dogmatism.

    He’s attacked his opponents as ideological ‘purists’.

    But the ideological ‘purists’ that Obama has attacked are often the ones that looked at the evidence: The mathematical evidence, the scientific evidence, the economic evidence, and the plain facts, and then came to conclusions that they disagreed with Obama’s actions.

    Obama wanted to fix the economy and yet pushed for a conservative economic plan that was predictably less effective than more liberal plans.

    Facts have shown that Obama’s conservative economic plan was inadequate and yet he’s failed to acknowledge those facts.

    Obama said he wanted to reduce health care costs and yet steadily sought the more expensive Corporate remedies while avoiding and eventually mocking superior, more cost-efficient alternatives (Single-Payer & Public-Option).

    Obama claimed that oil-drilling off-shore was safe despite the abundant evidence clearly falsifying his assertion.

    Subsequent events falsified Obama’s (ahem, farcical right-wing) assertion and then Obama’s administration falsely denied the observable factual evidence of the size of the oil-spill disaster.

    Right-wing ideological rigidity empirically explains Obama’s actions.

    The question is: How much evidence is required to accept that conclusion?

  103. 103
    Quicksand says:

    @Comrade Sock Puppet of the Great Satan:

    Engineering is a powerful, but hyper-reductionist way to approach the world where you can’t make it work unless you mentally create a bunch of lacunae where you decide the shit you don’t know either doesn’t matter, or it’s OK use a fudge factor or correlation to obscure the fact you don’t really know the limits of your model.

    This is, perhaps, a slightly extreme version of my experience.

    I would characterize my experience with the core engineering curriculum as highly recipe-oriented, much more “line cook” than “chef.” And that’s pretty much why I dropped out of an electrical engineering program in college, and switched to mathematics with an emphasis in physics.

    The engineering-driven mentality is capable of dovetailing quite nicely with a creationism/ID worldview. That’s what the Book says, so it must be right!

    (No offense to the engineers in the peanut gallery here. I know I’m painting with a very broad brush, and there are MANY excellent engineers who can, and do, inhabit the reality-based world, and who do question the premises.)

  104. 104
    VJBinCT says:

    @jeffreyw: Your experiment is worth doing, but I expect that the spatter size is not simply linear with Fox exposure, but has at least an additional height squared term related to arrogance (the distance members of the Republican test population consider themselves above the average progressive). That would contribute significant force on impact, and also allow the Republicans a longer time to congratulate themselves that they are flying–and thus even better.

  105. 105
    libdevil says:

    Conservative scientists tend to call themselves libertarians. Lets them pretend to not be part of the anti-science movement while still being entitled, arrogant assholes.

    Some other factors that may be influencing the statistic that prompted the original post:

    1) There’s a direct correlation between education level and Democratic voting. (There’s a practical reason Republicans hate public education – it’s not all ideological.)

    2) The actual practice of laboratory science is massively funded by the Federal government. A lot of these scientists depend on the government for funding, or will be working for the government after graduation. And almost every one of them has had his or her education provided or subsidized by the government, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars a year for Ph.D candidates. Not just their stipend, but grants for research materials, and all the Federal support for the infrastructure of the university.

    3) The culture of academia makes it extremely difficult for scientists who either came from that environment or work in it currently to publicly hold regressive social views. It’s just not ok to be a raging homophobe or racist in most academic environments. That makes it difficult for conservative scientists to self-identify with a racist and homophobic political party, and more likely for them to call themselves ‘independents’ or ‘libertarians.’

  106. 106
    Harry Bowman says:

    My experience with this is that when I was in college, there was a large number of Republican scientists, maybe 25-30%. There tended to be a Democratic majority for a simple reason- Democrats deliver more funding to educational institutions, which employ a lot of scientists. Then the modern Republican Party was created in the aftermath of Clinton being elected. Scientists might be conservative, but they are NEVER big Rush Limbaugh or Fox News fans, because they actually place some value on truth. The identification of global warming as a big Republican enemy was, I think, the factor that made being a Republican scientist totally untenable. There still seem to be a lot of scientists who are Christians, but they are not the politicized Republican kind of Christians.

  107. 107
    Harry Bowman says:

    Another big factor I forgot is the runup to the Iraq war. The Bush Administration, when trying to start the Iraq war, lied their ass off, and it was obvious from Day 1 to anyone with a science background that that was what they were doing. Any nation with a nuclear program will generate a lot of physically detectable signs, such as Krypton-86 from reactors and waste heat from reactors and isotope separation plants, and physical evidence of this sort was used in the 1990s to shut down Iraq’s nuclear program. When the monitors said there wasn’t any more evidence, the Bush guys basically said “screw you, we don’t listen to science or reality: we kill whenever we feel like it” and told the most ridiculous kinds of whoppers, like a claim that Saddam Hussein was building drones to deliver biological weapons to the US mainland and that they could be launched in a few hours. This doesn’t get you much respect from scientists.

  108. 108
    mnpundit says:

    So why are engineers so Republican?

  109. 109
    Remillard says:

    Just thought I’d stick a quick caveat to those trying to associate engineers with conservatism and so forth. Be very careful drawing conclusions because there are a number of us who are generally appalled at the disconnect between science and policy whenever the Republicans open their mouths.

    I’m a Democratic Electrical Engineer who has worked in both the defense and commercials sides of the industry. I’m also not alone.

    Just be careful with these conclusions.

  110. 110
    Yahzi says:

    @J.W. Hamner:

    But then, when Glen Beck says something crazy, they just straight up believe it without checking.

    I guess everybody has a weak spot.

  111. 111
    cherry flavored says:

    I have a nephew studying for a PhD in some sort of biology on a scholarship. He listens to Limbaugh regularly and even pens right wing screeds for a local rag. He is very bright but you can’t talk to this kid about politics he can’t hear you … too indoctrinated at a young age by the other side of his family. Our side of the family 99% liberal 5 PhDs two MAs all but two in science. The other side of his family god, guns and anti-gay to the hilt and no better than a hs diploma. We just scratch our heads. Let me just say my nephew is so nutso that his right wing congressman has blocked nephew’s calls to his office.

  112. 112
    DougJ says:

    @cherry flavored:

    There are crazy people in any profession.

  113. 113
    Mike says:

    I went to one of the best public high schools in the South. Many of my friends from there are very high-achieving. Almost all are Republican.

    Went to college in the Midwest in one of those hippie college towns. Most of my friends from there are high-achieving. Most are liberal.

    Of the smart Republicans, 99% pursued salary-maximizing careers. Investment banking. Commercial real estate. If they went to medical school, they chose a high-paying specialty.

    Of the smart liberals, maybe 60% chose salary-maximizing careers. Sure, lots of banking and consulting, but also inner-city teaching, academia, research sciences, journalism.

    I suspect that people think journalists and academics make a lot more money than they do. A guy who I play tennis with who won a Pulitzer and has had a long, successful career at a #6-10 major metro daily once confided in me that he never made more than $60k in a year at the paper. That was in the early ’00s – before the really big circulation drops.

  114. 114
    Marshall says:

    But anyone who’s thought about this for more than a few minutes knows a very specific answer to the question of why there are no Republican scientists: it’s because contemporary science is an empirical, reality-based intellectual enterprise and

    … contemporary Republicanism isn’t.

    It’s the same problem they had back in the USSR. Scientists tended to become dissidents precisely because they were reality based.

  115. 115
    Marshall says:

    Harry Bowman @107 – I hear you on that. That’s why I tend to go a little ballistic when someone says something like “Bush was just following the intelligence and everyone got it wrong.” I didn’t get it wrong, and I’m not even paid to follow this stuff.

  116. 116
    Marshall says:

    Marty @19 no one ever complains that there are too many conservatives running car dealerships!

    I’ll do it – I hate having to sit there listening to Fox News while I wait for my loaner. If no one is around, I’ll get up and turn off the TV. (I do that in Doctor’s offices too.)

  117. 117
    scarshapedstar says:

    @Nutella:

    @gene108:
    A lot of people who don’t know anything about science think that people in fields like medicine are doing science.
    Medicine is a craft, not a science. Like pottery-making which relies on fundamental knowledge of the physics and chemistry of its materials, medicine relies on fundamental knowledge of biology but both pottery-making and patient care are crafts that can only be done well by people who can also handle the non-scientific aspects of those professions.

    Sort of. I mean, sure, if you are removing someone’s appendix you are not really doing science, although it’s a hell of a lot more scientific than applying leeches.

    But if someone has cancer, you’d better do some genetic analysis on the tumors so you can determine the treatment. I’d say there are a number of fields within medicine that require considerably more than ‘fundamental knowledge of biology’.

  118. 118
    psycholinguist says:

    But by all means, social scientists should look into this.

    Jesus, doesn’t anybody have access to Ebscohost? Social scientists have researched this, extensively, and several factors have emerged over and over again.

    A recent meta-analysis confirms much of the speculation in this thread

    Jost, Glaser,Kruglanski, Sulloway Psychological Bulletin, Vol 129(3), May 2003, 339-375.

    A meta-analysis (88 samples, 12 countries, 22,818 cases) confirms that several psychological variables predict political conservatism: death anxiety (weighted mean r=.50); system instability (.47); dogmatism-intolerance of ambiguity (.34); openness to experience (-.32); uncertainty tolerance (-.27); needs for order, structure, and closure (.26); integrative complexity (-.20); fear of threat and loss (.18); and self-esteem (-.09). The core ideology of conservatism stresses resistance to change and justification of inequality and is motivated by needs that vary situationally and dispositionally to manage uncertainty and threat.

    Why are conservatives anti-science? Because science (not engineering or technology) is inherently unstable and changing – experiments are NOT demonstrations, scientists ask questions without knowing the answer- that scares republicans.

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