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.