11 thoughts on “Conservatives’ Faith In Science”

  1. Too be fair, they do seem to be talking about scientific institutions: Robert Conquest’s Second Laws of Politics.

  2. Insty had a commentor that traced this back to the survey itself. The question was asked about the confidence in the leaders of scientific instituations, not of science itself.

  3. I will admit to becoming more sceptical of scientific claims in recent years. I used to believe that this or that dietary supplement would improve my health, for example. Only to find that these supplements increased the death rates of people taking them. Too many similar things and I began to understand the powerful force of observer bias.

    The more variables involved, and the greater the political implications of a scientific claim, the greater the chances of bias creeping in. There isn’t necessarily anything nefarious involved, just human nature.

  4. Good to know the article’s author has a firm grounding in the subject matter:

    It’s not clear how much impact Gauchat’s study will have on the debate over politics and science: Liberals are likely to see it as confirmation of what they already believe, while conservatives who are skeptical about the scientific elite are likely to greet these scientific claims with skepticism as well.

    When was science redefined such that survey results get to be called “scientific claims”? At best the data collected from the survey could be used to generate a hypothesis. This nutter Gauchat has hardly performed the first step of the scientific method and he’s already telling us what his bizzaro-world “science” says, with airs of condescension.

    Mr. Boyle fails to recognize the inadequacy of the survey to provide actual scientific claims, and mimics Gauchat’s delightful unearned elitist sneering. Apparently having at least a 7th grade level of understanding of science is not a pre-requisite to being a “science” writer for MSNBC.

    ps. I couldn’t help but think that Gauchat might be a chinese-english compound word said with a French accent.

  5. Rand,

    I agree, rather then focus on the institutions the survey should have focused more on science itself. But I do think the direction of the results are right as they are similar to this Gallup Poll result from December 2010.


    40% Of Americans, Majority Of Republicans, Reject Evolution
    Doug Mataconis
    Saturday, December 18, 2010

    Which probably explains the new drive against Evolution in Red States like Tennessee and Louisiana.


    Tennessee Joins the Anti-Evolution Parade and Ignores the Experts
    Posted: 03/23/2012 7:43 pm

    [[[The issue is a simple one. Legislators in Tennessee have apparently decided that it is critical for them to reexamine what should have been settled by the Scopes Trial in Dayton, TN in 1925. They’re following down the path blazed by similar-minded legislators in Louisiana and moving relentlessly into the past by moving forward with an anti-evolution, pro-creationism bill modeled on the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) of 2008. ]]]

    and why its a good measure of belief in science.

    [[[The basic premises of evolution impact the sciences broadly, both because evolution is so central to a meaningful understanding of science and because the attacks on evolution at their core demonstrate willful ignorance of what the scientific method is all about. These anti-evolution bills undercut any hope that we might produce a scientifically literate citizenry, one which is comprised of people who are capable of placing ideas on the continuum from science through non-science to nonsense. ]]]

    Looks like Ben Bova was on the right track in his “Grand Tour” series…

  6. Wasn’t the survey question about the PEOPLE running the institutions? Nice thread hijack.

    page down to 8:15 entry on the 29th

    1. Bill,

      Nope, the title of the thread is: Conservatives’ Faith In Science, not science institutions.

  7. http://tcktcktck.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/TckTckTck-SREX-Full-Report-Action-Pack.pdf

    “These SREX findings are presented with RATHER HIGH LEVELS OF SCIENTIFIC CONFIDENCE. Other findings
    are presented with lower or medium levels of confidence. However, it is important to note that low or
    medium scientific certainty don’t always mean low risk, and we should use the PRECAUTIONARY
    principle to argue that we must take potential risks seriously even IF THE SCIENCE DOESN´T OFFER HIGH CONFIDENCE.”

    Is it -supporting- science to promulgate crap like this? Or a fundamental betrayal of the core principles? Even ‘the precautionary principle’ aspect is insane – an ice age would be -far- more devastating.

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