Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Poll: Just six percent of scientists are Republican

"I do not feel obligated to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reasons, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." -- Galileo Galilei

This may be the least shocking news ever:

A full 87 percent of American scientists see their political alignment as Democrat or Independent, according to a new Pew Research poll.

Surprisingly or not, just six percent declared themselves Republican, and only nine percent overall expressed support of conservative ideology.

From the data summary:

Most Americans do not see scientists as a group as particularly liberal or conservative. Nearly two-thirds of Americans (64%) say they think of scientists as “neither in particular”; 20% see them as politically liberal and 9% say they are politically conservative.

In contrast, most scientists (56%) perceive the scientific community as politically liberal; just 2% think scientists are politically conservative. About four-in-ten scientists (42%) concur with the majority public view that scientists, as a group, are neither in particular.

The scientists’ belief that the scientific community is politically liberal is largely accurate. Slightly more than half of scientists (52%) describe their own political views as liberal, including 14% who describe themselves as very liberal. Among the general public, 20% describe themselves as liberal, with just 5% calling themselves very liberal.

These figures should only be surprising to someone who neglected current events during the Bush administration, which was accused of censoring and intimidating scientists on matters from global warming to medical research and nuclear weapons.

It's safe to say that being treated like an unwanted step-child, along with continued, eye-widening nonsense like this, has not engendered much love of Republicanism in the scientific community.

-- Stephen C. Webster

The aw-shucks anti-intellectualism of the past 8 years has done incredible damage that will take years to recover from. The thing is, it doesn't have to be this way. And it hasn't always been that way. Teddy Roosevelt was one of our most environmental presidents, promoting conservation of natural resources. Dwight Eisenhower started the space race.

If the goal of your poltical party is to stick your head in the ground and to keep people stupid, then I can't believe you will have a lot of staying power. If you have a valid idealogy, you defeat arguments with better arguments, not by suppressing facts.

The mistakes that Republicans are making now will haunt them for a generation. And those so-called Blue Dog Democrats, DINO's (Democrat in Name Only) will face the same problem.

You can't ignore the scientific facts that are slapping you in the face when you are making laws that affect all of us. Republicans and a large percentage of the public think there is scientific debate over evolution or global warming, when there is not.

We are never going to solve the world's problems by denying they exist.

"Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error." -- Thomas Jefferson


CyberKitten said...

I do hope that a corner has finally been turned.

Laura said...

I honestly wonder what this data would have looked like, say 40 or 50 years ago, before the republican party and conservative ideology became inexorably linked with religion and 'social conservativism'.

It doesn't surprise me in the least, however, since science is all about being OPEN to the possibility that your ideas are not completely correct and subject to change based on new evidence.

wunelle said...

I missed this when you first posted it. It's excellent.

I wish I could be more sanguine about the ultimate triumph of good ideas over bad, but I think we have a sizeable chunk of the voting populace who have made an angry virtue out of ignorance and a stigma out of intellectual accomplishment.

I think the unity of political thought among scientists is a simple reflection of their willingness to embrace what is supported experientially and to reject ideas which fail to garner evidentiary support. It seems a fucked-up world when this simple modus operandi is deemed evil, but it MUST be if people are going to hang onto their gods and demons and ghosts and sprites and faeries.

An aside (and probably good fodder for a post): is there something insidious in the latest batch of popular works of fiction that they rely so heavily on the supernatural? Would Harry Potter be as interesting without magic, or Bella & Edward without his being a vampire? I just can't get past the silly invention in these stories. My wife bonks me over the head with "Star Wars," but I counter that I was 12 when the first one came out.

The Zombieslayer said...

I'm surprised to see that many scientists as Democrats too. Neither party has any brains.

The unfortunate thing about the Republican party is it has been taken over by religious nut cases. No, the Earth isn't 10,000 years old and dinosaurs didn't walk around with people. Yes, global warming is very real. yes, this world is overpopulated and overpopulation is causing serious problems.

Try telling that to today's Republicans, and you either get confusion or an argument. It's like, "are you really living in 2009?"