Scientists and Republicans Don't Mix

By Chris Mooney | November 17, 2009 8:06 am

I hardly want to lend ammo to those on the other side of the political scientific debates that I so frequently cover. But the new data from Pew are pretty stark: Only 6 percent of scientists describe themselves as Republican. 55 percent describe themselves as Democrats, and 32 percent as independents; which means that scientists skew Dem by a considerable margin when compared to the general population (which claims to be 23 percent GOP, 35 percent DEM).

I think these figures are unsurprising and even justifiable, in that so much anti-science comes from Republicans. I had to deal with one just last night who was attacking both climate science and evolutionary science. And of course, it is not just that Republicans are often anti-science, but that they are often driven by religious motivations to be so. Scientists, by contrast, are a very, very strongly secular group.

Whatever else you may say about these figures, it is unfortunate that they play directly into the culture war. If conservative pundits want to wrongly dismiss science as a liberal atheist plot, I guess I know what they’ll be citing….

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Comments (59)

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  1. I was surprised « A Man With A Ph.D. | November 19, 2009
  1. Michael

    I’ve been a registered independent for over 40 years now. The fact that so many scientists are democrats disturbs me. Virtually all scientists should consider themselves independents, and keep away from the poison of party politics.

    But, alas, this just gives the religious right fodder for more propaganda attacking scientists and science in general. Scientists should avoid all party affiliations altogether. That would be the wise, and the scientific, thing to do.

  2. gillt

    Like traditional monotheism, the current manifestation of conservatism is a failed hypothesis. In fact, they’ve become almost the very same tribe.

  3. Sorbet

    The conservative party is quickly running out of legs to stand. Maybe the latest memoir by Sarah Palin can cast her as an intrepid new leader for the party? THEN they should definitely accept both evolution and climate change.

    Michael, I don’t think it’s the fault of scientists. As you say, ideally they should avoid party affiliation, but conservatives have unfortunately hijacked both science and religion for their selfish ends. Liberals have also done this, but definitely not to such an extent. This has forced scientists to take the side of Democrats simply to maintain their support for science.

  4. Why in the world should we scientists avoid party affiliations? Do we live in some sort of commune on an island?

    Seriously guys, look around. Even if your research is funded by an “independent” foundation, your research is still funded by someone who got their money to give to you because of politics and a need for certain kinds of information to feed those politics. Doubly so if you work off federal grant dollars. No one, not academic researchers, not government researchers, not independent consultants, is immune for politics just because he works as a scientist.

    To pretend otherwise is foolhardy at best, and willfully ignorant at worst. And that is precisely why party identity matters. We are not (yet) a nation where multi-party coalitions rule the land – we have two dominant parties who have set such a high economic bar to entry that they do, in fact control the political landscape. Because of that, if you want to keep NSF and NIH grants flowing, if you want to be free of censorship of your scientific findings in government publications, if you want to have the freedom to apply for said grants – YOU HAVE TO PLAY THE POLITICAL GAME. Otherwise you shoot your funding stream squarely in the foot, and blow off your own noses to spiet your own faces.

    And like it or not that means registering and voting Democrat for the foreseeable future.

  5. SLC

    What I suspect has happened here is that scientists who used to be Rethuglicans began migrating out of the party when it was hijacked by the religious right and, for the most part, became independents.

  6. Anna K.

    I agree that politics should not affect scientists’ work as scientists, doing science — but why on earth should scientists have to avoid party affiliation? What, are they too pure to have values and opinions and ideas about the direction their society should go? If that’s so, that’s very bad news for the rest of us.

    I worry that scientists who don’t want to dirty their hands with the political process end up ceding it to anti-science forces, who are only too happy to take control of school boards, state legislative bodies and Congress to push their agenda.

    And look, EVERYONE has an agenda. Why should scientists pretend they don’t? Where do we draw the line — it’s okay for a scientist to vote as long as she doesn’t, y’know, give money or her voice or her time to a particular party? Scientists have a right to vote, right? Or is the act of voting too partisan? It’s certainly not neutral or non-partisan, a vote.

    I wish more scientists would get involved in the public square. If they want to avoid politics, that’s their choice, but then I don’t want to hear any griping about what people who WILL dirty their hands by getting involved in politics want to fund, or remove funds from, or want to put in school textbooks. You want to have a say, you’ve got to get in the game.

    Besides, political parties have a lot more clout in political processes than isolated independents. How often do independents win elections?

    :-D Okay, rant over.

  7. Anna K.

    Philip H., we were typing at the same time.

    What you said.

  8. Eamon

    Michael@1

    People have to register their political affiliation in the US?

    That seem odd to this UK’er.

  9. SLC

    Re Eamon

    In some states (e.g. Virginia), there is no registration by party. In other states, one can register as an independent but will be prohibited from voting in partisan primary elections.

    Re Anna K

    Furthermore, more individuals with scientific training should get into politics, particularly at the local level (e.g. school board elections). If there were more scientists on local school boards, the creationists would have a much tougher time selling their agenda.

  10. John Kwok

    @ Michael –

    Yes, I agree with you completely (as a former scientist who is a registered Republican BTW.).
    However, as for my fellow Republicans, I think they ought to read Michael Shermer’s “Why Darwin Matters”, since Shermer makes some very important, quite persuasive, points as to why most Republicans and Conservatives should accept evolution as valid science (Hint: He emphasizes the intellectual ties between Adam Smith and Charles Darwin.).

    @ Philip H. –

    Given the way that our esteemed President is managing the country, I believe that the most likely outcome will be the election of substantially more Republicans than Democrats to Federal offices in the next few years. I just hope we don’t see a repeat of what transpired as documented in Chris’s “The Republican War on Science”, but there is no guarantee that won’t happen. And yet, despite my misgivings over such a prospect, I would like to see The One become a lame duck in the Oval Office until January 20, 2013 , when his first – and hopefully only – term will end.

    @ Anna K. – I concur with much of your assessment, except as noted in my reply to Philip H. (see above).

    @ Eamon – No, people don’t have to register their politicial affiliation, especially in the general elections held on the first Tuesday of each November. However, if they wish to be politically active and choose to vote for candidates in primary elections, then they have to be registered voters of the political party whose candidates they wish to vote for.

    Realize that it seems a bit complicated compared to what you have over in Britain, but trust me, it’s not as complicated as you might think.

  11. Tom

    @Eamon, registration is so one can vote in party-specific primary elections to choose the party’s candidate for the general election. If you are independent, you can’t vote in the party primaries (in some locations).

  12. dpc

    It would be interesting to see the 1) political affiliations of sub-fields of science and 2) where most scientists sit on the liberal vs. conservative continuum. Republicans much more religious and on a policy level are much more anti-science (although I would guess that there are a lot more Dem anti-vac people). Further, Republicans often try to cut funding to scientific research programs (see comments by both McCain and Palin).

    However, there are a lot of blue-dog Dem scientists out there. That religiosity trumps the science in the Republican party is the primary factor pushing scientists out.

  13. Matt

    It facinates me on how thouroughly the terms “liberal” and “conservative” have been mixed in with party affiliations. I think that scientists and engineers (engineer here…I dont like being left out of scientific conversations) identify largely with Democrats because Republicans in the past have actively sought to exploit a fear of “the intellectual” to strengthen their base numbers. That choice may actually take them to a place where they win some more seats over the midterm elections, but I think the conservative party will be at huge odds with the Republican party after 2010.
    If this prediction pans out, I think you’ll see a balancing shift of scientists and engineers towards the republican party because the moral chains of conservatism will be handed over to the “Tea Bag” party (or whatever they end up calling themselves). Once again, republicans will be more concerned with fiscal responsibility instead of obstruction, the democrats can concentrate on reconciling fiscal responsibility with increased public good, and both “liberal” and “conservative” will once again be used as words and not political affiliations.

  14. Matt

    It fascinates me on how thoroughly the terms “liberal” and “conservative” have been mixed in with party affiliations. I think that scientists and engineers (engineer here…I dont like being left out of scientific conversations) identify largely with Democrats because Republicans in the past have actively sought to exploit a fear of “the intellectual” to strengthen their base numbers. That choice may actually take them to a place where they win some more seats over the midterm elections, but I think the conservative party will be at huge odds with the Republican party after 2010.
    If this prediction pans out, I think you’ll see a balancing shift of scientists and engineers towards the republican party because the moral chains of conservatism will be handed over to the “Tea Bag” party (or whatever they end up calling themselves). Once again, republicans will be more concerned with fiscal responsibility instead of obstruction, the democrats can concentrate on reconciling fiscal responsibility with increased public good, and both “liberal” and “conservative” will once again be used as words and not political affiliations.

  15. Jon

    It reminds me of this recent Washington Times editorial comparing Obama to Nixon:

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/oct/22/obama-whs-moves-raise-specter-of-enemies-list/

    As if it was Obama creating the problems needing to be addressed, not Fox News, not the Chamber of Commerce, not the failed financial sector. Then you had a whole coordinated chorus saying “Nixon! Nixon!” as if the reality based community were the Nixons persecuting the poor culture warriors… Kinda creepy.

  16. Jon

    (It reminds me of that editorial because the “reality based community” has kind of self-selected itself into the Democrats’ camp, making it seem partisan to low information people.)

  17. Kirk

    “This Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy.”
    U.S. Representative Christopher Shays, R-CT, (New York Times 3/23/05)

    As Dominionism and its most political incarnation, Christian Reconstructionism, drive moderation from the R’s crede, science loses to theocracy. The flip side of the “more scientists are Democrats, fewer are Republicans” is that “more Republicans are theocrats, fewer theocrats are Democrats”. See “American Theocracy” by Kevin Phillips for a sound arguement.

  18. @ John Kwok – Given ths statements and actions of Republicans currently on the national stage vis science, I think your faith in your Party is misplaced, at best.

  19. Erasmussimo

    I suggest that the fundamental dichotomy here is not so much between Republicans and science as between social conservatives and intellectualism. The social conservatives have taken over the Republican Party. Let us not forget that the Republican Party prior to, say, 1980, had an impressive array of intellectual supporters. It has gone far downhill since then. Ms. Palin will be one to force the issue. Either the Republican Party will nominate Ms. Palin in 2012 and go down to a crushing defeat, or it will nominate a more centrist candidate and have a small chance of winning. Either way, the Republican Party is caught in the impossible position of being forced to cater to a large minority whose platform is execrable to the majority of Americans.

    In any case, the real opposition they present is not to science in particular but to rationalism in general.

  20. I would guess that this could explain the strange voyage of MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty from Climate Change Action Activist to Climate Change Denier.

  21. Andy Fox

    Conservatives/Republicans are just simply less willing to accept science as truth, because science has so often disproved or contradicted itself. In the 1970s, science said we were getting into global cooling. Whoops! Science has said that coffee/alcohol/beans/etc. (choose one or more) is(are) good for you heart/bad for your heart (choose one depending on what decade the studies were conducted). Science has said that the races of man evolved separately/from one source. Science used to say that light could not be slowed down or sped up, and now we know that it at least can be slowed down in some mediums.

    SCIENCE IS FLAWED. It is imperfect. Here is a quote from
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/04/science/04angier.html?_r=1

    Often, if you come across something in the body that seems like a big deal, you think, ‘Why didn’t anybody check this before?’ ” Dr. Nahrendorf said. “But the more you learn, the more you realize that we’re just scratching on the surface of life. We don’t know the whole story about anything.

    I daresay that this applies not only to the body, but to the universe in general. So often though, scientists forget this, and want to treat nonobservable hypotheses (like global warming over the course of thousands of years) as fact, when there could be other explanations. Unless you can directly observe it, it cannot be stated as fact. There are plenty of scientists who don’t agree with the global warming hypothesis. There is scientific evidence that propounds against it as well. Maybe there is some evidence in favor of it, but don’t start talking about average temperature nonsense, when we find NOAA temperature stations behind some business’ HVAC unit. Don’t start talking average temperatures when we weren’t around in 1100 AD. Here is another quote::

    People often assume that scientists are in the business of trying to prove hypotheses or theories. This assumption is incorrect because hypotheses can never be proved; they can only be disproved. A hypothesis that fails one or more tests is considered disproved and it is discarded. If it is not disproved after being tested in many different ways, we become more confident that it is correct. A hypothesis is valid as long as it explains the behavior of the system it describes, but it is always possible that it will have to be revised or discarded based on new results.
    David C. Bolton, Ph.D.
    Department of Molecular Biology, New York State Institute for Basic Research

    But progressive liberal scientists, who almost always have an agenda, which includes, but is not limited to “How can I use my profession to get God out of the equation”, run wild with any data that could possibly support their agenda, and they continually make unjustified leaps in logic, because they have other people who share their agenda, and other people still who want to capitalize on their agenda, like politicians.

    original_sleestack@hotmail.com

  22. bilbo

    But progressive liberal scientists, who almost always have an agenda, which includes, but is not limited to “How can I use my profession to get God out of the equation”, run wild with any data that could possibly support their agenda, and they continually make unjustified leaps in logic, because they have other people who share their agenda, and other people still who want to capitalize on their agenda, like politicians.

    CONSPIRACY!!!! RUN!!!!!!!!!!

    *facedesk*

  23. Jon

    The anti-Christian orbital mind control lasers have been hard at work:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change

  24. james wheaton

    #21 Andy Fox – You probably represent the feelings of many American citizens; certainly many Republican citizens. I cannot begin to explain how confused and ignorant you are. And there for all to see is the Achilles heal of the democratic system of government. You and your ilk vote.

  25. Andy Fox,
    First a welcome to this den of “progressive liberal sceintists.” If we’re really as bad as you say, then wading in took some courage. Otherwise, you’re just being snarky when there is no call for it.

    Second, you are wrong about the scientific process and its outcomes. We don’t go around just discarding hypotheses – we try to understand what we missed. We also look for solid evidence to stand behind our testing.

    In this regard, the global climate crisis is no more a hypothesis, then is the notion that stepping into traffic increases your chances of getting hit by a bus. Human climate scientists have observed and recorded significant climate changes over the last 60 or so years, and using data from glacial ice cores, ocean bottom samples, and other sources we have gathered data farther back then that. Based on that data, scientists believe the Earth is warming, and that humans are a major cause of that warming – though natural cycles surely play an underlying role.

    Now having said all that – let me say this:

    Scienitsts are open to new information, new ideas, and rigorous and fierce debate about the truth of their data. In the modern age, whenever scientists have tried to fake data and results, they have been quickly caught and called out by their colleagues. The same can not, incidently be said for folks in a myriad of other human endeavours. No private banker, for instance, has publicly humiliated the former COE of Countrywide Mortgage for making risky sub-prime mortgage loans, even though those loans contributed to our current economic state.

    Finally, while some few scientists do have an agenda (and they often are popular bloggers), most scientists do not, and resent politics being imposed on their work. I would add that conservatives are also prone to wild leaps of logic based on spurious data which are fueled by their political agendas. So, how about we all stop throwing hand grenades at each other, and start working to solve problems? Seems far more constructive.

  26. Erasmussimo

    Andy Fox, you claim that, because science has made mistakes in the past, we must not trust it. Sorry, you’re already trusting science in a thousand ways every day of your life. Why should you trust your financial security, your communications with other people, and so many other things to your computer? After all, it is the end result of solid state physics, and if you don’t trust science, you certainly can’t trust your computer. How do you know that your pocket calculator really gives you correct answers? When you go to the doctor, you are placing your very life in hands of medical science; if you are consistent in your claim that we cannot trust science, then you should refrain from going to the doctor or, {horrors!} taking any of those pills that they call medicine. Do you drive a car? I wouldn’t do that if I were you — how can you trust the systems in the car to function properly and not smash you into a wall? Do you get news over the Internet of via television? Better not trust any of it — these technologies are all based on science.

    If you really are consistent in your claim that science cannot be trusted, then you should live in a cabin in the woods and have nothing to do with modern society.

  27. bilbo

    SCIENCE IS FLAWED. It is imperfect.

    Then I sure hope you don’t take medicine and will turn down cancer treatments, should you ever become impacted by cancer. I also hope you abstain from surgery and vaccinations, and I sure hope you don’t believe that dinosaurs existed (I mean, you said it, who was around 65 million years ago, anyway?).

    It sounds like you’re just trying to poke holes in science so you can conveniently deny the parts of science that don’t jive with your preconceived notions of reality, Andy.

    You’re silly.

  28. Doug

    Why so angry, Democrat friends? For the next three years, you have only yourselves to blame if you don’t achieve all that you desire. At this point, it seems to this Libertarian to be a bit of bad form to continually kick the Elephant whilst he is down.

    Erasmussio, that’s a pretty poorly constructed slippery slope you’ve tossed Andy Fox down, and you’ve chosen to attack the most scientific thing he says, which is, in essence, ‘be skeptical’. Granted, his argument as a whole isn’t the best, but your attempted rebuttal focuses on the wrong thing, in my opinion. You have a pretty solid track record, from the comments I’ve read in the past, and I think that this one is not your best work.

    Ah, it doesn’t really matter at this point, and I have to confess that I feel like a troll at this point. In this person’s opinion, science and politics are the proverbial oil and water – if you beat the hell out of them, they’ll intermingle, but you’d better finish your salad before they separate, or it just ruins the rest of dinner.

  29. Erasmussimo

    Doug, I don’t agree with your judgement that my argument is a slippery slope. Mr. Fox is not attempting to constrain the scope of his attack on science; his argument can be applied to ANY science-based conclusions. If it can be applied to anything, it can reasonably be applied to everything. So my extension of his argument to cover the entirety of science is appropos.

  30. Doug

    Ah, the joys of the blog comment sections. Where you see an acceptable counter, I see sophistry. No worries, at the end of the day neither of our opinions will really sway anyone.

  31. Erasmussimo

    Fair enough, Doug. But remember, Mr. Fox wrote this:

    “SCIENCE IS FLAWED. It is imperfect”

    His statement applies to the entirety of science, not any subset.

  32. Jon

    No worries, at the end of the day neither of our opinions will really sway anyone.

    I think part of the temptation is that it’s just too easy. We’re sitting here without think tank sinecures and we can make the Discovery Institute look absolutely ridiculous. Why is that? Paul Krugman had it about right in this post. All that funding, all that supposed scholarly firepower, and a supposed flagship status on the right for cutting edge thinking, and the Discovery Institute *still* can be made to look absolutely ridiculous.

    Want to stop looking ridiculous? Support the truth–oh shoot, then you wouldn’t have jobs, right?

  33. Doug

    I’m not arguing his statement. Are you positing that his statement is incorrect, and that science is perfect(I know that you are not, but humor me in this)? If you are, then, well, which science is perfect, which version? What about contradictory schools of thought on the same issue? Who decides which is the perfect science? As I am admittedly not perfect, and I think a rational person such as yourself would admit to not being perfect, I will defer to the only perfect being I’ve ever heard of (never met the fellow), insert deity name here. But wait

    End hyperbole.

    My issue comes with your taking that statement and expanding it in the way you deem fit, to the rather absurd conclusion that you draw. His assertion is that we remain skeptical, and while his focus is on the climate change arena, I see absolutely no problem with skepticism, nor do you, as you choose not to believe him. I honestly don’t agree with Fox on the topic at hand, but neither do I agree with your rebuttal. You’re right, Fox said that science is flawed/imperfect. He’s correct.

  34. Anna K.

    @Jon, #32,

    Yes, you can make the Discovery Institute look ridiculous when talking to people who agree with you, and with people who do science and/or who understand science. But even many college educated people do not understand science, and why some things are scientific and some things are pseudoscientific, no matter how much jargon accompanies them.

    Among my friends, I know an architect, an accountant and some business folks and (non-science) teachers who find ID pretty convincing. The ID folks present their arguments very well to lay people. The ID case may not be scientific, but it sure is made to sound reasonable to non-scientists.

    Which again gets back to my rant above, and my compliments to SLC at #9 above: Yes, scientists really do need to get involved in politics, because the ID folks already are very politically savvy and politically involved.

  35. SLC

    Re Andy Fox

    In the 1970s, science said we were getting into global cooling.

    Mr. Fox is seriously in error. Science, by which we mean the scientific consensus, said no such thing. This is just another lie spread by the global warming deniers.

  36. Marion Delgado

    It’s time to point out, again, that pseudoskeptics like Shermer are actually pushing a form of market fundamentalism, not science or rationality. I direct your attention to everything-but-evolution denialist Penn Jilette, as well.

    It’s not just Christianity, e.g., that causes Republican anti-intellectualism. Anyone who has read the work of von Mises, for instance, will note immediately that he had contempt for data-driven economics. He also believed a market would always be able to do calculations better than a team of researchers – his followers persist in leaning on that belief, even in the age of data-gathering and supercomputers.

  37. John Kwok

    @ Philip H. –

    I can only hope that it isn’t misplaced especially when two fellow alumni of my high school, David Axelrod and Eric Holder, are doing such a great job now in lowering my expectations for the Obama administration minute by minute (I am referring unfortunately to the reckless and utterly stupid decision to try Khalid Mohammed and several other 9/11 co-conspirators here in New York City. They are enemy combatants and should be treated as such. If they are no longer useful, then let’s be merciful by sending them to meet Allah and 72 virgins in paradise. In other words, do exactly what the Communist Chinese do: shoot them!).

  38. John Kwok

    @ Marion –

    If you are going to criticize Michael Shermer, maybe you ought to start first by criticizing Charles Darwin. Why? It was Darwin who saw sufficiently reasonable analogues between Adam Smith’s conception of Free Market Capitalism and what Darwin described as “the economy of nature”. Instead of condemning Shermer, I think you should credit him for trying to make those on the Right aware of the fact that Darwin was inspired by free market capitalism, and not by godless ATHEISM (a term which was coined by Darwin’s younger friend and colleague, Thomas Henry Huxley).

  39. Marion Delgado

    The closest Shermer, a very radical market fundamentalist, gets to Darwin is his “social Spencerism,” actually.

  40. Marion Delgado

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1374/is_n5_v53/ai_13255803/?tag=content;col1

    Michale Shermer-style Social Spencerism – unfortunately the academic legacy of the United States. The lynsenkoism of the West.

    Also, just as von Mises started a subcult that never understood statistics gathering, polling, or computation, other market fundamentalists follow a faith that capitalism is both natural and in a state of nature, and that evolution is a rapid and efficient way to produce something. None of that is true, and especially the naturalness – most laws in the capitalist countries are by the capitalists, for the capitalists, and either protect them from the public or from other capitalists. Most of the case law is of that nature, virtually all lawsuits are, etc. From the taxpayer funded and government enforced monopoly on resources to the authoritarian regime of intellectual property, the capitalist struggle takes place in a carefully engineered world. Intelligent design is not wrong because evolution by random mutation and natural selection works better – it does not. It’s wrong because there’s no evidence that it happened.

  41. John Kwok

    @ Marion –

    In his “Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design”, Michael Shermer gives a succinct explanation that shows the philosophical ties between Adam Smith and Charles Darwin. If you’re not familiar with his book, then I suggest that you might consider ordering a copy here:

    http://www.amazon.com/Why-Darwin-Matters-Against-Intelligent/dp/0805083065/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_3

  42. John Kwok

    @ Marion –

    Don’t quite follow your logic as to how your rant against free market capitalism means that it is not an apt analogy for Darwin’s conception of the competition between species for resources, etc. which he details extensively in “On the Origin of Species”. Shermer recognizes this, which is why he made this very point in his book “Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design”.

  43. Marion Delgado

    Chris, when you look at polls like that, bear in mind the fallacy of the middle ground. It’s just possible that the middle, so-called, has been radically skewed in the United States. Nixon promised his court appointments would move America so far to the right that you wouldn’t recognize it. What if he was right?

    In other words, you have to make room for the hypothesis that in other eras – the New Deal, the Progressive Era, etc., there’d be a more balanced distribution. That today’s Democratic voter might be yesterday’s Independent or Republican. And there are studies that correlate attitudes and opinions to party identification that indicate that’s very plausible. Add that to the RWOS under Bush and you probably aren’t looking at anything outlandish.

  44. Eamon

    SLC, John, Tom – thanks for the enlightenment.

  45. SLC

    Re John Kwok @ 37

    I would agree with Mr. Kwok that Eric Holder has been a big disappointment. Ed Brayton has been especially critical of Holder over on his blog, although, now that Mr. Brayton has declared that Michelle Bachmann is hot, maybe he has joined me on his list of male chauvinist pigs and is therefore unreliable. However, I must take some exception to his statement that Khalid Mohamed should just be taken out and shot (actually, my inclination would be to execute him by burning at the stake) without bothering with a trial. Even the Nazi war criminals were given a trial and a chance to defend themselves, not to mention Adolf Eichmann who was also given a trial and a chance to defend himself. As despicable an excuse for a human being as Mr. Mohamed is, he ain’t in the same category as Eichmann or Goering.

  46. Sorbet

    John, Shermer has an even more detailed and comprehensive comparison between Smith and Darwin and the free market and evolution in “The Mind of the Market” published recently.

  47. John Kwok

    Sorbet,

    It’s on my reading list but I haven’t had a chance to get to it yet. Before that, I have to slog through Stephen Meyer’s latest treatise that is so replete with his mendacious intellectual pornography.

  48. Andy Fox

    I notice that people who are criticizing my logic are not addressing the fact that I used scientist’s quotes and actual examples of the laughable contradictions that have occurred through scientific inquiry (Well not all laughable, but the arrogance of making factual statements without having total information, like the previous belief/hypothesis that light had a constant speed.). “Let’s gloss over the fact that science is imperfect, Mr. Fox is just a right wing kook, nuff said,” which is about as intelligent as many of the answers. Typical progressive liberal ad hominem attack.

    Erasmussimo, please note that I was discussing nonobservable hypotheses, which as a science layperson (meaning no PhD behind by name) is the best way I know how to describe theories based upon events that we were unable to witness, or unable to witness for a significant enough length to adequately measure. (E.g., if you flip a coin twice, get heads both times, you should not conclude that the chance of getting heads is 100%). The people who manufacture calculators can observe that they are working properly. I won’t say your response was silly, I will just say it was emotional and defensive.

    Ok, we’re going to quibble about syntax . . . Science did not say in the 1970s that global cooling was coming. Some scientists did though, and used scientific observations to back up their hypothesis. Is that accurate enough?

    About global warming, you will never convince me that .04% of the atmosphere (CO2), assuming that man created ALL of it, which we know he did not, would have such a magnified effect on the climate. There were pictures recently taken of Jupiter showing how it has more turbulent storm activity, which was attributed to global warming. Hmm, if Jupiter is having global warming, it is not difficult to reach the conclusion that earth is suffering from global warming. But this must be from a nonhuman source, ie., the sun. Even if we are suffering from global warming, why get all torqued up about it? Because it will fundamentally alter our world? This has been happening since the formation of the earth. We cannot keep the earth from going through the changes it has always gone through, however the change is initiated.

    I never suggested that there is a conspiracy of evil, progressive liberal scientists. Again, unneccessary and dismissive hyperbole. I do think that people’s drives are innately formed by their worldviews. Someone with an atheistic worldview is going to look for vindications for their worldview and find what they are looking for. Ditto for someone with a theistic worldview, like me, and there will be no convincing me otherwise, especially by “Science”.

  49. John Kwok

    @ Andy Fox –

    As someone trained in science who is a registered Republican and a Deist, I must point that your dismissal of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is based on mere wishful thinking. There does exist ample, quite compelling, evidence that AGW has had a detrimental impact on Earth’s atmosphere not merely since the start of the Industrial Revolution, but, surprisingly, as far back as the first time that man began widespread agricultural cultivation. We need not relay solely on comparative planetology to find such well collaborated evidence.

    Respectfully yours,

    John Kwok

  50. TTT

    Whatever else you may say about these figures, it is unfortunate that they play directly into the culture war.

    You’re placing blame in the wrong direction. It is unfortunate that the right-wing created a culture war to attempt to legally codify its insecure anti-intellectual resentments.

  51. Erasmussimo

    Andy Fox, you make a distinction between observable and unobservable hypotheses. That distinction is specious; every hypothesis concerns phenomena that are in some manner observable and in some manner unobservable. For example, has anybody ever observed an atomic nucleus? No. But that doesn’t mean that the hypothesis of nuclear structure is unobservable; just ask the victims of Hiroshima about the reality of that hypothesis.

    “Observable” doesn’t mean “visible to the naked eye”; it means “measurable by any means, however indirect such means may be”. And while nobody has seen global climate change with their naked eye, scientists have produced many terabytes of measurements of the indirect effects of global climate change. Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. That’s ostrich-logic.

    You write: “I never suggested that there is a conspiracy of evil, progressive liberal scientists.”

    You earlier wrote: “But progressive liberal scientists, who almost always have an agenda, which includes, but is not limited to “How can I use my profession to get God out of the equation”, run wild with any data that could possibly support their agenda, and they continually make unjustified leaps in logic, because they have other people who share their agenda, and other people still who want to capitalize on their agenda, like politicians.”

    So are you arguing that you never suggested that there was a conspiracy of EVIL progressive liberal scientists? You certainly suggested some sort of conspiracy when you used the term “agenda” and suggested common action.

    You write: “you will never convince me that .04% of the atmosphere (CO2), assuming that man created ALL of it, which we know he did not, would have such a magnified effect on the climate.”

    If we were to inject enough nerve gas into the atmosphere to get its concentration up to 0.04%, we would annihilate all fauna on land, and possibly in the sea as well. Compounds do not have to be highly concentrated to have an effect. And you seem to overlook the fact that we’re talking about a tiny effect from that CO2: an increase in temperature of perhaps 5ºC over 100 years. If you want to bandy numbers about, I suggest that you actually carry out the calculations behind those numbers; why use common sense when you can use mathematics?

    “pictures recently taken of Jupiter showing how it has more turbulent storm activity, which was attributed to global warming”

    They ‘were attributed to global warming’ by global warming denialists, not planetary scientists. Jupiter generates vastly more heat internally than it receives from the sun. Jovian weather is driving up upwelling heat, not insolation.

    “This has been happening since the formation of the earth. We cannot keep the earth from going through the changes it has always gone through, however the change is initiated.”

    Indeed it has. But when the earth was much hotter than it is now, and the sea was much higher, we didn’t have a billion people living close to the seashore, and much of the land that now houses civilization was under water then. Do you find this acceptable?

  52. Erasmussimo

    Whoa, I missed this comment of yours, Andy Fox:

    “… there will be no convincing me otherwise, especially by “Science”.”

    You flatly reject rationalism. So tell me, what’s the point of even making comments here if you don’t believe in rational discussion? Do you expect to demonstrate to us that your faith is better than our rationalism? So far, you’re having the opposite effect.

  53. SLC

    Re Andy Fox

    About global warming, you will never convince me that .04% of the atmosphere (CO2), assuming that man created ALL of it, which we know he did not, would have such a magnified effect on the climate.

    Try breathing in air that has 380 parts/million hydrogen cyanide. Mr. Fox will find out in a hurry that even apparently small amounts can be deleterious to his health.

    By the way, for the edification of anyone still reading this thread, Mr. Fox has engaged in the logical fallacy of argument from personal incredulity. Mr. Fox doesn’t understand how 380 parts per million CO2 can cause global warming, therefore it ain’t happening.

    By the way, for Mr. Foxs’ information, only a very few scientists in the 1970s accepted the global cooling hypothesis.

  54. John Mashey

    Fred Singer & co recently mounted another petition campaign, this one for the American Physical Society, to et ti to replace it’s (vanilla) position on climate change with one that essentially declared null-an-void the last 30 years of climate research.

    This was an interesting list, because almost all have Physics PhDs, and some are quite distinguished. I Could find only 1 that looked like a real climate scientist,although there were lots of people in aerospace,astrophysics, nuclear physics, superconductors. About 7 months’ recruiting got them 206 (0.45% of the 47,000+ APS members).

    I did a detailed study of the petition effort, including who was involved, demographics of the signers, the social network, thinktank involvement. (Most of the 128 pages is backup, the key findings are in the first 20 pages, and for this topic, pages 14-15 on politics):

    http://www.desmogblog.com/another-silly-climate-petition-exposed

    Demographics (pages 12-16).
    Of the first 119, I found pretty good birth years, and 86% of them were born before 1950, about twice what you’d expect from APS membership.

    Of the total political donations 94% were to Republican+Libertarian, 6% to Democratic.

    Of the 47 people who made donations, 35 were (R+L only), 5 had both (R+L) + (D), and 7 were (D only). Local candidates can be fairly confusing.

    More clearly, of the 13 who gave to Presidential candidates in 2004 or 2008:

    13 gave to Bush’04 or McCain’08.
    0 gave to Kerry’04 or OBama’08

    I also mention conservatives who do *not* reject science. See especially the succinct comments by Peter Darbee, CEO of Pacific Gas & Electric.

  55. John Mashey

    re: #48 Andy Fox

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php has a nice list of long-debunked wrong memes, with a short general-audience description, and references to peer-reviewed journals. These wrong memes are created by a relatively small group of people, and repeated endessly, not for actual scientists, but to keep the public confused.

    This follows the disinformation methods pioneered by the tobacco industry in the 1950s, and in some cases, is used by some of the same organizations and people. If you can help keep getting kids addicted to nicotine, confusing people about climate is child’s play.

    Each wrong meme has a number, making it easy to just reference them, rather than debunk the same old arguments for the Nth time.

    See:
    CO2
    #42 CO2 effect is weak
    #34 There’s no empirical evidence that humans are causing global warming
    #26 Water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas
    #27 Human CO2 is a tiny % of CO2 emissions
    #62 Humans are too insignificant to affect global climate

    Jupiter (and planets in general)
    #47 Jupiter is warming
    #16 Mars is warming
    #46 Neptune is warming
    #49 Pluto is warming
    #24 Other planets are warming

    Alternatively, read a good general-audience book by a real climate scientist. My current favorite starter is David Archer’s “The Long Thaw”; I have a long review @ Amazon, including advice on whether or not somebody might be a legitimate expert. The first chapter explains the greenhouse effect fairly simply.

  56. SLC

    Physicist Fred Singer has also denied a link between CFCs and ozone depletion and a link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. Hardly, then, a reputable source of information on climate science.

  57. John Mashey

    re: SLC, yes, but there are plenty more.

    1) He was instrumental in 1983 in weakening action on acid rain [ae to releant panel by Reagan White House]. Also worked against auto emissions controls.

    2) Mercury is really not that bad.
    Go to http://www.sepp.org/, and search for:
    reducing harmful mercury

    (article by Singer ally Rob Ferguson (of SPPI & Monckon-land): Mercury is natural, fish are good, “The real danger to human health and life is advocacy alarmism. “)

    Did you somehow misread my post as thinking I was promoting Singer’s credibility? :-)
    See p.121 of that long paper I mentioned, which among other thins has links into menions of him in the Tobacco Archives. The Energizer Bunny of Anti-Science.

  58. Andy Fox

    Well, it has been sometime since I posted here. I have been very busy and I don’t have much time for this post. So much has happened since my last post.

    IPCC is shown to be an agenda-based organization, not an objective science commission. It makes wild unsubstantiated claims, and is intellectually dishonest. See the Himalaya glacier incident.

    Temperature stations that don’t exist are providing us wonderful evidence of global warming. See China. Or their results are cherry-picked. See Russia (link below).
    http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2009/12/17/new-study-hadley-center-and-cru-apparently-cherry-picked-russias-climate-data/

    Oh yeah, and of course we have climategate, which reveals that AGW scientists are not honorable and intellectually honest, but intent on proving their hypothesis, despite any contrary evidenc.

    And you wonder why Republicans are skeptical. It’s because we are not drinking the mind numbing cool aid that you sheeple are drinking.

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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