New Data: Tea Party is Authoritarian, Not Libertarian

By Chris Mooney | August 17, 2011 12:26 pm

The New York Times just ran an oped by social scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell, reporting on polling results about the Tea Party. This dovetails very closely with a discussion we’ve been having here, and provides additional evidence suggesting that this movement is not libertarian:

So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do.

More important, they were disproportionately social conservatives in 2006 – opposing abortion, for example – and still are today. Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics. And Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek “deeply religious” elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates. The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.

Libertarians, if they stand for anything, stand for less government interference in people’s lives–e.g., they are civil libertarians. So imposing religion on others is absolute anathema to them.

But authoritarians? Is that what they believe?

Again, let’s consult the expert, Robert Altemeyer. Here’s Altemeyer on authoritarianism and religion:

Authoritarians get a lot of their ideas about how people ought to act from their religion, and as we’ll see in chapter 4 they tend to belong to fundamentalist religions that make it crystal clear what they consider correct and what they consider wrong. For example these churches strongly advocate a traditional family structure of father-as-head, mother as subservient to her husband and caretaker of the husband’s begotten, and kids as subservient, period. The authoritarian followers who fill a lot of the pews in these churches strongly agree. And they want everybody’s family to be like that. (A word of advice, guys: check with your wives first.)

And here’s Altemeyer on how authoritarians view the out-group–other races, immigrants, etc. This quote is a little longer because it reports the results of a survey:

Here are some items from another scale. How would you respond to them on
a -4 to +4 basis?

1. There are entirely too many people from the wrong sorts of places being admitted into our country now.
2. Black people are, by their nature, more violent and “primitive” than others.
3. Jews cannot be trusted as much as other people can.
4. As a group, aboriginal people are naturally lazy, dishonest and lawless.
5. Arabs are too emotional, and they don’t fit in well in our country.
6. We have much to fear from the Japanese, who are as cruel as they are
ambitious.

I’ll bet you have figured out that I use these to measure prejudice. You may be taken aback however to discover that these prejudices usually show up bundled together in a person. But social psychologists found long ago that people who are prejudiced against one group are usually prejudiced against a whole lot more as well. Prejudice has little to do with the groups it targets, and a lot to do with the personality of the holder. Want to guess who has such wide-ranging prejudices? Authoritarian
followers dislike so many kinds of people, I have called them “equal opportunity bigots.”

Why do we confuse libertarianism with authoritarianism so much, when they are so different?

That’s a whole ‘nother post, and it goes to the heart of our inability to understand our own politics.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Psychology of Ideology

Comments (49)

  1. Mike H

    Ahhh .. nothing like seeing confirmation bias at its finest.

    The press, led by the spear’s tip of the NY Times, has used “Tea Party” as pejorative for nearly 2 years now and then, surprise surprise, they find that they as an organization are unpopular. Typical I suppose. The democrats and their liberal allies in the press have certainly done a good job at demonizing this group. I noticed that Putnam and Campbell didn’t, or more likely couldn’t, point to a single example of the Tea Party focusing on social issues.

    And was I the only who was puzzled by Campbell’s and Putnam’s claim that while Americans have moved in a more fiscally conservative direction over the past 5 years that none of these opinions are held by a majority of Americans? If you look at the specifics, Balanced Budget Amendment, cutting spending to lowering the deficit as opposed to raising taxes, etcetera the significant majorities of the public support the fiscal portions of the Tea Party’s agenda.

    I also think they drew the wrong conclusions from the McGovernites. The McGovernite faction of the Democrat Party may have lost in 72, but that had more to do with their embrace and advocacy of total defeat in Vietnam. The came roaring back in 74 and controlled congress for nearly 20 years.

  2. Jeff

    @Mike Sorry for the tit-for-tat, but unless I misunderstand your post, you’re suffering a bias yourself, promulgated by the media. As posted here and several other places, the vast majority (at least 60%) of Americans support the Democratic fiscal agenda of a balanced approach to deficit reduction, including letting the Bush tax cuts expire and closing corporate tax cut loopholes.

    Even Warren Buffet publicly stated that he’s not taxed enough, so where are you getting your statistics that majorities of Americans support the short sighted budget cutting the Tea Party is bullying into our politics?

    If I’ve misunderstood you, I apologize, but I read media misinformation in your post.

    If you’ve missed some of the latest Tea Party interferences in social issues, here’s a smattering for you:
    – DOMA and other similar definition-of-marriage-as-The-Bible-Says initiaves
    – Pushing religion into school teaching, including teaching religious-based concepts, such as creationism and ID, in the science classroom
    – Pushing for more God-speak in Washington
    – Lobbying for more taxes on the non-wealthy – If that’s not social engineering to keep “the masses” in control, I’ve never seen a better example
    – Lobbying to cut unemployment, welfare and student loan aid – again social engineering initiatives, especially when we know that the rich in America have a pathetically low tax bill in comparison to what they’ve earned from we fellow Americans
    – Lobbying to outlaw abortion
    – Lobbying (and THANK GOD failing) to stop the repeal of DADT

    I really hope I’ve misunderstood your post. :)

  3. mercurianferret

    Sounds like Mike H is the one suffering from “confirmation bias at its finest”. Almost everything in that post reads like it’s from FoxNews (you know, that bastion of “left-wing news media” /snark) It’s almost like he’s living in a Fox-skewed version of the reality that Jeff and I are living in.

  4. Mike H

    @ Jeff
    I don’t mind tit-for-tat, no need to apologize.

    The democrats don’t have a fiscal agenda, the president has been talking a big game for quite some time but didn’t reveal anything concrete during the recent debt ceiling debates. Oh well, I guess he get to it when he can take some time away from his pressing vacation schedule. The vast majority of Americans did not support the “balanced approach” to the debt ceiling debate. In fact, a vast plurality (44 to 22) thought the debt ceiling shouldn’t have been raised at all. If anything though, the polling data shows how little the public knows about what drives the defect and whose plan does what to reduce it.

    Warren Buffet is a little self serving on this one, don’t you think? He sells financial instruments to people looking to reduce their tax liabilities and if he want so put his money where his mouth is, surely he could just write the Treasury department a check.

    Because some individuals within the TP and some congressional critters talk about social issues, that doesn’t make it the focus the Tea Party in general. If you go to the website for any TP affiliate you would see that its dominated with financial issues. Go ahead, try it.

  5. Archwright

    @Mike our fiscal policies are out of whack. It’s true. Everyone has a different idea, which is fine. This is not the topic of this blog.

    The problem that I, and many others, have with some of the far-right candidates is that they are conflating social and economic conservatism. Bachmann, Romney and Perry have voiced strong anti-gay, anti-immigrant, pro-christian viewpoints. The Tea Party may at one point have called strictly for economic policy, but they–as with the a dizzying number of other Republicans–insist upon a conservative social agenda.

    This article has a liberal view point, but it speaks truth about Perry’s positions, his politics, and his failures. http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/06/10/241830/top-10-thing-texas-gov-rick-perry/

    At the end of your third paragraph, you mention a number of positions put forward by the freshman class of representatives. It is worth noting that not even they could come to a consensus about what should be done. If they were operating under a clear mandate from a majority of Americans, wouldn’t they have been able to form a consensus amongst themselves?

  6. kirk

    This can devolve into a discussion of who actually wrote Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. There is a population of people that is described above. There is a group that named itself – no one helped them do that – the Tea Party. The populations are similar but not identical; Frighteningly similar, Astoundingly similar and they behave (that’s the observable or empirical part of this post) almost the same across this admixture of populations. What they THINK matters less than what they DO. What they DO is elect a special class of Authoritarian mind to elected office.

  7. Nullius in Verba

    Well, the most glaring problem with this is that the term “authoritarian” has been redefined from its conventional meaning. But given how well this plays into what liberals want to believe, I doubt I’ll get anywhere arguing. And it’s too transparent a ploy to be worth making an effort for.

    So instead, I’ll present the survey on Climate Authoritarianism!
    Ta Da!

    Grade them from -4 strongly disagree to +4 strongly agree.

    1. The established scientific authorities generally turn out to be right about things, while the sceptics and deniers are usually just “loud mouths” showing off their ignorance.
    2. Non-scientists should have to promise to obey what the environmental protection authorities say.
    3. Our country desperately needs a mighty leader who will do what has to be done to destroy the denial machine and carbon pollution that are ruining the environment.
    4. Deniers and sceptics are just as rational and moral as anybody else.
    5. It is always better to trust the judgment of the proper authorities in government and science than to listen to the noisy rabble-rousers in our society who are trying to create doubt in people’s minds
    6. Deniers and others who have rebelled against the established sciences are no doubt every bit as good and virtuous as those who recycle and conserve energy regularly.
    7. The only way our country can get through the crisis ahead is to get back to our traditional sustainable practices, put some tough leaders in power, and silence the troublemakers spreading bad ideas.
    8. There is absolutely nothing wrong with coal-fuelled power stations.
    9. Our country needs free thinkers who have the courage to defy traditional ways, even if this upsets many people.
    10. Our country will be destroyed someday if we do not smash the deniers eating away at our moral fiber and traditional beliefs.
    11. Everyone should have their own lifestyle, beliefs on climate, and conservation preferences, even if it makes them different from everyone else.
    12. The “old-fashioned ways” and the “old-fashioned sustainable values” still show the best way to live.
    13. You have to admire those who challenged the law and the majority’s view by protesting for climate scepticism.
    14. What our country really needs is a strong, determined leader who will crush denial, and take us back to our true path.
    15. Some of the best people in our country are those who are challenging our government, criticizing the scientific establishment, and ignoring the “normal way things are supposed to be done.”
    16. Gore’s laws about light bulbs, air travel, and energy waste must be strictly followed before it is too late, and those who break them must be strongly punished.
    17. There are many contrarian, immoral people in our country today, who are trying to ruin it for their own greedy profit, whom the authorities should put out of action.
    18. A non-scientist should be wherever she wants to be. The days when non-scientists are submissive to scientists and social conventions belong strictly in the past.
    19. Our country will be great if we honor the ways of our pre-industrial forefathers, do what the authorities tell us to do, and get rid of the “rotten apples” who are ruining everything by burning fossil fuels.
    20. When it comes to caring for the environment (or not), there is no “ONE right way” to live life; everybody has to create their own way.
    21. Sceptics and deniers should be praised for being brave enough to defy the mainstream scientific establishment.
    22. This country would work a lot better if certain groups of troublemakers would just shut up and accept their group’s assigned place in society.

    Let us all know how you score. Same scoring scheme as Altemeyer’s.

  8. I have been a registered Libertarian for almost 30 years. I have held strongly since I first heard the term that the “Tea Party” movement is NOT Libertarian, but authoritarian. A simple look at a Nolan Chart will explain why — and everyone who is in any way politically involved should know what the Nolan Chart is. This constant coddling of the Tea Party by Libartarians makes us look bad to folk who would otherwise be our allies.

  9. The researchers would have saved themselves time by doing freshman level research starting by asking Libertarian leaders, who were first to warn of Tea Party tendencies . In the US Libertarian is trademarked, so unless they have it, they’re not Libertarians at least politically. Internationally proper use is noted by the LIO.

    Thanks for the article. For information on Libertarian and progressive work worldwide in voluntary solutions, see: the Libertarian International Organization @ http://www.Libertarian-International.org

  10. Chris Mooney

    Nullius
    I will let that go because you obviously put some work into it, and it is clever. But this is not a thread about global warming, and I’m deleting any global warming comments for being off topic.

  11. Hugo Schmidt

    If this is really the case then why are headcases like Ann Coulter whining that they cannot get TP support for banning gay marriage and so on?

  12. Mike H

    @ Rod O’Riley

    Who are these “folk who would otherwise be our allies”? Please dont tell me you are talking about “progressives” and liberals.

  13. Gil

    Chris,

    Why do you find it useful to criticize the tendencies of some members of the Tea Party movement, rather than the policies of that movement? If they are promoting libertarian policies today, rather than authoritarian ones that they also favor but are repressing, that seems like moral progess that we should be celebrating.

    It seems like you’re just exhibiting the same kind of out-group antipathy as the bigots you’re trying to associate with the Tea Party movement.

    I’m sure there are lots of groups promoting narrowly focused causes that you agree with that have members who have authoritiarian positions that you disagree with. I don’t think you would find it useful and enlightening to criticize the cause by pointing this out.

  14. Nullius in Verba

    #10,

    Sure. (And thanks!) I wasn’t really expecting anyone to take it seriously. It was intended satirically to make the (I hope) obvious point.

    Authoritarian and libertarian politics are opposing views on whether the society or the individual has the right to control what people do. The authoritarian believes society (usually as represented by the state) should control individuals for the common (and for their own) good. The libertarian believes the individual should, as far as possible, be able to do what they want, and that the only possible justification for society infringing on that liberty is to prevent them doing significant harm to others.

    On social and religious issues, the axis is neutral. It is possible to be an authoritarian and religious, or an authoritarian atheist, if you believe it is the duty of society to enforce or ban particular beliefs or practices. It is possible to be libertarian and religious, or libertarian and atheist, if you believe in freedom of religion and freedom of expression, that anybody can hold and speak in support or advocacy of any belief or unbelief they choose, so long as it doesn’t harm others against their will. In particular, it’s perfectly possible to be a libertarian and believe in a rigid moral system of absolute and unchangeable right and wrong, that people have a duty to follow certain practices and precepts, so long as participation in that belief is entirely voluntary.

    The defining distinction is that participation is entirely voluntary. I don’t know if you have a non-voluntary form of Christianity over in America, but if so I haven’t heard about it. So I’m somewhat dubious about claims that a belief in the moral authority of the New Testament is authoritarian. (There are other religions with more genuinely authoritarian views, but let’s not get into that. They’re not approved of by the Tea Party.)

    I had a look at that op ed – largely because I’m interested in seeing evidence on the subject. It seemed a bit peculiar – it cited a poll showing the Tea Party to be increasingly unpopular (although no less popular) to which one has to say: so what? It doesn’t say anything about being authoritarian, and nobody with any sense pays much attention to popularity polls in the modern political battlefield anyway. And it reports the results of a survey from 2006 on the political views of people who five years later would support the Tea Party, and discovered most of them were stereotype Republicans, with stereotype Republican opinions.

    Well yes, we know. That the Tea Party is associated with Republicanism is not news. However, correlation is not causation, and like the constant attempt to tie various undesirable characteristics with skin colour (it’s no less racist criticising whites than it is any other shade), the fact that two groups are correlated does not mean that one characteristic defines or causes the other. (And unless my knowledge of American history is completely awry, I didn’t think it was the Republicans who historically tended that way, anyway. For which party did Martin Luther King vote in 1956?)

    So apart from a vague complaint about people wanting to get God into government, and libertarians would have no more objection to that (so long as the Harm Principle is complied with) than they do any other set of political beliefs, I can’t see what support there is for the thesis. It appears to be innuendo and insinuation, trying to connect the Tea Party with racist godbotherers and the jackbooted minions of tyrants in the reader’s mind.

    Well good! If you’re all going to that much effort, the Tea Party must have really got you worried!

    As I illustrated with my satire above, it’s very obvious where the true authoritarians are. As you can see, it just depends what questions you ask in your survey.

  15. Incredulous

    I don’t get it. Altemeyer’s description of Authoritarians sounds indistinguishable from the liberal view of the ultra right republicans. Other than creating an additional scary sounding label to demonize the opposition with, what does it add? Seems silly to me.

    The reason the Libertarian name gets associated with the Tea Party is that when it was created, it was supporting Libertarian principles. Currently, it is instead controlled by people who came from the Republican base.

    Defectors from the Republican party saw it as a way to simultaneously push the Republicans further right and to defuse the Tea Party’s real power. They were worried that the Tea Party would take away from the voting base of the Republicans. Then they couldn’t compete with the Democratic party in big races.

    They assume that they will be able to shake things up by playing Tea Party members and then at the last minute vote Republican.

  16. Sean McCorkle

    Nullius@14
    So apart from a vague complaint about people wanting to get God into government, and libertarians would have no more objection to that (so long as the Harm Principle is complied with) than they do any other set of political beliefs

    Um…

    …In the United States of America, freedom from government-endorsed religion is one of the foremost of the civil liberties; it is explicitly denoted in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Anyone who would dismiss such an important freedom offhandedly is no libertarian. Such disregard is, in fact, authoritarian as detailed in chaper 4 of Altemeyer’s book.

  17. Sean McCorkle

    The defining distinction is that participation is entirely voluntary. I don’t know if you have a non-voluntary form of Christianity over in America, but if so I haven’t heard about it.

    It’s not supposed to happen, but it does. Quite a few organizations exist whose purpose in whole or in part is to combat episodes of establishment of religion in government in various forms. Time prohibits more thorough documentation, but a few examples that come immediately to mind:

    Americans United for the Separation of Church and State assistance of a family which wished not to be subjected to sectarian prayers at a public high school graduation (Note presidential candidate Rick Perry’s thoughts on that matter)

    The Military Religious Freedom Foundation combats widespread proselytization in the US military

    and perhaps you’ve missed the many episodes of creationism being taught in public school science classes in the last couple of decades

    Fortunately, the latter have all been (mostly) defeated, but the fact that organizations, such as the National Center for Science Education and the American Civil Liberties Union to name just two, have to continuously fight to enforce a law thats been in the Constitution for over 200 years is an indication of the pervasive drive to promote a religion to a captive audience (ie. students, servicemen)—a non-voluntary form of Christianity.

  18. Richard Stands

    No irony bells sounding for anyone?

    “All the Teapartiers is alike.”
    “Just like all them…”

    Oops.

    Certainly there are trends and averages in any group, but the larger the group, the more likely the error in generalization. What are all Tea Partiers like? What are all Progressives like? All Conservatives? All White People? All Black People? All Muslims? All Christians? All Men? All Women? All humans?

    Talk about competing messages, values, and narratives – and I’m interested. Ascribe qualities to large groups, and I tend to ignore it like any other “ism”.

  19. Nullius in Verba

    #17,

    On the US $1 bill it says “In God we trust”. The last sentence of the oath of allegiance is “so help me God”, and in the pledge it is one nation under God. Politicians speak of how victims of tragedy are in our prayers, the virtues of charity and, when it suits them, turning the other cheek.
    God is already in government.

  20. bad Jim

    The presidential oath, in fact, does not include “so help me God”, and, as far as is known, the strictly constitutional version was used until the twentieth century, with the sole exception of Chester Arthur.

    I’ve been sworn in as a witness in a number of depositions and have yet to be prompted to utter that phrase. My experience is limited to California.

    “Under God” was added to the pledge of allegiance in 1954, making a mess of the phrase “one nation indivisible” which was originally aimed directly at the surviving secessionists, the pledge having been written when memories of the Civil War were still fresh.

    It’s perhaps not entirely beside the point that, while the preamble to the U.S. Constitution is militantly secular, “We the people” being entirely responsible for its contents, the Confederate constitution added “invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God”, a sentiment the founders thought unnecessary.

  21. Solitha

    “In God We Trust” was added to US currency after the Civil War. http://www.treasury.gov/about/education/Pages/in-god-we-trust.aspx

    Nullius, apparently you’re not here on the main grounds of where all this is taking place. In your discussion of the axis of libertarianism along religious lines, you miss where the Tea Party is clashing.

    They preach political libertarianism, but they practice religious authoritarianism. They want the government out of everyone’s lives… except for morality. In that, the Tea Party wants their fingers in everyone’s pie. No LGBT rights. No abortion. Teaching Creationism in schools, and attempting to get Evolution taken out.

    In other words, liberty for all, unless it offends a Christian.

  22. Sean McCorkle

    Nullius@21

    I didn’t mention the currency issue because “under God” could be taken as part of the broader, Abrahamic families of monotheism, rather than specifically Christianity/New Testament (although its inclusion was almost certainly driven by Christians). Solitha and bad Jim correctly note that the currency and the Pledge inclusions were more recent developments. They seem pretty clear violations of the establishment clause of the First Amendment. However, legal challenges to remove the phrase from both have not been successful, with courts saying that such repeated monotonous usage has deadened their religious significance over time and they are now traditional parts of culture, and their use don’t constitute government establishment of a religion (I, along with many others, disagree with that).

    Regarding politicians speaking in religious terms, the First Amendment also guarantees the free exercise of religion. A politician, like any citizen, has a right to their own religious beliefs, and while it may not be exactly appropriate to use religious terms when speaking officially, if its an off-the-cuff remark, speaking from the heart, it probably doesn’t constitute establishment or endorsement of a religion and thus could arguably be protected by the FA (depends on the particular context, though).

    There is a tension between the two clauses, establishment, and free exercise, and there’s a tricky balance that must be struck between the two, and it is quite dynamic. Robert Boston does a nice job detailing this in “Why the Religious Right is Wrong about Separation of Church and State”. Courts must decide continually decide, again and again, whether or not a particular government practice is one or the other. Thats one of the reasons why the issue is not always clearly cut.

    The First Amendment, on freedom of religion, is about as libertarian as you can get: everyone is free to believe as they choose, and the government can’t force a particular religious belief on anyone. Who could have a problem with that? Authoritarians, thats who. The dynamic at play in the US culture wars is authoritarian vs libertarian. The former want to impose their religion on the mainstream, in the face of constitutional law. The libertarians resist but don’t always win every battle, though they do represent the American spirit at its best.

  23. ╦heBigo╦

    The authoritarians are both on the left and right, especially the left. The belief on the left from foundations such as the FFRF (Freedom From Religion Foundation) is that every govt involvement on religion violates the 1st Amendment. Some on the right want to directly impose religion via legislation. While the left directly wants to remove religion from the public and private sphere via legislation.

    The 1st Amendment only states “Congress shall make no law respecting AN establishment of religion, or prohibiting the exercise there of;” This only means govt cant tell you what religion to follow and not to follow or having an established religion like the U.K does.

    he confusion or dishonesty begins on the false notion of a “separation of church and state” in the constitution when the phrase can’t be found no where. This notion comes from a private ( key word ) letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist. Mises goes into great detail on this http://blog.mises.org/10342/re-establishing-peace-and-good-order/

  24. Hugo Schmidt

    Richard,

    Quite right. I think it is very hard to exaggerate the class resentment in the US, and how much the ruling class snobbery has in common with old fashioned racialist bigotry.

  25. vel

    Mike, the Tea Party calls itself that. The NYT is callign them what they call themselves, nothing more. And let’s see social issues that the Tea Party focuses on, immigration, gay marriage, shall I name more? It seems that yet one more Tea Party member has a selective memory.

  26. Nullius in Verba

    I note what you’re saying about some of these statements having been added. Although my point was that they were there, not that they were original.

    “They want the government out of everyone’s lives… except for morality. In that, the Tea Party wants their fingers in everyone’s pie. No LGBT rights. No abortion. Teaching Creationism in schools, and attempting to get Evolution taken out.”

    Do they? I’ve had a look at some of their material, and none of that is prominent – if it’s even mentioned at all. It is a part of the Republican platform, but not specifically the Tea Party.

    Neither am I convinced that they are specifically authoritarian. I haven’t come across anyone for ages suggesting no LGBT rights. I understood the argument was about marriage, which historically is a religious rite, defined in religious terms. You can’t redefine somebody else’s religion for them to make specific rites within it conform to your own beliefs. It would be like telling the Muslims that henceforth they had to accept Muslims who drank alcohol and worshiped idols as true Muslims.

    Secular rights and benefits that the government chooses to attach to the religious institution of marriage it can of course bestow elsewhere, under another name. But you can’t tell them that your secular marriage is the same thing as their traditional religious marriage, because that would indeed be government interfering with people’s religious beliefs.

    (Personally, I’m not bothered by LGBT. But if you want to understand how others feel about it, try extending the same argument to abstaining paedophiles. Can a forty year old man marry a six year old girl, as his second wife? Some people think so; it may give you some insight into the religious right’s worldview to think about it. In a culture-neutral and objective sense, there’s no significant difference.)

    The abortion debate is not an authoritarian/libertarian argument, it’s an argument about whether abortion constitutes harm done to another. It’s not even a specifically religious one – the argument either way can be made entirely without reference to religion. The problem is there are no sharp boundaries in nature, as law requires, so the point at which a fetus/person acquires rights is a fuzzy one.

    And from an authoritarian/libertarian viewpoint, teaching creationism and excluding evolution is no more nor less authoritarian than teaching evolution and excluding creationism. It’s a question of which one believes to be true and scientific, not one of whether society has the right to force a particular choice between the two on schools/children.

    This one is a specifically religious one, though, so you can argue it on grounds of separation of church and state. It might also be possible to argue it on harm grounds, if teaching one or the other damaged children’s job prospects. (Or, if you want to take the other view, their morals and immortal souls.)

    A libertarian viewpoint on the issue would be that children have the right to believe what they choose, even if it causes them harm, and that if they are considered not to have the capacity to make an informed choice, in our society it is generally the parents rather than the state who exercise their rights on their behalf. (e.g. for a doctor to operate on a child, she needs the parent’s permission, not the state’s.) The state as part of its educational role can require children to understand evolution and apply the theory, in exams for state qualifications, but it cannot require belief in evolution. This is much the same as lessons on different religious systems requires understanding of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, etc. but not a belief in them. Understanding is a part of being able to make an informed decision.

    That said, my view is that if schools taught science properly, religious people would be begging them not to allow them to use Creationism as an example in science class, because the Genesis story would last about ten minutes up against genuine scientific scepticism.

    But I keep being told that teaching scientific method is impractical, and science has to be taught by authority, which is why teaching Creationism with that same authority would be so dangerous. That’s a whole other argument, though.

    It’s not my intention to argue the case for evangelists – I disagree strongly with them. My main issue was with redefining the word “authoritarian” to mean something much less serious, and something a lot of liberals do too (as I demonstrated above), for the sake of a transient political smear job. I don’t call argument from authority “authoritarian”, for all that I find it annoying. All the mud-slinging condemns itself, you can go right ahead with that, but please don’t mess with the language.

  27. abb3w

    Nullius in Verba, coming up with a scale of your own is fine; however, you don’t have 30 years of research to back up the existence of empirical correlations between the results of the scale’s measurements and other observed traits.

    While it’s philosophically the case that authoritarian and libertarian politics are opposing views, anthropologically I’m less convinced about it. In particular Altemeyer writes about two different authoritarian metrics (oversimplifying, follower and leader); while I would expect most who self-identify as Libertarian are low on the RWA metric, I suspect most are high on the SDO metric. (Google Scholar doesn’t turn up any attempt to check that conjecture directly, although there’s some studies suggestive on those lines.)

    Incredulous: what Altemeyer’s RWA metric adds is an empirical metric, which has shown correlations to other empirical metrics. (It also fixes a couple technical problems with the predecessor scale Adorno developed; but I presume that’s not what you were asking.) Correlation isn’t causation; however, correlation is still useful.

  28. abb3w

    Oh, there’s also some interestingly odd data about the Tea Party in (doi: 10.1177/1536504211408945), which somewhat supports the thesis that Tea Party supporters tend authoritarian in some respects. That sample did indicate among the Tea Party supporters some libertarian inclinations on expression generally, but not on some touchstone issues like flag burning.

  29. Nullius in Verba

    #29,

    It’s not a scale of my own. It’s exactly the same scale from a personality-type point of view, but with the context of the examples and situations switched from their anti-conservative slant. All I did was go through each existing question of Altemeyer’s scale and construct the analogous question in a debate where most liberals are “authoritarian”, by Altemeyer’s definition.

    I was making a two-fold point: first, that it is a sufficiently normal condition that many liberals suffer from it as well, and second, it demonstrates how Altemeyer’s scale is politically slanted by the choice of context for the questions.

    All Altemeyer has done is picked out examples of political tribalism he finds annoying, devised a scale to measure them, given it an inappropriate but scary name to associate the target group with dictatorships in the reader’s mind, and called it science. It’s a standard propaganda technique – and transparently done, at that.

    The Tea Party is a case where many Republicans, who are not generally libertarian, have picked up a particular subset of libertarian policies and liked them – and the Tea Party is defined by support for those libertarian policies, irrespective of what else any of them believes. So yes, it’s not a big surprise that Tea Party supporters hold non-libertarian beliefs on issues outside that defining subset.

    But the chain from the Tea Party, to its voters, through a five-year-old survey of their former views, to a transparently political anti-conservative connection of Republican tribalism to argument from authority, to a mis-use of the word “authoritarian” to refer to this, back to the word’s original meaning of supporting government coercion over individual freedom – all to demonstrate that the Tea Party secretly stands for the diametrical opposite of what it says – well, it’s a remarkable construction.

    Trying to connect the Tea Party to statements like “2. Black people are, by their nature, more violent and “primitive” than others.” and “3. Jews cannot be trusted as much as other people can.” is just unpleasant, though. (Especially after going on about “white” people. You’ll note prejudice against whites is not tested for.)

    Nevertheless, given how well this plays into what liberals want to believe, I doubt I’ll get anywhere arguing. Just one more shot fired in the culture wars.

  30. s lee

    @Nullius in Verba

    Thank you for being a voice of reason. You stated what I believed much more succinctly and patiently than I ever could.

    It is “research” like this from Altemeyer that perpetuate a climate of us versus them in America politics where we focus on all the fringe issues when there are so many more pressing problems we could be discussing and addressing. It’s not surprising that we cannot have a civil discourse when every other group is blanket painting the opposing side as neanderthals and idiots.

    And yes, I think that DOMA, Evolution, AGW, Abortion are fringe issues. We as a country should be more worried about our domestic monetary and fiscal policies, international diplomacy and near-non stop militarism and intervention in overseas countries. These are the things that matter right now.

  31. Sean McCorkle

    Nullius,

    My main issue was with redefining the word “authoritarian” to mean something much less serious, and something a lot of liberals do too (as I demonstrated above), for the sake of a transient political smear job.

    Okay, fine. Back in the days before psychology, I believe the term used was “tyrannical”, and also “tyranny of the masses”. This was very much on the minds of the framers of the Constitution (real libertarians).

    It might also be possible to argue it on harm grounds, if teaching one or the other damaged children’s job prospects.

    This is the elephant in the room and it should be underscored. Teaching a child misinformation, keeping them in ignorance, and sowing confusion does them harm—possibly great harm. It inhibits understanding and can perpetuate problems throughout the rest of their lives. Depending on the severity, it can stunt their intellectual development. Far beyond job prospects, it can curtail their ability to function as happy, independent members of society. It is very much counter to the principle of unhindered access to knowledge that we have enjoyed since the Enlightenment.

    And from an authoritarian/libertarian viewpoint, teaching creationism and excluding evolution is no more nor less authoritarian than teaching evolution and excluding creationism. It’s a question of which one believes to be true and scientific, not one of whether society has the right to force a particular choice between the two on schools/children.

    Replacing science with a myth, then claiming that the myth is science, is teaching misinformation and keeping the child ignorant, and therefore is causing harm. It will not lead to understanding. It is not a libertarian act, not by any stretch of the imagination.

    This one is a specifically religious one, though, so you can argue it on grounds of separation of church and state.

    Exactly right. This is how the courts have protected us from the creationists. From the National Center for Science Education website:

    Application of the most widely used legal test, known as Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971), to the practice of teaching creationism in public schools has found it unconstitutional. See Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987). Under Lemon, if a practice has a) a religious purpose, b) the effect of advancing religion, or c) it causes or necessitates entanglement of church and state officials to administer it, the practice violates the Establishment Clause.

    By the way, it has been noted many times by those speaking out against creationism in the science classroom (and I believe its been tested in courts, but don’t have any background references handy) that teaching a creation myth in the context of a social studies or a comparative religions class is an appropriate part of a public education and is perfectly legal, provided that a specific religion, sect or belief isn’t being endorsed. What makes segments of fundamentalism and evangelism (dominionism and reconstructionism) tyrannical is their refusal to be treated equally as one belief among many in the public sector. Instead they insist that their specific mythological worldview be the dominant in the culture, to the extreme that it even overrides science and reality or evidence-based reasoning itself, and that it be established and maintained by branches of the government. This is not a libertarian goal.

  32. Nullius in Verba

    #33,

    “I believe the term used was “tyrannical”, and also “tyranny of the masses”.”

    That’s still changing the meaning. Letting people choose voluntarily to follow an authority is not the same as compelling it.

    “Teaching a child misinformation, keeping them in ignorance, and sowing confusion does them harm—possibly great harm.”

    Arguably so. And I’d say failing to teach enough science in science class that students can figure out the answer on their own is far worse harm than tolerating a relatively harmless and unimportant superstition. So why do you allow it? Dumbing down, teaching by authority, and a fifth of the kids coming out illiterate and innumerate… It’s a terrible waste, and one the state has participated in for decades.

    But the libertarian position is that people have a right to consent to such harm. You can’t do harm to others, without their consent, but over one’s own mind and body the individual is sovereign. You cannot force something else on them “for their own good”. That’s what freedom of belief is about.

    Every tyranny believes itself to be good. They choose for other people for the sake of the common good, or for people’s own good; because people would only make the “wrong” choices if left to themselves. They might even be correct. It’s still tyranny.

    “Replacing science with a myth, then claiming that the myth is science, is teaching misinformation”

    Only if you’re right. What right do you have to decide for other people what is true and false? How can you be certain? Why do you think the Enlightenment talked about allowing all points of view a hearing? Why do you suppose science does?

    If they taught science in science class, anybody could go through the Genesis story and rip it apart. But they don’t teach science; they teach “scientists say…” and “the experts say…” and you learn not to question.

    The reason the beliefs persist is not because they’re taught in school – they’d be taught it at home or in church – but that either nobody is giving them the mental tools to test for and recognise such junk, or they choose not to use them as is their right. And if Americans really cannot tell the difference between a Bronze Age tribal creation myth and plausible reality without being told the answer, you’re in a sorry state indeed.

  33. Daniel J. Andrews

    What right do you have to decide for other people what is true and false?

    “The great thing about science is that it’s true, whether you believe it or not” – Neil de Grasse Tyson

  34. Nullius in Verba

    #35,

    The great thing about science is that anybody can check to see if it is true.

  35. Sean McCorkle

    Nullius@34

    I’m quite okay with presenting creationism as an example of non-science for the learning experience, in a similar sense as presenting the progressive history of geocentric to heliocentric models in an astronomy class. However, this is not what the creationists want; they want it taught in lieu of evolution, or at least on equal terms as evolution.

    … You can’t do harm to others, without their consent …

    This is exactly the issue. Creationists are perpetually trying to force their misguided nonsense, beyond their own families, on to everyone else’s children. That is the authoritarian/tyrannical aspect which is so objectionable.

    And if Americans really cannot tell the difference between a Bronze Age tribal creation myth and plausible reality without being told the answer, you’re in a sorry state indeed.

    On this, the statistics are alarming to say the very least. I share your outrage; I’m very proud my country but deeply worried about what appears to be increasing polarization along anti-intellectual lines, and I don’t think I’m the only one. I daresay one of the raisons d’être of this blog is to address this very issue.

    If they taught science in science class, anybody could go through the Genesis story and rip it apart.

    This is what we want; this is the goal. But we are very far from it, and the question is how to get there from here.

    Part of the problem (but only part) is the obstructionism in the school boards that I’ve been describing. As Eugenie Scott of NCSE has pointed out many times, unlike in other countries, schools in the U.S. are under control of either state or local boards, which have seats that are often occupied by creationists. That wreaks a lot of havoc right there. Beyond that, there are broader social resistances. Many teachers end up avoiding bringing up evolution at all just to avoid controversy in the classroom.
    Its even worse than what you’re saying, that teachers are not teaching the scientific method of understanding, but simply teaching from authority. Many are not even teaching the material at all!.

    Only if you’re right. What right do you have to decide for other people what is true and false?

    There are many subjects where I can agree with you on this, for example historical or cultural perspectives. But evolution is not one of them.

    How can you be certain?

    Evidence. Lots of it.

    @36
    The great thing about science is that anybody can check to see if it is true.

    Apparently at least three of the current GOP presidential candidates don’t appear to be interested in doing that.

  36. Nullius in Verba

    “Creationists are perpetually trying to force their misguided nonsense, beyond their own families, on to everyone else’s children. That is the authoritarian/tyrannical aspect which is so objectionable.”

    I can’t claim any great knowledge on this, but for the few I’ve met, their main objection has been to their children being taught evolution rather than creationism in school. While they might not be happy at the way the rest of society is going, they recognise that they can’t demand the responsibility for their own children’s education if they don’t acknowledge the same right for others. Christianity has been a voluntary affair for a very long time now. If it is to be extended any further, that’s only because the educational system as it is currently set up doesn’t allow any half-measures. You may know different – and if you do, I won’t argue – but I haven’t seen it.

    “Many teachers end up avoiding bringing up evolution at all just to avoid controversy in the classroom.”

    The link says: “The survey, published in the Jan. 28 issue of Science, found that some avoid intellectual commitment by explaining that they teach evolution only because state examinations require it, and that students do not need to “believe” in it.” That, I would suggest, is the correct answer. Assuming freedom of belief is taken seriously, that is.

    “There are many subjects where I can agree with you on this, for example historical or cultural perspectives. But evolution is not one of them.”

    There are no exceptions. Giving people the evidence to make that judgement for themselves is our primary safeguard against error: it’s the reason why we should believe in science; it is the reason why science is fundamentally different from all other belief systems. The more important the science, the more important it is not to cheat people of those reasons for confidence in science. Skimp and short-cut by all means on areas where things are not controversial, but the controversies are precisely where you should pay the most attention to rigorous application of scientific principles.

    “Evidence. Lots of it.”

    Good! So if you’ve got lots of evidence, why settle for the vastly inferior products of authority and censorship? Don’t decide for them what’s right and wrong, showing them only what you choose, forcing them to trust your judgement on the matter. They won’t, and it weakens your case enormously.

    “Apparently at least three of the current GOP presidential candidates don’t appear to be interested in doing that.”

    That’s their choice. People have the right to be wrong. Argue with them, by all means. It’s not as if you didn’t think the GOP candidates were wrong about lots of things – that’s what politics is about. In a civilised society, we sometimes need to be able to agree to disagree.

    The important thing, though, is that they can check if they choose.

  37. Let’s consider a critical issue having to do with “Authoritarianism” vs “Libertarianism” vs “Religious Authoritarianism” which no one seems to be discussing. Members of the Republican Party– driven initially by the Evangelicals, but now almost every Republican– has waged a relentless and vicious attack on the right of American women to obtain a safe, legal abortion. There can be no question that in this situation these “Christian” activists believe that their RELIGIOUS beliefs give them the AUTHORITY to circumvent Federal Law and deprive thousands of women access to safe, affordable, and legal abortions. They’ve been so driven to deny women this right, that they are now blocking tens of millions of women access to low-cost reproductive services.

    Am I the only one who thinks that these religious authoritarians who are now being elected to more and more elected government positions pose a frightening threat to those who don’t share their religious views?

    Maybe you aren’t interested in this particular issue because it doesn’t concern you. But once these religious authoritarians have control of our Federal and State governments (and the Supreme Court?), what “immoral” rights will they want to take away next?

    Whether or not one views abortion as murder is a personal (and usually religion-based) belief. It is not supported by all other religions and it is refuted by the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, these anti-abortion zealots have carried out relentless and vitriolic attacks on pregnant women who seek a legal abortion and the medical personnel who provide them. This is clearly the actions of authoritarians who believe that they have the right/responsibility to stop abortions because they KNOW that THEY are right and the law is wrong.

  38. Belief in corporate personhood is the catalyst that converts a libertarian into a fascist.

  39. Nullius in Verba

    #39,

    Well, I can certainly see you feel strongly about it. I know people who get just as angry about the government banning people smoking, or eating improperly-labelled cheesecake, so I can certainly understand it.

    I’m curious, though. Did you notice that you contradicted everything you said earlier at the start of your final paragraph?

    #40,

    I’ve no idea even what that means.

  40. I’ve been blogging on this topic since tea parties began, and while “libertarianism” projects the individual as supreme authority over itself, that is actually just one step away from elevating the self as supreme authority over another. Autocrats begin as libertarians — all tyrants talk about f”freedom,” by which they mean “my freedom to tell you what to do.”

  41. Nullius in Verba

    #42,

    This is an interesting approach: redefining a philosophy as its complete opposite by simply asserting it. It’s sort of like saying a monotheist is one step away from being an atheist. I’m really not clear on how it is supposed to work, though.

    When Chris tried it, he did at least have a sort of chain of argument that if you squinted your eyes up and didn’t look too closely at it, did at least make some sort of vague connection. But #40 and now this one don’t even bother with that. It comes out like a slogan; giving no argument as if it expects none to be needed. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

    The unexpanded contradictions do give it a slightly Zen-like air of profundity, but I don’t see the effect of your koan lasting more than a few seconds. One can’t help thinking, which particular autocrats would those be? Stalin? A bit of a left-winger. Mussolini? Communist. Hitler? Flirted with Communism before sticking at Socialism. Pol Pot? Mao? Kim Jong Il? Castro? Famous Libertarians, were they? I’m struggling here.

    It is true that some autocrats start off claiming to be liberal, and many have claimed that the good of the people justifies them bossing people about, for their own good. But I don’t think they’re actually liberal; they just say it to disarm people’s concerns. However, so few people know what a libertarian really is that I don’t see that there’s much advantage to them claiming to be one for propaganda purposes. And I think the same applies here.

    There’s more than a little justification to the claim that a substantial number of libertarians can be a bit angry and obsessive, and they do have some strange ideas about economics, but autocrats and authoritarians they’re not. They just want everyone to be free.

    I wonder why you’re all so opposed to that?

  42. ╦heBigo╦

    The idea that “all tyrants begin by talking about freedom” is a myth. They talk about “equality” instead. It’s always about equal income, equal opportunity with equal outcome. equal education and Govt freebies such as health care.

  43. AM

    @╦heBigo╦ Says:

    Oh really? Do the names Ian Smith or Augusto Pinochet mean anything to you?

    Even though I probably hold views to the left of most commentators on the blog I have to question the idea that rightists, wether racist, conservative or libertarians, think differently than us anti-racist, feminist and queer eco-socialists.

    First of all, shouldn’t libertarians be considered hateful and biased as well? I haven’t met a single one in my life who didn’t despise poor people. Some self-proclaimed “progressive libertarians” have actually told me that the state should let the unemployed, and even thier children, starve to death, or that the right to vote should be distributed to citizens according to what they pay in taxes. How can the wish to see a vilified group, “lazy people” in this case, die NOT be an expression of bias and extremist hate?

    Secondly, how do my perceptions of US Republicans, UK Tories or the Swedish Democrats in my own country differ from Rick Perry’s views on the poor, LGBT-people or African Americans? Not at all! I sincerely hate and despise the GOP and all it’s voters. My psychology is just the same as that of any random teabagger. The only real difference might be that I think my views are infinitely more rational. People that I hate can easily turn into people I love or at least respect, they just have show some f-g morals and start caring for others. They don’t have to give up their religious beliefs, work in a sweat-shop, change their skin-color or their sexual orientation.

    Pretending that the mind of a liberal works in a different way than that of a conservative is just plain silly. Voting for the Democrats makes you right, and possibly a better person – defenitivly not sane. What is the scientific proof for the “conservative mind”?

  44. ╦heBigo╦

    @ AM
    I don’t buy any of that garbage from self proclaimed ” anti racist, feminist, eco-socialist” because I have seen first hand how your social policies have the unintended consequences of actually hurting your protected groups. For the record, I am a libertarian Hispanic so if your Swedish self uses the ” your a racist card” then it won’t work on me.

    I find it ironic that a Swede like yourself ( and I’m assuming you are one by your second paragraph) is typing about the hate of others such as conservatives, libertarians and “teabaggars”, when you yourself hate these groups of people!. Now I myself don’t like Swedes, not hate Swedes since hate is a far stronger more powerful sentiment and word, to me they come across as too wishy-washy and bland.

    But here is all you need to read. http://mises.org/daily/2190 and http://mises.org/daily/955 and finally http://mises.org/daily/4936

  45. Nullius in Verba

    #45,

    Do you have any evidence that either of those two started as Libertarians?

    Libertarians do not despise poor people. Poor people who work hard, entrepreneurs doing everything they can to get themselves out of poverty, are greatly admired. Those that succeed, more so. I’m guessing from the way “poor people” transforms into “lazy people” later on in your paragraph that what they were actually criticising was welfare looters, and that your philosophy equates somebody who does nothing and contributes nothing but demands to be well paid for it to “the poor”. That those who work hard to earn money should hand it over to those who don’t, in exchange for being hated and insulted, for no other reason than that you have money and they need it.

    Charity and safety nets are admirable, and nobody I know of wants anybody to starve, but the former should be voluntary and the latter not relied on more than absolutely necessary.

    I’m guessing the rest is similarly misinterpreted, or that you’ve met some people who claim to be libertarian but who aren’t.

    Everybody thinks they themselves are rational. It doesn’t mean they are.

  46. AM

    Do you have any evidence that either of those two started as Libertarians?

    They took power, with the help of the GOP (among others) to fight communism and defend the free market. Sounds fiscally conservative to me what do you say?

    “Everybody thinks they themselves are rational. It doesn’t mean they are.”

    Exactly, maybe you should take a look on how easy it actually is to succeed in a country where people without rich parents have to pay enormous amounts of money to go to college or where an accident or an injury can lead to a life in debt? There is a reason that social climbing is practically nil in the US and the rest of the neo-liberal anglo-saxon world. But I guess that everyone who has ever been on welfare is a smoocher and a lazy low-life? Someone who shouldn’t have too much and doesn’t suffer enough already in today’s world? Well in that case you just confirmed my entire point. Conservatives hate black atheist lesbians, libertarians hate poor people whenever they point out your hypocritical thinking on personal merits and demand not to work in sweat-shops or have access to basic health-care. The rest of us hate your inhuman views on poverty. We all work the same way psychologically, isn’t it marvelous!

  47. Nullius in Verba

    “Sounds fiscally conservative to me what do you say?”

    I say fiscal conservatism is not equal to libertarianism.

    “maybe you should take a look on how easy it actually is to succeed in a country where people without rich parents have to pay enormous amounts of money to go to college or where an accident or an injury can lead to a life in debt?”

    I didn’t have rich parents. My grandfather was an agricultural labourer. I succeeded on my own, and paid back all the debts years ago. It takes hard work, but it’s far from impossible.

    Social climbing is very common in the US, with one of the greatest numbers of self-made millionaires in the world. The number of millionaires has roughly doubled in the past ten years, less than 10% of them having inherited it, and less than 2% of their total wealth being inherited.

    “But I guess that everyone who has ever been on welfare is a smoocher and a lazy low-life?”

    No. (And the word is “moocher”.) A limited amount of short-term welfare for those in genuine need can act as a safety net, and allow people facing temporary set-backs to survive and get back into productive activity. That’s an investment well worth paying for – although there’s no particular reason the government has to run it. Before the welfare state, “friendly societies” managed the job reasonably well.

    We are not saying people without money are lazy, we are saying that people who only don’t have money because they are lazy or incompetent shouldn’t be given it for free. It’s a terrible waste of their lives and talents, too.

    “hypocritical thinking on personal merits and demand not to work in sweat-shops or have access to basic health-care.”

    The point of a sweat shop is to reduce operating costs to the point where even the least skilled labour can produce enough to supply their needs – and as such is a fantastic aid to the poor. Sweat shops are one of the most successful ways by which unskilled people have got out of poverty, and one of the biggest drivers of wealth creation and the enormous recent advances of the developing economies. They have done far more to alleviate poverty than welfare ever has, or could.

    You are welcome to “demand” what you want – but what are you going to give back in exchange? Health care costs the time and effort of other people. Would you study hard for 15 years to get a good education, study another 7 years for a medical degree – one of the most demanding there is – only to be told when you come out that you have to work 50 hours a week for no pay because somebody “demands” basic health care, and has no ability or intention to pay for it – no skills or assets with which to give a fair exchange? Isn’t the inevitable result that nobody goes to all the effort to become doctors, and you’re even less likely to get health care?

    Do you simply want others to be obliged to work and give what they earn to you, with no obligation on your part to do any work or give the same back for the benefit of others? That’s your idea of a higher morality? A lack of hypocrisy?

    I have an easy answer to your “demand”. Go and learn to be a doctor. Then you can treat yourself for free, and afford to work where you like.

    Or alternatively, be honest about what you’re doing, and simply steal it from other people.

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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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