REALITY HAS A WELL KNOWN LIBERAL BIAS…. If you haven’t seen it, the Pew Research Center’s report on scientists and politics really is fascinating. There’s plenty to chew on, but the political views of scientists themselves were of particular interest.
Pew surveyed more than 2,500 scientists, conducted in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which offered a pretty strong sample size. The survey found that more than half (55%) of the scientists identified themselves as Democrats, and nearly as many (52%) call themselves liberal. What’s more, “Many of the scientists surveyed mentioned in their open-ended comments that they were optimistic about the Obama administration’s likely impact on science.”
Only 9% of the scientists, meanwhile, consider themselves conservative, while fewer still (6%) identified themselves as Republicans. It’s just speculation, but the party’s hostility towards the basics of modern biology, global warming, and evidence-based reasoning may have something to do with this. Call it a hunch.
Kevin Drum argued the results can serve multiple agendas: “Democrats now have quantitative backup for their sneers about Republicans being anti-science. Likewise, Republicans now have quantitative backup for their sneers about scientists just being a bunch of liberal shills who aren’t to be trusted on questions like climate change and evolution. We all win!”
Elsewhere in the same poll, I was pleased to see that Americans in general have favorable opinions of professional scientists. In fact, “only members of the military and teachers are more likely to be viewed as contributing a lot to society’s well-being.”
The news was less encouraging on the chasm between scientists and the rest of the public on science-related beliefs. Only 32% of the general population, for example, thinks that living things “have evolved due to natural processes,” while 87% of scientists believe that (the remaining 13% may have misunderstood the question). Just under half of the general population believes the planet is “getting warmer because of human activity,” while 84% of scientists agree with the statement.