American scientists are mostly Democrats, with almost no Republicans. Is this lack of diversity a problem?

December 10, 2020 • 9:45 am

A letter to the editor appeared in the latest issue of Nature, decrying the political uniformity of scientists (click on screenshot below to access though I’ve put up the whole thing). And the link to the Nature poll described in the letter’s  first line is here, but the survey was not of Americans but of Nature readers from throughout the world.

However, there’s no doubt that, among American scientists, Democrats still greatly outnumber Republicans. The latest data I can find are in a 2009 Pew poll showing that not only are American scientists mostly liberal, but that there’s a huge disparity between the politics of scientists and of the American public in general. I suspect that, given what’s happened under Trump, this disparity has only increased. The data in 2009:

Most [American] scientists identify as Democrats (55%), while 32% identify as independents and just 6% say they are Republicans. When the leanings of independents are considered, fully 81% identify as Democrats or lean to the Democratic Party, compared with 12% who either identify as Republicans or lean toward the GOP. Among the public, there are far fewer self-described Democrats (35%) and far more Republicans (23%). Overall, 52% of the public identifies as Democratic or leans Democratic, while 35% identifies as Republican or leans Republican.

This disparity exercised Andrew Meso, a British computational neuroscientist (he’s also black), who wrote this letter:

Now Dr. Meso is mistaken that the Nature poll was of “US scientists”, but it doesn’t matter, for the “misalignment” he describes is still true. As an academic, I have long been aware of this, for the disparity exists not just in science, but in academia as a whole.

Meso’s implicit argument that we need to increase political diversity doesn’t carry near as much weight as an argument for greater gender and ethnic diversity, for there’s not a good argument that Republicans were oppressed in the past, nor that there is discrimination against Republican students being accepted to grad school or being hired as professors—at least in science. I’ve been on many hiring and student-acceptance committees, and not once have I ever heard of a candidate being touted or dissed because of their politics. Indeed, we never even know their politics! (This may not hold for faculty in areas like economics or sociology.) And I’ve never heard of a scientist being denied promotion or tenure on the grounds of their politics.

So it’s hard to make an argument that the dearth of Republicans in American science is due to bias or discrimination. Nor does the ideological slant seem likely to affect science: as I read somewhere (but can’t lay my hands on the reference), scientists’ politics don’t affect the nature or quality of their research.

Why the disparity between scientists and the public, then, if it’s not bigotry? Well, perhaps it’s preference.

For reasons we can speculate about, perhaps those with a conservative bent are less likely to go into science, or remain in science if they start studying this. Perhaps those with a liberal bent are more attracted to the empirical method and the techniques of science. I have no idea if this is right, but feel free to speculate.   But I’ll make one point: if people think that the differential representation is due to preference rather than bias, and it’s a preference based on political affiliation (which may be correlated with other traits), why are we so eager to assume that other differential representations, like those involving gender or ethnicity, are based solely on bias and bigotry rather than preference? As we know, this kind of representation is automatically assumed to be based on prejudice, but I’ve always said that we can’t assume that without the needed research.

Finally, is Meso right in raising the alarm that the Democratic “elitism” of American scientists could turn other Americans—many of whom are Republican—against science or against going into science? (He conflates “judging science” with “going into science” in his final paragraph.) If he were right, this in itself would be a form of preference, but could also involve bigotry if conservatives sense that scientists don’t like their politics.  And yes, Republicans are more anti-science than Democrats, though the difference has been exaggerated, but not to the extent that would explain the differential representation in science. To me, it seems more likely that the disparity is based on a preference connected to political affiliation, but that’s just a guess.

Finally, Meso’s conclusion—that liberalism in scientists turns others against science and against going into science, presumes that the public actually knows how liberal scientists are. But they don’t seem to, at least according to that Pew report:

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

If there’s no evidence in science of bias against Republican scientists or students, then there is no need to engage in affirmative action to bring them on board—unless they somehow bring a scientific point of view absent among more liberal scientists. But I can’t see one. (It’s not that evident amongst ethnic or gender groups, either.) But the reason I’m in favor of affirmative action is not so much to bring a diversity of ideas as to act as a form of reparations for those who were denied equal opportunity. And the reparations view, while holding for women and people of color, doesn’t seem to hold for conservatives.

But my dislike of affirmative action for Republicans in science doesn’t hold for college students, for I think ideological and political diversity is an innate good among undergraduates, as it stimulates discussion and exposes students to other ways of thinking. So while I can’t support a case for “affirmative action” for more Republicans in science, I can do so for college students. As for professors outside of science, I’m not so sure. It’s useful for students to be exposed to various political views, or lines of thought, from their professors as well. I can’t see hiring professors because they’re Republicans, but I can see making an effort to incorporate conservative points of view into academic departments.  Since we scientists are supposed to keep our politics out of the classroom, though, we don’t need to make this effort.

140 thoughts on “American scientists are mostly Democrats, with almost no Republicans. Is this lack of diversity a problem?

  1. Dr PCC(e). When do you think the need to pay reparations will end? I suspect it never will (at least in the eyes of some), but I wonder what you think. What would it take for you to say; we no longer need to set aside places in our schools for x, y & z (at the expense of w)? Is there one (or a couple) of metrics that’d persuade you?

  2. There is no bias. Scientists use reason, logic, common sense and facts in their work and usually as a basis for their lives. Conservatives in the United States can be irrational and many of their beliefs are based on religion and not science or facts.

    1. Bob – you should read the Atlantic article our host linked to. Republicans are not as anti-science as many believe and Democrats are almost equally anti-science (but usually about different things). I do think it is true that liberalism has a reality bias but you really should read that article.

      1. Evangelicals are nearly all conservative Republicans and they comprise about 1/4 of the population. Usually the anti-choice people see it that way because of religious reasons. For so many, religion takes precedence of science and reason.

        1. Anti-choice is NOT anti-science! It’s an affront to the rights of women but it isn’t anti-science.

          You should read that article, Bob, if nothing else to disabuse yourself of the idea that there is really such a big difference in scientific knob-headedness between Repubs and Dems.

          1. Whenever I hear or see the claim from anti-choicers that “life begins at conception” and this forms the basis for their view that government should dictate the terms of pregnancy, that is clearly an anti-science position. Gametes are every bit alive as a zygote.

            1. One could just as easily make the same argument about the pro-choice position that the embryo is essentially a parasite. I bet if you look at ANY political controversy today you could parse out something that you regard as anti-science. But the fact remains that anti-choice people are that way for religious reasons, NOT because they reject science (though to be sure, some DO, as many are creationists).

              FTR, I am pro-choice.

              1. “the pro-choice position that the embryo is essentially a parasite”

                But this isn’t the pro-choice position.

                I’m puzzled by your resistance to the observation that the Republican Party is dominated by religious fundamentalists and that this quite naturally repels the scientifically minded person.

              2. It most certainly IS a position of some pro-choicers and I deliberately cited this because of the cherry-picked claim that the reason why people are anti-choice -life begins at conception- is anti-science. It is, but that’s not the reason why they are anti-choice. If asked, I am sure many will agree that the gametes are alive too -what hey mean is that an embryo is alive in a different way. Just so, try googling “embryo as parasite” and you will find defenses of choice based, at least partly, on that claim. If one can say anti-choicers are anti-science because of the life-at-conception ruse, then it is equally true that pro-choicers who claim that embryos are parasites are anti-science too.

                I am not at all resistant to the idea that the Republican party embraces anti-science nonsense – the evidence speaks for itself.

                My point is two fold; that the people who vote for Republicans are not as anti-science as we are led to believe (being against the economic impact of cap and trade, for example, is NOT anti-science and that IS the reason some in the Republican party seem to deny climate change). The second is that although reality does have liberal bias and since the Democratic party is nominally liberal, it supports policies that are, in general, pro-science. But many of the people who vote for the Democrats also believe in deeply anti-science ideas.

                TLDR; Conservatives don’t have a monopoly on anti-science nonsense

              3. Well, there certainly might be some pro-choice folk who would say that, but you can probably find one who will claim that Lake Michigan is filled with salt water. The claim is in no way central to the principle of choice, that it is up to women to decide for themselves. Some may think it is a parasitic situation, but that’s irrelevant to the question of choice.

                The question you seem to be ignoring is the one that the OP proposes. Why is it that scientists are almost all Democrats? My claim is because the Republican Party drives them away. The fact that there are scientifically illiterate people on both sides of the isle is tangential at best.

              4. I think, GBJames, were are in violent agreement. Eric somewhere below puts it well – by the time one reaches grad school (at least in some sciences) a students bullshit detectors are finely tuned and that leads many to reject the Rs way of seeing the world. It happens that some of the anti-science policy from the Republican party has considerable impact while much of the scientific nonsense that Democratic voters (not the party) believe does not. e.g more Dems than Repubs believe god had a hand in human evolution, for example. This is not a policy issue.

                One final note as I am in danger of violating da rulz; the question of whether a woman ought to be able to end an unwanted pregnancy is not a scientific one. Some people on both sides try to buttress their arguments with sciencey sounding claims (and some actually are based on science) but this is an issue that science is, rightly, silent about.

                I have to add this in proof; you accuse me of ignoring the OP’s question. I wasn’t ignoring it I was addressing the subject of this thread. If we can’t have discussions here, what’s the point?

              5. Indeed, it is not a science question. Those who say it is are inevitably religious folk searching for extra buttresses.

                ‘Tis good to discuss. I missed the connection. Objection withdrawn.

            2. The important thing in their minds is not “life”, but “human life”. Gametes are not humans. Zygotes are humans in an extremely early form of development.

              1. I like to think of gametes as just single-celled haploid humans with one genome copy.

                A gamete is not just another kind of cell in the adult human, because the genome of each gamete is different from the genome of the adult human (because of mutation and recombination).

                It happens that in humans and other animals, gametes don’t undergo cell division into multicellular individuals and they don’t live very long before they die or fuse with another gamete to make a zygote. There are cool reasons why those things generally don’t happen.

                But there are lots of other multicellular organisms that are essentially long-lived versions of animal gametes, with one genome copy in each cell. Kelps and ferns are familiar examples of organisms that have a multicellular haploid stage in the life cycle.

                The haploid stage of a kelp or fern life cycle isn’t any less a kelp or a fern compared to the diploid stage. So I think we have to call our gametes “humans”; gametes are our direct descendants (via meiosis), much more so than our kids. Our kids are a genomic mash-up of our own genome (in part) plus the genome of some random (but very sexy) other person, and only partly descended from each of us via recombination and sex.

                tl;dr gametes are humans

              2. Mike,

                I was always taught that humans were diploid and not haplodiploid like ferns. The fact that we have some cells that are diploi (or tetraploid) does not change the fact that all members of the human species are diploid.

          2. If one’s basis for being anti-choice (as is generally the case, particularly regarding evangelicals) is a belief in the insoulment of zygotes, then that may not be refuted by science, but it is utterly without scientific basis.

            (Also, that Atlantic article was widely criticized and rebutted when it was published in 2013. Some of that criticism came in the comments to the article, through The Atlantic no longer allows comments, and no longer includes comments that were made to articles written before its change in policy regarding comments.)

            1. I too have problems with the claims in that article but ask yourself this; which party do you think the patrons of Goop vote for?

              1. I should think that anyone who embraces the efficacy of sticking a jade egg up the hoo-ha has probably forsaken political solutions. 🙂

                Nevertheless, to the extent they do vote, my guess is that it would be for a Democrat (most likely Marianne Williamson) — though I’d be interested to know how the percentage of patrons of Ms. Paltrow’s products who are Republican compares to the 8% of scientist who voted Trump.

          3. Pro-life is neither anti-science (as you correctly point out) nor is it an affront to the rights of women. Women in America have fully legal backing to choose with whom they wish to have sex. That freedom of choice is never compromised even by marriage.

              1. I was not referring to adultery, and I agree with your implication that such laws are silly and should be stricken. With respect to abortion and the concept that it removes women’s freedom of choice, I was pointing out that even when married, a woman has the legal right to not engage in sexual relations with her husband. So if the the woman chooses to have sex, she has used her freedom of choice to accept the risk and responsibility of a possible pregnancy, just as her sexual partner has done.

            1. It depends on what you mean by Pro-life. Do you mean subscribing to the view that life is precious and abortion should be avoided as much as possible, but don’t think it should be forbidden or unduly restricted by force of law? I’d agree with you.

              But if you mean that abortion should be forbidden or unduly restricted by force of law (which a significant percentage of self described pro-lifer’s do think) then, of course, you couldn’t be more wrong. Even if it were to be granted that such laws are the ethically righteous thing to do, there is no getting around the fact that such laws are an affront to the rights of women.

              Pregnancy, the risks and responsibilities, is not just about women’s choice. It is equally about men’s choice. Any man that doesn’t want the responsibility of a child, or of putting a women in a position of having to decide whether to have an abortion or not, should not be having sex with women. If they are unwilling to accept the risk and responsibility, then they need to keep their dick in their pants.

              1. As for your claim that abortion laws are an affront to the rights of women, you yourself disproved that statement perfectly with your somewhat vulgar statement regarding what men who are unwilling to accept the risk and responsibility of pregnancy need to do. The same idea applies to women as well as to men: If you are unwilling to accept the risk and responsibility of a pregnancy, do not engage in sexual relations.

        2. Republicans are generally stereotyped as “religious freaks,” but this is as wrong as the belief that all Dems are socialists. The socialist agenda is the reason why the Democratic party was unable to put forth a candidate that won a sizable majority during the primary, and in fact, many who voted for Biden see him as a weak puppet that goes with the flow, and did not put forth any strong policy platforms. He was counting on the “never Trumpers” to come out and vote for him, and in my opinion, it was in part the reduction in standards for absentee ballots, illegally extended deadlines, and some definitive amount of fraud which yielded our election results. It’s known that roughly 25% of 2016 Trump voters were centrist Democrats who were frustrated with the increasing far left screamers in the party. There are Republicans who remain in the party for economic reasons rather than religious. In addition, independent and Libertarian voters, like myself, who are not religious but who value constitutional and individual rights, support a federalist decentralized government, and who want minimal taxes that also vote, often shift elections towards Republicans.

    2. I assume you don’t mean to say that liberals can never be irrational? All people use reason, logic, common sense and facts in their lives, to some extent. I’ve never known a person who was completely immune to passion, misinformation, or the prejudices of their time.

    3. I totally agree. Furthermore, the search for the truth is indeed “an exclusive pursuit” (the final words in this letter). This is nothing to be ashamed of.

    4. As a life long republican , most of my colleagues are doctors lawyers and engineers. Yes, i am a practicing catholic. No lack of reason logic and common sense in our professions.

  3. Cause & effect. Maybe that certain opinions of Republicans had an effect on how scientists felt about them? E.g. Reagan said that evolution is “just a theory”, as well as a million other examples. Do we need more anti-science scientists?

            1. Oh, hell, according to the book and movie Game Change even Sarah Palin and Steve Schmidt had a laugh about that one. For that matter, I think even Reagan joked about it later in his presidency.

              You’re the one who needs to develop a sense of humor. (Is trees causing more pollution than cars really the hill you want to plant your flag on?)

      1. Ray-Gun was right, as any of the Earth’s original inhabitants would agree (if they had a vote, which they don’t). That oxygen they pump out is a terrible, dangerous and potent poison.
        Anaerobe lives matter!

  4. And yes, Republicans are more anti-science than Democrats, though the difference has been exaggerated, but not to the extent that would explain the differential representation in science.

    I think it does, but not under the ‘preference’ model, which in my opinion is either wrong or only a small part of the explanation. In my opinion, what’s happening is that students are going into science and learning that the mainstream is largely correct on scientific issues such as climate change, evolution, deep time, etc.. This causes them to change their political positions away from the far right as they go through the education process. The far right is inordinately affected (compared to the left), because it is further away from the mainstream.

    So IMO it’s not the case that student A is dem, student B is GOP, and because of that A is more likely to pick a science career. It’s that A and B may be equally likely to pick a science career, but during/after graduate school B finds him/herself less aligned with the GOP’s often extremist positions on science topics.

  5. I’m pretty “conservative” on some issues, but as an atheist scientist I could not be republican due to the religious pandering.

    1. Given the balance of that, I would guess that you would consider yourself as moderate. This is a good thing, I think, since moderates seem (to me) to be more prepared to weigh different sides, and most importantly to revise their opinions in the face of good facts.

  6. Speculation based on little data – I would expect that there is a strong right leaning tendency amongst bankers and financiers, and a weaker one in lawyers. Medical doctors in the UK tend to be leftish as a body. I wonder if the same is true in the USA.

    Anyway, I’m happy with all of these differences, and the liberal-lean of scientists, for all the reasons Jerry explains.

    1. The American Medical Association was traditionally ultra-conservative — it fought passage of the Medicare and Medicaid Acts of the 1960s tooth-and-nail, for example (though good luck trying to get doctors off those money teats now).

      That no longer seems to be the case with the current generation of MDs; they’re more of a mixed bag.

      1. I think conservatives are drawn to the applied sciences more than the pure sciences (it’s where the money is, after all) and I would argue that medicine is applied science, at least as practiced by physicians.

      2. You think Medicaid is a “money teat” for doctors? What a laugh. Mostly doctors accept Medicaid patients on a limited basis as a public service. It doesn’t cover their costs.

            1. You can take it as my concession that one teat furnishes the medical profession more monetary nourishment than the other.

              I should have been more specific (though this nitpicking hardly addresses my central contention).

  7. This is both sad and very scary. These “scientists” are putting their politic beliefs and agendas ahead of the health and safety of the American public, and the world at large. There is NO ROOM for politics in science.

    1. Where are you seeing scientists putting politics ahead of health and safety of society? Scientists are still allowed to hold political beliefs, but I don’t see it affecting the quality of work.

      1. Yes, scientist are allowed to have political beliefs, but those beliefs should not influence their work. I am seeing so much evidence of this. Anyone who disagrees with Dr. Fauci is discounted and not even heard or allowed to say anything. They are banned and/or touted as “fake news”. Many doctors and scientists from around the world are being banned because their studies and findings are different than those of Dr. Fauci. this is WRONG. it is endangering everyone. Science and scientists in general are supposed to come up with different and opposing ideas and they keep doing that until they find what is the right theory and discovery. You do not stop at just one finding. I personally believe Dr. Fauci and the W.H.O have been WRONG all accounts on this whole COVID disaster. But because these are the only doctors and scientists who are being heard, millions of lives are at stake because no one is listening to other doctors and scientists.

        1. What have Dr Fauci and the WHO scientists said that is wrong? Wear a mask? stay a distance? What have other doctors said that is right?

              1. I see this as support for my position (comment #5). So imagine you’re a budding conservative epidemiologist, starting with beliefs such as AJeanne. Now imagine as part of your Ph.D work you actually study Covid transmission and safety measures at HHS or CDC. Isn’t such a person likely to change their political beliefs about Covid measures to be more in line with their research findings? Yes. So 5 years from now when PEW is surveying new Ph.D.s about their political positions, this person who was hard (R) as an undergrad is now a leaning (R) as a Ph.D. Because they’ve seen the scientific sausage being made, and know the right’s anti-science position is just PR flapdoodle.

                Of course that doesn’t happen all the time. But if ‘go in right -> come out mainstream’ happens more often than ‘go in right -> come out right’ or ‘go in left -> come out right’, that’s all that’s needed to explain a bunch of the the disparity.

        2. Wrong on all accounts? You are going to need to be more specific on this. Also, in an emerging disease situation, there is always going to be a large amount of uncertainty. Where I would fault a scientist would be continuing to hold a belief in the face of new and opposing evidence. I am not aware of a situation where Fauci has done this.

            1. That would be the same fraud for other scientists in ALL other countries, independent of each other, on this important matter. Unless they are all in cahoots with a secret agenda, equipped with Illuminati – like abilities for cloaking and concealment. For… what? For what nefarious purpose?

            2. Lucky we are that President Stable Genius had eminently qualified neuroradiologist Dr. Scott Atlas to help the nation turn the corner on the COVID-19 pandemic, huh, AJITK?

              How’s things in the fever-swamp these days? Run into Q lately?

        3. AFAIK Fauci basically no influence on other countries’ responses. In fact, what our health officials have recommended is quite mild compared to many other countries’ responses (take a look at Australia and NZ, for example).

          IOW, Fauci is on the conservative end of the spectrum of mainstream health officials. It’s just that our political right is so far outside the mainstream, even conservativism looks leftist to them.

        4. I agree. There really hasn’t been any statistically significant evidence that show that draconian lockdowns work. Even mask studies that show some benefits depend upon people using them perfectly, the way that it is done in the lab. Real life studies following mask wearers have not found dramatic results for the same reason that condoms used do not always prevent pregnancy or disease. That’s why the disclaimer on the package says “used EFFECTIVELY will result in prevention of pregnancy and disease.” As times rolls on, we still see that infections rise with population density, and climate seems to have some effect as well (dry climates = slightly less virulence.) In the past, the notorious “double hump” of infection recovery rates was blamed on quarantines being lifted too quickly. Rather, it seems to me intuitively that isolation merely slows the rate of transmission. The disease will not be squelched until a reasonable amount of herd immunity has been reached. Children and young adults who are least likely to die who encounter the virus with minimal complications and then develop immunity mean that older people who ARE VULNERABLE then become statistically less likely to encounter the disease. This shutdown has been the “death of a thousand cuts” and a case in which the cure has been worse than the disease, in many instances. YES, WE NEED TO PROTECT OUR HOSPITALS FROM BEING OVERWHELMED, but we can do that in other was besides destroying peoples livelihoods and driving them into social isolation and suicide.

  8. It occurred to me that the political views of a scientist will likely affect his/her views on the heritability of intelligence in predictable ways.
    It also occurs to me that one reason may be that conservatives tend to be deeply religious, which results in problems with evolution, global warming, etc.
    Carry on.

    1. And it occurs to me that religious belief is dominant regardless of how one views their own superiority due to disbelief of another religion. Such as the belief that republicans are deeply religious. Most are not. Sure there’s an evangelical bloc that is loud and obnoxious, and not so curiously this bloc, due to media framing of republicans in an effort to paint them as stupid, is depicted as “typical” to the point that people like you *religiously believe* this to be trvth enthroned. I’m republican and an engineer and quite agnostic, which insofar as my experience goes, is more typical of actual republicans. The conservative bogeyman of your belief system isn’t real, at least not to the degree of being actually representative. You believe these things to be true. You have a belief that isn’t true. It’s your religion.

      There’s also a scientific breakdown of perception in that yes many republicans do in fact believe in god. But believe in god to the point that evolution is a problem? No, sorry, that too is overblown by the media and by perceptions that are fed by the media. Only a small minority of republicans are thus afflicted. They believe in god because said belief addresses grief and continuity in ways that the secular institutions cannot. And in ways that these same secular institutions, run by people who reflexively hate believers, telegraph their disdain for them. Plenty of people believe in god and trust science because to them, these aren’t the same things. Science addresses how stuff works. Religion addresses why. Two systems that are designed to address different questions.

      And yes I keep mentioning media Rather than portray republican positions accurately the media (which ain’t republican) picks out the most idiotic gap toothed moron available and depicts this sad individual as typical republican. This is done so viewers can feel superior to these sad specimens. This smugness translates into general widespread belief of the inferiority of the republicans. There’s a reason CNN et al are watched and believed by the left moreso than the right and it’s not due to the republicans lacking the requisite neurons.

      And here you are religiously proclaiming your superiority over those whom to perceive as being hobbled by religion. The irony of this never ceases to amaze.

      1. Your claims are belied by the data. Seventy-three percent of Republicans express “absolute certainty” in the existence of god; 61% say religion is “very important” in their lives; and 36% say scripture should be “interpreted literally.”

        As of 2013, just 21% of Republicans acknowledge that humans evolved through entirely natural processes (a decrease since 2009).

        Now, maybe your fellow Republicans are lying about this to pollsters, but to establish that you’re going to need to rely on something more substantial than “insofar as my experience goes[.]”

        1. It is possible to be pro-science and disagree that humans evolved through an entirely natural process. Let’s consider a hypothetical person…
          This person thinks Gregor Mendel was the founder of modern biology, and his experiments on heredity are amazing. She also thinks that the discovery of genetic encoding on DNA is one of the highlights of modern biology. She learned about “junk DNA” in high school, but was shocked to find out that the portions she heard were “junk” turn out to do things like encode body organization and organ formation. She also has studied genetic defects for years and has come to believe that the ratio of harmful to beneficial mutations is so high that it is highly unlikely that any oranisms with lifetimes longer than a couple weeks have the probabilistic resources to develop meaningful genetic adaptations. Maybe fruit flies, but Sequoias? She finds it odd that over the last several million years the gap between lifeforms is so small (i.e. chimps and humans) when the “clock” for evolution has only run ~300 times that long. That is, the difference between a sequoia and a human should only be 300 times more different than between a human and a chimp.
          She can’t fathom the single point mutations that would go from an endo-skeleton to an exoskeleton. Maybe these are possible, but after seeing so many patients with genetic deformations her belief is that “genetic information is either maintained or destroyed, almost never created.”
          She also thinks its absurd to believe a 100Million period is enough time to go from simple multicellular organisms to fish, but in the last 200 million years there has only been very small steps like from mammal to primates.
          Would you suggest that based on this information “Stacey” is anti-science? I concede that she rejects the scientific consensus, but is rejecting a conclusion based on observation and evidence really anti-science?

          1. I think your hypothetical person is grossly misinformed both in her premises and in her analysis, and would highly recommend that she seek further edification by reading our host’s first book (after which this website is eponymously named, and in which these matters are addressed with much greater detail than a comment in this thread affords).

            I would further suggest that your hypothetical person is not so much “anti-science” as she is “science semiliterate.” As Alexander Pope cautioned, a little learning is a dangerous thing — or at least can be.

            1. If a PhD in biochemistry leaves someone semi-literate scientifically then I doubt a 282 page book written for a lay audience will fix the problem. But I will pass along the recommendation.

              1. You failed to mention that your “hypothetical person” has a PhD in biochemistry (and if she is not hypothetical, but real, why the pretense and why the reticence in identifying her?).

                Either way, if that is the case, she would probably benefit even more from reading one of our host’s books meant for a professional audience or from reading from his long list of publications in scientific journals, since she is plainly operating under certain scientific misapprehensions.

              2. A PhD in biochemistry was sufficient to leave Behe (I’ve forgotten his given name – M. something) woefully ill informed about the evidence for evolution in the details of, uh, biochemistry (to name just one field).

          2. There is a distinct possibility that your hypothetical researcher had relied too narrowly on secondary antievolution apologetics (which ignores roughly 90% of the available data field) for favored tropes, and had not endeavored to fact check their accuracy or read outside that literature for context.

        2. You can’t read your own data. According to Pew 2013 (questionable but lets run with it) 20% of republicans reckoned man was guided by a supreme being and 27% of democrats thought the same. That sounds about equal, doesn’t it.

          The point, which seems to have sailed right over your head, is that YOUR inability to counter your own inherent biases (fed to you in part by media) somehow prevents an all-knowing science type from interpreting data reliably, and the argument is that all knowing science types interpret data reliably regardless of political affiliation.

          This reeks, all of it. There are plenty of articles on “climate etc” run by Judith Curry wherein the assertion that right wing christians think climate change is a hoax etc is belied by the fact that the actual trend is quite the opposite: the more religious, the more they think of themselves as god appointed stewards of the earth, and the more inclined they are to take climate change warnings seriously.

          However, the go-to knee-jerk response among the crowd that imagines themselves clever appears to equate belief in god with backwardness and ignorance and denial.

          I’m in awe of your superior mind. (It’s like speaking to Kahn.)

          1. You make assertions supported by nothing but anecdotal personal experience. I counter with data. You respond not with any countervailing data,* but merely by wrenching a single statistic from its context (while ignoring the more relevant surrounding statistics such as that Democrats accept evolution at a rate 24% higher than Republicans, and accept unguided evolution at a rate 16% higher), then drizzle in a dollop of ad hominem.

            Impressive.

            _________
            *You name Judith Curry, but cite no work of hers, and fail to acknowledge that she was, before her retirement, considered a denialist contrarian by mainstream climate scientists.

            That evangelicals take literally the exhortation in Genesis 1:26 that they “have dominion … over all the earth” has fuck-all to do with the ability to meet the technological challenges of combating climate change.

  9. What always bothered me about these concerns (e.g., Heterodoxy Academy) is that they never spell out exactly what aspects of conservatism they want to see more represented in academia: less positive attitudes toward gays and sex outside marriage, more involvement of religion in politics and the courts, belief in god is necessary to be moral, sanctity of organism from conception, etc. It also ignores the fact that political orientation is largely irrelevant to most areas of academia.

  10. … perhaps those with a conservative bent are less likely to go into science, or remain in science if they start studying this.

    I suspect that maybe conservatives with the intellectual firepower to go into science or academia elect instead for entrepreneurship or hedge-fund management — fields presenting the opportunity to make boatloads of dosh.

    My totally unbiased question 🙂 , though, is: dafuq is wrong with the 8% of scientists who voted for Trump? They merchant-of-doubt types? Or engineering-types who reject evolution because what looks designed must be so?

  11. Most interesting people are liberal politically – from my observation. If you are interested in science it probably means you like to understand new stuff about the natural world. You’re curious, which means you want to try different approaches to problems to tease out new insights. This is a liberal tendency which means you are more comfortable with change in your surroundings. What would happen if you gave every citizen $1000? Curious folks want to know. But some folks are fearful of change. Receiving free money would make everyone lazy. They see the downside of playing around with things as they are. They’d rather not take risks necessary to lean new info about the universe and ourselves. Just leave stuff the way it is…the way it’s always been.

  12. It is laudable to see and wonder about the paucity of Republicans/conservatives in the sciences. But I do suspect that we will find reservoirs of them by looking in certain places where the subject matter is prioritized by a certain variety of people.
    For example, I would bet we see a higher titer of political conservatives as pre-med students, and practicing in medicine. Especially in red states. Same goes for engineering, where you may find greater concentrations of conservatives both majoring in the subject, and practicing it in either academia or in industry. I may be biased and wrong on this, but I’ve gathered this impression over the years.

    Otoh, one suspects low titers of liberal humans as business majors.

    1. Your places to find some counterexamples wouldn’t contain many whom I’d describe as scientists in the sense meant here. In the sense of science as something a plumber is often doing at some level (and I don’t disagree with that) is different.

  13. Generally speaking, open ended inquiry and political conservatism don’t blend well. I mean, one of the core precepts of conservatism is that a bunch of dead dudes already have everything figured out (e.g. the dead men who scratched god’s will into the Bible or the ones who Jesus taught how to write a constitution). Societal ills flow from a population’s inability or failure to conform to some set of “traditional” values. Nor, stripping away kooky religious commitments, can one committed to fiscal conservatism be a full-throated champion for science. There is no incentive structure in place to encourage private entities to fund curiosity driven, open ended research. Those funds have got to come from public coffers.

    It also strikes me that America’s political binary, as manifest in the Republican and Democratic parties, is a poor method for tracking ideological diversity. In terms of constituency, the Democratic party is fairly factional and heterodox—far more so that the GOP, and a key cause of the party’s glaring political ineptitude. Knowing someone votes for Democratic candidates tells you relatively little about their specific ideological preferences. And the GOP is essentially as death cult at this point, tacitly (and sometimes openly) committed to single party rule. Voting for Republican candidates doesn’t necessarily implicate someone in the political right’s most extreme and toxic brands of orthodoxy, but it does strongly suggest an indifference to the rule of law, representative governance, and the general health and wellbeing of one’s fellow citizens.

  14. I suspect that it has not always been this way – and that the polarization reflects a response to a noxious stimulus. We have had several decades of Republicans favoring religion and “faith based” narratives and demeaning science in many important areas (for example environment, climate and recently public health) and also mocking important basic research (e.g. Sarah Palin’s diatribe on the uselessness of funding work on fruit flies – to bring it close to home for our host). So it’s perhaps not surprising that scientists have moved to a place where they receive some respect.

    Rutherford on the fruit fly comment: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/oct/27/sarahpalin-genetics-fruit-flies

    1. I also don’t think it has always been this way, but I have no data to back this up. My impression from my father talking about his colleagues was that a certain number were conservative, and my father voted consistently Republican for years until the last decade or two.

      Since the 1970s, of course, the Republican party has shifted to the far right (similar party positions to the far right groups of Europe), and it has become a party that denies reality across the board:

      1. No climate change.
      2. No evolution.
      3. Widespread vote fraud.
      4. Tax cuts for the wealthy pay for themselves.
      5. Banning abortion and getting rid of birth control reduce abortions around the world.
      6. COVID is a hoax. Masks don’t work.
      7. Welfare queens are making millions.
      8. More guns makes everyone safer.
      9. Being gay is a lifestyle choice.
      10.And you can probably list more right off the top of your head.

      Scientists have a respect for truth. It is hard for them to join a party that is based entirely on spin and ethical values so weakly held that Republicans around the country are still fighting for Trump, a man who would be considered the Antichrist if he were a Democrat.

      1. I agree, and agree with Randall’s comment just below which is similar. I think what we’re seeing now with such a huge disparity is the GOP’s shift rightward since about the mid-80s.

        I’d be curious to see if the same level of disparity existed in ’70s. But it’s difficult to imagine it would – it was Nixon that started the EPA, after all.

  15. I think if you had taken this study, this polling 40 or 50 years ago it may have been very different. You have to take into consideration how much change has taken place in this republican party. Many of the moderate republicans have bailed out in the last 5 years and what you have left are more like a tea party of real crazies. Not exactly a scientist environment. It is almost like comparing a republican back in Lincoln’s day to 1970. Not the same animal. Right now you have 16 or 17 republican attorney generals suing 4 or 5 other states to overturn the election. This is nuts and only the extreme Trump republicans would be doing this. This is just not science material is it? How do scientist get along with sycophancy or obsequious action? Today these are major republican performance.

  16. Much of the Republican platform is contrafactual, especially since Trump. I think it is reasonable that academia be lukewarm to climate-change deniers and religious fanatics. There is also a paucity of flat-earthers in geology; I don’t think that kind of lack of diversity is a problem.
    On the other hand, yes, it is surely healthy to have a diversity of economic and international relations views represented.

    1. Wait, what? Republicans have a “platform”? How démodé! 🙂

      At what passed for their last convention, I thought they decided to forego a platform in favor of pledging fealty to Dear Leader.

  17. My latest survey indicates that Canadian scientists almost entirely look both ways before crossing a busy road. There seems to be a terrible prejudice against 3 other groups, those who look only left, only right and not at all.

    The latter are of course very small groups and fast shrinking, for reasons too horrible to describe. If coronavirus killed everybody it infected then the same carnage might be happening with the small number of USian Republican scientists.

    Anyway, both seem tough problems to solve, to get equal representation.
    That of course is absolutely essential so that the climate change policies adopted by USian politicians might have a chance to kill half my descendants before they reach the age of 20, that slow murdering unfortunately not applicable merely to the residents south of the border between us.

  18. “Nor does the ideological slant seem likely to affect science: as I read somewhere (but can’t lay my hands on the reference), scientists’ politics don’t affect the nature or quality of their research.”

    I doubt this impacts the hard sciences in anyway but I can’t believe ideology doesn’t impact the social sciences. Your ideology will make a difference in the questions you ask and also the level of criticism you bring to socially contentious topics. I see this on twitter all the time, scientists will link favorably to underpowered or poorly designed studies that flatter their prejudices but suddenly discover scientific rigour when a study goes against their prejudices.

    1. This is absolutely correct. There are certain views that are taboo in the social sciences. It also effects biology when the science is uncomfortable for progressives e.g. David Reich’s research on population genetics.

      1. Well, there are certain questions that are not allowed to be asked in the “hard” sciences too. See how much support you’d get for a project to ask if there are any genetic components to differences among races of humans. I think if a genetics researcher today even voiced the question, they’d run the risk of losing their jobs.

        Years ago, before this tidal wave of woke stupidity came, I got into a discussion with someone about how understanding the genetic components to differences in therapeutic outcomes between black people and white people is worthwhile because in some cases there are real differences. Most of the time differences in therapeutic outcomes can be attributed to non-genetic factors linked to race, such as access to medical care and life situations (poverty, poor nutrition, etc). But those differences cannot explain ALL observed differences in medical outcomes. Sickle cell is only the most obvious examples, but when I made essentially this statement (not verbatim), from the reaction I got you’d have thought I was channeling Nathan Bedford Forrest. Now, in these days of rampant wokeness I would have be hounded out of my job (I was in academia at the time).

        1. African American women (especially of West African descent) are more likely to develop breast cancers that are not detectable on mammograms. They are likely to develop them at younger ages, and the cancers are more likely to be aggressive & deadly (triple negative cancers).
          It is possible that part of the problem of negative outcomes of African American women with breast cancer comes from equipment that is optimized to detect the most common types of cancers found in women of European descent. Perhaps there should be different screening mechanisms based on genetic profiling.
          But it is much easier to blame “systemic racism” and “access to healthcare” and pander for more funding.

  19. The letter to Nature is incoherent. The writer concedes that “This misalignment could be attributed to differences in education, understanding and awareness of the issues at stake.” IOW, the political difference is a spandrel. But then the writer argues that “we must be careful not to recreate different forms of the old elitist patterns of collective behaviour.” That assertion (that the political difference is being “created” by some policy choice related to politics) directly contradicts the previous statement.

  20. Since being taken over by Trump and Trumpism, the GOP needs a complete overhaul. Until that happens, the fact that most college professors aren’t Republicans is a completely good thing. It shows that they are smart and rational. After all, I’m sure most professors have IQs over 100 but we don’t complain about that lack of diversity.

  21. Our host made an important point about the under-representation of Republicans among scientists:
    “As we know, this kind of representation is automatically assumed to be based on prejudice”.

    Following current orthodoxy, there must be a burning need for Equity Offices and elaborate programs to reverse the Marginalization, Implicit Bias, and Systemic Liberalism of the STEM academic world. We will need training sessions to help scientists overcome Enlightenment Fragility. As for student admissions and hiring procedures, we will of course need political Diversity Statements, and also Personal Quality rankings based on the Harvard admissions process. Following these methods, we will be able to award more admissions, academic positions, and advanced degrees to Republicans who qualify by virtue of their “traits like positive personality, likability, courage, kindness and being widely respected”.

  22. not a problem, as it’s also not a problem that most conservative christian pastors aren’t scientists, or kaykaykayers arent scientists, etc.

  23. I think a clue is to be found in a better understanding of political leaning. The two universal political groupings; left and right, are, in no way equivalents. They are fundamental tribal assumptions upon the nature of reality…either we live in a jungle so that my success is predicated upon the failure of others…Or, we live in a society which is best served by co-operation and mutual help. Those two positions do not represent a see-saw; are not in balance, and are scarcely connected to one another. Perhaps they are evolutionary in character.
    The Lefties simply live in a different world to Republicans. How else would Republicans accept that 45,000 Americans die each year for lack of medical access?
    Your President is not so bright, and finds it unnecessary to hide his contempt for dead vets or Covid victims.

  24. It’s interesting to note that in the Texas GOP state platform for a couple of years, last decade, (as well as several other deep red states) it included K-12 education to not teach critical thinking skills.

    I’ve also noticed that no one has mentioned the elephant in the room.

    Who are the ones that are predominantly not wearing masks and/or not social distancing?
    Who are the ones predominantly pushing unproven and debunked cures, even in political discourse?
    Who are the ones politicizing the pandemic?

    And understand that those Republican members of Congress keep getting re-elected and there are even more of them, including POTUS and Q believers.

    And yes, as the Atlantic article states “… twice as many Democrats as Republicans believe in astrology, a pseudoscientific medieval farce.” But the difference is that they don’t try to make it government policy. Can it be said the same for Republicans?

    1. “..no one has mentioned the elephant in the room..”

      It is possible to do so sarcastically without being too explicit about the elephant whose name is science denialism. See #20.

  25. It’s almost like people who like science and accept the scientific method don’t have much sympathy for a party that has rejected science and scientists over and over and caters to an anti-science religious base.

  26. The Republican party has within my lifetime imploded from a party that ranged from conservative to liberal, but generally favoring a conservative pro-business outlook on the world, to a hyper-conservative Culture War creationism-loving climate science-denying antiabortion NRA gun obsession party, the sort creationist ideologue Tony Perkins is happy to embrace, but where the late Sen. McCain is now seen as somehow a RINO, let alone the Nelson Rockefeller sorts who operated in the GOP even in the era of Barry Goldwater and Nixon. In 2016 it further deteriorated to become the Trump Vanity Party it currently is, swirling around the Apprentice President’s insatiable narcissistic ego and corruption. Within that fold, to be a working scientist (even a conservative one) becomes harder to square with overt membership in what is so stridently an anti-science nutball party.

  27. I think most here are stereotyping conservatives, and not particularly accurately. If those stereotypes were actually representative of the majority, then their beliefs would make them unlikely to do good science.
    But I could make the same argument about progressives, by pretending that the far left fringe is representative of mainstream progressive views. I don’t think either are accurate.
    It may be that we are just in an era where scientists (or anyone) with conservative views are keeping their own council, to minimize the likelihood of being doxxed and purged. Not just fringy, snake-handling evangelicals, but people with more or less mainstream views, but who disagree with the liberal canon on one or more subjects.
    Most of my family is composed of people who have a background in, or work in, areas of hard science. They are at most agnostic, and the ones who have expressed views on abortion support it as a right. Just those views would probably have put us in the “liberal” column not so long ago. However, we all own guns, and have a family history that leads us to strongly oppose communism. These days, that makes you Hitler.

    Traditional conservatives and traditional progressives are not really that far apart on most issues. But we are mostly finding ourselves having to pick a side, when both sides have positions that are disagreeable.

    1. But you fail to account for the fact that scientists skew Democrat. There are reasons for that. “Minimize the likelihood of being doxxed and purged” doesn’t hold water, IMO.

    2. Traditional conservatives and traditional progressives are not really that far apart on most issues.

      There is some truth to that, Max. Unfortunately, however, the Republican Party is no longer the party of traditional conservatism — no longer the party of limited government, of balanced budgets, of free trade, of open markets, of a belief in personal rectitude and probity, of due regard for American institutions and traditions and norms, of strict constitutional construction, of maintenance of strong international alliances, of opposition to Russian aggression and expansion.

      It is instead the cult of personality of Donald Trump — a party in which 77% believe (despite an utter dearth of evidence) that our most recent presidential election was stolen through massive acts fraud, in which just 27 of the 249 Republican members of the current US congress accept that Joe Biden is the president-elect, in which over half of Republican House member just joined a ludicrous, anti-democratic lawsuit by 17 Republican state attorneys general to set aside the majority vote in swing states, in which Fox News is now considered too liberal (such that they turn to fringe sources like Newsmax and One America News Network to supply their need for only such news as they wish to hear), in which a majority refuses accept climate change as other than a hoax, and in which substantial numbers cling to crazy paranoid beliefs such as that Barack Obama was not born in the United States or QAnon or Pizzagate or that Seth Rich was murdered by Hillary Clinton.

      Would that this nation had more traditional conservatives; we would not be mired in such madness.

      1. Traditional conservatives (e.g., George F. Will) and pragmatic conservatives (e.g., David Frum, Michael Steele) are in the Lincoln Project, while others are simply lying low. The sociological question of interest is: how did the GOP get so completely absorbed by fantasy cults of the same
        qualities as UFOs, alien abductions, and astrology? The southward shift of the Republicans’ core constituency seems to have been the first step. A second step was the UFO-like fiction about Barack Obama’s birthplace—which, recall, is how Donald Trump first entered into Republican politics. Both factors suggest that the Left’s obsession about racism (ludicrously misapplied as it is in academia) rests upon certain real aspects of American politics.

        1. A critical element you left out of your list is the decades-long coddling of the religious right by Republicans. There is little rationality to be found in this community which trains members from childhood to believe in the literal truth of talking snakes.

          1. I agree with you about the Republican embrace of the religious right (and with Jon Gallant about the place of Birtherism), but I would trace the inception of the Republican predicament back even further — to Richard Nixon’s 1972 “Southern Strategy” when the GOP cleaved to its bosom George Wallace voters and other racists disaffected from the Democratic Party by passage of the landmark Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s.

            1. Have you ever looked at a map of the 1972 election? Take a look sometime and consider whether it was a “Southern” strategy. In what world are New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, California, and Michigan southern? He won every single elector except those from Massachusetts and DC.
              It was 520-17.
              “Southern Strategy” is a phrase coined by losers who want to discount a 520-17 win.

              1. I’m well aware of the outcome of the ’72 election. It was my first as a voter, and I volunteered for George McGovern’s campaign that year.

                No one is contending that the “Southern Strategy” is the reason Nixon won that election. But it is beyond peradventure that that was when Republicans devised their plan to welcome disaffected racists into their ranks — which is where they’ve remained ever since. It’s why Ronald Reagan kicked off his 1980 post-convention campaign with a “states’ rights” speech in Neshoba County, Mississippi, site of the murders of civil-rights workers Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner by the Klu Klux Klan. It’s also what was behind Poppy Bush’s “Willie Horton” tv ad during his 1988 campaign.

                And its why the states of the former confederacy remain such a Republican stronghold today. They have been the seat of Donald Trump’s electoral strength. What do YOU think explains that — the natural cultural affinity between southern gentility and a vulgar, boorish New York parvenu?

              2. One isolated example does not a trend make (especially where Nixon was pitted against a more leftist Dem candidate in 1972, and had managed to keep his corrupt activities under wraps, but which came home to roost and we was a resigned President only 2 years later).

                Perhaps a more useful measure would be the shift in regional support, where virtually all the opposition to the Civil Rights Act came from the old Confederate states, but where even by then the GOP of those states were more uniformly opposed to that act than their Democrat counterparts were.

                In the decades since, the gradual shrinkage of GOP demographics has resulted in the block that Trump has tapped into with his narcissistic pandering. In that process, adherence to science and sound method has not been a notable trait.

              1. Sure, but the defection of the deep South to Goldwater in 1964 was a direct response to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 being pushed through congress earlier that summer by Lyndon Johnson (himself a son of the South, who was put on the 1960 ticket as VP precisely to help carry the region for JFK).

                I recall that at the Republican National Convention that nominated Barry Goldwater (who had voted against the CRA ’64), Nelson Rockefeller was heckled and booed by the Goldwater delegates when he unsuccessfully attempted to introduce a plank in support of civil rights during the RNC’s hearing on its party platform.

                Point being, it was about race then, just as it was with Nixon’s Southern Strategy.

        2. I always get a kick out of the GOP when they refer to themselves as “The Party of Lincoln.” What most people don’t realize is that back then, the Republicans were the liberals and the Democrats were the conservatives.

      2. Trump has only been in office 4 years. That may seem like a lifetime to you, but the reality is that tenured faculty would have chosen their career path in either the Bush or Clinton administrations.

  28. Let’s try an experiment.

    Take 1000 PHd candidates, 1000 Adjunct professors, and 1000 non tenured professors.

    Arrange them in two separate groups of equal size (500 from each group).

    One group displays Conservative stickers, Conservative t-shirts, Conservative posters in office, joins Conservative groups on campus, posts pro Conservative messages online and on social media accounts.

    The other group displays Leftist stickers, Leftist t-shirts, Leftist posters in office, joins Leftist groups on campus, posts pro Leftist messages online and on social media accounts.

    In three years, compare how the two groups have progressed in their careers.

    My hypothesis: Not a single member of the “Conservative” group will have made any significant progress in advancing their careers. In fact I hypothesize that this group will have stalled or even drastically reversed in career success. The “Leftist” group though will show a normal bell curve of highly successful, moderately successful, moderately unsuccessful, and unsuccessful members.

    Let’s act like scientists and actually conduct an experiment.

    1. You may be onto something. The leftist blob will torpedo the career aspirations of budding scientists who display conservative paraphernalia, while working to advance the careers of their fellow travelers. (I assume that’s what you meant.)

  29. I think back to how Pinker described the differences between Conservative and Liberal attitudes in The Blank Slate, referring to Sowell’s “A conflict of Visions”, and the two views labelled Constrained or Unconstrained, or possibly better put as “Tragic versus Utopian” – accordingly, these labels appear better at explaining the variances than do other approaches. For instance, on the issue of crime: the Utopian vision views crime as irrational and seeks to find its root causes, while the tragic vision sees crime as rational with mitigation best aimed at addressing its incentives. That the actual solution is most likely a combination of both is relevant to the puzzle of crime, while still recognizing two different camps of political views.

  30. I might have been able to offer some insight into the scientific mind of an R scientist since I knew that an old Wm&Mary GF with a PhD in Immunology from a major NYC U (and who subsequently never did anything with it) had also become a local R party head a decade or two back, before starting a sporadic correspondence ~7yrs ago. I had a sense that she no longer had a leadership position in the party, and in attempting to probe that I closed an email with the Geo Will quote about it being urgent to think and speak clearly vs. Tr*mp’s inability to do either.

    I got a frosty reply, “For your information I’m a Deplorable…” which was followed by, “…and I don’t discuss politics with anyone.” So there you have it, folks. Unswerving fealty to an indefensible position.

  31. Why all the contortions to explain the obvious: the Republican Party has become so extreme and anti-science that any ‘reaching out’ that needs to be done needs to come from them.

  32. I was in a graduate quantum field theory class (600 level) when our noted professor spent a good portion of the time talking about same-sex marriage. I sat there wondering
    1) What does this have to do with quantum field theory?
    2) If I disagree would that affect my grade?
    After that and other interactions as a conservative I knew academia was not for me. It was a self-selected group of liberal blowhards who have to bring politics into every single topic, and if you disagree you are the odd-man-out. I saw that with the one conservative in the physics department.
    I’m not anti-science. I just have seen enough department heads to know that anything coming out of a department head’s mouth might be backed by science, but it will always be tainted by “the narrative” that he is pursuing. You want the science? Go two levels down in the organization and ask the person who actually did the experiment.
    Fauci? Please point me to any academic paper demonstrating the efficacy of cloth materials at preventing the dispersion of corona particulates, especially aerosols. The literature isn’t there (or at least it wasn’t in June last time I did a deep dive). Actually the literature is divided and demonstrates a limited efficacy for some scenarios (i.e. flu related particulates spread by coughing but not normal breathing) but not others. So what was Fauci doing? Pushing the narrative.

  33. Really?

    https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2020/06/417906/still-confused-about-masks-heres-science-behind-how-face-masks-prevent

    https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.2020.00818
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7494729/
    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02801-8
    https://piedmonthealthcare.com/laser-light-experiment-shows-which-types-of-face-masks-work-best/
    https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/36/eabd3083

    https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/personal-protective-equipment-infection-control/n95-respirators-surgical-masks-and-face-masks

    And check the links, references, and notes at the end of the articles.

    Likewise, if you have been in any business such as: automotive body and paint, construction/deconstruction, woodworking, casting foundries, medical labs, or on the floor of any company dealing with evaporative chemicals or semiconductor foundries, you will already know about the requirements for the use and efficacy of face masks. Just go to your local hardware store and you will find a variety of face masks and filters outlining which one to use. N95s and its equivalents are the most common for small and micro particulates, but are not for evaporatives such as spray painting lacquers, enamels, polys, etc.

    Anyone that has been in any of those businesses and/or hobbies (as I have in all of the above) already knew the efficacy of face masks. It’s been well known for over half a century.

    1. Scientists are mostly Democrats because most scientists are dorks and nerds and dorks and nerds gravitate to the left wing in politics because the left caters to the groups that feel like they have been left out of society in some fashion. Most scientists wouldn’t count themselves among the marginalised but when they see vastly more people going to the football game than watching a chess match or when an Arianna Grande video gets hundreds of millions of views and a physics video gets only a million views if it’s lucky they can’t help but feel like an outsider. Sure they’ll complain that evangelicals don’t accept evolution as a reason for not wanting to be in their party but they know Republicans use air conditioning, take antibiotics, are pro NASA, fly in airplanes, use computers et, so the idea that the Republicans are anti science while the Democrats have members arguing that science is just a tool of oppression or Marxism is a valid economic system and are the pro science party is silly. Democrats cater to nerd egos, not science, and even though Fauci for instance has said contradictory things about every aspect of the Covid pandemic the fact that Biden will pretend to always put him on a pedestal while Trump treated him like any other government employee is enough to keep the majority of nerds on team D.

  34. The history of oppression only one issue in diversity for science. True, especially in educational institutions, female scientists and scientists of color have been denied senior positions, or in many cases, any positions at all. What is also at issue is the division between science and policy. It is not science that says to shut down restaurants during COVID-19, but public policy in response to science. I am not arguing whether that was the correct policy or not, but that a scientist is concerned with facts and provable or falsifiable hypotheses.
    The problem with political uniformity is that scientists frequently promulgate not only the results of research, but policy based on such research, to wit: Union of Concerned Scientists, Center for Science in the Public Interest, et. al. In general, democrats see the solution to problems as being a centrally controlled, centrally enforced policy applied to all people in the world or a nation. Republicans, in general, prefer more local control of policy, shaping policy balanced with the needs and preferences of the people in the state or city in question.
    If scientists are 12:1 democrats, and public policy is seen increasing an additional, though less scientific outcome of scientific research, policy solutions will tend always toward general, and less representative of the people the policy is for. A policy that works well in Manhattan may not work for the people in Oscoda, MI, or Peoria, IL, either imposing costs the local economy/government cannot sustain or lack local public support. In a republic such as the US, we have an assumption of governing with the consent of the governed.
    Another problem with public policy determined solely by scientific research is that they frequently argue using the modal fallacy. For example, in concluding that risks exist in vaping, public policy is now being promulgated to eliminate it. This policy ignores alternatives to vaping that are more dangerous by not comparing the relative dangers of the two activities, and noting that the some underage people take up vaping, but not noting that the propensity to start vaping is not significantly different from the propensity to start smoking, as measured prior to the introduction of vaping materials. This policy removes a smoking alternative, as well as a cessation method, because a risk was not measured against other alternatives.

  35. Who are they counting as “scientists?” A left wing bias may be the case in academia and government agencies but that is the same for all functions in academia and government. Scientists in the private sector are quite the opposite particularly in the fields where little to no government money or regulation is involved. There, only practical results matter and opinion means nothing, utopianism is shunned, and the objectivism that comes with conservatism is the preferred attitude.

  36. Theoretically, political orientation and religion should have no bearing on the talent of a scientist. I do believe that diversity of thought is important, but more so in situations where individuals are teaching others or making public policy. So especially in university situations, the lack of political diversity in our higher learning institutions has fostered a hostility towards those with differing ideological beliefs, and it has almost resulted an increasing rift forming between sociological classes is this country. Science depends on the freeness of people expressing ideas and opinions, and so does a free society. If we look at what happened in communist China with the Covid epidemic, several doctors who expressed concern early on were censored and threatened. Imagine how things might have been different if they had been allowed freedom of expression! The idea that “dangerous ideas” can be squelched is in itself a dangerous idea.

  37. The slightly astonishing thing here is that the space on the political spectrum normally occupied by three or four political parties is only occupied by one – the Democrats – in America. There is probably several times more diversity of political opinion within American “academic” Democrats than there is within American “academic” Republicans. The division into categories is misleading.
    That is orthogonal to the question of whether political opinion is better expressed with a left-right spectrum, or on a left-right-authoritarian-libertarian spread, or in a left-right-authoritarian-libertarian-emotive-analytical volume. If, indeed, they are appropriate parameters in “opinion space”.

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