Ragged Clown

It's just a shadow you're seeing that he's chasing…


Right on science

John Derbyshire, over at Secular Right, has a post speculating on whether the left or the right is more hostile to science.

there are two sides to the Left’s claim to be the more science-friendly faction. It’s not just conservative politics that is hostile to science, it’s any politics, though the particular scientific topic objected to may be different for Left and Right.

A fair point, I thought, but a reader follows up with this demand:

identify a finding — not a practice, like embryo-destructive stem cell research, but a finding — that is obnoxious to conservatives.

His top two candidates for science finding that causes hostility on the left (doesn’t that kind of miss the point of the question -ed) are:

  • The whole nature/nurture thing
  • and (related) the idea that there are regional variations between human populations

Those two bother me too but I wonder if they are a left/right thing *shrug*

Derbyshire dismisses the obvious one on the right:

Since science is mostly carried out in places where Right Creationists, Geocentrists, etc.  have no influence, but blank-slate Left “culturists” and po-mo words-have-no-meaning deconstructionists have tremendous influence, I’d guess the Left has the potential to do more damage, at least in the human sciences

but, given that almost two thirds of americans believe in some form of creationism, the amount of space free from creationist influence is probably somewhat limited.

With a few seconds thought I came up with a few that conservatives are likely hostile to:

  • The climate is changing
  • Climate change is caused by human activities
  • Species are disappearing species
  • Rainforest is disappearing
  • Sonar interferes with whale migration
  • Lead, MTBE, sulphur dioxide (etc) has harmful effects
  • (let’s just say environmental issues in general)
  • Abstinence education is counter-productive
  • (let’s say reproductive issues in general)
  • Origin of the species/descent of man
  • Geological age of earth/universe
  • Drug X has side-effects
  • Crime is linked to social environment

It’s true that not all conservatives are hostile to all these findings but I might say the same about Derbyshire’s list wrt liberals. It’s certainly true that some very prominent conservatives are hostile to them and have been instrumental in affecting policy as a result.