Is the Political Left becoming anti-science?

A good question... Suffice to say that when it comes to science--in the generalist of terms--each side of the political aisle has sub-groups that undoubtedly go off the rails when it comes to their perceptions of information and data. Their views tend to be cynical, conspiratorial, and one-dimensional. Nevertheless on a wide variety of issues the Left has felt and portrayed that "science" is unconditionally on its side.

When you take into account some polling data, it is easily understood why Lefties might feel reaffirmed by this condition and thus package and market it as a truism. From Pew Research, circa 2009.  

Most scientists identify as Democrats (55%), while 32% identify as independents and just 6% say they are Republicans.

Now the two areas in which the Left tends to use as proof that the GOP is anti-science are the canards of climate-change and evolutionary theory. Conversely a Pew Poll taken back in 2013 indicates that 61% of non-Tea Party GOP'ers actually believe that climate change is taking place while on 25% of Tea Party affiliated Republicans feel the sameway. The debate within non-Tea Party GOP circles is actually not necessarily whether if it is happening but what is causing it: 32 % because of human activity as compared to 24% because of natural patterns.

Another poll done in 2013 as well, by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Science, measured the responses of Republicans and Republican leaning Independents towards climate change. It showed that 51% of these groups believe that climate change is indeed taking place, 26% saying no it isn't, and 22% saying they don't know. What is even more surprising is that a whopping 77% favor the pursuit of alternative and renewable energy sources in the future and "7 out of 10" believe we should do it immediately.

What this puts on display is that the GOP's attitude is for the most part in line with the one presented by the scientific community. Hardly, "anti-science."

Next on the list is evolutionary theory.

According to a Gallup poll done in 2010,  36% of Republicans believe that humans evolved but that God guided the process. Fifty-two percent believe that God created humanity in their present form over the last 100,000 years. However, for Democrats, 34% believe in the latter as well. While this number is hardly the majority of thought for the respondents, it is still significant when you consider that 40% of Democrats believe that humanity evolved but that God oversaw this development. This is almost a 50-50 split on this issue. Also...the Democrats are the one's who have displayed the propensity of believing they have the lock on scientific thought and to have that number of people disbelieving in evolutionary is rather shocking.

Where the Left apparently goes off the rails and heads into bat-shit crazy is on the issue of vaccinations. To date several prominent actresses, pols, and celebrities--most of them being of leftward bent--have weighed in on the issue making some egregious claims that vaccines are responsible for causing autism, asthma, diabetes type-1, and SIDS. Moreover, no legitimate data or theory subscribes that vaccinations are causal in any of the above mentioned conditions or backs-up any of the claims made by these dullards. Spurious accusations have been made that this is a right-wing issue but Dr. Alex Berezow at Real Clear Science has compiled some interesting data which attempts to correlate that the anti-vax movement is mainly a left-wing phenomena.

Since there really is no definitive polling data which has been done, Dr. Berezow looked a the
states with the highest exemption from vaccination rates and then crossed compared those states with their election results from the 2012 Presidential contest.

Oregon (7.1%); Obama +12
Idaho (6.4%); Romney +32
Vermont (6.2%); Obama +36
Michigan (5.9%); Obama +9
Maine (5.5%); Obama +15 
Alaska (5.3%); Romney +14
Arizona (4.9%); Romney +9
Wisconsin (4.9%); Obama +7
Washington (4.7%); Obama +15 
Colorado (4.6%); Obama +5
Utah (4.4%); Romney +48

As you can see seven of the eleven states which voted for Obama have the nation's highest vaccine exemption rates Furthermore, the notoriously blue Oregon---home of where progressives fear fluoride--has the highest exemption rate on the list. If this is your choice of measure Dr. Berzow has definitively shown that the anti-vaxxer crowd resides statistically heavier on the left side of the spectrum. If not, you might add that the evidence is nothing more than cherry picking a specific data point which coincidentally correlates to political bent.

Whatever your choice of perspective might be it is safe to say that most of these canards being presented as "fact," (i.e. Republicans are all anti-science, Democrats are all anti-vaxxers) are prejudiced agenda-driven generalities. Moreover the logical conclusion which can be drawn is that these constructs are merely representations of sub-groups which happen to inhabit a particular political category. It is a false premise, at least in these particular instances, to assume that all members or even a majority of each political party are anti-science. is patently absurd to assume that the political Left can lay absolute claim to the "mantle of science" and that people who vote GOP are Flat-Earth, trailer park dwelling, rubes. If you believe in marketing constructs like these you making a conscious choice to surrender your ability to think freely and logically. Becoming dependent on extrinsic motivations and tribal agendas to make your cognitive choices and shape your beliefs for you.

Finally, the only thing I can say about this with any degree of certainty is that neither side has science on its side anymore than they have God.



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