Sunday, August 28, 2011

Scientists Have a Liberal Bias

Albert Eienstein
In a 2009 Pew Research survey only 6% of scientists identified themselves as Republicans and 9% as conservative. Why are scientists so much more liberal than the public at large?

Scientists are skeptics. They require proof of proposed theories. An acceptable theory must be consistent with all relevant facts and must make testable predictions. If any of a theory’s predictions is falsified, the theory is rejected. That is the scientific method. Scientists by nature and training are more immune to pandering than the average person.

Conservatives who speak of scientific “conspiracies” or “junk science” or say “it’s only a theory” to discredit legitimate scientific results inconsistent with their own prejudices, either misconstrue how science works or are dissembling. A good scientific theory is not just an educated guess. It is an explanation of a significant body of knowledge which has survived rigorous tests of its validity by independent researchers. Individual scientists have perpetrated short-lived frauds, but science’s requirements for peer review and independently reproducible experimental results inevitably expose error and fraud alike.

A review of 50 years of psychology research published in the Psychological Bulletin concluded that political conservatism is ultimately fear-based. Fear of change. Fear of the unknown. Scientists do not fear the unknown. They explain it. Knowledge, change/progress, and a generally liberal/progressive point of view are by-products of scientific enquiry. The question is, is your political philosophy rooted in fear or knowledge?

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