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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Pew: Only 6% of Scientists are Republican

Wow. Just wow. A Pew Research Center for the People & the Press study finds that the Republican party is really unpopular in the scientific community. Check out this poll graphic:

Only 6% identify with the GOP and only 9% call themselves conservative. I suppose you can attribute this to the fact that when science and ideology butt heads among Republicans, ideology wins. The GOP has become the party of the scientific crank -- climate, evolution, environmentalism, stem cell research, Big Bang theory, etc. are all areas that Republicans have politicized.

Add to this that Republican stances on non-scientific issues aren't exactly rational (i.e., "Saddam has a death ray! FREAK THE FUCK OUT!!") and it's no surprise that they don't appeal to minds trained in logic.

There is some bad news here as well. Only 32% of non-scientists believe that "humans, other living things have evolved due to natural processes" and only 49% believe that the "earth is getting warmer because of human activity." Who do scientists blame for this widespread ignorance?

The media. 85% of scientists believe the "public does not know very much about science" and 76% say that the "news does not distinguish between well-founded findings and those that are not" -- i.e., evolution vs. creationism and climate science vs. global warming denial. That's been a long-standing complaint of mine as well; the media is stuck in a version of "objectivity" that doesn't actually inform, but confuses. If you have someone talking about evolution, you absolutely have to talk to some creationist nutjob. And you absolutely have to treat both people as if their arguments are equally sound. In doing so, the media leaves the consumer no better informed after the smoke clears -- no questions were answered, because the report was only about the questions. You watched an idiot yell at a scientist and you walked away just as dumb as you were before. If the media reported the facts, not the ginned-up "controversy," we'd all be a lot better off.

And a lot smarter.


Anonymous said...

If 6% of scientists are conservative, does that mean 94% of conservatives are morons?

Steve said...

No. It means that people draw their own biased conclusions from poll results without knowing the underlying demographics of the poll respondents. If science and math teachers and professors are the predominant sample, the poll results are no surprise to anyone. Those that can do...

Sorry, I know its not true but it was irresistable.

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