Saturday, November 1, 2014

Liberals Denying Science

Anyone who follows the media drumbeat will discover that conservatives are science-deniers.

In particular, conservatives are charged with denying the reality of climate change. They are accused of not believing in global warming and of rejecting the settled science about the future of the planet.

As I have occasionally mentioned, serious scientists do not believe that there is such a thing as “settled science.” Besides, predictions about the future, even those concocted by a computer, are not and cannot be scientific fact.

For my part I have long suspected (and blogged about the fact) that liberals, especially leftist radicals live their own kinds of science denial. At the least, they reject Darwinian theories about the difference between the sexes. They have no use for the notion that men and women are biologically distinct and that the observable differences are not mere social constructs.

It’s always good to have a new study proving that one is right, so we are happy to read Chris Mooney’s Washington Post article on Mark Horowitz’ research into science denial among liberal sociologists.

One accepts that academic sociologists are a good sampling of liberal and leftist academic opinion. Being academics they cannot be excused of being unaware of the facts.

The Post qualifies the scope of the research. It is not definitive, but it provides a good picture into leftist thinking:

The study is far from the authoritative word on the subject of left wing science denial. Rather, it is a provocative, narrow look at the question. In particular, the study examined a group of left wing people -- academic sociologists -- and evaluated their views on a fairly esoteric scientific topic. The specific issue was whether the evolutionary history of human beings has an important influence on our present day behavior. In other words, whether or not we are "blank slates," wholly shaped by the culture around us.

Being radical thinkers, these sociologists are unwilling to deviate from the feminist party line, even when science refutes it:

… the study also found that these scholars were less willing to consider evolutionary explanations for other aspects of human behavior, especially those relating to male-female differences. Less than 50 percent considered it plausible that that "feelings of sexual jealousy have a significant evolutionary biological component," for instance, and just 36.4 percent considered it plausible that men "have a greater tendency towards promiscuity than women due to an evolved reproductive strategy.” While it is hard to be absolutely definitive on either of these issues (we weren't there to observe evolution happen), evolutionary psychologists have certainly argued in published studies that people exhibit jealousy in sexual relationships in order to ensure reproductive fidelity and preserve the resources that come from a partner, and that men are more promiscuous because they are not constrained in how often they can attempt to reproduce.

Horowitz remarks that left-leaning academics have a tendency to be “dogmatic.” Clearly, they are so caught up in their ideas, in their vision for changing human nature that they find themselves on a collision-course with reality.

Mooney explains the root cause of their denial:

There's no doubt that many left leaning academics have historically been quite skeptical about evolutionary psychology, presumably out of the fear that ascribing certain traits to biology suggests that they cannot be changed -- and thus, can perpetuate inequality.

Jonathan Haidt adds:

When the facts conflict with...sacred values, almost everyone finds a way to stick with their values and reject the evidence. On the left, including the academic left, the most sacred issues involve race and gender. So that's where you find the most direct and I'd say flagrant denial of evidence. I think the results of this study do clearly show that political concerns influence the willingness of sociologists to consider a major class of causal factors in human behavior.

They might think of themselves as modern atheists, but dogmatic liberal academics are more like pagan idolaters, worshipping the god of Equality and fearing any word or thought that would give him offense.


Lindsay Harold said...

I have found several topics on which liberals are very anti-science. Probably the most notable of these is the science of pregnancy and birth. In their attempt to justify abortion, they make up the most ridiculous anti-science claims.

I have had pro-choicers tell me that human embryos are part of their mother's bodies and are being built by the mother's womb as in a factory. I have been told that when the baby separates from the mother at birth, then it's a separate organism. Maybe aliens in science fiction grow an extra set of limbs and organs and then divide to become two individuals, but humans don't reproduce that way.

I have had people tell me that unborn children are parasites. I have had them tell me that human embryos are not humans at all. I frequently hear that if killing an embryo is wrong, then masturbation is genocide (totally ignoring the scientific fact that sperm are not human individuals and human embryos are).

One has to wonder at the level of sheer ignorance that allows them to make such claims that contradict well-established science.

Ares Olympus said...

This is an important demonstration and Jonathan Haidt is a good "neutral" voice to show the blind spots on both sides.

This week I saw a video "debate" called "End of All Religions" with Sam Harris, and Martin Marty, and American Lutheran religious scholar.

Harris is following the ideal of "pure reason", a place he feels comfortable, so it seems obvious to him, if everyone just followed his lead, abandoned organized religion we'd be incapable of doing all the crazy things people do to other people in the name of religion.

Martin Marty noted Harris could recognize the excesses of religious fundamentalism without acknowledging his own fundamentalism in reason and science, and he didn't mention the Nazi's but their scientists did play "perfect objective observers", doing inhumane, involutary experiments on people, totally conscience free.

In regards to Lindsay Harold's "antiscience" claims of prochoicers, again, it's valuable to notice this sort of rationalization exists, start with a conclusion of what you want to be true, and stack as many contradictory facts, opinions, and speculations together that justify the desired conclusion, antiscience from top to bottom.

But its also pretty easy to see why they make such rationaliations. People have to make peace with their conscience, and when one group of people considers you a murder, you have to either except you are a murder, and repent and join their team, or categorically reject their judgments, and anything that they used to support their positions, science-based or not.

So to me this shows one aspect of why we need religion, but the thing is religions will NEVER agree on their moral limits, so you've got the same problem, people will end up picking religions that match their beliefs, or like Catholics, perhaps seek to moderate some of the absolutes by direct disobedience. But anyway, there are lots of variations of Christianity will avoid calling its flock murders for abortion.

It is interesting to see that some religions attract people because of the purity of their positions like prolife, while others attract people because they can handle some grays, and see the individual human conscience as something we can't develop in isolation, and can't develop well in projection of other people's behavior.

But back to science, every scientist will tell you "being a scientist is hard", and for all their biases, you can say they're the only ones seriously trying to reduce biases. And like sociology, even if there is a HUGE bias, whether feminist insprired or whatever equality doctrine, there biases will have to be corrected within, by other sociologists, who have different biases, but can learn to speak the same language, and show the contradictions.

So for the rest of us, Liberal or Conservative, I accept when we say "science" what we really mean is "authoritarian expert" who says what we want to hear, and we don't want questioned.

If anyone can see that in themselves, maybe we'll be a stop closer to openning our minds to our own hypocrisy.

Larry Sheldon said...

I am not a credentialed Scientist, but I have been interested in science since before I knew a word for it.

I don't think a thinking scientist uses the word "believe" in talking about science.