Friday, April 13, 2012

Trust In Science

Jonathan Adler has some commentary on the recent reports that conservatives have lost faith in science.  The question asked was about trust in "the scientific community," which is not the same thing.  To some folks, the overlap is believed to be so great as to make any distinction inconsequential, which is how they can get from "trust in science" to "trust in the scientific community" without noticing the change.  There may be some so convinced of postmodernist conspiracies that they believe there is hardly any overlap at all.

Most people believe there is some overlap.  I think conservatives believe there isn't enough, at least at the moment - which is why they don't trust as much as they used to. 
This split is one possible explanation for Gauchat’s finding that the decline in confidence in “the scientific community” has been greater among more educated conservatives — those who may be more aware of actions by leading scientists and scientific institutions that have squandered some of science’s credibility as many scientists have embraced political advocacy and sought to claim that science supports specific policy agendas. It’s also possible that some conservatives have become alienated from the scientific community insofar as they have perceived science to support “liberal” causes (e.g. environmental activism, government regulation) as opposed to “conservative” causes (e.g. military technology, industrial progress, etc.), as well as by the outward hostility toward religion voiced by many prominent scientists.


Texan99 said...

If I were transported into the 18th century and expressed skepticism about medicine based on "humors," I suppose I'd be labeled as untrusting of medicine.

I like science just fine. I have one or two liberal friends who are genuinely trained in science. They are appropriately cautious about drawing conclusions about global warming's existence and causes. The rest of my liberal friends haven't the vaguest notion what the scientific controversy is about, and are going by what they read in the newspapers or hear on TV. They're basically rooting for a team that makes them feel good about their benevolent and enlightened intentions.

If most people really wanted to do something effective about the environment, they'd collect rainwater, use on-site sewage treatment such as composting toilets, and quit putting fertilizer or pesticides on their yards -- by far the three biggest impacts they can make. The obsession with CO2 is just a way to push the issue into the comfortable distance.

james said...

Marcus the Physician called yesterday on the marble Zeus. Though marble and though Zeus, the funeral is today.

Nicarchus O(100AD)

Sam L. said...

The politicization of science is what's caused conservatives to have less respect and trust for the science community. See: James Hanson of NASA.