Monday, March 18, 2013

War On Science

I found this article to be most interesting:
You hear a lot about the politicization of science, but the real problem is the moralization of science. The New York University psychologist Jonathan Haidt has made a compelling case that moral differences drive partisan debates over scientific issues. Dan Kahan and others at the Yale Cultural Cognition Project have identified cultural differences that bias how people assimilate information. Together, Haidt and Kahan’s research suggests that what you believe about a scientific debate signals to like-minded people that you are on their side and are therefore a good and trustworthy person. Unfortunately, this means that the factual accuracy of beliefs is somewhat incidental to the process of moral signaling...

Let’s look at what scientific research says—and does not say—about the moralized issues of climate change, biological evolution, nuclear power, genetically modified crops, exposure to synthetic chemicals, concealed carry of guns, vaccines, video games, fracking, organic foods, and sex education. I chose this list largely because I could find relevant ideological polling data and majority scientific opinions. Applying Mooney’s standard of seeing whether fewer of one ideological tendency gets the science wrong, we find that Democrats are less wrong on four issues, Republicans are less wrong on six, and the parties are tied on one.
Fairly even, but you'd think it would be more lopsided for people who call themselves the "reality-based community".

1 comment:

allen (in Michigan) said...

The article pretty quickly descends to the "yes you are - no I'm not, you are" form of argumentation which typifies left-right exchanges without delving further. The author of the "Reason" piece delves no further into the underlying causes of the difference then the researchers he quotes.

That there's a difference between left and right is self-evident but Mr. Bailey does no more then anyone else in attempting to come to terms with the underlying forces that result in that difference.

Too bad.

Measuring, characterizing, understanding the resulting phenomena is crucial to an understanding of the underlying forces, and reflexive in a scientist but Mr. Bailey, and the researchers he's quoting, aren't scientists. I'm beginning to suspect that a lack of clarity on the motivating forces precludes moving beyond the sort of valueless arguments Mr. Bailey describes.