COMMENTARY: Why are conservatives stepping away from science?

By Blogger David Scott
Politics + Religion

Both my wife and I have degrees in science and put a lot of confidence in the scientific method in which conclusions are based on replicable experiments. All responsible scientists would scoff at conclusions drawn from anything less.

In the April 1 issue of “The L.A. Times,” a short article caught my eye entitled, “Conservatives have lost faith in science, new study shows.” A recent study conducted by the American Sociological Review revealed trust in science among conservatives and frequent churchgoers had plummeted since 1974. Before that time, conservatives had the highest level of trust in scientists. Another striking statistic is confidence in science had declined most among the most educated conservatives.

A Gallop poll conducted also in 2012 found just 30 percent of conservatives believe in global warming. Past surveys among conservatives have shown less than half believe in evolution.

I think because so many political conservatives in the U.S. are evangelical Christians, it is fair to assume their beliefs greatly influence this attitude toward science. My question is “Why and how can such a large segment of our population simply disregard scientific research?”

I can only speculate why intelligent and often well-informed people are eager to treat science so cavalierly and hold it in such low regard, especially considering what science has meant to the betterment of the human condition.

If I had to guess, it is this evangelical group’s willingness to take a “leap of faith,” the very requirement their religious faith requires of them. Don’t think, just believe! Do it, even if it defies reason! Don’t ask questions, just do it! Put your faith in wishful thinking in lieu of facts!

The Bible is a lot of things, but good science, it’s not. For these believers, to abdicate their ability to reason in exchange for biblical inerrancy is, at least to me, a bargain, not with an omniscient God, but with an ignorant devil.

If these people could harmlessly think their unenlightened thoughts in a vacuum, no harm done. Unfortunately, these people vote, run for office, and set national and international policy governing our lives, our future, the natural world, and our very survival. In this case, I think it’s fair to say blind faith can kill.

Advertisements

2 responses to “COMMENTARY: Why are conservatives stepping away from science?

  1. Pingback: Science – The Real Fabric of our Lives « While you were sleeping

  2. The study DOES NOT say conservatives are losing faith in science, it says conservatives are losing faith in the scientific community. And why shouldn’t they when you have someone like Gauchat who is willing to confuse the two just to make a political point?
    Don’t believe it? Here’s the study: http://www.eenews.net/assets/2012/03/28/document_cw_01.pdf

    And then Gauchat roams WAY beyond the boundaries of the study to speculate on why conservatives are losing faith in “science.” Incredible.

    For a more complete debunking, see reason.com: http://reason.com/blog/2012/03/30/why-dont-conservatives-trust-scientists

    Meanwhile, in the news:

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – A former researcher at Amgen Inc has found that many basic studies on cancer — a high proportion of them from university labs — are unreliable, with grim consequences for producing new medicines in the future.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s