Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives…
I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.
― John Stuart Mill
Yesterday an opinion column appeared in Nature arguing that the scientific community should steer clear of partisan politics (http://www.nature.com/news/science-should-keep-out-of-partisan-politics-1.16473 by Daniel Sarewitz). Dr. Sarewitz’s arguments and sentiments are high-minded, but really only has traction in the ideal World where support and respect for science was bi-partisan. We do not live there. We live in a World were science has been politicized and attacked. These attacks have come predominantly from one side, the conservatives and their dominant organization, the GOP. Until support and attacks on science are more balanced it is inevitable that the scientific community aligns with one side over the other.
As mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.
― President George Washington
The assault on science and reason by conservatives is seemingly endless. Leading the charge is the denial of climate change and the threat it poses to humanity. The reasoning for the denial is two-fold, the risk action on climate would impart to the ruling corporate class, and the conservatives love of their wasteful, destructive lifestyles (which largely fuel profit to the corporate overlords). Further attacks occur within their embrace of fundamental religious faction’s desire to indoctrinate our children with their myths in place of science (i.e., creationism). In other venues the conservatives attack science that goes against corporate greed be it environmental science, medicine and especially the social sciences. Conservatives deny the underlying biological basis of homosexuality because of its implications for their religious beliefs. Time and time again it is their commitment to traditional religious belief over science and reason that drives a wedge.
The attacks on science and reason are by no means completely one-sided. Both liberals and conservatives fail to repudiate the various science deniers and neo-Luddite factions in their midst. For instance liberal anti-science can be see with anti-vaccine, anti-GMO and anti-nuclear movements. Each of these is based on fear of technology and is fundamentally irrational. For instance, the coupling of liberal environmental leanings and anti-nuclear mindsets undermines support for action on climate change (https://wjrider.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/why-climate-science-fails-to-convince/).
Of all the varieties of virtues, liberalism is the most beloved.
Science is liberal and progressive by its very nature. The fundamental character of research puts it at odds with conservatism almost a priori. Nothing is wrong with religion per se, but when it stands in the way of knowledge and progress there is a problem. The conservatives use religion to control the masses and subjugate people as they have for millennia. This takes the form of fundamentalism, which is the enemy of science, progress and humanity at large. Since science and reason threaten the means that conservatives control the masses, it is a threat to their power. This is the core of the GOP’s repeated attacks on science. This is why scientists will line up on the other side against them.
When the experts’ scientific knowledge is legitimated in terms of being rational, logical, efficient, educated, progressive, modern, and enlightened, what analogies can other segments of society . . . utilize to challenge them?
― Martin Guevara Urbina