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Why are so many Republicans skeptical of science?

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“All people are born alike – except Republicans and Democrats.”  — Groucho Marx.

In the 50-plus years I’ve been writing about politics, I’ve never found a completely satisfying answer to the question posed in the headline above.

I’ve even read scholarly academic articles, including one from the National Institutes of Health bearing the unwelcoming title:  “The Automatic Conservative: Ideology-Based Attentional Asymmetries in the Processing of Valenced Information.”

But all  I got from that piece was useless stuff like this: “[I]ndividuals embracing conservative political views might be more sensitive to signals of threat, and display avoidance regulatory strategies, that is an orientation focused on the prevention of negative outcomes at both a personal and group level.”

Yeah, sure.

In the final analysis, I think the only valid answer to the question in the headline boils down to one word: Fear.

Follow me on this:

Conservative Republicans tend to think of themselves as more religious than liberal Democrats. These right-wingers live in great fear that the apostasy they perceive among liberals poses an existential  threat to everything they believe. If human  evolution is true, then biblical creationism is false. And if creationism is false, almost everything is open to question. In the end, science is a potential enemy of religion.

That’s perhaps an overly simplistic explanation, but it serves my purposes here.

The fundamental problem with climate change, in the mind of your typical conservative, is that it’s based entirely on science, which makes it suspicious from the get-go.  A serious threat to the continued existence of this planet and the people on it cannot be explained to the satisfaction of some religious folks solely in terms of greenhouse gases. The one true God would not allow the fate of the entire world  to pivot on matters of air pollution.

Which bring us back to the issue of fear. The fear among right-wing Republicans is that the issues and questions raised by science will militate against religious zeal. The fear among liberals like me is that the issues and questions raised by science will be ignored by right-wing Republicans until it’s too late to guard against horrible consequences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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26 Comments

  1. Brad Clark

    Religion came into existence in order for people with MUCH MUCH less information than we have today to explain the physical world around them. I was tempted to say “ignorant people,” but first of all it wasn’t the fault of people 2,000 or 5,000 years ago to not know about quarks, for example; further, people in the future could fairly, by the same rules, consider US “ignorant.” Religion has most obviously outlived whatever usefulness it once may have had. The fact that people still believe in these fairy tales tell us that humans as a species are less mature than we oughta be. Although, I firmly believe in my heart of hearts that a hell of a lot fewer people REALLY believe in god and all that silliness than are willing to admit it. It will be a great day, in my opinion, when an acknowledged atheist is elected president.

    • Nothing wrong with religion. Plenty of people are scientists and are still Christians, Muslims, Buddists, Sikhs, pagans, and everything else. All good. What’s really annoying are know-it-all arrogant atheists who think they are better than everyone else. Atheists are by far the worst religious cult out there.

      • Brad Clark

        If you’re referring to me, I certainly don’t think I’m better than anyone else. I also sure don’t agree with your “all good” description of religion. You know what’s really funny/ironic? People who think there’s some sort of “heaven” or afterlife following our deaths. They’ll never know that they’re wrong!

      • Brad knows with 100% certainty that there is no after life. Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddists all believe in afterlife. In other words, Brad thinks he knows more than about 80% of the world’s population, but then he claims “he’s not better than anyone else.” Brad is a very confused person.

        • Neftali, some famous person said energy can be neither created or destroyed, or something like that. From that perspective and knowing that life forms are energy, it certainly is possible that energy is recycled, but I think the vision that organized religions provide of life after death is romanticized at best.

          Although there are some people and pets I’d like to see and be with again, there are others that I wouldn’t. Besides that, how will we be even recognizable to our deceased loved ones if they died long before we did?

          In the belief system that says heaven or hell awaits us, its really in place for those left behind to remain hopeful of future coupling than it is a realistic mature expectation.

          If it makes you feel better, its not hurting anybody unless wars or killings are inspired by it as one religion claims superiority over another. Oh wait, that part is very realistic.

          • Robert Hazz Geaunads

            To further expand on my thesis about being recognizable to loved ones who entered the mythical heaven long before those who loved them: What happens if that person who died first and many years prior, meets someone else in heaven? I mean, it would hardly be heaven if the person who entered that fairytale kingdom had to pine for years, for the persons they left behind to hurry up and die, would it?

            At least from the way I’ve had heaven explained to me. It’s suppose to be worry free isn’t it and everything that life on earth fell short of being? Isn’t it?

            And what about all those animals that were slaughtered for food? What about all their souls? And what about all the people and creatures who died before us? It’s got to be getting filled up by now, I would think. I see what overpopulation looks like here on earth, why would I magically like it up in heaven. I’ll still be me and have my spacial and me time requirements, won’t I?

            On second thought, I don’t know if heaven is all mortals have made it out to be.

          • Robert Hazz Geaunads

            From the Hey, Jackass… website. Reflecting Chicago stats, but they are similar across the nation. The format may move but the first number reflects victims, the number next to it, the assailant.

            2017 Race of Victim/Assailant

            Race Victim Assailant
            Black 385 51
            Hispanic 82 5
            White/Other 14 2
            Police – 10
            Self Defense – 8
            Unknown 11 416
            As of 9/11/17

            http://heyjackass.com/

            But those damn police, they’re the problem… yeah, right… and liberals play into that false narrative and will never call out BS, because the only people they feel comfortable offending are conservatives, republicans and people who don’t play into their snowflake professional victimhood mentality, like me.

        • Brad Clark

          Don’t be so silly, Mr. or Ms. Neftali. Since I haven’t died recently, I obviously can’t say with ANY certainty that there is no afterlife. That is simply my strongly held belief, and I have yet to see any evidence to prompt me to change my mind. And, unless you know something I don’t, you haven’t either. Hey I’d love to think that someday I’ll get to see my father again, but, I repeat, I just have no reason whatsoever to think that that is gonna happen.

  2. Steverino

    Republicans at one point did acknowledge the importance of science and empirical evidence but then realized that in order to get elected and reelected they needed big donor money from the fossil fuel industry, the NRA and evangelicals.

  3. Steverino

    They deny scientific research on lead bullets.

  4. Shawn Robinson

    There was a law passed 20 years ago by the Republican congress forbidding the Centers for Disease Control to promote any advocacy on gun control.
    The Republicans are in a hurry to undo Democratic legislstion but the reverse policy has not been taken by the Democrats.
    Personally, I think gun control will works as well as drug control or other vice suppression. However, the fact that there is a political party dedicated to not studying or even opposing scientific claims is certainly not “making America great again.” It’s a policy of saying acquiring knowledge isn’t worth federal money.
    https://www.google.com/amp/www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-gun-research-funding-20160614-snap-story,amp.html

    • That’s a common sense bill. The CDC has no business wasting time and money collecting info about gun control. The CDC should concentrate on what it’s best at, research and preventing diseases.

      What statistical info about gun injuries/deaths? Sounds like a job for the FBI, or the US Bureau of Data & Statistics.

      https://www.usa.gov/statistics

  5. Why are so many Republicans skeptical of science?”

    Because science is the antithesis of many republicans/conservatives core personal belief systems. Nature plays a role in that.

    As far as republican politicians, most are charlatans and paid well to error against science.

  6. Heresy!
    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/11/the-republican-party-isnt-really-the-anti-science-party/281219/
    “It is on this subject that many on the political left deeply hold some serious anti-scientific beliefs. Set aside the fact that twice as many Democrats as Republicans believe in astrology, a pseudoscientific medieval farce. Left-wing ideologues also frequently espouse an irrational fear of nuclear power, genetic modification, and industrial and agricultural chemistry—even though all of these scientific breakthroughs have enriched lives, lengthened lifespans, and produced substantial economic growth over the last century.”

  7. Steverino

    If the NRA wants to arm every citizen for their own protection you would think they might want to welcome a study on the hazards of gun ownership regardless of the organization producing the research. The CDC viewed this as a health challenge and made a concerted effort to produce “scientific” data before the NRA lobby put the kibosh to their research. They claimed guns are not a disease and of course any negative impact might jeopardize profits.

    • Guns are not a disease. Knives are not a disease. Baseball bats are not a disease. Automobiles are not a disease. Frickin grenades are not a disease. All can kill you.

      The Center for DISEASE Control has no business investigating gun stats. Such information is the responsibility of the FBI or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Why is that so hard for leftists to comprehend?

      • There’s a movement, especially related to all the gun violence happening in the black neighborhoods, to label gun violence as a disease.

        http://www.npr.org/2017/03/08/519068305/treat-gun-violence-like-a-public-health-crisis-one-program-says

      • More government is always good.
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/08/us/atf-tobacco-cigarettes.html

        Nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year, on average 3,287 deaths a day. An additional 20-50 million are injured or disabled. More than half of all road traffic deaths occur among young adults ages 15-44. asirt.org

        13,286 people were killed in the US by firearms in 2015 according to the Gun Violence Archive (excludes suicide)

        • Robert Hazz Geaunads

          The problem with the liberal mindset is they don’t want to offend anybody and call a spade a spade. Instead they placate to a minority of loud mouthed activists that are responsible for the majority of the murders and violence in our nations big cities. We all know who they are. It just can’t be spoken and the media will never make a national story of it. Therein lays the problem. We can’t talk about a serious issue in our country, that is destroying lives and families at an alarming rate, unless its a policeman that has to respond to all that violence and errors in favor of his life than the criminal in pursuit. But there’s no problem demonizing white people and particularly, white straight males and police. The liberal media is all over that. Even conservatives on this board won’t contribute to a conversation on race and the current decaying status of said relations. (Many black people are very concerned about the decaying race relations happening in our country because they’re honest and know its a black cultural problem that they are handicapped in trying to resolve. If they even acknowledge it, they’re demonized and their lives threatened in many instances.)

          Facts don’t matter in the above scenario. I’ve spoken to many people of color who are just as sick of all the violence as the rest of us. They’ll even acknowledge whose behind most of it, but they can’t be public about it. They get called traitors and Uncle Tom’s and become targets by the thugs destroying the inner cities. Look at the harassment and names Charles Barkley gets called for not playing into the liberal narrative and look at the media who gives phonies like Colin Kaepernick a platform. That’s how screwed up liberal politics has become, that they placate and play up the victim angle to the very perps causing all the problems. And to people like me for calling out BS, I become the face and breath of those mean people out there holding back good people from making the right decisions. Total BS. That’s how screwed up liberal ideology has become and why I no longer reside left of center.

          • Robert Hazz Geaunads

            I need to clear up a point I made. It’s not the activist out there doing the murders and the crimes (maybe vandalism during their riots though), it’s the perps they protect by refusing to discuss, in any public way or allow anyone else to, that are responsible for the bulk of the criminal activity and murders, in the very neighborhoods the police are expected to patrol and give benefit of the doubt, that the perp theyre trailing, isn’t armed and a threat to their life.

            If I read this blog right, its the left that thinks making the appropriation of those very guns harder to access, that is suppose to be the answer. In the mean time they expect the police to give benefit of the doubt to the very people who have show through crime stats, they’re the most likely to have a gun and use it.

            Maybe the solution will be to not keep crime stats either. We already can’t give a full description of the alledged perpetrator, only their sex. When will even giving the sex descriptor become politically incorrect to. Afterall, aren’t most the perps, males? Isn’t that unfairly putting a target on all men?

  8. Steverino

    Now the gun lobby wants silencers. Not a virus but very sickening.

  9. Shawn Robinson

    Democrats are not the science party. There is no science party in the US. However, it’s usually Republicans leading the charge against any science-minded ideas. Policies having to do with teaching evolution, acceptance of homosexuality as a normal behavior in the animal kingdom, and environmental policies to curb pollution are usually met with conservative opposition. Vaccine skepticism is a bi-partisan folly.
    https://newrepublic.com/article/139700/democrats-party-science-not-really

    Also the people sending scientist Michael Mann death threats and subpeonas over his research certainly aren’t liberals. No matter if you think he is deceiving people for adding his name to a presentation plaque for an award he got as part of a team, I doubt he deserves any of the poor treatment he gets.
    https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/22/climate-change-science-attacks-threats-trump

  10. Steverino

    The gun lobby has you bamboozled.

  11. Nice try.

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