On some issues, I do doubt the scientific establishment: 1) Darwinism and 2) global warming. Why? Because I think that in those two areas, science takes a back seat to ideology. Specifically, the ideologies of naturalism and socialism. And I’m not alone. Many the most informed conservatives also doubt the pontifications of the scientific establishment.
Reason magazine explains:
Just over 34 percent of conservatives had confidence in science as an institution in 2010, representing a long-term decline from 48 percent in 1974, according to a paper being published today in American Sociological Review.
The paper in ASR draws on attitudes as reflected in the General Social Survey, a “long-term study asking people various demographic and self-identification questions (including political identity) and for their attitudes on certain groups, including confidence in certain institutions.” The author of the paper, a post-doc at University of North Carolina, says:
Less-educated conservatives didn’t change their attitudes about science in recent decades. It is better-educated conservatives who have done so, the paper says.
In the paper, Gauchat calls this a “key finding,” in part because it challenges “the deficit model, which predicts that individuals with higher levels of education will possess greater trust in science, by showing that educated conservatives uniquely experienced the decline in trust.”
[The wording of the key question in the survey]…stresses attitudes toward “the people running these institutions.” It doesn’t ask whether you think science has changed. It’s specifically asking about the folks wearing literal and figurative lab coats who are running joints like the National Science Foundation, testifying before Congress, appearing on The Tonight Show while forecasting famine up the ying-yang and praising coercive population control measures, and who often end up being totally wrong about everything.
If it’s “educated conservatives” who have lost faith in scientists, a fully plausible possible explanation is simply that they recognize what libertarians and crypto-libertarians ranging from Thomas Szasz to Michel Foucault have been pointing out since the early 1960s in works starting with The Myth of Mental Illness and The Birth of the Clinic: That much if not all of what passes for dispassionate scientific discourse is hugely implicated in power struggles that have little or nothing to do with disinterested, true-for-all-times-and-all-places Truths with capital Ts.
So what the most educated conservatives are disagreeing about is not testable, repeatable, observable science. It’s the politicization of science by the scientific establishment that conservatives are skeptical about. For example, in cases of outright fraud like “archaeoraptor” and “Climategate“, where fake research is used to prop up a philosophy, i.e. – naturalism and socialism respectively.
It doesn’t help when the scientific establishment responds to skepticism with stuff like this: (links removed)
A whole slew of new “research” on conservatives’ and global warming skeptics’ “brains” has hit the academic circuit.
First off, environment and sociology Prof. Kari Norgaard’s new study claims skeptics of man-made global warming fears should be “treated” for their skepticism. The study compares skepticism to man-made climate fears to the struggle against racism and slavery.
Prof. Norgaard’s concept of “treating” those who do not follow the current day’s political or social orthodoxy is, frighteningly, not new. A quick look at the 20th century totalitarian super states reveals many similar impulses.
It’s even more chilling that there is a whole new movement afoot by the promoters of man-made global warming theory to intimidate climate skepticsby using new brain “research.”
Other researchers have attempted to tie conservatism (which is identified with the highest number of climate skeptics) to “low brainpower.”
Some global warming promoters claim it is essentially “unethical” to be a skeptic.
That’s not the evidence we are looking for.