A fight has broken out in the blogosphere over whether Team Blue or Team Red is more “anti-science.” Microbiologist Alex Berezow, editor of RealClearScience, struck the first blow in the pages of USA Today. “For every anti-science Republican that exists,” he wrote, “there is at least one anti-science Democrat. Neither party has a monopoly on scientific illiteracy.”
The battle of the blogs was joined when Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science, denounced Berezow’s column as “classic false equivalence on political abuse of science,” over at the Climate Progress blog at the Center for American Progress. He accused Berezow of trying “to show that liberals do the same thing” by “finding a few relatively fringe things that some progressives cling to that might be labeled anti-scientific.”
Berezow acknowledged that a lot prominent Republican politicians including—would-be presidential candidates—deny biological evolution, are skeptical of the scientific consensus on man-made global warming, and oppose research using human embryonic stem cells. As evidence for Democratic anti-science intransigence, Berezow argued that progressives tend to be more anti-vaccine, anti-biotechnology when it comes to food, anti-biomedical research involving tests on animals, and anti-nuclear power.
In support of his claims, Berezow cited some polling data from a 2009 survey done by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. In fact that survey identified a number of partisan divides on scientific questions. On biological evolution, the survey reported that 97 percent of scientists agree that living things, including human beings, evolved over time and that 87 percent of them think that this was an entirely natural process not guided by a supreme being. Some 36 percent of Democrats believe that humans naturally evolved; 22 percent believe that evolution was guided by a supreme being; and 30 percent don’t believe humans have evolved over time. The corresponding figures for Republicans are 23 percent, 26 percent, and 39 percent, respectively.
On climate change, the Pew survey reported that 84 percent of scientists believe that the recent warming is the result of human activity. Among Democrats, 64 percent responded that the Earth is getting warming mostly due to human activity, whereas only 30 percent of Republicans thought so. That is truly a deep divide on this scientific issue.
Read the rest at Reason Magazine.