Gene Expression

Political views @ ScienceBlogs

About a year ago Tim Lambert asked ScienceBloggers to check out a political quiz and collected the responses. 29 of us responded, and below the fold I’ve placed two graphs which display a smoothed out frequency distribution across the two axes generated by the survey. As noted by the author of the quiz the two axes were extrapolated from the empirical variation of responses (their the first two principle components of eigenvectors). They are Left/Right and pragmatism. A more positive value represent Right and and “atheist” or “utilitarian” tendencies on each axis respectively. Remember that the author is British so the respondents and their distribution of responses would have generated an ideological scale relevant to that nation. We’ve doubled the number of bloggers since that original survey, I’d be curious if there’s been any change (I doubt that).



Note: I simply used the average scalar value across the ranges that Tim used for each cell in his table. That is, if there were 10 individuals in the box which ranged from 2 to 4 I placed them all at “3.” I was just looking for general trends.


  1. #1 Caledonian
    October 18, 2007

    Fascinating. I’d love to see a comparison to the political beliefs of scientists in general – anyone know of a good study that examines this?

  2. #2 empiricus
    October 19, 2007

    Eh, thanks, interesting.

    FWIW, I came up with L/R -3.25 pragmatism +4.75. I’m not surprised to be a bit more utilitarian (I’d be inclined to call it more consequentialist than utilitarian) than the modal science blogger (the fact that at 49 I’m presumably at least one sigma older than the mean and am a parent probably plays into that since a secular rise in pragmatism seems to be the normal result), but I’m a bit surprised that the left/right modal point is so far left.

    I know that (in the US at least) among the adult population as a whole, the “social” and “economic” left/right positions tend to be highly correlated (r = .7 to .8 depending on the survey). I find among my work peers (engineers in SoCal – mostly ex-aerospace) both the traditional nerd/geek overrepresentation of the libertarian corner, but also much more decorrelated social and economic axes (maybe r < .25). I wonder if in the sciences the same decorrelation occurs - impressions, anybody? (data would be too much to ask for).

  3. #3 Dave Munger
    October 19, 2007

    I never took that poll because it seemed oriented (orientated?) toward a British audience. I had never heard of the politicians mentioned in the test.

    Tried it again just now but couldn’t get it to load.

  4. #4 Dave Munger
    October 19, 2007

    Okay, finally managed to take the quiz. It actually didn’t seem as regionally biased as I remember.

    Here are my results:

    left/right -2.6617 (-0.1602)
    pragmatism +2.9994 (+0.1805)

  5. #5 razib
    October 19, 2007

    ah, you’d be in RPM’s box.

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