We are at war. I do not refer to the war in Afghanastan (though that too) but rather to the war between the religious right, Republicans, the 1% and various anti-science forces on one hand and everybody else on the other. Indeed, it is standard political wisdom that Fundamentalist Christians and Republicans constitute an overlapping (and where not overlapping, highly cooperative) group standing in opposition to science.

Right?

Well, actually, no. New research released literally moments ago suggests that things are a bit more complicated than this. It turns out that generally speaking, religious people in the US feel that he US is not spending enough on alternative energy while at the same time we are spending enough on defense. Have a look at the following image, depicting the results of a new poll by JZ Analytics and commissioned by ScienceDebate Dot Org:
i-298c08454884de26c1476c502f832ffa-ScienceDebateByFaith-thumb-500x363-73548.png

Here, we see that in answer to the question of whether or not a science debate on issues of health care, climate change,e nergy, etc. should occur, the vast majority of people, regardless of religious affiliation, feel that such a debate should happen . In fact, one could argue that only a very small percentage of people, for some reason or another, think that it should not. The number of people who seem to think that a science debate should not happen is in the same order of magnitude of those who believe in Bigfoot, Atlantic, or Alien Abduction. I’m not saying they are the same exact people, of course. I’m just sayin’

When we look at party affiliation, we see that Democrats strongly agree with the idea of the debate in higher proportion than do Republicans, but similar, and very large majorities do in fact want the debate to happen:
i-d5ea48473063268c30b8e092f9fc9681-ScienceDebate-Party-thumb-500x319-73551.png
Similar results pertain to related questions, such as, “should policy be based on the best available science, vs. personal opinions or beliefs.”

That is all rather astonishing until you realize that it makes no sense for the 1% or big business to be “against” science. They rely on science. They get rich off of science. They own science, in a way. But, they don’t want the people making science policy, so they made up this anti-science movement and have somehow gotten the press to comply with their strategy.

The most important finding of this survey may, however, may be about something else. This is the spending priorities of various groups. When people are asked to rank what we should spend our tax dollars on, the first thing most peole say is paying down the federal deficit; 62% of respondents think we don’t spend enough on that. Next comes developing alternative energy. The number of people who think we are spending too much on science and math education and scientific research is tiny, with a large majority of people saying that we are spending enough or not enough on those areas.
i-be45b199c7eb65cc7b117dcd3f3ce24d-SpendingPriotities-thumb-500x386-73554.png

Interestingly, a very large number of people, about 32%, claim we are spending too much on space exploration. This is a bit like asking people how much we spend on aid to foreign countries; most people have no idea how much we actually do spend, or on the percentage of our budget allocated to those areas, or in the case of space exploration, how integrated much of that is with Earth-based science on one hand and defense on the other. (In other words, most people probably consider the entirety of NASA’s budget as “space exploration” but think that mainly means “going to mars” when it actually means, in large part “looking at the earth.”)

The most important finding of the survey is probably this one:

Eighty-one percent of Republicans … said it is inappropriate for elected officials to hold back or interfere with scientific reports that conflict with their own views, along with just seventy-five percent of Democrats.

Read more about the survey here.

Comments

  1. #1 Childermass
    April 3, 2012

    So long as the Commission on Presidential Debates exists and the terms of the debates are determined by negotiations between the campaigns of the two major party candidates, all this talk about a science debates is just a waste of breath.

    Neither Mr. Romney nor Mr. Obama will agree to the debate unless it is in their interest to do so. Indeed, if one really want to improve the pathetic debates we had the last few times around the only way would be to get the package of debates agreed to in writing by both parties prior the time which they have a clear idea who their nominee is. And even then we have to hope that the candidate who thinks he will be weaker won’t break the deal.

  2. #2 Phil
    April 4, 2012

    And yet this contradicts much of Chris Mooney’s new book and the general sociological data which would indicate conservatives have become more distrustful of science.

    Discuss please.

  3. #3 Marion Delgado
    April 4, 2012

    Phil: It leaves out the “lie factor:” Republicans know how they look to others so they lie a lot.

    It also leaves out the “stupid factor:” Republicans regard intelligent design, climate change denialism, pesticide and other hazardous chemical toxicity denialism, tobacco denialism, declining resources, declining animal populations, and thousands of other anti-science campaigns as BEING the “sound science” vs. the “junk science” which the rest of the world calls science. So of course they don’t want politicized science like Al Gore’s theory that people can affect the climate. Look at what all the fuss about DDT by Rachel Carson did, just because she was some kind of “watermelon” – killed millions of poor Africans with malaria!

    Factor those 2 things in and you get all the other previous results.

  4. #4 JG
    April 4, 2012

    Eighty-one percent of Republicans … said it is inappropriate for elected officials to hold back or interfere with scientific reports that conflict with their own views, along with just seventy-five percent of Democrats.

    But a lot of those Republicans may be people who think our elected officials are, for ideological reasons, sitting on all those reports that reveal climate change to be a global hoax, etc. They may, too, be eager to see a science debate between the candidates because they reckon this will vindicate ID or, again, reveal the glorious truth of Climategate. Or UFOs.

    It may, of course, be that the cited result should be taken at face value, but it seems to fly in the face of so much other work. What raises real suspicion is not so much that the Republican figure is high but that the Democrat figure is low. I’ve done a certain amount of work in this field and — while of course it’s possible I’ve been a victim of the seeing-what-I-wanted-to-see syndrome — I’ve noticed no evidence of a strong minority, 25%, of Democrats preferring that elected officials should corrupt science along ideological lines.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    April 4, 2012

    Phil, Chris’s thesis is not contradicted by this, according to him. What I do know of Chris’s work is from a single session at a conference and a blog post, and I’ve noticed a lot of yammering about it from people who’ve not even read that much! So, I’ve committed to reading the book before I say anything.

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    April 4, 2012

    JG: I think it is unsafe to assume that a person “wanting a science debate” necessarily wants the debate to include only science and to exclude wedge-based anti-science. But so what? Let’s get people to the table where we can openly discuss what is at issue, in a different format than the back room with the sharp well paid lobbyists, some string, and a dim elected official with a nice suit. Then we can decide what “science” and “debate” mean at a finer level. The point is to make those decisions in the glaring hot light of “the whole world is watching” as opposed to the gray foggy light of “what do we tell people so they leave our clients alone.”

  7. #7 Marion Delgado
    April 5, 2012

    It’s a sign of progress that even 10 years ago the above comment would not be an obvious joke, but would be a serious comment and very butthurt if not taken seriously, etc.

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    April 5, 2012

    Where is your peer reviewed papers to prove that matter popped into existance without the aid of an intelligent designer?

    I accept this proposition as long as I get to personally decide what the Intelligent Designer is. (And yes, really, it’s a proper name so please give The Designer the respect of capitalizing the first letter of each word).

    I have decided that the intelligent designer is a Pony.

  9. #9 Darth_Loki
    April 6, 2012

    When I was younger. I thought that everybody thought like me. This is not just an intellectual comparison, but also a moral one. In business there are many shades of gray, in some businesses, as you rise higher, you move into a culture that treats the rest of society like barbarians at the gate, people to toss boiling oil on.

    Big buisness doesn’t have enough money to buy off everbody. It does have enough money to help like minded individuals rise up through the bureaucratic ranks, (of the so-called watch dog agencies.) It can afford to buy Academic chairs and influence the direction of the arguments. It can pay for academic conferences and then limit whose views are heard. The Kochs bought off WGBH Nova.

    This did not happen overnight, where are the asbestos companies? Many early 1% (along with a lot of major industries) were witnesses to the demise of the asbestos companies. Many of them took away: not to do any wrong from the experience, but a few took away a different message.

    They would never let any government organization have enough power to force them to do anything. Science provides the facts that will convict them, or ruin their plans. Science is the Carthage to businesses Rome.

    The Republican War on Science began before most of you were born. We have to unwind over 30 years of corruption.

    If flames shooting out of a faucet isn’t damning evidence, what is?

  10. #10 Lorax
    April 6, 2012

    @Chauncey ‘livin’ under a bridge’ Gardiner

    You said:
    Real™ scientists acknowlege nature as God’s artwork.
    Real™ Christains believe in a 6 day creation.

    So,
    Where is your peer reviewed papers to prove that God popped the universe, earth, and all life on it into existance in 6 days? Where is your peer reviewed papers to prove that Christianity is NOT a scam designed to divert attention away from a theocratic world government organization?

    Since Im sure Greg is busy, Ill answer your questions, after you answer mine.

  11. #11 Greg Laden
    April 6, 2012

    Chauncey, to be honest, I have no idea. It is not my field of expertise.

  12. #12 Darth_Loki
    April 6, 2012

    Sorry I should have made that the 1% War on Science. I am a bit slow to get the point sometimes. So the Republicans can’t be singled out for staring the War on Science. The Republicans had 1% agent provocateurs mixed in with the Republican crowd who were throwing the Molotov’s at science.

    If we can get the Republicans to see the agent provocateurs among them, it could make for some interesting mob dynamics.

  13. #13 Dave
    April 6, 2012

    At least Chauncey has had the courtesy of removing all doubt of their complete ignorance of the scientific method.

  14. #14 Chauncey Gardiner
    April 6, 2012

    @ Lorax

    Peer reviewed papers are only needed when dealing with liberals who constantly ask for peer reviewed literature whenever they can no longer tolerate the topic at hand.

    Religion/faith needs no peer reviewed papers, hence the word FAITH. Theocratic world government? Are you referring to the global caliphate being constructed by radical islamists as we speak or are you referring to when Jesus comes back and rule the world for all eternity? Please specify which scenario you refer to.

    As it stands communists,socialists,secular oppressives, fake scientists, and evil politicians, and islamic terrorists are all working together to form a world government. Little do the rest know that once formed the Islamics will kill the rest and take over the world and once man will rule all. I encourage you to read Revelation and forsee your doom. As for me I plan to be in the rapture and skip the beheadings by the antiChrist and his islamic minions.

  15. #15 NJ
    April 6, 2012

    “Chauncey Gardiner” aka Rob Hood the undertreated mentally ill denizen of SB @ 16:

    As it stands communists,socialists,secular oppressives, fake scientists, and evil politicians, and islamic terrorists are all working together to form a world government.

    At least you are sticking with an original ‘nym for a while now, Rob. The “Being There” character’s posts smelled a bit like you, but I wasn’t certain until you launched into your old routines.

    As for me I plan to be in the rapture

    Too bad that Blondie beat you to it by a few years…

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