Majority of scientists are liberal

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    May 23, 2011 12:27 AM GMT
    Old news (Pew poll from 7/2009), but something to bear in mind when liberals and feelings are mentioned in the same sentence.

    Somebody care to offer an explanation why there are so few self-described conservative scientists?
    http://people-press.org/2009/07/09/public-praises-science-scientists-fault-public-media/
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    May 23, 2011 12:31 AM GMT
    q1w2e3 saidOld news (Pew poll from 7/2009), but something to bear in mind when liberals and feelings are mentioned in the same sentence.

    Somebody care to offer an explanation why there are so few self-described conservative scientists?
    http://people-press.org/2009/07/09/public-praises-science-scientists-fault-public-media/
    528-12.gif


    Even those that are "conservative" tend not to be socially conservative.
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    May 23, 2011 12:35 AM GMT
    Thats why they have never found God.
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    May 23, 2011 12:39 AM GMT
    True_blue_aussie saidThats why they have never found God.


    ROTFL.
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    May 23, 2011 12:44 AM GMT
    Makes sense. Liberals tend to ask questions to make things better. Conservatives tend to just want to keep things the same. People in the scientific fields tend to ask questions and looking for evidence before making or following judgments. That lines up with the liberal outlook.

    And also:

    True_blue_aussie saidThats why they have never found God.


    Tons of scientists are religious or spiritual - don't be dumb.
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    May 23, 2011 12:52 AM GMT
    Bale02 saidMakes sense. Liberals tend to ask questions to make things better. Conservatives tend to just want to keep things the same. People in the scientific fields tend to ask questions and looking for evidence before making or following judgments. That lines up with the liberal outlook.

    And also:

    True_blue_aussie saidThats why they have never found God.


    Tons of scientists are religious or spiritual - don't be dumb.


    Not dumb, just being funny. OMG I joke all the time.icon_wink.gificon_idea.gif

    In fact I love Darwin, and accept the Big Bang theory. I don't belive they killed God either. The Bible just got it all very wrong.
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    May 23, 2011 1:00 AM GMT
    TigerTim said
    True_blue_aussie saidThats why they have never found God.


    ROTFL.


    Even the godly people like scientists.
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    May 23, 2011 1:01 AM GMT
    q1w2e3 saidOld news (Pew poll from 7/2009), but something to bear in mind when liberals and feelings are mentioned in the same sentence.

    Somebody care to offer an explanation why there are so few self-described conservative scientists?
    http://people-press.org/2009/07/09/public-praises-science-scientists-fault-public-media/
    528-12.gif



    Because Conservatives are usually religious. Facts and religion are like oil and water. Therefore it makes perfect sense.
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    May 23, 2011 1:17 AM GMT
    True_blue_aussie said
    Bale02 saidMakes sense. Liberals tend to ask questions to make things better. Conservatives tend to just want to keep things the same. People in the scientific fields tend to ask questions and looking for evidence before making or following judgments. That lines up with the liberal outlook.

    And also:

    True_blue_aussie saidThats why they have never found God.




    Anyone who didn't think that one was hilarious just didn't get it. icon_lol.gif

    That was clever.
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    May 23, 2011 1:34 AM GMT
    Being more liberal is the natural result of being more educated and not just accepting what we're told, whether its what some preacher claims the bible says or some claim by a government official,nothing should be accepted without checking it out.

    Republicans (conservatives) are usually "incurious", the ones I know,don't want to bother searching out the truth about matters of importance because they don't want the stress of their preconceived ideas challenged, change and progress makes them uncomfortable.

    and no I don't think all conservatives are stupid, some are educated, but to stick with the status quo they have to do a hell of a lot of ignoring of facts, or torture the truth so they can stick with what they already believe.

    Oh God am I ever in trouble now with our Republican Friends here on RJ.
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    May 23, 2011 1:40 AM GMT
    realifedad, this might be of interest (even though it's satire):

    http://www.weeklyworldinquisitor.com/scientists_find_god_gene.html&tags=nasaWorking with genetically modified mice, the scientists found that animals without the co-called 'God gene' were less afraid, more inquisitive about the world around them and were better at solving problems. The godless mice also tended to sleep more on Sundays.

    When faced with the same problems, mice bred so that the God gene was dominant were more likely to sit around waiting for something to happen. If the scientists intervened, the god-fearing mice would cower in groups, roll over in apparent ecstasy or simply die of shock.


    I do sleep a lot more on Sunday. icon_lol.gif
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    May 23, 2011 1:57 AM GMT
    q1w2e3 saidrealifedad, this might be of interest (even though it's satire):

    http://www.weeklyworldinquisitor.com/scientists_find_god_gene.html&tags=nasaWorking with genetically modified mice, the scientists found that animals without the co-called 'God gene' were less afraid, more inquisitive about the world around them and were better at solving problems. The godless mice also tended to sleep more on Sundays.

    When faced with the same problems, mice bred so that the God gene was dominant were more likely to sit around waiting for something to happen. If the scientists intervened, the god-fearing mice would cower in groups, roll over in apparent ecstasy or simply die of shock.


    I do sleep a lot more on Sunday. icon_lol.gif






    That was hillarious !!!! LOL
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    May 23, 2011 2:08 AM GMT
    yeah
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    May 23, 2011 2:57 AM GMT
    I venture to guess that most scientists trend toward being liberal due to the academia's general bias toward left-wing thinking and idealism.

    Academia holds the keys to the credentialing and peer review bodies that have a lot of say in who gets what doctorate and who gets published.

    Though to be fair, in hard sciences, this should be not so significant a factor as it would be in the social sciences.

    However, most hyper-educated and hyper-credentialed folks tend to be idealistic (a liberal trait) toward "changing the world" as opposed to pragmatic/realistic (more conservative traits) toward preserving the systems that generally work even with certain flaws.
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    May 23, 2011 3:01 AM GMT
    Perhaps some additional consideration is in order besides some knee-jerk and ill-informed views that the reasons the scientists tend liberal is because liberals supposedly think more then conservatives who just accept the status quo with no thought. A more thoughtful approach is to take from the study specific reasons for scientists' leanings to understand what can be derived from the study. Specifically, three points from the study:

    1) Scientists often depend on various types of government funding, and, therefore, tend to view the Government more as an integral part to solving problems than would non-scientists. Therefore, they may view a larger Government as better for their income.

    2) Scientists suspected the Bush administration suppressed research findings of government scientists.

    3) Scientists are at odds with religious fundamentalists, in many areas, most notably stem cell research. They often associate religious fundamentalists with social conservatives, and tend away from these viewpoints.

    One conclusion that is not apparent from these points is any specific support for some positions held by liberals, such as entitlement spending, support to unions, restrictions on oil exploration. The logical fallacy in using umbrella terms is to assume because scientists favor liberal position for specific reasons, they must favor most or all liberal positions.

    I previously referenced a study that examined differences in anxiety, depression, and goal-seeking in conservatives, liberals, and moderates. It showed liberals higher in anxiety and depression, but conservatives higher in goal-seeking. By the same token, it would be a mistake to associate these results with scientists, because some of the motivating factors for scientists to be liberal are very different than the factors motivating other liberals.

    BTW, from my own experience, prior to some of the positions on the right alienating scientists and in cases where dependence on government funding is not significant, I recall more scientists tending politically conservative. I remember in more turbulent times on campuses where I was, the science and engineering students were more serious, goal-oriented, while many on the left were trying to find themselves. Not 100%, many exceptions, but I found liberals to be more driven by emotion, and that is my assessment of many on RJ.
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    May 23, 2011 3:28 AM GMT
    socalfitness saidPerhaps some additional consideration is in order besides some knee-jerk and ill-informed views that the reasons the scientists tend liberal is because liberals supposedly think more then conservatives who just accept the status quo with no thought. A more thoughtful approach is to take from the study specific reasons for scientists' leanings to to understand what can be derived from the study. Specifically, three points from the study:

    1) Scientists often depend on various types of government funding, and, therefore, tend to view the Government more as an integral part to solving problems than would non-scientists. Therefore, they may view a larger Government as better for their income.

    2) Scientists suspected the Bush administration suppressed research findings of government scientists.

    3) Scientists are at odds with religious fundamentalists, in many areas, most notably stem cell research. They often associate religious fundamentalists with social conservatives, and tend away from these viewpoints.

    One conclusion that is not apparent from these points is any specific support for some positions held by liberals, such as entitlement spending, support to unions, restrictions on oil exploration. The logical fallacy in using umbrella terms is to assume because scientists favor liberal position for specific reasons, they must favor most or all liberal positions.

    I previously referenced a study that examined differences in anxiety, depression, and goal-seeking in conservatives, liberals, and moderates. It showed liberals higher in anxiety and depression, but conservatives higher in goal-seeking. By the same token, it would be a mistake to associate these results with scientists, because some of the motivating factors for scientists to be liberal are very different than the factors motivating other liberals.

    BTW, from my own experience, prior to some of the positions on the right alienating scientists and in cases where dependence on government funding is not significant, I recall more scientists tending politically conservative. I remember in more turbulent times on campuses where I was, the science and engineering students were more serious, goal-oriented, while many on the left were trying to find themselves. Not 100%, many exceptions, but I found liberals to be more driven by emotion, and that is my assessment of many on RJ.


    (1) Nope. Firstly, q1w2e3 is not discriminating between academic and industrial scientists—in my experience both are very liberally minded. For my own part, funding comes mostly from Industry although I'm an academic. Scientific progress in the US is by far and away the most important factor in explaining American success, and scientific protests against funding cuts for science are driven by the fact that the US risks sacrificing it's advantage to its competitors. This is happening!

    (2) The Bush administration DID change scientific reports on climate change for political reasons. This was an intolerable and appalling affront to the scientific process. It is a matter of fact that this happened.

    (3) I agree to some extent. Most scientists I know—and I know a lot—are very tolerant of people's right to hold such beliefs, but generally believe government policy ought to reflect the best available scientific advice and not religious thought.
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    May 23, 2011 3:45 AM GMT
    TigerTim said
    socalfitness saidPerhaps some additional consideration is in order besides some knee-jerk and ill-informed views that the reasons the scientists tend liberal is because liberals supposedly think more then conservatives who just accept the status quo with no thought. A more thoughtful approach is to take from the study specific reasons for scientists' leanings to to understand what can be derived from the study. Specifically, three points from the study:

    1) Scientists often depend on various types of government funding, and, therefore, tend to view the Government more as an integral part to solving problems than would non-scientists. Therefore, they may view a larger Government as better for their income.

    2) Scientists suspected the Bush administration suppressed research findings of government scientists.

    3) Scientists are at odds with religious fundamentalists, in many areas, most notably stem cell research. They often associate religious fundamentalists with social conservatives, and tend away from these viewpoints.

    One conclusion that is not apparent from these points is any specific support for some positions held by liberals, such as entitlement spending, support to unions, restrictions on oil exploration. The logical fallacy in using umbrella terms is to assume because scientists favor liberal position for specific reasons, they must favor most or all liberal positions.

    I previously referenced a study that examined differences in anxiety, depression, and goal-seeking in conservatives, liberals, and moderates. It showed liberals higher in anxiety and depression, but conservatives higher in goal-seeking. By the same token, it would be a mistake to associate these results with scientists, because some of the motivating factors for scientists to be liberal are very different than the factors motivating other liberals.

    BTW, from my own experience, prior to some of the positions on the right alienating scientists and in cases where dependence on government funding is not significant, I recall more scientists tending politically conservative. I remember in more turbulent times on campuses where I was, the science and engineering students were more serious, goal-oriented, while many on the left were trying to find themselves. Not 100%, many exceptions, but I found liberals to be more driven by emotion, and that is my assessment of many on RJ.


    (1) Nope. Firstly, q1w2e3 is not discriminating between academic and industrial scientists—in my experience both are very liberally minded. For my own part, funding comes mostly from Industry although I'm an academic. Scientific progress in the US is by far and away the most important factor in explaining American success, and scientific protests against funding cuts for science are driven by the fact that the US risks sacrificing it's advantage to its competitors. This is happening!

    (2) The Bush administration DID change scientific reports on climate change for political reasons. This was an intolerable and appalling affront to the scientific process. It is a matter of fact that this happened.

    (3) I agree to some extent. Most scientists I know—and I know a lot—are very tolerant of people's right to hold such beliefs, but generally believe government policy ought to reflect the best available scientific advice and not religious thought.

    No real disagreement. My point 1) was more their view that govt is generally an integral part of supporting advances. My second sentence about their income was more of an aside, and I wasn't intending to state it was any significant factor.

    The takeaway relative to this thread their are specific reasons scientists today tend liberal, and the study does not support the agenda of every RJ liberal.
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    May 23, 2011 4:18 AM GMT
    socalfitness said
    No real disagreement. My point 1) was more their view that govt is generally an integral part of supporting advances. My second sentence about their income was more of an aside, and I wasn't intending to state it was any significant factor.

    The takeaway relative to this thread their are specific reasons scientists today tend liberal, and the study does not support the agenda of every RJ liberal.


    In fact the overwhelming majority of scientific advances have been funded by governments.
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    May 23, 2011 4:24 AM GMT
    It's nice to know that all those smart scientists smartly choose to be liberals.
  • Webster666

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    May 23, 2011 7:19 AM GMT
    realifedad said Being more liberal is the natural result of being more educated and not just accepting what we're told, whether its what some preacher claims the bible says or some claim by a government official,nothing should be accepted without checking it out.

    Republicans (conservatives) are usually "incurious", the ones I know,don't want to bother searching out the truth about matters of importance because they don't want the stress of their preconceived ideas challenged, change and progress makes them uncomfortable.

    and no I don't think all conservatives are stupid, some are educated, but to stick with the status quo they have to do a hell of a lot of ignoring of facts, or torture the truth so they can stick with what they already believe.

    Oh God am I ever in trouble now with our Republican Friends here on RJ.




    Why ?
    They can't handle the truth ?
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    May 23, 2011 8:16 AM GMT
    q1w2e3 saidOld news (Pew poll from 7/2009), but something to bear in mind when liberals and feelings are mentioned in the same sentence.

    Somebody care to offer an explanation why there are so few self-described conservative scientists?
    http://people-press.org/2009/07/09/public-praises-science-scientists-fault-public-media/
    528-12.gif

    I'm trying to figure out the point to this? Unless I am to believe that scientists are superior to others I can not imagine why I would care how a scientist votes. You could just as well show me a chart of how those with the highest IQ vote and it would be equally as meaningful. If the point was (as your first statement seems to imply) that liberals do not vote based on feeling but facts because some scientists vote liberal I would say that your entire theory is flawed.

    First, it does not say that 55% of liberals are scientists- only that 55% of scientists vote Liberal. Tossing a number out there I would say that this equates to less than 3% of liberal voters being scientists. This means that 97% of the Liberal voters are free to use no more reasoning or critical thinking when it comes to voting than a conservative voter. I'm sorry; but I'm just going to say this... listening to certain staunch Democrats on this forum and others does not make be believe that they are any less driven by blind ideology and wild emotions that the most right wing nut case.

    You are also making a very broad (and unsubstantiated) claim (or at least implying) that a scientist puts critical thought and reasoning into his political views and that he remains unaffected by emotion. I would demand some proof of such an extraordinary claim. Yes, they might have the training to do so in a lab, but I can not imagine that the majority of scientists apply their training to all aspects of their lives.

    Actually, I can not imagine that identifying yourself with any party exclusively shows anything more than a blind faith in ideology. I am disappointed that there was not a higher percentage of independents. More independents would indicate more scientists who hold no preconceived notions and no biases and are willing to listen carefully to all sides and each candidate and make an appropriate choice. Yes, they could vote Democrat every time- but that is not the point...

    Sorry- I lost track of where we were. However, I still wonder what the point of the stats are?
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    May 23, 2011 10:31 AM GMT
    alphatrigger saidI venture to guess that most scientists trend toward being liberal due to the academia's general bias toward left-wing thinking and idealism.

    Academia holds the keys to the credentialing and peer review bodies that have a lot of say in who gets what doctorate and who gets published.

    Though to be fair, in hard sciences, this should be not so significant a factor as it would be in the social sciences.

    However, most hyper-educated and hyper-credentialed folks tend to be idealistic (a liberal trait) toward "changing the world" as opposed to pragmatic/realistic (more conservative traits) toward preserving the systems that generally work even with certain flaws.


    It's probably the opposite. You might have heard of Kuhn's theory of paradigm shift. Scientists stick with systems of thought that have been proven to work, until certain renegades come up with data that cannot be explained except with a new paradigm.
    If anything, scientists are the most conservative of people, based on your criteria.

    However, you are right, the scientists surveyed reported some very idealistic traits:
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    But it doesn't make them any less practical. If it doesn't work, it won't make it as science. And scientists are such a competitive group that any fraud gets found out fairly soon when others cannot replicate findings.

    And more scientists concur that they went into science trying to "solve important questions" rather than just "benefiting society" due to some idealistic bent:
    528-75.gif
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    May 23, 2011 10:46 AM GMT
    west77 said
    q1w2e3 saidOld news (Pew poll from 7/2009), but something to bear in mind when liberals and feelings are mentioned in the same sentence.

    Somebody care to offer an explanation why there are so few self-described conservative scientists?
    http://people-press.org/2009/07/09/public-praises-science-scientists-fault-public-media/
    528-12.gif

    I'm trying to figure out the point to this? Unless I am to believe that scientists are superior to others I can not imagine why I would care how a scientist votes. You could just as well show me a chart of how those with the highest IQ vote and it would be equally as meaningful. If the point was (as your first statement seems to imply) that liberals do not vote based on feeling but facts because some scientists vote liberal I would say that your entire theory is flawed.

    First, it does not say that 55% of liberals are scientists- only that 55% of scientists vote Liberal. Tossing a number out there I would say that this equates to less than 3% of liberal voters being scientists. This means that 97% of the Liberal voters are free to use no more reasoning or critical thinking when it comes to voting than a conservative voter. I'm sorry; but I'm just going to say this... listening to certain staunch Democrats on this forum and others does not make be believe that they are any less driven by blind ideology and wild emotions that the most right wing nut case.

    You are also making a very broad (and unsubstantiated) claim (or at least implying) that a scientist puts critical thought and reasoning into his political views and that he remains unaffected by emotion. I would demand some proof of such an extraordinary claim. Yes, they might have the training to do so in a lab, but I can not imagine that the majority of scientists apply their training to all aspects of their lives.

    Actually, I can not imagine that identifying yourself with any party exclusively shows anything more than a blind faith in ideology. I am disappointed that there was not a higher percentage of independents. More independents would indicate more scientists who hold no preconceived notions and no biases and are willing to listen carefully to all sides and each candidate and make an appropriate choice. Yes, they could vote Democrat every time- but that is not the point...

    Sorry- I lost track of where we were. However, I still wonder what the point of the stats are?


    I said none of the things you said I did. I just simply wanted to know why more scientists self-identify as liberal. Is it due to some property of the scientists' identity or is it due to something in liberalism that attracts scientists? E.g. is it because certain positions and attitudes in liberalism is more coherent with the scientific attitude?

    I'm well aware of the fact that "most A's are B's" does not imply "most B's are A's". I didn't make that blanket statement. I simply suggested that certain political positions that are deemed liberal may not be due to wishy-washy feelings but have real data behind them. I'm sorry it might not have been clear from my OP.

    I'm also well aware that scientists are human and have feelings. I'm just saying that being supremely practical people, scientists take into account facts more so than the public (e.g. when it comes to global warming), and act accordingly most of the time.

    There's nothing in the chart that assesses voting behavior--this is purely self-described political leaning. The survey simply compares ideological leaning of scientists compared with the general public. To me, that means that candidates that hold liberal positions are more favored by scientists, but that doesn't mean they're going to vote Democratic every time.

    Again, I'm looking for a general theory to explain the stats.
  • GQjock

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    May 23, 2011 11:06 AM GMT
    Simply stated

    You can't have an open scientific mind if you're steeped in a closed conservative mindset

    'Swhy artists ... and academics ... and hollywood types are liberal generally speaking as well
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    May 23, 2011 11:34 AM GMT
    q1w2e3 said

    I said none of the things you said I did. I just simply wanted to know why more scientists self-identify as liberal. Is it due to some property of the scientists' identity or is it due to something in liberalism that attracts scientists? E.g. is it because certain positions and attitudes in liberalism is more coherent with the scientific attitude?

    There's nothing in the chart that assesses voting behavior--this is purely self-described political leaning. The survey simply compares ideological leaning of scientists compared with the general public.

    Sorry; I had misinterpreted things because when I read "but something to bear in mind when liberals and feelings are mentioned in the same sentence." I had assumed that you were implying that liberals are not basing things on feelings but rather on critical thought and scientific method.

    I also seem to have misinterpreted the chart when it said that 55% are Democrats, 6% Republicans and 32% independent. I also read the stats under those as to what they self identified as in terms of liberal, moderate and conservative. However, had figured that if you identify yourself as a Democrat that is how you vote and if you identify yourself as a Republican that is how you vote and that the independent voter swings to whichever side can persuade him/her.

    I wish you luck in trying to figure out why scientists might show a preference towards any political leaning. To me, there are far too many variables and asking a room full of jocks (albeit peppered with the odd scientist) why that group might show a strong preference in one direction or the other will likely yield few solid conclusions (but hopefully a few points or ideas to ponder...)